Thursday, March 13, 2008


"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting: The Soul that rises with us, our
life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting, And cometh from afar: Not in entire
forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we
come From God, who is our home…"
--William Wordsworth

12:30am. My gut fills with the familiar shot of nausea inducing adrenaline that comes from a sudden loud noise piercing the silent dark of the bedroom. When will I ever get used to that? I swing my feet out from under the flannel sheets and search for my sweatshirt, fumbling my feet into shoes and feeling blindly for glasses. I leave the house as quietly as possible and slip into the frozen night, saying a quick prayer as my sleepy, growling ignition catches and my car rumbles to life. I drive the empty streets to the station and take my pick of parking spaces.

Our patient is a 92 year old woman at an assisted living facility with difficulty breathing. She had a coughing spell and then got very dizzy, could not catch her breath. Someone who was with her decided she'd better go to the ER and get checked out. No bronchitis or recent colds, surprisingly few chronic meds, and she is able to get on the stretcher with very little assistance. We swaddle her against the punishing cold.

"Will I come back here?"

"Yes ma'am, I'm sure you will, we just want to make sure you are okay."

"I'd better take my glasses. Do you have my glasses? I don't have my glasses. Maybe I should leave them here. Where are my glasses?"

"Why don't we leave them here, so we know where they are and you can get them when you get back."

"Okay. Just don't forget my glasses."

We wheel out of her room and toward the exit while an honor guard of sleepy looking nurses holds all the doors for us. Frigid air eddies through the stairwell as we negotiate doorsills, ramps.

"Will I come back here?"

"Yes ma’am."

I walk around the side as she is being loaded so I can take my seat alongside the stretcher. I try my best to be there when they slide in so they don’t feel alone. As I join her and reach for the blood pressure cuff she turns to me with wide blue eyes and a brilliant smile.

"I’m sorry, do I know you?"

"Yes ma’am, I’m an EMT with Wellsboro and my name is Kimberly. We’re taking you to the hospital now."


We swing onto the main road, back into town, toward the hospital. I put my hand on her arm, to reassure her over the bumps. Her eyes open and I am again treated to the smile, like watching sunrise over and over.

"I’m sorry, do I know you?"

"Yes ma’am."

We trundle into the hospital driveway and she grimaces briefly against the cold when the doors are opened, squinting against the bright busyness of the emergency room. The nurses help transfer her into a bed. I gather our paperwork and give her hand a pat as I leave. She beams with the merry eyes of a sister who has just shared a secret.

1 comment:

Jonny's Mommy said...

I am a puddle of tears right now. Doesn't help that I'm tired and emotional and whatever...but this is just touching and bitter sweet.