THIS is me…(24)

By: Sarah Ann Walker

Giggling, I whisper a thanks to him for being nice to me, and just stay quiet for a minute. It's like I'm basking in his simple little nicety. Why does his nice seem so important to me?

“Why are you still here?”

“I'm your doctor, Suzanne. Your private physician, actually. It’s my job to be here with you, but even if it wasn't my job I would be here regardless. Do you remember anything about me, Suzanne? Do you remember that I'm your doctor?”

“Yes, you told me that. But I don’t understand why I have a personal physician.” Who does that?

“Last year when you were very sick I became your doctor, and I'm still on retainer as such.” Wow, really? “You needed me then, so I've been your doctor and your very close friend ever since. I've been waiting for you to wake up so I could help you get better again. And I'm thrilled that you're finally recovering. Is there anything else you want to know? Is there anything else you want to ask me?” Huh. Only like a million questions.

“Why don't I remember you from before?” I whisper.

“Suzanne, you are suffering from a form of presumably temporary memory-loss. Many, if not most patients who find themselves awake after a coma have a mild to moderate form of amnesia, and it's quite normal. In theory, comas lasting even weeks can result in post-traumatic amnesia, or PTA, that lasts months; with a recovery rate occurring over weeks and months, or more severely over the course of years. It’s almost as if, for every week in a coma, patients need approximately that many months to retain all their previous memories...

“But it’s very rare for patients to have long term memory loss, especially after such a short time span as you were in the coma. Again, PTA is very standard and your memory loss is almost certainly short term. Some patients literally wake up a few days later with all their memories, or again, some need a little more time for the memories to eventually return.”

“Okay... So maybe soon I'll remember you?”

“I trust that you will. We were very, very close, therefore I'm confident you'll remember me sooner rather than later. And I promise, once you remember your past you'll see that I can be trusted, and you'll probably relax a little while you recover fully. Do you have any more questions for me? Feel free to ask me anything, as I said earlier.”

“No, I'm good, but I'm kind of tired now. Do you mind if I sleep for a little bit?”

“Not at all. Suzanne, you're going to sleep frequently in the next few weeks, which is also standard for post-coma patients as well. You may also feel confused or depressed from time to time, which is also quite typical, and something we’ll monitor closely in the coming weeks. But if you should feel overwhelmed or depressed, please let me know immediately so I can help you at the onset.”

“Okay. Thanks for telling me. I didn't want to seem all dramatic for feeling kind of tired and sad.”

“You're not dramatic. You're just dealing with a new challenge, and you'll need my help along the way, which I'm here for.”

“Thank you Dr. MacDonald. You're very nice to talk to.”

Smiling, he says, “You used to always tell me that, you know? Actually, you told me frequently how much you loved me and our friendship, and I find I miss you terribly.”

Looking at Dr. MacDonald, he seems so sad that I again feel overwhelmed with sadness. I feel bad that I don't remember him, but I DON'T remember him. God, I feel terrible for making him look like that.

Whispering, “I'm so sorry I don't remember you...”

“Suzanne, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you, or to put any undue stress upon you. I just miss you, but I'll refrain from sharing like that again. We always spoke so freely with each other that it’s hard for me to hold back now. That was a mistake on my part, or as you used to say a 'Doctorly mistake', and I won't make it again.”

“It's okay. I just hate seeing people look sad; it kind of bothers me and makes me sad too. I'm sure I'll remember you though, I promise.”

“I'm going to leave you to rest for a while, but I'll come back soon to talk with you.”

When I nod, he rises from his chair, and gently touches my leg as his goodbye. Smiling, he leaves me alone.