Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Another view of old

It is day 3 of a 4-day festival, and though fun, it is beginning to take a toll on me. I am used to my 8 hours of sleep, so working for 6 hours, then volunteering for 10 on only 4 hours of sleep is rather exhausting. I wouldn't trade it though, and I know none of my partners would either. We’re having too much fun, playing cards, watching movies, eating yummy but oh-so-unhealthy festival food, and oh yeah, treating patients. A lot of patients actually, it has been a very busy weekend.

John, NDP and I are tooling around in the golf cart - it even has lights and a siren, although I must admit that the siren is rather dinky, it sounds more like a bike horn. Nevertheless, it is a very cool cart, we can scream around the park rather quickly if needed, with a stretcher on the back to transport patients to the waiting ambulance or just back to our post. John is talking with his former preceptor at the edge of the park; we're just wasting time, since we have a lot of it. Sitting on the back of the cart, I look over the crowd, milling about in the summer sun. I love knowing that I am here to help these people; it is a really cool feeling to be the one that people call for help. I hear Roy call us over the radio, but neither of the guys hear him, so I answer. "There is a woman bleeding by the washrooms on the East side of the vendor area." He responds. "We're on our way,” I answer back as I shout to the guys that we have a call. They saunter over and I tell them what's up, not that I can give them any details. Flicking on the lights, we cut through the crowd to the other side of the park.

There is a small crowd there; I pull on my gloves as I hop off the cart and head towards them. The woman in the centre is very old, but stands straight and tall as the blood drips down her leg. Her daughter, who is also quite old, hovers around nervously, much more concerned then her injured mother is. As I have her sit on a chair borrowed from the nearest tent, I ask her what happened. "I was looking at the beautiful roses, see, and I wanted to get close enough to smell them. You can't go through life without smelling the roses you know; I just failed to realize they were quite so thorny. It really isn't that bad, not worth all this trouble, but I can't seem to stop the bleeding." She speaks very properly, almost regally. I wipe the blood from her leg and hold pressure on the deepest wound, but she firmly declines my offer to wrap it. "I'm 86 years old and this is nothing, dearie." I suggest she see a doctor if she has any more trouble getting bleeding to stop, which she also firmly dismisses, "Look at all of these, " she says, pointing to numerous scars, "I never saw a doctor for any of these - look at that one - this is nothing compared to that one." She is incredibly wrinkled, but there is a healthy confidence about her, I get a sense that she has lived a very good life.

As she waves her hands around, I notice the rings. Oh wow, look at all the jewels. Massive diamonds glitter on her fingers while gold bracelets studded with gems circle her withered wrists. A gold chain hangs about her neck, diamond earring stud her ears. They are all very real and she wears them well, there is no gaudiness to her attire. She is full of spunk, laughing and joking about the fact that my male partners are not treating her, she expresses her disappointment clearly. She speaks of her love for roses, how she simply cannot resist them, even with all their thorns.

I hold pressure for a few more minutes as John fills out the paperwork, then with our release, she walks off on the arm of her daughter, her head held high and her back straight. John and I discuss her several times over the course of the day, something about her made an impact on both of us. Her manner of speaking, her attitude, her appearance, her daughter's obvious love and careful attention. She is an incredible woman, we only hope to be half as spry when we reach 86.

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