Saturday, April 13, the day after his back surgery, Rupert felt he had endured enough. He and Scott contacted Rupert’s insurance provider and made it clear that staying at The Med was making his condition worse and that he needed to be transported to Portland as soon as possible. Never in his life had Rupert been so adamant about making sure that all involved understood something had to be done.
One of Rupert’s mother’s visits was cut short because of the urgency of getting an X-ray of his spine taken for one the doctors there. Getting X-rays had been a complicated procedure, requiring Rupert to be transferred onto a gurney, but it was done and he was taken back to his room. Later that evening he was told the X-ray didn’t turn out so he was taken down to the another done. The next morning, the day he was to leave, Rupert was told that they needed to take another X-ray. This time they transferred him from a gurney onto a large metal table, strapped him down and attempted to move the table mechanically to an upright position. When the maneuver started Rupert was horrified.
“I screamed out, ‘What are you doing?’ They told me that it was the only way they could ensure that the could finally get a good X-ray. When I protested that my legs wouldn’t be able to support um upper body in such a position, I was told by one of the staff there, ‘Well, Mr. Kinnard if you want us to get your doctor here to explain this we will.’ I said, ‘Yes! Please call him!’ After awhile my doctor entered the room and immediately exclaimed, ‘What are you guys doing?’ They tried to explain, but the doctor ended up showing them how to get the X-ray by having me lay on my back and adjusting the X-ray camera itself. I looked over and said, ‘Thank you, doctor.’”
There was no denying Rupert his escape on the day he was scheduled to leave, Wednesday, April 17, 1996. Still on his back, he was grateful to hear that paramedics had arrived to take him and Scott to the airport. Rupert was giddy with excitement, eager to leave as soon as possible, when one of the guys asked if he and Scott wanted to go to the gift shop and get mementos of the place. Rupert and Scott looked at one another and basically said, “You’ve got to be kidding.”
They made it to the first floor and Rupert was as excited as ever to go home when the same guy said, “Are you guys sure you don’t want to get anything from the gift shop?” Rupert tried to be a bit clearer and said, “No..thanks.” As Rupert was being loaded into the back of the ambulance the guy actually mentioned the gift shop for the third time asking, “You guys are sure you don’t want anything that indicated you were treated at the Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center?”
“I looked at Scott; he looked at me and we both said, ‘Oh..well...yeah! We need to get a T-shirt, a sweatshirt or something.' Even the guys from Portland pretty much shoved me into the back of the ambulance and left me alone as everyone darted back into the building to get mementos.”
It seemed that Rupert’s insurance company had taken his pleas for help seriously, because they had him and Scott brought back to Portland in grand style. A Lear jet had been chartered and there were only six passengers aboard: Scott, Rupert, a pilot, co-pilot and two paramedics.
When the jet landed at the Hillsboro airport a group of Rupert’s friends were on the runway to greet their fallen buddy. Their enthusiasm was such that the owner of the jet begged Rupert to ask them to please refrain from knocking on the windows of the plane.
By the time it was all over and Rupert was settling in at Providence Medical Center in Portland he realized that among the reasons he was thankful for Scott having been in Memphis with him was that Scott had witnessed the treatment at The Med, Rupert had no need to describe his horrid experiences.
Everything that had happened in Memphis began to fade away as if it had all been a dream. And he knew the business of recuperating could truly start.
©Rupert Kinnard—All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.