On a Wednesday morning I take an elderly friend out for coffee. We have an outing, our coffee, a walk or some retail therapy and often a chat with people we meet along our travels. My friend really looks forward to these days out, she never knows which direction we will take and loves to see the countryside from the passenger seat.
On Wednesday 20 January, I was preparing to go and collect my friend when my phone started to buzz. My friend was all apologetic, she would not be able to come out to play as she had fallen. Throwing my emergency bag into the boot/trunk of my car I went down to her house. She had fallen outdoors and landed on her right side, she was sure the pain was muscular. Taking one look at her trying to walk I was not inclined to agree. She was really uncomfortable and obviously in pain.
I suggested we go to the hospital and have it checked. I let that idea sink in.
Next I reminded her that since it was her right side that was sore, she would have to sit in the back of my car behind me (we drive on the left and the steering wheel is on the right). Taking it gently, I broached the subject that it might be a little more than muscular and getting into the back of the car might cause more injury. I let that sink in.
Then I said that if we went in my car, she would be considered a walk-in patient, having to go through triage and then perhaps sit for several hours on an upright hard chair with others falling over us (I paint a good word picture!). I let that sink in.
Finally I dropped the bombshell:
“You have worked all your life in nursing, given your all to the health service, now it is time for a little pay back. I think we should call an ambulance. Those guys will know how to move you without causing more pain, and they will wheel you straight through, avoiding the triage and hanging about for hours,” I let that sink in.
“Maybe you are right, it is really very painful” she admitted, handing me the phone.
So thus began a journey through three hospitals and a hip replacement. I am not her next of kin, but she made sure my name and contact number were added as the ‘person to contact’ in each of the hospitals.
I have never visited so many hospitals in such a short time before, but I felt I had a responsibility since I was the person who insisted, even if gently, that we go in the first place.
She returned home yesterday afternoon, tired, but glad to be in her own little palace and looking forward to sleeping in her own bed. I settled her in, we had a cup of coffee (well it was Wednesday!) and I offered to bring down some dinner. She is a very determined lady and said she wanted to see how she could manage on her own, but would I go through her freezer with her, and help pick out something she could manage for her meal. I did.
Carers were due to call in later in the day, so she was happy to let me go.
I will go down tomorrow with some fruit and fresh veg and see how she got on overnight.
Over the weeks my friend kept repeating that she would never be able to repay me for all my kindness.
My answer was:
In life we cross paths with so many people, some we can help in some way, while others might do us a favour. It is not always possible to return the favours… but we can pay them forward. I am paying forward for all the favours I have received over time and need no thanks.
Doing a favour for someone does not mean they must pay you back for the remainder of their lives. A simple thanks is enough.
Never neglect a Fall.
Never try to jump up immediately after you fall, to hell with embarrassment, you could do more damage that way.