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The Fall

June 12, 2008

corey says…After our marvelous meal at Fiacri House, Liam talking with the owner about arranging a special meal for his upcoming guests who will be celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Liam’s mom-Pat- and I were heading to the parking area. When we reached the door, we were greeted by a small dog, wet from the misty rain outside.

Pat worked to block the animal from entering the building. I told her not to mind the dog and swatted him away with my foot. He skirted out of the reach of my boot to Pat’s opposite side. As we stepped out the door, I reached in my pocket for the car keys. That’s when I noticed Pat leaning forward in a most unusual manner. “What the heck is she doing?” I thought as the dog was running circles around her.

She continued to lean forward in slow motion. Her knee hit the ground before I realized she was falling. After her knee was in the gravel the slow-motion stopped, and she tumbled to her right…first her arm hitting the ground, then her forehead. She moaned as her body rolled until she was face-up.

She immediately tried picking her head up off the ground and her right hand reached for her brow. Blood was already pouring out of her headwound. I could see she felt the blood in her hand and when she looked at her red fingers, she heaved with a bit of panic, “Oooh,” she moaned.

I zipped around her and held her head with both hands, “Just sit still for a second.” She tried to pull herself up once more before falling back in exhaustion. I layed her head back, jumped up and stuck my head in the building, “Liam, come here. Liam!”

I saw Liam look at me and give a look like, “not now.”

“Liam, now!” and I rushed back to his mother. Liam later told me the look he gave was, “I can’t pose for pictures right now.” Boy was he wrong, and fortunately, it only took a second for him to realize something serious had just happened.

He and the owner of the restaurant were outside a moment later. Liam and I were both holding her upright. Blood was dripping in rose petal-sized blots all over her pink top.

Somehow the owner managed to make the dog disappear and fetch a wet cloth in only a matter of a minute. By the second minute, he had a chair standing by in and two pillows lining the gravel drive for Pat to rest upon. Pat was eager to get off the wet gravel, but we urged her to stay put. “I think I’m going to pass out,” she said as the blood filled the towel.

Liam soothed her, reminded her to breathe and recounted what had just happened. The owner brought more cloths and after a minute or two helped us put Pat in the chair. She sighed as she tried to relax.

Without us even seeing her, our waitress had come outside, collected up the miscellaneous phones, glasses, wallets, keys and other items and put them on a pile out of the rain. She also brought out a second chair and encouraged Pat to elevate her feet. Then suddenly an umbrella appeared over her head.

I knew Pat would be okay when she said, “Oh, just get me in the car. I don’t want anyone to see me like this.” That little hint of vanity and embarrassment was a welcome sign — she wasn’t worried whether she was going to live or die.

We sat a moment longer. The owner being wonderfully attentive and our waitress charming Pat with kind words. The blood from her forehead was easing up, a bandage was applied and pretty soon Pat was laughing a bit with the waitress. We sat for a good while before I brought the car around, and we loaded Pat inside.

Liam finished up his business inside, and the other owner who was also the chef came out to the car to check on Pat. She was genuinely concerned and asked if Pat wanted to go to the hospital. Pat was self-conscious from all the attention and insisted they not worry, “Oh, accidents happen.” The other owner appeared again and insisted Pat take a bottle of wine and asked that she call him the next day to let him know she was all right.

With that we drove off, but Pat’s brow was swelling and the blood was darkening the bandage. We decided we’d go home by way of Nenagh hospital just to have the wound looked at.

We pulled into Nenagh, and thank goodness we knew where the hospital was located, because there were no signs to guide our way. We pulled up to the main entrance where a security guard was puffing on a cigarette. When our car pulled in, he put out his smoke and stepped up to the car.

Liam explained the situation, and he ran inside to bring out a wheel chair. Pat was loaded in and the guard pushed her to “Casualty.” I found the word quite heavy-handed, but was grateful he was leading the way. We made one quick turn and Pat was wheeled into what we would call the Emergency Room.

A nurse was immediately gathering the details. Liam went inside and I sat and read a trashy “Hello” magazine. It was interesting to experience so few layers between the patient and the medical staff. I’m used to hospitals with check-in desks and locked doors and extensive procedural policies. Now, it might be because it was 11:30 at night, but things happened very quickly and without multiple forms ad questions about insurance.

A doctor and two nurses attended to Pat. They cleaned and dressed her wound and revealed the bruises that were beginning to appear on her hand and knee. The doctor was confident that her hand wasn’t broken and that the rest of her injuries would heal, but she warned her that she would be quite sore tomorrow.

The services were provided at no charge…it was standard operating procedure in “Casualty” and since there were no x-rays or special procedures, there was no need to charge us…even though Medicare would have covered Pat overseas.

This was reassuring…and reminded me that it is nice to be in a culture where going to the doctor was about focusing on health and not avoiding treatment out of fear of cost or increased insurance premiums. Note…socialized medicine does have its drawbacks, but for our situation, it was a god-send.

I have to give a special thank you to everyone who helped out. Especially the folks at Fiacri House. They had a natural way of taking care of an emergency while remembering the human element. Their concern was sincere…I didn’t pick up on any “Oh, God, please don’t sue us” attitude…their expressions were genuine and selfless. They’re good people who also provide good food.

And, I was so grateful that Nenagh Hospital was open for business and staffed with qualified individuals. It’s under threat for closing, and that is quite shocking when I see how much of a geographic region they provide services.

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