We are both chilling, just the two of us...
They looked at each other, smirked, and declined to state their opinions. One of them was willing, however, to say that with rare exceptions doctors are the worst patients and the quickest to demand palliative drugs.
They put Dan on a stretcher and covered him. As they were carrying the stretcher toward the helicopter, I noticed that the blanket seemed to be moving. Dan was trembling in spite of the covering and the fact that the weather was now warm and sunny again. I glanced at his face. He looked like a terrified little boy.
I took one of Dan's hands between my own two hands and smiled at him as I walked next to the stretcher.
His trembling stopped.
Dan didn't want me to let go when we got to the aircraft, but the EMTs told him that we had to separate so that they could get the stretcher inside.
Dan asked me anxiously if I was coming with him. Seeing him so afraid, I said "Of course", but the EMT's told us that they were not supposed to transport anyone except the patient.
Dan begged them tearfully to let me come with him. I know they see heart-rending situations all the time, so I was astonished that his piteous pleas got to them. They agreed to take me along, saying that they would think of some excuse if challenged at the hospital.
As soon as they had secured the stretcher and I was buckled into a seat next to Dan, he reached over and grabbed my hand. He told me in a shaky voice that he had never been in a hospital except as a visitor. He was petrified by the prospect of being there as a patient.
I asked the EMT's which hospital we were going to. When I heard the name, I told Dan that it was an excellent facility and that he would get the best of care.
"Do you really know which hospitals are the good ones?" he asked nervously. I told him that I have a physician friend who has told me which are the best hospitals in the area, and that this was one of them.
Some of the fear left Dan's face, but he kept hold of my hand throughout the flight.
At the hospital, in spite of Dan's request the Emergency Room physician flatly refused to let me come into the ER with him, and Dan was too worn out by then to plead.
I recognized the doctor's voice: He was the same one who had refused to give approval for analgesic medication.
At least I was allowed to watch through the window. I saw them undress and examine Dan and wheel him off to the X-Ray department. When they brought him back, there was a minute or two of conversation and I saw him shake his head emphatically "No" in response to a piece of paper the ER doctor presented to him.
The doctor came out and grudgingly led me into the Emergency Room, telling me that I needed to "talk some sense into the patient".
I learned that the X-rays had revealed a fracture. A bad one. Dan had been told that he was being admitted to the hospital and that the following morning they would put a pin in the ankle. He had been assured that it was "a routine surgical procedure", and the ER doctor had handed him a consent form. The reason the doctor had to let me in was that Dan refused to sign any document unless I reviewed and approved it.
Dan was still in great pain. When I asked whether he had been given anything for it, the ER doctor told me that in order for Dan's consent to be an informed one he had to be fully alert, and that a narcotic would prevent it.
That made me furious! I stood within inches of the doctor's face and asked, in a raised voice as I pointed to Dan: "Would you be able to think clearly if you were in that much pain?" Then I shocked him by mentioning several powerful non-narcotic analgesics, using their chemical names rather than their brand names, and demanding to know why he had not administered any of those.