"At moments such as these, you can only amuse yourself with the idea that Fate enjoys you as her private toy..."
That's pretty much how I felt standing in The Hospital exam room on Tuesday morning.
Twinks doctor at The Hospital is The Big Cheese. The Head Honcho. The Number One Guy. He's the Chief of Staff of The Hospital. He is one busy guy, and I don't doubt for a moment that his schedule would probably leave most of us exhausted and wrung out before noon.
Ordinarily, we actually *see* him once a year or so. When we go in for follow-up visits, or when we need to get a new set of braces "approved" after they have been fitted by O & P, we often see either his NP, or a Resident from the state medical college. It's fine by me, because The Hospital is a teaching hospital, as well as a research facility, so I expect it.
This time, however, I asked specifically to see The Doctor. Live, and In Person.
I had spent the previous week collecting up copies of reports from *other* doctors here in The Greater Metro, and running around getting copies of radiology films. They were all handed over to The Doctor's assistant so that he could review everything prior to coming in to the exam room.
I knew when he opened the door. I knew when he sat down on the little rolling stool, and glided over to Twinks, who was sitting poised with expectation on the exam table. He touched her folded hands lightly, to insure that he had her full attention, and then he said the two words that I knew he was going to...
He went through everything - telling us that it was good news that this was negative, and that didn't show up either, and the other thing, well that's great too, because everything there looks fine. Orthopedically speaking, that is. "There's nothing I can do from here" was how he concluded his little speech.
Finally, The Twinkie blinked back tears, and whispered "But it hurts. So much!"
The Doctor could do nothing but pat her gently, and tell me to go home and find another specialist. He handed back the huge manilla envelope that contains the copies of all of the MRI films, and brightly noted that because Twinks is doing so well from an orthopedic standpoint that we don't have to come back to see him for another year, although he recommended we set our own schedule with the O & P department. I sat numbly, waiting for him to leave, furiously blinking back my own tears.
As soon as the door closed behind him, Twinks began to sob, and so did I . We couldn't hold it in any longer. I stood next to her, and held her while she cried out all of her frustration and pain. I mopped our faces, and as we each drew a shuddering breath, the door opened again.
It was the Care Coordinator.
She is a very nice lady. One of her duties is to help families like ours find the specialists they need in their hometown. She scurried in and out of the room, bringing referrals and Kleenex, and making sure that Orthotics & Prosthetics had us on the waiting list for the much-needed adjustments to Twinks braces. She hugged us both, and tried to comfort The Twinkie, telling her that we just need to find the *right* doctor for her kind of pain. She encouraged us to remain in the exam room for as long as we felt we needed to, and then she was gone again.
It was then that I felt as low as I ever have. I cannot help our daughter; I cannot neutralize her pain. I cannot seem to find the right doctor, I cannot even tell her when the pain will end, only that her daddy and I will not give up on her.
I felt as though Fate was indeed toying with me. That bitch.
We didn't stay in the exam room; we went back out to the main waiting rooms, to listen for the familiar page from O & P. Twinks was emotionally and physically exhausted, and fell asleep next to me on the couches. I watched the other families come and go, listened to the children playing over in the corner, smiled at The Shriners who had driven the vans full of patients and their parents to The Hospital. And then, through the picture window that looks into the atrium, I saw him.
At first, I thought he was just another patient; a teenage boy. But as he came closer to the windows next to where we sat, I could see that he was older. I remembered that The Hospitals had committed to treating Veterans home from Iraq who needed prosthetics for free. This then, must be a soldier. A soldier who was taking his first wobbly steps on new prosthetic legs.
He would take a few tentative steps, pushing away from the medical personnel in his eagerness, and go down. A flurry of hands would shoot forward to pull him gently back up, and he would stagger away again. In his efforts to walk unassisted, he was so resolute that there was no doubt to anyone watching that he was going to do this. A crowd began to assemble loosely along the perimeter, watching, clapping, and shouting encouragement. Whenever the soldier would drop, he would allow those nearest to him to help him up, but then he would shake himself off, and try again.
Suddenly, I saw this soldier as a metaphor for our situation. That even though at the moment, we are shaky at best... with time, things will get better. That if we can just keep getting back up off the ground, eventually we will be able to stride forward again. And that we are going to have to graciously accept a helping hand from time to time.
Wherever you are tonight, soldier, you gave me back a little hope. You showed me, and everyone at The Hospital, that sometimes it takes everything you have inside you to keep going. That you just have to get back up one more time than you fall, in order to be successful.
Thank you, soldier.