posted on Nov, 22 2009 @ 05:56 PM
Like the tree that fell in the forest that no one was around to hear, if you have a dream that you can’t recall, did you dream it at all? It was a
question I had often wondered about.
At first consciousness, my mouth was dry and my tongue swollen, feeling like the whole Chinese army had marched across it in their socks. Yech!
To one side, thin slabs of daylight streamed across the room… a room much different than the last one I made note of inhabiting. There was no sense
of time elapsed, either, as I struggled to boot back to reality. It could have been hours, days, or even weeks. Here lies Rip Van Winkle, who fell
asleep under a tree for twenty years!
Then, out of nowhere, there was someone at my side and speaking to me…
“Good morning Mr. Hallister. Breakfast is served!” came the deep male voice that was attached to the beefy guy in scrubs at my bedside.
The sound of electric motors and servos coincided with movement. My head and torso were rising and my knees were bending. Then suddenly, a stabbing
pain in my back and the involuntary reflex of sound as I emitted a very loud and clear “OW!”
“Okay, that’s as high as we go.” The big guy was trying to show some concern in his voice but… it didn’t match the level of my
Before me was one of those hospital tables that reach over your bed. On it were several plain, dark brown containers with matching lids. I began to
reach to check the contents of the biggest and another shooting pain reported dutifully to my brain that the arm being used was out of order.
Wrong. I knew that.
Then using the redundant device, I finally exposed the contents as a gray gruel that smelled a little like oatmeal. There was also two slices of
toast, no butter, and though there was a container of grape jelly, it would take both arms to operate both hands to get it open. In the cup, there was
a steamy liquid that I assumed to be coffee… but could have just as easily been sewer sludge.
Whatever appetite I may have been harboring quickly fled the scene.
“I see you’re awake!” Came a familiar voice in the doorway.
“Dr. Livingston, I presume?” was my reply… though my demeanor was not nearly as lighthearted as the words may have suggested.
“And alert, too! That’s good!” she chirped.
Why couldn’t I just take her home with me? She could change the life of one human being; this one, in ways she probably could not imagine.
“I just wanted to let you know that everything came out just fine and that you’ll be able to go home in a few hours. I’ll have the nurse work
up your discharge papers but I do need to ask, do you have someone who can take you home?”
Take me home? I hadn’t even begun to consider that. I had no idea how I got here, much less how I would get home. But rather than expose myself to
any more embarrassment, I simply replied, “I have a car… somewhere.”
The thought of being trapped here any longer due to that minor technicality was worse than the pain in my back. I’d call a cab if I had to.
It was also now apparent to the touch that I had some substantial growth on my face so when the I.V. was removed, I hobbled to the small bathroom to
clean myself up. Following a brief shower, I found a disposable razor and a small, travel-sized can of shaving cream in the hospital’s inmate
package. But wiping the steam from the mirror, I was immediately taken by what I saw looking back at me.
Just how in the hell long had I been here? I almost needed a pair of hedge shears! No matter, it had to come off and after a prolonged mowing, it was
‘me’ again in the mirror. Returning to the bed, I reached for my property bag and… damn! What was wrong with my back?!
Reaching around, I felt something and headed back to the mirror. Standing on my toes and twisting around… which was also painful, I saw a large
bandage across my lower back that was covered by an even larger piece of clear adhesive. It was then I started thinking about my doctor’s exact
words, “I just wanted to let you know that everything came out just fine…”
Came out? CAME OUT??
With nothing but a towel around me, I all but ran out of the room and then, spying a nurse’s station a few doors down, marched right up and yelled,
“What in the hell did you people do to me?!!”
Out of nowhere, I felt a hand on my shoulder and suddenly, I was back in my bed again with Dr. Livingston, bean counter Suzy Baker and a big ugly
orderly I had never seen before standing at my side. It was like that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy wakes to find her friends and family
standing about her bedside.
Doctor and bean counter laughed.
“Did I thay thumething funny?” I was slobbering on myself every time I spoke now.
“Mr. Hallister,” the doctor said camly, “ I want you to know that through your generosity and caring, a life was saved.” The
words hit me like a hammer. All I could do was to stare blankly in their general direction as the reality of it all finally set in.
Next, it was Suzy’s turn. “Your kidney was more than equal to the services rendered here on your behalf. From your ability to donate, a need
“But… I didn’t thign any conthent form!” I sputtered.
“Of course you did, Mr. Hallister. In the ER three days ago when you agreed to treatment.”
The paperwork, the small print… my signatures. Oh my god.
“Guidelines set forth by The National Healthcare Reform Act of 2010 allowed us to assume that you also agreed to the ‘Ability to Need’
clause. In this instance, we had a patient who was in need of a kidney and yours was a good match. YOUR ability to meet THEIR need - it’s a very
simple concept and it does work quite well.”
With that, my company exited the room and I was left to weigh it all… less one of my internal organs.
Later in the day, I was wheeled out to the far corner of the parking lot… where my car had been left by the wrecker. The passenger window was
smashed and my CD player gone. The broken glass crunched under my feet as I sat gingerly behind the wheel. On the seat next to me was a towing invoice
It had been stamped ‘PAID courtesy of County Regional Hospital’. There was also a small drop of dried blood next to the validation.
Nothing is free.
[edit on 22-11-2009 by redoubt]