Thursday, 6 January 2011

Lift Assist

Normally, the two-word title of this post indicates what is a frequent and relatively easy call. A faller, most often elderly, just needs help getting back up off the floor again. No life and death emergency, no injuries to treat, just a helping hand.

Norman pushed the pendant round his neck which called the careline, and they called us.

"90 year old male, on the floor, unknown injuries. Possible assist only. Key safe by the front door, number 1234. No further details."

I arrive to find that we don't need the key safe - the door's ajar. I knock and yell as I step over the threshold.

"Ambulance service, where are you?"

"In the front room. Come through."

I walk in past the stairs and through the dated hallway and breakfast room. The lounge is warm, a gas heater blowing full force. Family photographs grace the walls and shelves, some recent, some from times gone by. A black and white of a bride and groom, an enlarged reproduction of the seventy year original, takes pride of place in the centre of the room, right above the fireplace. A younger Norman smiles down onto the room, as an elegant bride stares lovingly into his eyes.

Present-day Norman is sitting quite comfortably in a large recliner arm chair.

"I thought you were on the floor!"

"Where did you get that idea from?"

Apparently careline didn't quite understand the problem before calling for ambulance help.

"So what has happened this morning then, sir?"

"All I said," he laughs, "was that I couldn't get upstairs to bed. I get around alright on my own, but I use the stair-lift to get up and down. Can't quite manage the stairs any more. Damned stair-lift won't work, so I asked if they could send someone to help."

"And here I am. You sit tight for a minute and I'll go have a look at it."

Back at the staircase, the chair stubbornly refuses to move. I push all the buttons I can see, until suddenly I find a key hidden under one of the arm rests. It has two positions.

On.

And off.

A quarter turn and click later, the chair comes to life. I push the buttons, and then it glides all the way up, and gently all the way back down again.

"Norman! Fixed it!" I shout into the lounge. I walk back to help him up, only to find he's already half way to the stairs.

"Well done sir!" The relief is evident. "I've spent the last two hours trying to get that thing to work!"

I explain how I won the battle with the disobedient lift, and he roars with laughter. He takes a seat, presses the button, and I follow the quietly whirring mechanism as it climbs the staircase. Norman makes his way from the top of the stairs to the bedroom and sits himself down on his bed. A small framed photograph sits on the bedside table. The seventy year old original, sitting next to a an empty mug.

"Pretty girl you married."

"Very pretty, until the day she died. She left me four years ago. Used to make us both a cup of cocoa every night as we came up to bed. That's what the mug's from. Every so often I'll make myself a cocoa, but I never use this mug. It's just there for me to look at and remember." 

He stares silently into space, trying to cram in as many memories into a short space of time. 

"I'm sure it's her that gets up to all these high jinks, just to keep me on my toes." He adds after a moment.

"And I'm sure it makes her smile every time, too." 

"More than likely. Thank you so much for your help. At least I can sleep easy now." 

I left the room, turning off the lights as I went, and shut the front door behind me. All that's left to do is the paperwork.

Name: Norman.

Age: 90

Presenting condition: Lift assist.

6 comments:

nickopotamus said...

Awww. A happy story for once :)

Dovid L said...

well she made me smile too.
Lovely story

oneunder said...

I bet that will score low on PRF compliance. Another good one.

Nicki said...

You made my eyes tear here! Love the story and hate those damn chair lifts!!!

Steve said...

I love jobs like that, nice pleasent person...

Rookie Bebe said...

Those are some of my favorite jobs. Me and my partner at the time went to lift assist an elderly lady with brain cancer. Then the husband asked Ed to help with get a cord from behind a dresser. We just stayed as long as we could get away with listening to his storys and looking at his war ribbons. The wife was so lovely. Those are the kind of lift assists I'd do all day. The couple was delightful.