(If you missed part one of this fiction series and want to get caught up, click here.)
(Clicking here will take you to part 2)
“Shh, just relax,” Karen instructed soothingly when Adelaide tried to speak. “The pain you felt was from the incision. You tried to move too quickly, and it’s not nearly healed. I’m just going to check on it.”
Addie did as she was told, and tried to relax and resume breathing normally while Karen pulled up her johnny and carefully eased back the dressing on Addie’s chest. “Looks like everything is okay,” said Irene as she gingerly replaced the bandage. “Try to get some rest, now.”
The next day, as promised, as soon as Adelaide had finished her breakfast of watery scrambled eggs and soggy wheat toast, Karen announced it was time for a walk. She helped Addie into her bathrobe and slippers, and with the IV pole in tow, they ventured into the hallway. The entrance to the solarium was at the end of the corridor, just 3 doors away and seemed an achievable goal. With Karen’s help, Addie took a step forward. After a couple of steps, she was a little more confident and had figured out how to keep her IV pole with her, and then she made it all the way to the Solarium. Once inside, she sat down to rest.
“I’ll be back to get you in a few. If you want to get back to your room sooner, just pick up the phone beside you. It rings at the nurses’ station,” Karen offered as she left. Happy to be away from the confines of her bed and the institutional green of her hospital room, Adelaide scanned her surroundings.
The Solarium had large windows over-looking the Androscoggin river, where the sun’s rays were dancing on the waves. In one corner an elderly lady with an oxygen tank attached to her wheel chair with its hose clamped to her nose sat reading what looked to be a well-worn Bible.
In the opposite corner, just 2 chairs away, a thin grey-haired fellow with a pair of Red Sox pajamas, a frayed navy blue bathrobe, and red slippers who’d been gazing out the window turned and met her glance. He flashed a winning smile at her and pointed to her IV pole.
“Looks like we keep the same company,” he observed. Adelaide saw that he was also connected to an IV with an upside down packet of liquid slowly seeping into his arm. “What are you in for? I just had heart surgery a couple of days ago.” His clear blue eyes smiled before his lips did, as she self-consciously reached up to pat her hair. She suddenly wished she’d checked the mirror in her room before agreeing to venture out of the privacy of her room.
“I had a shunt installed in an artery,” she said, “I hadn’t even been aware there was a problem until I collapsed and ended up here in the emergency room.” He nodded, as though he understood how she felt.
“You’re not the only one who had no warning. I’d been feeling fine until my doctor decided I should take a stress test. That treadmill experience ended with me being wheeled into surgery. I’ll say one thing, it’s sure making me stop and think about what’s important.” He stood, took a second to steady himself, and then wheeled his IV over to the chair next to hers. “I’m Michael Chandler, by the way,” he said as he extended his hand in her direction.
“Glad to meet you, Michael. I’m Adelaide Cunningham,” she replied as she reached out and shook his hand. “My friends call me Addie.”
And so it began. Michael and Adelaide chatted for an hour, until the nurse came to check on her. He was very pleasant and Addie hadn’t enjoyed that much conversation with someone of the opposite sex since she retired from teaching, after her husband Paul died four years ago. As it happened, that was another of several things she and Michael had in common; his wife had passed away 2 years ago.
While Addie had one grown daughter, Michael and one grown son who was married and living on the west coast. They both loved the tv show The Big Bang Theory; both were avid readers. The place where they differed was in their love of sports. Although both were basketball fans, she followed the Boston Celtics; he had become a Los Angeles Lakers fan after his son had taken him to one of their games when Michael had visited him 2 years ago.
“At least you’re a Red Sox fan,” Addie remarked as she pointed the to his bright red pajamas. “That’s the only thing that prevents me from feeling I’m consorting with the enemy.” He nodded and flashed another smile. That smile warmed her to her toes.
Just then Karen the charge nurse appeared and said, “Sorry to interrupt, but it’s time to get back in your bed, Mrs. Cunningham. We can’t have you overdo on your first day out of CCU.”
(to be continued....)