Hunched over, she came out towing an I.V. behind her, struggling to maintain a grip on the back opening to a shamefully oversized hospital gown, nothing like the one she had tucked in her bedroom dresser, made of salmon-colored satin with a silk monogrammed collar.
She mulled over the concept that even the simplest trip to the restroom required a measure of dexterity that she did not possess at the moment. Pausing at the foot of the vacant bed that partnered her own, she stood in the room and gazed out the window.
Through partially closed mini-blinds, she remained immobile, transfixed by the droplets of rain that shimmied down the pane. Even in her earliest reminiscences of childhood, she recalled being enamored with cloudbursts—her mother’s preferred term for “rainstorms.”
Flashes of lightning revealed more of the room, as she bent to disengage the wire that had tangled itself around the wheel of her I.V. unit. Feeling dizzy and a draft against her backside, she resumed her sluggish pace to the bed she had been assigned.
Finally, she sat there, sucking in the deepest breath her bruised ribs would allow and pulled her legs up and onto the bed. Grateful for the warmth they supplied, she wrenched the white cotton sheets and heavy thermal blankets over her body, shutting out the glacial air of the room.
“Good afternoon, Mandy. I’m Dr. Prickett. How are you feeling?”
“Since you’re the one with “M.D.” behind your name, I’m hoping that you’ll tell me.” she said, slowly turning her head away from the window to see him standing at the side of her bed.
“Well, in a nutshell, you’ll be sore for a while.” He scanned her chart as he spoke to her. “You’ve got some minor cuts and bruises on your face and upper extremities. Chances are good that you will be dealing with intermittent headaches for the next several weeks. But don’t be concerned. That’s typical with any type of head trauma.” He returned her chart, folded his arms, and leaned back on the iron-cast furnace next to the window. “All things considered, you’ve fared exceptionally well.”
“How long do I have to stay here?” she asked tensely, repositioning her legs beneath the cotton sheets.
“Just for the night. Checkout time will be soon after a ‘not so complimentary’ breakfast,” he teased, realizing his joke sunk without a trace when she didn’t crack a smile. In that instant, the veteran physician was certain that until the end of time attractive female patients would always make him feel like a first-year resident. “Anyway, all jokes aside, I have rounds in the morning. I’ll be back to check on you then. The way things look now, I can’t imagine not releasing you unless, of course, you can’t bear to part with your posh surroundings,” he said cordially, still striving to provoke a smile from her in spite of himself.
“I think I can force myself. Thanks,” she quipped with a slight smile in answer to his efforts, as she attempted to pull the stubborn gown back onto her shoulder.
“Being that you haven’t asked about it, I’ll have to assume you don’t know.” He crammed his pen into his shirt pocket and stroked his bearded chin as she steadily looked at him with growing confusion.
“I don’t understand,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. “Assume that I don’t know what?”
“Well, then. In that case, let me be the first to congratulate you.”
“Congratulate me? What on earth for?”