Bittersweet Music of Syllables
| Something big was coming. They could all feel it, but no one had a clue as to what was going on. Autumn grew more agitated as the hours of tension built, but no one knew what to say and do. An extraordinarily large group of people crowded into Autumn's room when the news finally came.
Autumn was sitting propped up in bed, and she and Jamison were talking using a communication board. People seemed to trickle in by couples until all of Autumn's friends were there. Sariah and Josiah, Jason and Abbie, Lance and Jenni were there. Zachariah the new oncology nurse and Nancy Autumn's favorite x-ray technician followed soon after and were joined by Marla, Carrie and Autumn's favorite CNA, Morgan. Yes, that was who Morgan had become--Autumn's favorite certified nurse's assistant. They had been talking in quiet, tense groups, but all activity ceased when the neurosurgeon entered. She must have seen the expressions of dismay, for she started with, "Bridget...that is...Dr. OConnor has been transferred." Oh no! So that was why the neurosurgeon had started working with Autumn and her neurologist hadn't been seen since before the surgery--two weeks ago! But they couldn't focus on that for long.
"All of the cancerous tissue has been removed," the doctor paused, perhaps to let them digest that. At first, silence pervaded, and what came next was quite unexpected by all.
"Cake baby shoe!" The exclamation was Autumn's first coherent phrase since the surgery. It didn't make sense, but they were words.
"What?" a chorus of voices asked, while the surgeon looked on in bored indifference.
"We see this a lot. Sometimes aphasic patients will speak nonsense words, and sometimes--"
"Cake baby shoe!" Autumn interrupted.
"they repeat the same phrase at odd intervals, and it seems--"
"Cake baby shoe!"
"to be the only thing they can say. So while the tumor is gone, the effects could linger...like the paralysis. I'm sorry to say this, but--"
"Did you hear that?" Jenni turned to Lance. "It's gone!" While the others erupted in exclamations, Jamison stared intently at Autumn. Why wasn't she responding? She just looked at him, seemingly unaware of what had just happened. She glanced around the room and then cast a confused expression upon him. Apparently Morgan noted the action.
"Wait," she said, raising her hand for silence.
"you might want to consider putting her in a nursing home when she leaves the hospital." Jason was The first to note the doctor's phrase...while Morgan was trying to explain to Autumn that the cancer was gone, the doctor rambled on about putting her in a nursing home.
"What?" Abbie interrupted the surgeon's "lecture."
"Stop!" Jamison wouldn't let the doctor continue. "She's the one we're discussing here. Can't you wait long enough for someone to let Autumn know what you're talking about? I mean, you're treating her."
"Listen here, kid," the doctor glared at Jamison, "I'm here to report this. Y'all can talk about it later. I'm here to tell you what you need to know in the most expedient fashion. I have things to do, and the rest of you can figure out how to tell her later!" While Jamison stared at her in surprised fury, Jason and Sariah spoke to denounce her.
"First you tell me my daughter is going to live, and then you tell me it's best to let some strangers handle her life?" Jason began.
"Well, her paralysis and inability to speak coherently will leave you all with your hands full. And if you want any sort of life aside from caring for her, you'll want to secure some kind of outside help." Sariah opened her mouth to speak, and Jamison wrenched away from her comforting hold. In response to his obvious distress, she had put an arm around him. He shrugged this off and marched toward the neurosurgeon.
"Listen lady, she might not be a person to you, but it's different with us!"
Morgan had been explaining all of this to Autumn, but the doctor had been oblivious to this. With an anguished cry, Autumn yanked the board out of Morgan's hand, shoved it in the doctor's face and pointed at the picture of herself.
"Yeah, I know that's you," the doctor said, stepping away.
"Do you get it yet, lady? Although she might not understand everything you're saying, she senses your disinterest...she wants you to treat her like a person, too." This was the first time morgan had even acknowledged the doctor's presence.
"I do not have to put up with this." She left, stating that she would send the hospital psychologist to "deal" with them.
Jamison stared after her, looking as if he was ready to do battle for Autumn with his fists. That monster...she had just given the best possible news, but she wouldn't wait long enough for someone to tell Autumn, and she certainly wasn't going to waste her time trying to talk to Autumn herself.
"She's not going to live in a nursing home!" the adamant declaration came from Abbie.
"Of course not!" several others agreed. Once again, the room grew silent when Jaycee, Autumn's psychologist, entered.
"I just heard about what happened, and she'll start working with--" She stopped as an unfamiliar person entered. However, the newcomer wasn't unknown to everyone.
"Dr. Clay!" Morgan was the one to make the odd introduction.
"Morgan," the man acknowledged her as he walked toward Autumn.
"Wait a minute!" Jason and Jamison said in unison.
"He's the one who worked with Michelle, so I know things will be different here." Morgan, who had been holding the communication board, put it back in the bedrail holder, signed something to Autumn and left.
" After the doctor officially introduced himself, He clarified the previous doctor's disastrous attempted message.
"As she said, the whole tumor was removed, but you'll still need to continue treatment to kill any remaining cancer cells. The good news...at least as far as we can tell...the good news is that you will be able to go home. You're..." His voice trailed off as Autumn gasped and beamed at him. Unlike the arrogant neurosurgeon, this man had taken the time to explain it to Autumn and to let others help communicate it to her. She finally got the message...she wasn't going to die here in this place! She could go home, wherever that was going to be. She knew she would still have to stay in the hospital for a time to continue treatments, but it was enough just to know that she would go home sometime soon.
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