A chapter of accidents
‘Can you drive me to the boat?’
It’s our biannual ritual. Every autumn I run him to our boat at the marina just down the road. We fill the car with all the loose boat paraphernalia and then he drives the boat along the coastline to the next marina where it will be lifted and stored in dry dock for the winter. I drive the car from one marina to the other, pick him up and bring him home. Job jobbed. Come spring, we repeat the process in reverse.
So I slip bare feet into Uggs, grab a sweater and my phone. Just 20 minutes later I’m sitting with our dog, J, by the second jetty waiting for him to hop back into the car.
‘Can you bring some paper to the boat, I’ve fallen.’
He certainly has. The boat is rapidly turning into a wannabe crime scene as blood pours from several cuts and drips relentlessly off his chin. Paper wipes supporting if not saving the day, we establish he’s split his eyebrow, lips and nose. I even suspect his nose is broken.
‘We need to get you to the ER,’ I say in an amazed daze.
Now what is it with men and their health? Give a man a cold, and he’s truly sick. But give a man an injury, and he channels Mike Tyson.
‘No need,’ he splutters between blood wipes. ‘Although I’m a bit concerned about this.’ He holds up a right limb sporting a painful looking egg-style swelling that’s visibly growing. I’ve never seen an injury like it.
‘We’re going to the ER!’ I repeat. He sighs under the painful pressure of female persistence.
Back at the house to drop off J, our daughter is alarmed by her father’s bloody condition.
‘I thought you were just going to move the boat!’ She accuses us, reasonably. Well, umm, we were. And now I’m just going to drive your father to the ER. Nothing to worry about, see you soon.
With a lacerated face and a wrist now the size of an egg box, we arrive at the ER and are immediately checked in by a competent triage nurse. Orthopaedic or surgical? She decides on surgical first as we are unsure how seriously hurt his poor face is. His wrist can wait.
Shown into an examination room, he begins to explain the story again. This time to an ER surgical nurse. It’s the fourth time I’ve heard it. How he slipped and hit his face on the metal grids on the…
I open my eyes and see the overhead fluorescent lights. Too bright. I close them again.
‘That’s it. I’m admitting her.’ Says a voice at the end of some tunnel.
I sense someone leaning over me and realise I’m on the floor with my feet on the stool I was sitting on, surrounded by medics.
‘What the heck happened?’ I ask my husband, who is watching keenly, arm in the air.
‘You just slid onto the floor, then when they brought you round, you said ‘I’m fine!’ and fainted again. If I hadn’t been so worried, it would have been hilarious.’ He explains, finally permitting himself a little chuckle at my expense.
They lift me onto a gurney and attach an oxygen line to my nose.
‘Did you black out or white out?’
Huh? And with that I’m being rolled off to thorax. And my long-suffering husband is being led away to the orthopaedic section.
In a quiet corner of the heart section, I’m hooked up to a ECG machine.
‘Your husband is being sent for an X-ray,’ explains a kindly nurse. ‘We’re keeping track of him and he’s being kept up to speed about you.’
And it is round about now I have a dreadful thought. Not the Has he broken his arm? or Is my heart ok? kind. No, this was far more imperative. And more along the lines of: What panties am I wearing? Why the heck didn’t I put a bra on before we left the house? I’m not even wearing socks! Just some tatty leggings, tee and sweater. I’m being admitted to hospital looking like a half-naked Bridget Jones!
This thought must alarm my heart too because the nurse suddenly reappears to check my pulse. And tell me that he is now having his broken wrist set in plaster. And that he knows where I am and he will be along as soon as possible and that I will soon be taken to my ward.
‘Not often we get a couple in together!’ she grins, her Saturday entertainment looking up.
A man with a battered face and fresh white plaster from his fingers to his elbow appears in the doorway.
“You ok?” he asks.
I feel a little guilty.
‘Yep,’ I say from behind my oxygen line. ‘You?’
He grins and gingerly lifts his arm. ‘Yep.’
And once I’m safely tucked into my ward bed, he leaves to go and explain to our daughter why her mother was admitted to hospital while she was just taking her husband to the ER.
Whenever my children have a mishap, I always play sensible by giving them a solemn stare and asking: So what have we learned from this?
And what have I learned from this?
1. You never know what’s going to happen next.
2. Hospital staff are fundamentally amazing. They dedicate their professional lives to doing what’s best on behalf of others in a given situation.
3. A black out is a drop in blood pressure. A white out is caused by lack of oxygen.
4. My heart, thankfully, is in perfect working condition.
5. Never, ever, leave home braless and wearing panties you wouldn’t want to be caught dead in. 😉