Most of my work within the ambulance service centred around ferrying renal patients to and from hospital for kidney dialysis. Without 4 hours on special kidney machines 3 times a week these patients would not live much longer than a week. So we are fortunate to live in modern times where this technology is available.
Wherever possible a kidney transplant may be available, the ultimate holy grail, donated by a very kind person wishing to enable someone to live a normal life by donating organs in the event of them having a fatal accident. I am so happy that two of my former patients are now able to live complete and normal lives after receiving these priceless gifts ~ a kidney donation for each of my friends ~ wonderful. I have said the meds can have any part of my body when the time comes, provided it is functional of course.
My story this week centres around a 90 year old patient, John, who lived 30 miles away inland from a coastal hospital, where he attended dialysis 3 times a week.
John had lost the use of both legs and the nurses used a hoist to get him in and out of bed into his wheelchair, where I pushed him up a ramp into our Pope Mobile ambulance transport, idea for those journeys.
Little did I know it but he was completely blind, it was not visibly obvious he was, yet somehow he knew exactly where we were at every point of the journey. It was truly astonishing because he made remarks like, "In 200 yards there is a turn to the right coming, give way to vehicles coming to your left once you have made the turn", and "The road veers sharply to the left soon and it is quite a tight bend and quite a steep hill follows." That sort of thing ~ all the way.
It was not long before I realised he was completely blind and I expressed my astonishment that he knew exactly where we were all the time. He said he knew that area like the back of his hand and that he could tell by the bumps and camber of the road and the bends and hills and road speed and what gear I was in, even the cats eyes striking the tyres. He had a mental road map of the journey as we progressed and yard by yard he knew where we were.
He said that we were approaching the nursing home and explained exactly where the entrance was and where to park.
I got him out of the wheelchair and he thanked me for the lovely music and I said I would play it for him every time. We got quite friendly and each time I brought him home I wheeled him to his room and had a chat to him and his wife, who always greeted us with a cup of tea and a cake. The nursing staff were very friendly too and I got to know them quite well.
I remember on warm summer evenings, after I had delivered John safely, the journey back was truly lovely, across country and through Wells, a small Cathedral city in Somerset, and the views across the valleys were truly breathtaking against a striking red sunset ~ glad to be alive indeed.
John got transferred to another hospital so we lost touch ~ I suspect both he and his wife have passed now.
I often think about my former patients. I consider myself most fortunate to have that job, caring and being with people ~ beats the pants off office work any day of the week, in my book.
Next time ~ I could not find where a patient lived and they were unable to tell me . . . HELP