Issue 15 – Doctor’s Orders

Charlie stared at the Norman Rockwell poster hanging in his doctor’s office…the doctor holding his stethoscope to the little girl’s doll where the heart would be, if toys had such things. Charlie always liked that image. It made him smile thinking of when Catherine was that age, with all her dolls that Hazel would have to bandage, mend, and even find new eyes for on occasion.

“Well Charlie, your test results are relatively good…we still have to keep you on the blood thinners and you need to monitor your hypertension regularly, but all in all, signs are promising that if you continue this course, you will keep your risk of another stroke down considerably.” The doctor’s words were such a relief. Charlie stood up from the examination table slowly, steadying his legs under him for balance. Once sure footed, he promptly put on his hat and took his keys from his pocket, making his way to the door.

“Hold on there!” The doctor’s tone was sharp and stern. “Are those car keys Charlie?”
“No, they’re for my airplane. Of course they’re car keys! How else do people get around these days?” Charlie chuckled at his own joke. Boy was he funny. “They take a cab, or transit, or get caring spouses like Hazel to pick them up, especially after a stroke. “ The doctor realized his attempt at humour was failing miserably. “Charlie, you can’t be driving. We discussed this during your discharge from the hospital. It was made very clear.” Charlie stared at the doctor in disbelief.  “Well, it wasn’t made clear enough! And you certainly didn’t let Hazel know, ‘cause she would have had the keys locked up and my car sold faster than you could blink an eye!” Charlie was now visibly angry…shaking even. “I had my driver’s assessment done and I was fine to drive…passed the test with flying colours in fact. Heck, I think I’m one of the few Edmonton drivers that actually uses a turn signal.” He realized that he wasn’t winning the argument as the doctor looked about ready to start pressing numbers on his cell phone. “I’ve been driving just fine Dr. Ollie. I’m being honest with you.” “It’s not a matter of you being a good driver or a poor driver Charlie, it comes down to risk. Again, we went over this during our discharge meeting…” Charlie cut Dr. Ollie off immediately. “You just told me that my risk for another stroke has gone down, so now you’re contradicting yourself.”

Dr. Ollie sighed. “Charlie, you suffered a stroke. Yes, you are doing well and risk has gone down, but it has not been eliminated. You cannot be driving. If you leave with those keys in hand, I will have to make a phone call. I have an obligation.” Charlie felt resigned. He sure wouldn’t be seeing this quack again! He’d get Hazel on the phone as soon as he got home to find a doctor who didn’t threaten him as though he was a child. What kind of kids were they giving medical degrees to these days? He held back his tongue and decided it would be best if he just asked the doctor to use the phone in reception to call Hazel, but did manage to sneak in that he would expect someone from the clinic to drive his car home for him. It was the least they could do for all the trouble they were causing him.

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“I swear that doctor didn’t say anything about you not driving. Mind you, there was a lot going on that day. There was so much information.” Hazel was in a dither herself as she drove Charlie home. Their neighbor, Bernard from the acreage across from them was following behind in Charlie’s Camry. “Well, what am I going to do now dear? I’ve been driving for seventy years! Only ever had two accidents in my life and neither one was my fault! I can’t believe this is happening.”

Charlie got very quiet, as he often did when frustration took over. All he could think about was the smug look on the doctor’s face…the doctor reaching for his phone like Charlie was some sort of…delinquent. He hadn’t felt scolded like that since Officer Delaney had caught him and Robbie McIntosh climbing the radio tower as part of a high school dare. That was the one and only time Charlie even came remotely close to breaking a law. He was still in disbelief that he had been driving illegally for over a month.
Hazel couldn’t help but wonder what they would do now. She certainly didn’t want to have to drive Charlie everywhere. She hated driving around running her own errands. How would she possibly manage running Charlie’s now too?

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Have you or your loved one had to give up driving because of a medical issue? How did that affect you? How did you manage? We’d like to hear your stories and experiences, and any advice you might have for people like our characters facing this issue.

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