Cliff guided his wheel chair down the hospital rehab corridor angrily. It wasn’t fair! He was a sportsman. Tennis, football, swimming and surfing were his life. Well it’s true his real life was marketing administration but that was a necessary evil to earn his keep. His passion was sports.
Muscular arms pumped wheels of the chair briskly to his room, and he entered noticing the room had been cleaned and the bed made in his absence.
He was still processing the doctor’s warning. No more active sports for the foreseeable future! The doctor had ticked off a list of do’s and don’ts for his future sports activities. Upper body building was OK, but anything requiring over stress on the legs had to be crossed off the list. No more stand up surfing boards, no more football, no more running until the doctor could access his progress in a year’s time. Exercise in the rehabilitation period was very important but it would have to be within the doctor’s guidelines and his doctor was a no nonsense fellow. His anger would have to be taken out on others.
His girlfriend had tried her best to support him after the accident but that accident had totally altered his personality. He was not a fun person to be around anymore, and her efforts had been rebuffed to the point where she withdrew from his life regretfully. He was not the person she thought he was when she’d accepted his marriage proposal four months earlier.
Nurse Judy appeared just as he was manoeuvring himself out of the wheel chair and into a chair in front of the room TV.
“How are things going with your rehab Cliff? Don’t give me your usual stupid comments as I’m not going to give you any sympathy. You’re a grown man and you need to get a handle on yourself, realize your future limitations and deal with it. If you’re patient we’ll get you back into shape over time, but you have to listen to what we say and do it!”
Nurse Judy smiled and patted him on the shoulder.
Cliff felt his anger surge but kept it under control. He’d tried giving her the same treatment he gave others but came off second best before. Nurse Judy was a seasoned operator and knew when to dispense sympathy when called for and when to dispense tough love. Cliff obviously needed some tough love.
“Did the doctor tell you your sessions walking with the bars have improved and X-rays show the bones healing with the aid of metal supports?”
Cliff nodded sulkily.
“Good, let me take your readings after all that stressful rehab.”
Cliff put his arm up on the side of the chair flexing it as he did when in the presence of women. He was proud of his physique and took a sideways look at Nurse Judy to gauge her reaction. His ego had been so bruised lately it needed a boost.
Nurse Judy was a good psychologist and had a hard time suppressing a laugh at such an easily seen through action.
She picked up his arm and studied it. Reaching out with her other hand she pinched his flexed muscle.
“We’ll have to do something about this,” she said.
“Looks like a chicken leg, but rehab will fix it!” She resumed her tests mechanically.
Cliff roared with laughter, his attempts at impressing Nurse Judy had been rather clumsy and for the first time since the accident he began to see humour in his attitude. He relaxed and subsided into obedient submission. Of course the hospital staff were pulling out all stops to help him and he suddenly realized he’d been an awful patient. He used to be a nice person.
Images of patients being rushed to emergency in their sunset years with slim chance of survival came to mind. The caring attitude of doctors, nurses and general staff had been demonstrated to him since his admission. His life was ahead of him and all he needed to do was be patient and follow their instructions to have a satisfying future. The wheel chair was a temporary irritation.
Nurse Judy had jumped at his outburst of laughter and the equipment dangled from his arm. She stood back and looked at him.
“Now that’s better.” She said softly.
“Keep laughing like that and you’ll be out of here in no time. Laughter is a very good medicine, and who knows, people around here may even start liking you!”
Cliff nodded. “You and the rest around here have been very good to me and I’ve been a complete idiot, I’m so sorry!”
“Yes you have, but I think we have a well responding patient now. You can call me Judy from now on seeing as you want to be part of the human family again.”
Both of them laughed as Judy sped off to care for her next patient.
Cliff put his heart and soul into the rehab process from that time on and made excellent progress. His sporting years had given him a body that responded to treatment quickly, but his depressing attitude had dragged the natural healing process down for weeks. He made a conscious effort to be nice to all, including patients and visitors he passed in the corridors. They smiled back in return and he felt the healing.
People from work began to visit again and he began to look forward to returning to work without the aid of crutches or a walking cane. Life was good. He made tentative efforts to repair relations with his ex-fiancée but she’d had quite enough. He understood and determined to turn his life around without her by his side.
It was December 31 when Nurse Judy made her usual routine visit. They exchanged banter as she went about her business.
“Did they tell you New Year’s day you’re going home?”
Cliff’s jaw dropped with surprise. “I didn’t know that, he stammered!”
He jumped unsteadily to his feet and gave her a hug.
“Don’t do that again, patients and hospital staff are not supposed to have contacts like that!” She tried to look stern but instead looked pleased.
“I’m sorry, I was out of line and apologize! “
Judy giggled. “No one saw us this time but next time make sure the door is closed.”
Cliff looked at her and suddenly realized he was going to miss Nurse Judy very much.
“Will I be able to see you after I’m released?” Cliff looked at Judy hopefully.
“Gotta go now!” Judy retreated looking happy and whistled a tune as she sped down the corridor to the next room.
Next day Cliff was able to walk slowly and unassisted down to the lobby discharge and payment desk for clearance. The nursing staff smiled and waved as he headed to the counter. He looked around hopefully for Judy, but he was no longer her responsibility so she probably had others she had to care for now. He’d hoped she’d be there, but there were good reasons why this was an unrealistic expectation.
He was hauling his case down to the taxi stand when a wards man tapped him on the shoulder and handed him a note.
It read, “tied up with a patient, sorry I missed your departure, Happy New Year, Judy.”
At the bottom of the note in big numbers was her telephone number and in equally big letters CALL ME SOON!
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