(This is part 5 of a fiction series that started September 9, 2011. Scroll down and click on the archives to go back to the beginning if you missed it.)
“Why didn’t I ask him where he was from?” Adelaide wondered. There were many surrounding towns served by Meadowview Hospital. It was a respected medical facility with a cardiac program that attracted patients as far away as 150 miles. The possibility that she might never see Michael again was devastating. As silly as it seemed, that few days they had spent chatting in the hospital solarium had made an impact on her. She had begun to look forward to their visits.
When Karen came to escort her back to her room, she questioned her about Michael. “Do you know where he lives, where he would have gone?” Addie asked. “Is there a way I can get in touch with him?”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Cunningham,” replied the nurse, “but the hospital has very strict regulations regarding patient confidentiality. I’m afraid I can’t help you. It could cost me my job.”
Discouraged that she could get no assistance from the hospital, Adelaide spent the afternoon in her room, trying to read a magazine, but her thoughts kept drifting to those blue eyes and the genial conversations she and Michael had shared. As she reached for a tissue to wipe away a stray tear, Dr. Winston came in, examining her chart as he approached her bed.
“How are you feeling today, Mrs. Cunningham? Your chart tells me you are making good progress.”
“I’m better, I guess. I don’t have to hold a pillow to my chest if I feel like sneezing or coughing anymore.”
Dr. Winston drew the privacy curtain beside the bed to shield her from the door. “Let’s have a look at that incision,” he suggested. Adelaide unbuttoned her nightgown and exposed the bandage that Karen had replaced that morning.
“That looks great. You're healing quickly. Looks like you can get out of here. Have you given thought to your home situation? I can’t discharge you if you're going to be going back to that den of stress that landed you here in the first place.”
“I don’t have any other place to go, Dr. Winston.”
“It’s important that you get rest, and I don’t see that happening with your daughter and her toddler living with you,” the doctor continued.
“I can’t throw her out on the street, even though, if it weren’t for my granddaughter, I’d be tempted.”
The doctor replaced the dressing on her incision, drew back the privacy curtain, and walked over to the window. He stared at the river while he considered her dilemma.
“Here’s what I can do. I can have you transferred to the Langdon Cardiac Rehab Center for a few days. That will delay your homecoming for a bit. Maybe we can come up with a plan in the meantime. You’ll be transported there by ambulance in the morning. Understand, however, that this is just a temporary solution; three or four days, maximum.”
Watching him depart, Adelaide wondered what would happen after the next few days. The likelihood that Felicia would have found a job and be moved by then was pretty remote. She had to admit, she was not anxious to go back to her apartment and the atmosphere that existed there.
There was a slight possibility that she could go stay with her sister in Rockland, but she hated the thought of being a burden to her. Carolyn was several years younger than Addie and led a very active life; having to look after her older sister would put a major cramp in her life style. No, that really wasn’t a very satisfactory solution. Besides, as far as she knew, Carolyn was vacationing in Las Vegas and wasn’t due home for another two weeks.
That night, Addie had nightmares about going home and sharing the apartment with Felicia again. She tossed and turned and woke up covered with perspiration; she got up and went to her bathroom. After using the toilet, she took a face cloth, ran cold water over it, and mopped her face and neck with it. Feeling a little refreshed, she climbed back into bed and slept fitfully until morning.
Soon after Addie awakened, there was hustle and bustle in her room, getting her ready for her transfer to Langdon Rehab. Once she’d finished breakfast, her belongings were packed and her chart was updated, the EMT’s arrived to take her across town. The two men worked with precision, loading her onto a wheeled stretcher and strapping her in.
“I am perfectly able to walk you know,” she declared. “I’m not a total invalid.”
“I realize that, Ma’am,” responded the man in charge. “It’s just that for safety’s sake and due to liability, we like to keep a heart patient stable and safe.”
She was wheeled from her room down the hall to the elevator and from there to the emergency room exit, where her stretcher was loaded into the ambulance. Ben, the younger of the two attendants, a blond fellow with a crew cut, a football player’s shoulders, and a chipped front tooth climbed into the back of the vehicle with her.
“Don’t worry, it won’t be a long ride; at this time of day there's very little traffic. We should be there in twenty minutes.”
“What is the Langdon Center like?” asked Addie.
“It’s a pretty impressive facility, very modern,” he replied. "The patient rooms are more like private bedrooms than hospital rooms, and they have a gym that’s better than Planet Fitness. There’s also a movie room, and the dining area is like a really nice restaurant. The staff is skilled and pleasant; and the place is considered to be one of the best of it's kind in New England”
The ride continued while Ben and Addie chatted like old friends. If Ben’s job was to make sure she relaxed, he was successful, thought Addie. Before long, the ambulance slowed down, turned into the Langdon Cardiac Rehabilitation Center driveway, and came to a stop. The back doors opened, and her stretcher was wheeled into reception area. They were met by an aide pushing a wheelchair and Adelaide was soon sitting in the chair and on her way to her room.
Once the admission paperwork was complete, Adelaide had time to look at her surroundings. The room’s walls were covered with blue and white print wallpaper, blue drapes, and there was a dark blue bedspread on the bed. On the wall opposite the bed was a flat screen television. Two overstuffed chairs faced the tv, and between them were a floor lamp and a table. All in all, it was a very homey and comfortable accommodation.
Just then there was a knock at the door and a young woman in scrubs entered. “Welcome to Langdon, Mrs. Cunningham. It’s time take a tour, and then I’ll show you to the dining room for lunch. After lunch you will meet with the occupational therapist and the physical therapist. You have a busy day ahead of you.”
The nurse was wearing a name tag identifying her as Ellen, and she instructed Addie to get back in her wheel chair. “But I’m perfectly capable of walking,” complained Addie.
“I’m sure you are, but you are only a few days out of CCU, and this is a large facility that we’ll be touring. You need to conserve your strength for your actual rehab activities.” Without another word, she parked the wheelchair in front of Adelaide and waited. Addie sighed in resignation and sat down.
They left the room and headed down the hallway towards the elevator. Smiling, Ellen pushed the UP button. The doors opened and she wheeled Addie inside, turning the chair as she did, so they were facing the entrance as the doors were closing. In the last second before the doors came together, Addie thought she saw a familiar looking gray-haired figure in a frayed blue bathrobe. Then all she could see was the inside of the closed doors.
(to be continued...)