Yesterday Dorothy and I went to the Y a little early because there was a demonstration class for a program called M.E.L.T. that I was curious about. M.E.L.T. is an exercise program designed to stimulate the production of the fluids that keep our joints lubricated. It sounds very valid, but won’t work for me, because the fusion makes my getting on the floor and getting up again really difficult. So after saying “No thanks. This won’t work for me” to the leader, I left to sit out in the area where the Senior Citizens hang out.
The Wimbledon Quarterfinals were on. A lady was showing another lady (probably a centenarian) how a numerical puzzle similar to a Sudoku worked. It was a typical “hanging with the Seniors” morning.
A staff member approaches me.
“Are you David?”
“Dorothy fell off a treadmill. She is OK. She is getting first aid right now”. I go back and see the lifeguard from the pool who is a Fire Fighter/ EMT in his real job attending to her. She is on the floor, at the back of the treadmill with blood coming from a nasty laceration at her kneecap.
“We called an ambulance”. Moments later, the EMT’s and Fire Fighters from the station down the street are there. They continue what the lifeguard started, put her on a stretcher and take her off to the hospital about two miles away.
Once at the ER, after assessing the severity of the injury, the waiting begins. First she goes to X-ray, then she’s back. Dorothy is lucid, cheerful, and talkative. We chat for a while. I tell her I will take care of dinner that night. We wait and wait. There is a little excitement when an elderly gentleman who is shouting about pain or something is transported on a stretcher to another facility. His son, about my age, balding, with a Larry Fine hairstyle, wearing pale pink tennis shorts and a pale pink polo shirt, comforts and reassures his father that all is well as they leave. The son’s pink Hello Kitty backpack is the last thing I notice of the two. (“That’s odd”, meaning the backpack, is my mental note.)
We wait some more. Another elderly lady, age 83, is waiting at the nurses station on her stretcher until a room opens up. She too is lucid and a little embarrassed to be causing “all this fuss”.
Dorothy needs to go to the Ladies Room and Nora, the RN working with her, takes her. When Dorothy returns, we talk about The Thin Man, prompted by the name Nora, Nora Charles being the name of Myrna Loy’s character. We both agree about what a good movie it was and both of us concur that Asta was a really cute dog.
Finally, Simon, the PA, comes in. He is handsome, about six feet tall, Latino, with a neatly trimmed black beard and black horn-rimmed glasses. (They were the style made famous by Barry Goldwater, half a century ago.) On Simon’s left ring finger is a black wedding band. Interesting.
He lets us know the knee cap is not broken and goes to get the cart containing all the wound-stitching paraphernalia, sutures, needles, Betadine, saline solution, draping cloths, bandages, other dressings. He returns and gets to work, first numbing the wound area with Xylocaine. The suturing is somewhat painful and I hold Dorothy’s hand. It takes about an hour to close a gaping wound with fifteen stitches. Simon tells us that she needs an immobilizer for her knee and that Nora will bring it in when she returns with the discharge instructions and a prescription for Lortab. Dorothy is calm, relieved it’s over, and we wait some more for Nora to return with a wheelchair for transport and the aforementioned stuff.
Getting outside, I discover that at 3 PM, it is sweltering. I pull the car up to the exit. A burly male nurse gets her from wheelchair to car and we head to her house. The big challenge is getting her out of the car, a full-size 1998 Mercury Grand Marquis LS (Dad’s old car), without banging her leg around too much. We get her out and into the house.
At this point, she calls her son Harvey, recounting the story, assuring him that she’s OK, and asks him to arrange for a home aide to be with her while she is temporarily incapacitated. At this point I leave to go home, eat some lunch, fetch my phone charger, and get the salmon, tomatoes and cantaloupe I had been planning to fix for J’s and my dinner. The fresh basil, balsamic dressing and Gorgonzola crumbles are also packed.
I return. The house, being the house of a 90 year old, could double as a sauna. I turn on the air conditioning. The home care coordinator comes, as does Harvey. They map out a plan for care for the next few days, while I rest a bit. The home care person is very reassuring and Harvey, Dorothy and I are pleased with what she suggests.
Harvey and Home Care Lady leave. I start dinner, hunting for what I need in a strange kitchen. There is some dried tarragon to season the salmon. I find a grill pan in the oven. I figure out how a strange oven works. Solid state electronic controls mean that turning a simple, mechanical knob to the right setting in a simple, familiar manner is out of the question. It is a Bosch oven, very nice, all in all, with a convection feature. In about a half hour, the fish is ready. The tomato is sliced, garnished with fresh basil, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette dressing with the Gorgonzola crumbles completing the presentation.
Dorothy loves her dinner. The tomato is a local tomato, from Hanover County, northeast of town. These are the prized tomatoes of the Richmond area, unquestionably delicious. The tomato is as tasty as its reputation promised it would be.
Dorothy has found a walker (my late Aunt Midge’s). It expedites getting out of her chair, where she sits with leg elevated per the discharge instructions. She uses the bathroom while I prep the cantaloupe. It too is delicious. A rainy May has meant some fine produce this year.
Comfortable, confident she can get along on her own for the night, Dorothy sends me home. Around 8:45, I arrive home, recount the day’s events to J and prepare her a plate of grilled salmon and fresh tomatoes from the leftovers I brought. I sit for a while, then strip out of my sweaty clothes, and take the nicest shower I have had in a long time.The patchouli-scented soap is a real pleasure. I decide to sleep nude, luxuriating in the clean feeling and before I know it, I am asleep.
A day well spent. A job happily done.