“I think it’s time that the patient’s parents are allowed to visit.” Nurse Madison said, pulling him aside.
Doctor Todd shook his head. “I still don’t think the patient is ready.”
Madison gave him an incredulous look. “It has been a year. I think that is a long time to make them wait.”
He looked at his watch and saw the date. She was right, it was exactly a year now. A year ago, his patient had been admitted into the hospital. And the whole year, the patient had been unconscious.
He supposed his nurse was right, but he didn’t want the parents to see the patient yet. He didn’t mean to hurt them by keeping them away, but he was trying to protect them. And he supposed that he was also trying to protect himself. Protect himself from the fact that the patient had been with him for a year, and he had been able to do nothing to get her to wake up. “Let them visit if you wish, but you and I will both need to be nearby in case their visit stresses the patient.”
Nurse Madison nodded and walked out of the room to speak with the patient’s parents. While she was gone, he turned back to his patient and frowned. The longer the patient spent unconscious, the stronger his worries grew. Sometimes, he felt like the patient might awaken, but then she continued to sleep on.
The door opened and Nurse Madison reentered, followed by the mother and father. He lifted a hand. “Before you get any closer, I just want you to be aware that your daughter is lost to this world. She is alive, but she is not aware of things going on around here. I believe it is a deep coma, but I have never seen one to this degree.” He looked between them both. “I want you to prepare yourselves. I hope that she might respond to people she knows, but be prepared that she might not.”
The mother nodded, traded a glance with her husband, and then stepped to the bedside. She sat down in the chair usually occupied by a nurse and grabbed her daughter’s still and seemingly lifeless hand. Tears trickled down her face as she started down at her daughter.
Todd turned to see what the father’s reaction was and saw an equally pain-ridden look on his face, and a bit of fear.
Todd felt equally as pained as he watched the interaction. He stepped forward. “You should talk to her. It might help to hear your voices.”
The mother nodded and motioned her husband closer. “I am not sure what I should say.”
Todd could tell that she was uncomfortable and motioned to Nurse Madison. He spoke softly so that the parents would not hear. “I am going to step out so they will have a bit more privacy. Would you stay here and watch over the patient?”
She nodded. “I will. You should go and eat something. You need sustenance.”
He acknowledged her words, but he didn’t plan on eating. He could hardly sit down and eat comfortably while his patient was being fed through a tube. He looked back. He could only hope that the parents’ visit would help his patient wake up, because right now he had no idea what to do.
The sound came again. It had to be talking. The part of me that was not confined in this white room could now confirm it. And the part that was confined yearned to go towards it. I supposed that since I could hear the talking better now showed that I might be closer to escaping this room.
I just didn’t know where to go from there. I tried in vain to move my arms and legs, even a finger, but I can’t. I feel taped to the bed, yet nothing holds me bound. I don’t understand it, but I honestly don’t understand anything about this room.
But something dawned on me. If I can’t escape the room by moving my body, perhaps this room was a figment of my mind. But what did that mean? Did that mean that I can think my way out of this room, or did that mean I was to be forever be stuck in this room? The latter sounded so horrible, that I decided then and there that I must escape this room. This room had nothing for me to live for, and if I continued to stay, I would die in a room only existing in my mind.
I looked around. If this was my own imagination, perhaps I could conjure an escape. I focused my mind on a door, hoping that my picturing the object will make it appear. But thinking so hard only resulted in a headache.
A headache! I had never had a headache in this room before. In fact, I wasn’t sure if headaches even existed in this room. But if I was experiencing a headache, that must mean that I was closer to escaping this room.
The talking came again, mixed with the sound of crying. I tried to speak, hoping the person outside of the room would hear me, but I can’t. I can’t do anything but look around. My hope of escaping quickly left me as fast as it came. I was never going to leave this room. I was trapped. Bound to live in this white prison till I died.
The talking stopped momentarily, then it started again, this time in a deeper voice. I listened closer, since I have nothing else to do and could comprehend some of the words.
“We want you to come back to us…can’t sleep forever. Your mother and I…”
Mother? The word shook me so much that somehow, I managed to move. My eyes—which must have been closed in the real reality—opened, and for the first time in a while I saw something other than white. The walls—still white—but way less sickening met my gaze. And then machinery with wires and tubs. Paintings are on the wall and a bed is beneath me. I turned my head, afraid that this was a cruel dream and saw people. Two people, a man and a woman, sat beside me with tears and looks of shock in their eyes. And in a corner stood a nurse looking equally as surprised.
The women next to me grabbed my hand, which no longer felt bound to the bed. “My daughter, I missed you. You have been gone so long.”
The door opened and a man, a doctor stepped in and saw me. He stopped and stared at me. “You are awake?” He said it like a question.
I tried to open my mouth to speak to them, but before I could utter a syllable, I felt myself slipping back into the white room. I tightened my hold on the woman’s hand, hoping that she could keep me from returning, but it was too late. The last thing I could do before returning to the white room was utter, “Help me.”
A second later, the people, the machinery, and everything else is gone, replaced with the horrible white. I can’t even hear the talking anymore. The only thing I could do was stare at the white room and feel my hope fade away.