So, when we last saw our intrepid hero, he was lying in bed, trying to sleep off the effects of a fairly minor-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things crash, and worrying about a smashed indicator and a parking ticket.
By about 7pm, he’d been persuaded to call 111, just to get checked out. The story continues;
“Is that a male name, or a female name?” “It’s just my name”
The dispatcher really needed to know. This was the most deadly important thing. Having found my records by my address, my full name, and my date of birth, they had to know. This was the thing that would determine if I was the right person, or some kind of imposter.
“Yes, but is it a name name, or a female name.”
I bit my tongue against saying “It’s the name I lowsided my bike in.” and answered. She seemed relieved. Now she knew whether to send the Cindy’s Dream Ambulance, or the Thomas the Tankambulance.
But the short version was that I needed the ambulance.
The paramedics arrived within half an hour, and were basically the traditional Good Cop, Bad Cop. One sympathised about how bad EDS was, the other demanded to know why I didn’t have a job. One commisserated about the bike and talked about his friends who were bikers, and the other told me that I couldn’t take my morphine or my stick into hospital, since I “didn’t need them”, and actively tookt he morphine out of my hand and put it out of reach. I didn’t have the strength to point out that this was immediately contrary to the hospital’s guidelines on medication, which say that you should always bring your medication with you.
The tone from both of them was pretty much “And you rode home, got changed, made yourself some tea, went upstairs, got into bed, and waited five hours before deciding that it was worth calling an ambulance? After crashing your bike and turning your foot through a hundred and eighty degrees? You’re an idiot.” but from one of them it was affectionate and understanding, and from the other it had a ring of disbelief about it.
Thankfully, the more pleasant one was the one who sat with me in the back of the ambulance, after they’d slid me down the stairs in an evac chair (Hell on the lower back, by the way, avoid if you can), and passed me the nozzle of the entonox. He said that if he’d not just taken my pulse (135) he wouldn’t have believed how much pain I was in, because I was keeping it together rather well. I thanked him, disclosed that as soon as I took the entonox the mask would crack and I’d just be like a normal person in pain, then took it anyway. It took two lungfuls for me to start crying uncontrollably and screaming in pain, then about three more before I wasn’t in pain anymore, and was just really upset.
On the drive up, we were overtaken by a delivery boy on a scooter, who was being flung aorund in the gale-force winds as much as I had been. No amount of financial compensation should make it worthwhile to risk your arse on wet roads in the dark, in gale-force winds, on a bike that weighs next to nothing.
We got to the LGI, I got settled into a booth for a long wait, and was plied with morphine. Nurses came and went, took my blood pressure and pulse, and it wasn’t all that long before I met the first doctor, whom I’ll call Dr RZ. RZ was really helpful, and very much into the school of “You have to look at, and touch, your patients as well as asking them questions.” He felt around my ankles, knees, hips, ribs, hands, the worst of the shoulders, and listened when I said that the pain from the crash and pain from EDS weren’t all that different – Both came with a lot of stiffness and soreness, both hurt when lying still as well as moving, both made things weak and fail to hold weight. He decided on x-rays for the knee, the hip, the whole pelvis, since a hundred-and-fifty-kilo motorcycle had fallen on it at fairly high speed, and the ribs, since they looked cracked from the outside. He also knew to ask the important question; “Is the bike all right?”
Radiology was great, and prompt – Two impossibly young technicians, both eager to do their jobs right and to make sure that the patient was fine and in one piece, who took endless views of basically all of me, whilst making cheerful small-talk about radiology in general. And then I was wheeled back to my bay to wait.
I must have waited quite a while, since it was nearly midnight when I asked if I could have a cup of tea, and was refused, and by that point I’d done a lot of embroidery and read a lot more of the Reverse Of The Medal.
It was one in the morning by time I was visite by Dr RZ again, along with another doctor who must have been an orthopaedic that I’ll call VT, because he was the tallest person I’ve ever seen. Now it was VT’s turn to try mobilising my leg, which he managed, and then said “Yep, this and the x-rays… You’ve got a chipped fibula. Which takes 13% of your weight, so walking is going to hurt.”
Comisserations were passed around, I declined having a pot on it because I wanted to be upand about, and I was plied with more morphine and told that I could go home.
And that was when I descended into hell.
I’d come out with no money, in my pyjamas, with only the bag that I’d taken out with me in the morning, which contained a towel, a notebook, a novel, some embroidery and, as I later realised, an empty bottle of morphine. So I went to the nurses station to ask if they could book me patient transport. Nope, they didn’t do that sort of thing, I should have thought about that before I left the house. They could give me a number for a minicab firm though. I tried six minicab firms, under their watchful eye, none of which were picking up, because it was a Saturday night at half past one.
The matron told me to walk down the corridor to the hospital account phone, since then the biggeest local minicab firm would have to pick up. Lo, they did not, even though I’d walked all the way through the department to get to the phone.
I came back to the nurses’ station. I was told that I’d just have to go out and try to hail a taxi from outside.
The nearest cab rank was at the railway station. So out I went, into a hundred-year-storm, freshly dosed with far too much morphine so I felt sick, in a pair of flannel pyjama bottoms, a t-shirt, one thick sock and one thin sock, trainers with the laces untied, a walking stick and a broken leg. At about half past one in the morning.
I was halfway to the station before a passer-by, a South African exchange student, stopped to help me. She gave me her scarf, sat me down in the lee of a building, phoned another dozen minicab companies for me, phoned two of her friends who had cars, all the while coming back to check on me between calls, to make sure that I hadn’t frozen or died, until eventually she managed to flag down a taxi for me. Grateful in extremis, I gave back her scarf and wished her well, and was still mumbling my incoherent thanks long after the taxi was speeding along the ring-road back to my house.
I got home, told Dearest and a few others that I had indeed ridden home on a broken leg, in a storm that had closed half of the country, and passed out in a heap on my bed.