Chapter Twelve

Over the course of the next month, Michael and Patti saw quite a lot of each other. They were almost always together, when they weren’t working. During the same time, it became harder for Natalie to breathe, and her heart was pounding or fluttering all time. She felt fatigued and had some fleeting pains. She was hoping it was just because she was tired, but she knew better. Damn, I thought I had more time.

Picking up the phone to call her doctor, her gaze traveled to the photos from the concert last month that she had framed and mounted over the fireplace. It’s hard to believe that was just a month ago. When she told the doctor about her symptoms, he told her to chew on an aspirin, and to get to the hospital as soon as she could – he’d meet her there for more tests. With tears in her eyes, she called Michael’s cell.

Sitting in the doctor’s office, Natalie and Michael listened in shock at the test results. Her heart simply couldn’t keep up and her lungs were starting to really suffer. Michael was furious with the doctor.

“You told us she had eight months at least! Now you’re telling us it’s less than that? How much less? No way this is happening now.”

Natalie put her hand on his arm. “Michael –”

Michael shrugged her off, “No, Natalie, this is bullshit.” He turned back to the doctor. “Why didn’t any of this show on the countless other tests that Nat’s been through? Why the sudden decline?”

The doctor looked sympathetically at the pair. “I wish I had more answers, or better words for you. I’m truly sorry. We just can’t really predict these things, no matter how hard we try. We have moved you up on the transplant list. Do you still have your pager?” Natalie nodded, patting her handbag. “Good,” the doctor continued, “keep it with you at all times. If it goes off, there’s only a few hours to get you where you need to go. MedFlight does the best they can, but you have to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.”

He paused, looking into Natalie’s eyes, his expression softening. “You need to decide what you want to do now. You can stay in the hospital for a while, or you can go home while you can. Frankly, there isn’t anything we could do for you here that a nurse couldn’t do for you at home. You’ll be here soon enough, when things get worse.”

Natalie and Michael replied at the same time.

“Home,” Natalie replied emphatically.

“Stay here,” Michael cried.

“Michael, I want to be home. You heard the doctor, all we are doing is waiting. I want to do that in my own house. I want to sleep in my own bed, sit on my own deck, be around my own things. Please, it’s my decision – don’t fight me on this.”

Michael turned to his sister with tears in his eyes. “I’m not ready to let you go,” he said.

“I know sweetie, me neither. But, I’m not gone yet.” The doctor was discretely looking away.

After a couple of minutes, the doctor cleared his throat. “As long as you’re comfortable, still able to take care of yourself, and promise to take it easy, I can arrange for a nurse to come and check on you. I’ll give you the name of a couple of nurses here who moonlight doing private duty. I’m sorry there isn’t more we can do. We just need to pray that your pager goes off.”

“Doctor, I’m not going to pray for someone else to die so that I can live,” Natalie said, frowning.

“I can, and I will. You mean more to me than some stranger,” Michael replied.

Natalie shook her head. “Thank you for everything doctor.”

Natalie and Michael gathered their things, and left.


Tara Leigh said...

She's certainly a stronger woman than me. I'd be in a corner weeping. Seriously...she's such a great character. I love her to pieces.

Anonymous said...

This is really a great story. Thanks fro sharing and Thanks to Tara for letting me know about it!