By now the prednisone had been weaned down from an equivalent of 850 mg per day by IV. To describe the appetite it caused as "voracious" is an understatement. My stomach was a blast furnace ignited by prednisone and into which food, when fed, instantaneously disappeared.
I had obtained continuances on all my cases. The staff of every court before which I had cases went to the max to accommodate what had occurred to me. Only a couple of clients seemed not to understand the matter, but I explained to all that I would be back in the office the next week. Sarah grabbed a few files I needed. I worked from the hospital bed I had begun to hate. I wanted out of that place ASAP.
The only thing holding up my release was the prednisone. Taken orally, prednisone, I was told, could damage a person’s stomach (enough as the stomach grew from the appetite piqued by the drug). The maximum oral dosage (at the time; 18 years later maybe the drugs have been developed in such a manner as to diminish the effects) was 100 mg. They could not take me from 850 mg IV per day to 100 mg oral in a snap. The process had to be gradual.
On the seventh day, the woman from the finance office entered my room once more. I had noticed officials from administration popped up when Sarah was not around. That could have been coincidence. After all, they probably worked 8-to-5. Sarah’s hours were different, but there was overlap with the schedules of the hospital’s bureaucrats. Then again, I remembered the 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. MRIs.
The woman got to the point. "You need to sign this promissory note." She placed it on the rolling tray that served as my table, and across which such a huge volume of food had passed since the prednisone had been added to my IV.
"And I have told you, I will not sign a promissory note."
"Then we will have to ship you out to Wishard," she said, and snapped up the unsigned note.
I let pass her slam at Wishard (now named something else). I was not in the frame of mind to argue dueling healthcare establishments or why medicine in the United States should be socialized, as it is in the rest of the advanced countries.
"I was unaware I constitute goods to be ‘shipped,’" I replied. "And perhaps you should be aware of a couple of matters."
Let me interject an important point. I rarely play the "lawyer card." Too many times, in personal affairs, a lawyer will note her or his profession and play it as a form of intimidation and as a means of condescension. There are times, however, when it is legitimate to point out that one is a lawyer, then explain the relevance of that fact to the matter at hand.
"I am a lawyer," I said, in a level voice. "To touch a person, in a harmful or offensive manner, without that person’s permission, constitutes battery in Indiana. If anyone attempts to move me to another hospital, I shall consider that action to be offensive at the least and certainly offensive. It also will be without my permission."
She left in a huff, mumbling something about ambulances. I sat back against my pillow, head pounding from the LP-induced headache that had been such a constant companion.
I only mentioned this new wrinkle to Sarah after my neuro popped in for an unusual afternoon—he usually came in around 6 or after—visit. When I told him what the finance person had said, his brows furrowed and he observed that stress was the last thing I should face right now.
"Stress is part of why you are here," he added, like I did not already know. "So don’t worry. I’ve ordered your release for day after tomorrow. It takes at least a day for them to process a transfer order. When they see my order for release, they’ll stop what they’re doing. And there is no room charge for the last day of a visit."
I thanked him for the news, good, as it was, on a several levels. Most importantly, I would be released in less than 48 hours. Also, the finance people were not going to bother me again. And I did not have to consult Sun Tzu’s Art of War in preparation of strategy for how to deal with people intent on "shipping" me to Wishard. Sarah obviously was happy about my impending release, and equally outraged by the comments and attitude of the woman from finance.
I savored the idea of a Noble Roman’s® deep-dish pizza with sausage.