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Friday, April 17, 2015

Ready to Leave Crisis Behind

Mom and I crossed the parking lot in silence, each of us absorbed in our own thoughts. I knew I’d made the right decision. The time had come to insist that the medical system stop playing around with my life. The doctors needed to just accept the slight changes as my new normal.

The serious pain in my head had dropped to a slight pressure inside my skull weeks earlier, but the dreadful spinal taps just wouldn’t normalize. I’d lost a bit of peripheral vision in my left eye, but at least, I could see just fine now. I still couldn’t imagine I’d actually walked into the fuselage of the small plane that had carried me the long distance to the hospital.

Relieved that the dark chapter in my life was coming to an end, I determined to repeat my pleadings for medical release to the neurosurgeon. The neurologist refused to discharge me without his approval; I set my jaw to get it.

“Step right over here,” the nurse said, pointing to the exam room. “Go ahead and take off all but your underwear and sit on the table. Dr. Schultz* will be here in a minute.

As I began removing my clothing, Mom looked for the paper patient gown. “The nurse forgot to set out the gown,” Mom said. “I don’t know if it’s okay or not, but I’m going to try to find you one.”

I looked over to see my little mother opening and closing drawers and cupboard doors. Meanwhile, my nearly-naked body chilled with the over-enthusiastic air conditioner.

I moved the footstool close to the exam table and climbed aboard. Crossing my arms in front of me did little to warm my freezing torso. My super-modest, Australian Mom’s frustration could be measured by the exasperated murmurs coming from the cupboard area.

“It’s okay, Mom. He’s probably one of those whacky rich surgeons who didn’t spend the money for patient gowns. Since it’s my eyes that are the issue, I’m not sure why I even needed to undress, but it’s okay. I just want him to give me the release to go home.”

When the surgeon came through the door, my irritated mother wasted no time in pointing out the absence of the patient gown. To which he simply said he regarded such things as unnecessary. Though chilled to the bone, I restrained my own sarcasm, figuring he’d not want to loan me his long sleeved shirt anyway.

Following the usual neuro exam—which by the way didn’t include anything that couldn’t be done with a fully-clothed patient—I expressed my request for discharge. His response let me know he’d been briefed on my pleadings to Dr. Roberts*.

“Yes, I know. Let’s go out to the eye chart. You say you can see, but I want to know just how much. The inside of your eyes doesn’t look like you should be seeing much.”

“She’s not going out there without her clothes!” said my mother.

I laughed, hoping for the doctor’s sake that he didn’t object. Mom always said that dynamite comes in small packages and this petite Mom chomped at the bit to show him. I slipped off the table and headed for the stack of my clothes.

“Oh, well, when you’re dressed come out in the hallway.” Dr. Shultz said, looking a bit startled.

The doctor acted like he’d not noticed I wasn’t dressed to parade myself through a hallway open to the waiting room. Maybe he counted a gown unnecessary because he never noticed the patient’s attire--or lack of it? I didn’t wait to find out; I dressed as quickly as I could, but still shook from the cold.

Leaving the exam room, I caught sight of Dr. Schultz near the eye chart at the end of the hallway. A nurse pointed to a strip of tape on the carpet. “Stand here,” she said.

As soon as I’d set both toes on the strip and aligned myself with the chart, the doctor began pointing to letters. One after the other, I correctly identified the letter. Fortunately, I’d remembered to slip my glasses on before leaving the exam room. With my corrective lenses in place, I had normal vision.

“Well, I tell you; I can’t believe this! You really can see! I don’t know how, but your vision seems normal now. I’d say it’s just a miracle.”

“You think it’s a miracle?” I said, eyebrows raised but a huge smile on my face.

“There’s no other way to explain it,” the doctor said while shaking his head and moving away from the chart. “Let’s go back to the exam room.”

Hope filled my heart. Today, I’d get that release approval; I just knew it. I grabbed on to Mom’s arm and we walked back into the little room.

“So, will you call Dr. Roberts, or do I need to wait for a paper to hand him to get his release?”

“I’ll call him, but I want you to have one more test first.”

“Not another spinal tap,” I said with a groan. “Can’t you just take the results from the one I had last week?”

“No, I’m not talking about a spinal tap, yes; I’ll use the results from that one. It’s a test you haven’t had yet.”

“But why? I won’t get any better than I am right now, so why do I need anything else? I really want to get back to work.”

“I know, and if this one last test is okay, you can go. It’s important to be sure we can’t localize the tumor that’s caused the problem in the first place.”

“Will it be like the cerebral arteriogram? That was awful and I don’t ever want to go through that again.”

“No, this test doesn’t inject any dye. You will need to go to radiology again, though.”

“When? Can I do it today?” I knew a simple x-ray could be done with little notice, didn’t take long to get the results, and I’d be willing to wait a couple of hours in their waiting room if I could do it that same afternoon.

“I’ll need to talk to the radiologist to see when he could do it. I can try to phone him before you leave, but I can’t be sure he can schedule it right then. I may need to get back to you.”

“Okay, please call him. I’d like to get home and back to work next Monday.”

Unfortunately, the specialized test required more lead time to schedule. I’d need to return to the hospital’s Radiology Department on Monday. Had I known what awaited me Monday, I’d have left for home right then.

*Names changed.


  1. Doctor said, 'A Miracle,' one of many in your life!

    Wing His Words,

  2. Indeed, Pam, I've been blessed unbelievably in my life. I only wish it didn't require one have a crisis to get a miracle, smile.