The GP had said “It sounds like it might be a fracture. Go straight to X-Ray. Can you manage Mum in the car?”
I will try.
She had had a fall the previous week, and had been fine until now, six days later, but could not take the weight on her legs this morning because of acute pain.
Mum is sitting in her bedroom. I know that in the night she has made it to the loo, a few metres away, so she had been mobile just a few hours earlier. I help her get dressed, and into the wheelchair. She is in quite a lot of pain.
She needs to make a few steps down out of the house with the aid of the rail and then the zimmer before I can get the chair for her again, and just makes it. She is heavy, a size 18-20, but now shorter than me. She used to be 5’6″ and is now about 5’2″.
I have to get the wheelchair right against the side of the car and then help her so that she can pull herself with the straps and the aid of the door. She then has to swivel herself round to sit down. Her hip hurts a lot as she does this, but she is ok sitting down. We have to repeat this process in reverse to get her out. It’s exhausting for us both but at least we are not waiting about for a non-urgent ambulance.
Mum is taken off for X-Ray almost immediately.
In the waiting room a tiny auxiliary arrives, and asks a man, the only other person in the waiting room, to get out of the way while she removes a load of used gowns into her trolley to take for the wash.
“I’m sorry.”, he says.
“Don’t apologithe. You, you were doing nothing wrrrong!”, she lisps and purrs pointedly at him in an Iberian accent.
“Oh, ok, thank you!”
“You tho polite in thith country, you too polite, what you thank me for? Without you, I have no job. You think about that. Without thick people, all these people worrrking in this big hospital have no job. Hundreds of people, doctors and nurses and porrrters and cleaners! ha! Don’t you go getting well too soon! We relying on you!”
I smile. She’s a busy bee, she’ll be off being busy somewhere else soon.
“No really. You think about that. Without bad people there would be no police. Think of all the polithe without jobth, eh! Then they would turn to bad. And then we would need polithe again, eh! You ever thought about? What we would do without bad people, without thick people! No jobth here. No hothpitalth without thick people. I would be waiting table on minimum wage paying my tipth to my manager jutht to keep me in the job, huh!”
Her voice dropped a register as she saw she had me. “That’th what I was doing before. Shit job in fanthy rethtaurant in Wandthworth. Thith job, yeah, I thometimeth have to clean up shit, but people thank me, you know. It’th a good job.”
I smile at her. “It is a good job. Thank you.”
“Noooo. Don’t thank me! I need thith job. Thank you. Thank you.”.
I am dazed by this mighty atom in a green tunic who had run out of jobs to do in the waiting room, but who now has an audience which she knows was keeping her in her job: I had brought a book to read, but I am forced to look into her eyes and agree with her. She is not going to go away.
“You know, you look like nithe perthon, you give to charrity rrright?”.
I nod and nod. Where’s this heading? The man in the opposite corner looks up again and catches my eye.
“Me, never,” she almost erupted with rage. “The only charrrity I give to ith run from here by a nurthe. We pack toyth and toiletrieth into shoe boxtheth and that nurthe she takes them by van to poorrr people in Africa. She showed me pictureth of the shoe boxes being given to the poorrr people otherwithe, me, I would never have given her anything, but she’th a good person, yeth she ith. She doeth it. She doeth the job. No money watheted thee. You, YOU, mutht never give to charrrity when you don’t know where your money ith going.”. She puts her finger down. She has been waving it under my nose.
She pauses for breath. A supervisor glances in and our auxiliary slips like a little otter into the green curtains of the green walled changing rooms, ostensibly looking for green gowns, although she already knows there are none there.
The supervisor passes. Our inquisitor returns.
“You know canther charrrities, rrright? Millionth of dollarth are given to canther charities. Millionth. Trillionth probably, who knowth? Do you know?”
Neither I nor the man in the corner know.
“Well, let me tell you…..”
Well there was no thtopping her.
“……in Brathil, rrright, yearth ago, rright, there wath thith guy and he got canther, don’t know what kind of canther, and he cured it rright, with the bark of a local trree, made some pathte out of it and applied it or drrunk a powder he made out of it, and he cured himthelf! Amathing right? Do you believe that?”
As if we could speak.
“Anyway, he told the local doctorrr, and the doctor, he cured everrrybody, I mean EV-ERRR-Y-BOD-Y in the dithtrict. And the doctor he told the local pharrrmatheutical company, and you know where they are now? Eh? The doctorrr and that man who dithcovered how to cure canther? “.
We shake our heads.
“You think they rrrich men rrright? Where you think they arrre?”
Her eyebrows, plucked and redrawn into question marks, contort.
“They in prithon.”
She shakes her head. We all shake our heads.
I am thinking that I would have had time to nip home and let the dog out while I was listening to this while mum was being X-rayed.
“Thothe fat cat, thothe money rrraking bathtardth in thothe charitieth, they making a good living on your money. Yourrr money. Huh. You keeping thothe people in firth clathe travel. There’th already a cure for canther. Don’t give them any more of your money now! Eh!”
We find ourselves in collusion with her. We both agree never to give cancer charities.
“You know I tell you, I told you about my latht job, in the rethtaurant, rrright, dirty bathtard owner?”
“Every Thurthday, right, who cometh every Thurthday lunchtime for fantathtic meal? You know? You don’t know?”
The man’s wife has come back from X-ray now and he wants to get away but he can’t. His wife is trapped too, and she doesn’t know why. There’s a big open door right next to them.
“Fat catth from the counthil. And fat catth from the canther charity. They’ve got headquarterth in the next rroad. They get together every Thurthday for a fantathtic meal. Thteakth, good wine, the BETHT. Every Thurthday, I wait at their table. I have to pay my tipth, and man, they tip well, to the bathtard manager, to keep my job. Who payth for all that? Haha! You do. YOU DO!”.
Just then, the radiographer wheels Mum out. He is beaming. He tells us the they have X-Rayed her from every angle, and there is no fracture.
“So why can’t she stand?”
“I don’t know, but its not a fracture.”
“What do we do now then?”.
“I don’t know. Here she is! I am leaving her back with you now. Good-bye.”. Off he strides. The other man and his wife have escaped so quickly I didn’t see the going of them.
“I know what you do. You coming with me to A and E. They look after you there. You thee. I look after you.”.
And she took the handles of the wheelchair and pushed Mum to Casualty, and that is how Mum spent the next two weeks with nothing wrong with her apart from a sore hip, in Hospital.
They never did find out what was wrong with her. They made all the right, interested sort of noises, but they really were not interested in why she could not walk.
They inserted a catheter almost straight away so that she would have very little need to move, fed her well, kept her clean and safe.
It did my head in. In my opinion Mum needed physiotherapy so that she would get better, not a fortnight’s bed rest, and I wrote a letter to the council, which is my next entry.