"Your daughter is one very lucky little girl," the doctor said, closing the door to his office. Sarah and I sat silently in front of his desk, waiting to hear what he had to say about our Arista.
"Is she--is she going to be--" Sarah began, and then stopped suddenly. The doctor turned and sat across from us, solomly placing a hand on hers in a conforting gesture.
"She is still in a very unstable condition, although her waking is a great improvement, more than some of us had hoped for. However, she shows some signs of minor brain damage, which could become more major in the future, and her legs...well, to be quite frank with you, I'm not sure what I can do for them."
"But she's conscious," I said quietly, not daring to look up at my wife.
The doctor nodded. "Yes, and thank the good lord. Arista is one very lucky, strong-willed girl, and she is very young to have endured an accident like this. Unfortunatly nothing is really certain right now. She could slip back into a coma at any time if she feels stress, or even for no reason. I would limit your visitation unless she asks for you, and try to always be very gentle, loving, and positive around her. I know you're worried and distressed, but don't show it."
Sarah and I nodded. "Can we see her now?" She asked.
"I suppose so. But I would suggest you go in one at a time. She was in pain when she woke, and is probably sleeping now."
Sarah thanked him hurriedly and left. I could hear her footsteps pattering down the hall to Arista's room. I got up to go too, but the doctor turned to face me and said sternly, "Jason."
He stared at me. "You seem to be recovering very well."
I nodded. "Yes, sir."
He sighed. "I've looked at your medical files--you seem to have a history of alcohol-related problems, and have been in the hospital twice for potential alcohol poisoning."
I said nothing, but looked down at my hands.
He continued more gently, "The cause of the accident was alcohol. You were intoxicated when you were brought to the hospital. You know that there is a law against driving while intoxicated."
"Yes...Doctor, I feel..."
"You seem to be recovering all right, but to be truthful, I'm still a little afraid for your daughter. I hope you realize what you have caused by drinking."
I nodded silently.
"Have you had a drink since the accident?"
I shook my head. "No. I swear to God, I will never touch another drop of the stuff if Arista recovers."
He nodded. "I'm going to recommend you for an alcoholism support group. But we can chat more about this later. I have a few patients to check on."
He shook my hand as he stood up. "This is a very hard thing to go through, and I've seen it many times. But you have many people to support you, Jason."
I nodded. "Yes, Doctor. Thank you."