Since I stopped working two months ago, I have had a constant chest infection. I’m pretty sure it is do with our extended winter and the fact that it is still cold and that I’ve got no job to distract me from coughing and that it’s a good opportunity to get attention…. but, given that it’s getting on my nerves and stopping me sleeping, the doctor decided to send me off to hospital for a raft of blood tests.
I went a few days ago.
I took ticket number 89 and they were only on number 47 ! An old lady was wheeled into place opposite me by a younger woman, who then sat next to her. They both smiled at me and I noticed that the lady in the wheelchair was smartly dressed and she sat up straight and proud, and was very well-spoken.
She asked her carer what the number on the ticket was and was told 93 and she noted that they were in for a long wait. The local newspaper that was in her lap then slipped off her knees and fell in front of me. I picked it up and handed it to her with a smile and she thanked me very graciously. She gave it to her carer and asked her to read out some of the articles, which she did, and they then talked about some of the stories.
I was quite fascinated by the two of them.
In between the reading, the old lady asked a couple of times what the number was on the ticket but the carer didn’t answer which I thought was a little rude. A little while later, I noticed the woman was not sitting up so straight but seemed to sag a little in her chair. While her carer was reading, she pulled her sleeve and asked “what time is your appointment?” The carer said “There’s no time – it’s not an appointment.” “Oh” said the old lady “what is it then?” “It’s a blood test remember and it’s for you, not me.” The old lady’s eyes widened and the carer patted her on the knee and reassured her that it would be OK and over very quickly but they just had to wait a while first. The old lady slumped into her chair and stared at the floor while the carer just continued to read the newspaper quietly to herself.
I suddenly felt anxious and wanted to do something, but wasn’t sure what.
Then, about ten minutes later, the old lady sat up straight in her chair again and started to talk about one of the stories in the paper. I can’t remember the details but it was something about a man being sacked when his employer found out he was gay and she gave her opinions on why that was so wrong and proved very eloquent on employment law and human rights. She broke it off to ask what number was on the ticket and was again ignored, and then she suddenly asked where Brian was. Her carer asked “Brian? You mean your husband? He’s not with us anymore.” “Why?” asked the old lady. “Is he up in London?” “No” said the carer “He died a while back, didn’t he.” The old lady looked confused and then anger flashed across her face as she said “What a wicked thing to say. You’re a horrid girl. I shan’t talk to you any more.” And she sat staring at the floor again while the carer continued to read the paper.
I finally got it then.
It had taken a while to figure out as the old lady had seemed so well. I bet she was a teacher once, maybe even a headmistress, but I guess dementia doesn’t care about the past.
Number 89 finally flashed up and I walked away as the old lady, forgetting her anger, asked what ticket number they had……