“I see by the set of your jaw, nothing I say will make a difference,” Dr. Roberts said, dropping the file folder onto his desk.
“If you can’t point to something I need to worry about, I refuse to miss one more day of work. I need my life back.”
“I understand that; I really do, but you live nearly two hundred miles from this hospital. You already experienced the lack of appropriately trained physicians at the very beginning of this whole thing. Who knows what the outcome may have been had the right exams and tests been done at the first sign of trouble. Are you willing to risk putting your life into their hands again?”
“I don’t see that things have improved any for the past several weeks. I’m willing to accept the way things are now and just get on with my life. I can see again. I lost a bit of peripheral vision in my left eye, but I can drive just fine. I have no trouble reading or anything else I need to do on a daily basis. The pain is more like gentle pressure now; I can bear that just fine. You can’t make it any better, so I don’t see why it would hurt to go back home.”
“I can’t say it would hurt you to go back there; but I can’t guarantee the whole problem won’t start up again as soon as you get home. You could crash the first night. Without being able to clearly identify the origin, I don’t have any confidence that it’ll not return—maybe even worse than the first time.”
“Are you saying that if I leave the city, you’ll consider me discharged ‘against medical advice’?”
“Going AMA isn’t the issue here; it’s a matter of prudence. I think you’d be better staying close by, just in case you needed us.”
“And, what am I supposed to do while I just wait to see if I’ll crash and need to come running back to you? I don’t have a job here, and who in the world would hire me now? My hospital board is willing to let me continue working as the administrator. They’ve been very patient in letting me try to carry on the duties from my parents’ home, but it’s getting old for all of us.”
“What do your parents say about you leaving? I see your mother didn’t come with you today.”
His mention of my parents surprised me. He’d made it clear during my hospitalization that I was an adult and could speak for myself, so he saw no reason he should consider what my parents had to say. Naturally, this caused no small amount of conflict between Mom and Dr. Roberts. Dad, being a military man, just submitted to Dr. Roberts’ authority, assuming it was the doctor’s right to exclude them. The suggestion that the neurologist now cared what my parents thought seemed like a last-ditch effort to make me stay.
“I told her she needn’t take another day off work. I’m of age, Dr. Roberts; I don’t need my parents’ permission to tell you I’m through with all the waiting and needles.”
I heard the physician’s exasperated sigh, but the thin line of his lips and furrowed brow, gave me hope he’d soon concede the issue.
“Okay, look. I’ll sign you out on one condition,” Dr. Roberts said sitting back against the squeaking desk chair.
“Anything! Anything except another painful procedure, that is.” I sat forward on the thin metal chair.
“I’ll discharge you today, but you’ll need to return in three weeks for another spinal tap to check the pressure. Sooner, if the pressure in your head gets worse or your vision changes.”
“Make it four weeks and we’ve got a deal,” I said with a huge grin.
“Okay, four weeks but you’ve got to promise me you’ll return if you notice any changes at all.”
I felt like leaping up and hugging the life out of the stiff, growling man.
“I’ll come back if I need to; otherwise, you’ll see me in four weeks. At the hospital or here?” I’d already stood, gathering up my things.
“I’ll meet you in the Emergency Room. Hang on a minute,” Dr. Roberts said, reaching for the telephone with one hand and waving me back into the chair with the other.
The excitement of my imminent return home made it hard to just sit still and wait for the appointment date and time to be announced. Hearing the click of the receiver settling back on the desk phone, I leapt up, slinging my day-pack over one shoulder.
“Four weeks from today. Four o’clock in the ER. Don’t make me wait and don’t cancel the appointment.” Dr. Roberts said, barking like an angry bear.
“I’ll be there! Don’t make me wait, either,” I said, grinning and giggling as I pointed my index finger right back at him.
The doctor dropped his outstretched arm and pointing finger, laughing as he did. "Four o’clock,” he said as I closed the door behind me.
Early the following morning, I pulled on to the highway for home. I planned to sing all 192 miles of the journey. God had brought me through the agonizing procedures. He’d kept me from dying at the hands of ill-equipped, caregivers in the rural setting, and He’d returned my vision to me. How I rejoiced in God’s faithfulness and mercy!
In just forty-eight hours I’d be working on those collection issues dear Lillian continued to present to me during every phone call of our long-distance office hours. I laughed out loud to realize that even trying to collect on long-past due hospital bills sounded good to me. I just wanted my life back and now I had it.