Friday, September 08, 2006

Strange trip

Nicky and Stacy, Enid's two carers, not having any reply from the front door, walked round to the back of the bungalow and peered through various windows. Eventually they made out the shape of Enid on all fours by the side of her bed, not moving. She did not turn round when Nicky banged on the glass, so whilst Stacy looked around for a way of getting in, Nicky got her mobile phone out and called for an ambulance.

When my crewmate and I stepped into the house we found them all in the bedroom, Enid sitting hunched and furious on the edge of her bed, sipping from a mug of tea, her brittle white hair tufting away from her head at all angles. 'Clear off,' she growled. Nicky told Enid not to be so rude. Stacy laughed and glanced at her watch.
'What's happened?', I said, whilst E. got out the kit we needed to take some obs.
Before Nicky had a chance to say anything, Enid slopped the mug down towards her lap and said: 'Nothing's happened. Who are you, anyway? What do you want all that for? This is my house and I don't want you in it.'
Nicky told me how they had found her, and added that she thought Enid wasn't herself.
I looked around the room. Above the bed, a low shelf with a couple of crucifixes, a few lurid prints of Jesus, and a bear with 'Best Nan' on its chest. The room was small and boxy, with just the bed, a rickety wardrobe, a zimmer frame and a commode. The air was as thick and yellow as the light.
'She's ninety-two', said Nicky, and then added in a confidential whisper, with a dip of the eyes to indicate something bad below: 'cancer of the lung'.
'Enid', I said, 'we're all a bit worried about you. We want to know what happened, how you came to be on the floor like that. We need to do a few little tests just to see how you are in yourself. Will that be okay?'
Amazingly, she gave the mug of tea to Stacy and submitted to blood pressure, BM and SATS measurements. Whilst E. took all these, I asked her to tell me what happened.
'I was just about to go to bed when those men who stay here sometimes came over and took me to Bognor. We were down on the front, by the sea. I hadn't been there for a while, and I felt a bit lost. I asked for help, but everybody just stood around, not looking. There was a crowd of them, very tall, with big elbows, sticking up, you know. Anyway, they brought me home again. And then when I was walking round the end of the bed to get into it, one of them waved his arms or something and it took me by surprise. What did he do that for? Anyway, I ended up on the floor. But I hadn't been there long when you came in.'
'Who did you say these men are, Enid?'
'You know who they are. Don't try and pretend you don't. The ones that come here. They live here sometimes.' She suddenly reached over to the side of the bed to grab a walking stick that was propped up there. 'If you don't get out of here I'll hit you with this.'
For the next hour we tried to convince Enid to come with us to hospital, but she was adamant that she would not. We could not leave her on her own so obviously confused, so I called her GP. Enid demanded to speak to her.
'Hello?' she said 'Dr Barnet? This is Enid. Now, you know me. You know I'm allright. Tell these people to go away and leave me alone.'
There was a pause whilst Dr Barnet asked Enid to tell her what had happened. Enid went over the story about her trip to Bognor with the gang of men with large elbows. She finished by saying: 'I'm not crazy. You know me, Dr Barnet. Don't let them force me out of my home. I want to stay here.' Dr Barnet asked to speak to me again. She agreed to come round to see Enid immediately she had finished the morning surgery.
Nicky and Stacy said that they couldn't stay any longer as they had a busy morning ahead of them and were already very late. Stacy found the name of Enid's granddaughter who lived nearby, so I rang her to ask if she could come over and stay with Enid whilst we waited for the GP to arrive. It took some persuading, but eventually she agreed.
'I'm not well myself.' she said.

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