Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Go Ahead, Doctor, Make My Day

“If you bleed to death,” said the soft-spoken nurse, “the hospital won’t be held responsible.”

Dad, who had been pacing his hospital room like a caged animal, appeared unaffected by her statement.

Dad came of age under the influence of John Wayne. He and Clint Eastwood are the same age. He has watched men bleed to death beneath the gleam of a simulated Western sun. That is heroic.

There is nothing heroic about wearing this flimsy bathrobe and waiting inside this sterile room for test results that had been promised hours before.

Yesterday, Dad came here in excruciating pain, and after enduring tests, he was asked to stay overnight with the promise of results in the morning. He submitted (reluctantly), but today, the promised results were delayed and ultimately, inconclusive. His blood was too thin, but the doctor wasn't sure why.

“I’m not retired,” Dad informed the nurse impatiently.

Dad hires himself out as a handyman. At the moment, he’s renovating a Villa with a December deadline.

“I have work to do,” he insisted emphatically.

Do you think because I am old and frail that I have nothing better to do? Do you think because my hair is white and sparse and my face spotted and wrinkled that time has ceased to matter to me?

When Dad was requested to stay a second night, he threw on his clothes.

“I’m out of here!” he shouted to anybody who might care.

“You’ll have to sign yourself out,” said the nurse impassively, “You’ll have to sign that you left against our instructions.”

Fine. Just show me where to sign. Dad held out a pen.

On the sidelines, sitting against the wall, Mom played the woman in Dad’s Western. She was the damsel who looks on anxiously as two gunfighters have a showdown. Now, she rose: “Are you sure?”

“This place is a jail." A jail he was determined to escape. No man should be denied liberty without just cause.

As he started to sign, the nurse spoke quietly, “If you leave prematurely, your insurance probably won’t cover the costs of the previous tests.”

This gave Dad pause. This was a hitch. Bleeding to death might seem valiant. But falling into debt was another matter altogether. There was little dignity in debt.

“How much do you think it’ll cost?” he asked, and Mom seized this opportunity. “Thousands,” she breathed, “Thousands, I’m sure.”

Freedom feels so close; right within reach.

Dad wants to die with his boots on, not hospital slippers. But slowly, he sits back onto the bed. Tonight, he’ll be confined again. He’ll dream of escape, praying jail-break comes before death.

3 repartee:

Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Update: Dad's home. A medication he's been taking appears to be the "villain" here. While he waits for confirmation, he's hard at work, of course.

12/14/2005 12:44 PM  
Blogger UltimateWriter wrote...

Definitely, the hospital is a place you want to avoid at all costs. Hope everything turns out OK.

12/14/2005 12:56 PM  
Blogger frankengirl wrote...

Thanks, CD - :)

12/14/2005 7:03 PM  

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