My trip … to the emergency department (and what I learned)

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Red. Red blood. Red blood all over my hand. On the paving stones all around my left hand.

Glasses? I lift my head slightly. Ah, smashed.

Bones? I move a few limbs. Don’t seem to be broken. Good.

A voice. Young woman.

“Hello, my name’s Melissa and I’m a PCSO. I’ve called the ambulance. I’ve got your phone. Is there anyone else you’d like me to call?”

Another voice. Young man. Ambulance.

“We’re going to stand you up.”

Aaargh. “Dizzy.” As they stand me up, underneath me is the bread I was carrying, now perfectly flat. Everyone marvels at its flatness.

Now I’m lying down in the ambulance. Much better. I see my husband. “I can’t come with you because of Covid.” Okay, I’ll be fine.

Ambulance man. “We’re going to Airedale Hospital. It’s six miles. The lady said you were walking on the towpath and got your foot caught in a mooring ring.”

Ah yes. People coming towards me. Moving aside. Socially distancing. Something grabs my foot. Falling – – –

“Thank you.” He carries on talking to me and I burble on. I tell him that I’m a communication skills teacher at Leeds Medical School, because my pride doesn’t want him to think that I’m just a confused blood-soaked old woman who’s stupidly fallen over. I tell him how good Melissa’s communication was, and how I like the fact that he’s talking to me, and that he told me it was six miles so I know how long the journey will take.

I’ve no idea what he’s saying to me really, because everything is a bit blurry in my head.

Hospital. I am somehow on a trolley now. “We’ll take you to the waiting area.”

“Can I walk?” They let me try. I stand up and find to my joy that I can.

I sit in a large chair and wait. I know it will be a long wait, but it’s blissfully quiet – no visitors because of Covid. People come and go. People with much worse things going on. I don’t mind the wait but wish my tongue didn’t keep finding the big hole in my lip.

Someone brings me a cheese sandwich. I imagine it covered in barbed wire.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can eat it because of my mouth.”

She brings me some orange squash and a yogurt. That works, kind of. Quite a bit of blood.

Two doctors appear. They are both Leeds graduates. Yay! One is a consultant, mentoring the other who is a registrar. They are very friendly.

“Put the anaesthetic at the base of her gums and it will spread upwards.”

She did, and waited a short while. “Does this feel sharp?”

“No. Can’t feel it.” 

“Are you sure?” She is surprised.

“See,” says the consultant happily. “I told you how well this works.”

Three stitches, and I’m done. I call my husband. Whilst I’m waiting for him to come, the paramedic who was with me in the ambulance notices me and comes over to ask how I am.

“Much better, thank you.”

A week later, and here are some things I have learned:

  1. Being knocked unconscious is really strange. 
  2. A split lip, whilst healing, hurts more than it has any right to do. Come on now, lip, you’re just being ridiculous! Owwwww. 
  3. If you fall really heavily and land on bread it goes flatter than you would believe possible. Don’t feel you have to try this out, just take my word for it.
  4. In this time of Covid and Brexit, when everything is uncertain, and there is so much criticism and anger and division, I had nothing but calm and compassion from Melissa the PCSO, the people of Skipton, the paramedics and all the hospital staff.
  5. We must make sure we keep our NHS.  It doesn’t care who you are, or what you’re doing. If you fall over, it will pick you up.
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