Free Crash by Carolyn Roy-Bornstein

Book: Crash by Carolyn Roy-Bornstein Read Free Book Online
Authors: Carolyn Roy-Bornstein
he needed was rehab—I wanted to take him back to his hometown where family and friends could more easily visit and support him.
    Back in his room, Neil slept. I told Saul about my encounter with the nurse and the missing-in-action psych residents. Saul sighed and shook his head.
    “We should go back to Newburyport,” he said, independently coming to the same conclusion I had. It made me feel better about my volatile encounter and my spontaneous demand for a retro-transport.

    Neil had a few visitors that afternoon. Suzanne Bryan, his drama coach, was there. We had snuck her in after visiting hours the night before as “Aunt Suzanne,” but now she was here legitimately, along with a few of Neil’s friends. Brendan brought him comic books. Neil smiled at the pile, each edition carefully wrapped in a clear plastic sleeve. But Neil couldn’t stay awake for long. So we took the conversation out into the hall.
    “Thanks, Brendan,” I told him. “You get the prize. That was Neil’s first smile since the accident.”
    Later, Neil’s friends Travis and Greg brought a movie and a VCR. The movie played. Neil slept.
    “I’m sorry I’m so tired.” He apologized each time he woke. “I’m sorry I’m in so much pain.” The boys finally went home.

    By the next morning we still did not know the status of our requested transfer back to our hometown. We asked the nurse to check on things for us.
    Soon an alarmingly young-looking resident came in to round on Neil.
    “He’s all set to go,” he proclaimed.
    “What do you mean?” I asked
    “He’s discharged,” the resident explained, still smiling, as if this were good news. But it wasn’t good news to us. Neil wasn’t ready to leave the hospital. He was weak. He had lost weight. Having refused physical therapy for the past two days, he had not even stood on his own, let alone walked or done stairs. Dan had even been carrying him to the bathroom. Then there was the issue of his fragile mental health.
    “But he’s not ready,” I stammered.
    “Oh, he’ll do fine,” the resident smiled, his teeth astonishingly white. His optimistic pronouncement reminded me of Chuck/Mitch’s one-minute ER assessment. We asked to speak with the head of the ICU, the trauma surgeon who had been so concerned about a basilar skull fracture that first night in intensive care. But the attendings had switched rotations, and the new one seemed in agreement with his resident. He showed us stable head CTs and x-rays of Neil’s newly aligned leg bones as evidence of his readiness.
    “I’ll get your paperwork ready.”
    “What about physical therapy at home?” I asked hopefully.
    “Oh, kids bounce back so quickly. I don’t think he’ll need that.”
    And he was out the door. We felt defeated. We looked over at our thin, pale, sleeping son. He did not look very bouncy to us. Saul looked at his watch.
    “Trista’s funeral is at 12:30,” he commented. “I’d like to try to make it.” I nodded.
    Neil suddenly sat up in bed.
    “I want to go to Trista’s funeral too,” he announced. The idea was preposterous. He couldn’t stay awake for more than an hour. He was still on IV fluids. Besides drinking a few smoothies, he really hadn’t eaten anything. He was on IV Dilantin for seizure prevention and a patient-controlled analgesia pump for the pain. He had no experience with crutches.
    “No one expects you there, Neil,” Saul said, trying to discourage him from this impossible plan. “They know you’re still in the hospital.”
    “But they said I can go. So what do I have to do to get out of here?”
    He looked determined. I had to admit that just having that goal—to leave the hospital to attend his girlfriend’s funeral—seemed to pump Neil up just a little. Put a little color in his face. Add a strength to his frame that wasn’t there before.
    Now Neil was on the going-home bandwagon too, along with the resident and attending. Saul and I were quickly losing this battle.

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