is not a place I want to spend the day and then half the evening at.
I was attempting to get other things done early yesterday morning when Middle Cat phoned me and said, "Can you go to Emergency with the Senior Cat? I don't think there's anything wrong - the doctor is just being ultra cautious."
This is the doctor for the residence, not our GP. I haven't actually met either one for the residence. They don't really know the Senior Cat. And Middle Cat actually knows the Senior Cat's various ailments better than they do - and his mobility issues better than they or his GP does. Having a physiotherapist in the family helps.
Middle Cat could not go with the Senior Cat as she had two important appointments, one of them relating to the Senior Cat. That one was very important as it related to his ongoing stay in residence.
I could go - if I made a couple of calls, rearranged something, didn't do the Senior Cat's ironing and a bit more besides. As Middle Cat was talking to me I was looking at this screen and sending out messages to tell people they might need to wait until the evening..."go to bed and sleep" I told those on the other side of the world.
Middle Cat's parting word's were, "Pack some knitting. You might be some time."
Someone, who comes in once a fortnight to help me keep the place under control, was here and took me over to Middle Cat who took me around to the residence. The ambulance to transfer the Senior Cat had not arrived because it was classed as "not urgent" but it did arrive about twenty minutes later.
The Senior Cat was growling softly that he was all right and they were fussing about nothing.
"Not sure if they will let you in as well - because of the Covid thing," one of the ambulance men said. I told him I'd find my own way home if necessary but I didn't think it would be.
It wasn't. One of the problems with mask wearing, and I have mentioned this before, is not being able to read lips. Like many other older people, the Senior Cat does a little of this unconsciously. He is used to listening to me without always seeing my face but strange voices are much harder. Some accents are very hard to understand. The Emergency Department was actually only too happy to have me there. "Cat! Why are you here? Oh, your father? He's okay?"
I told the ED nurse, one I have come across before, that I thought he was. She was about to go off duty but introduced me to those taking over with the words, "If you have communication issues get Cat to help." Thank you - not. I was there for the Senior Cat.
We waited as I expected we would wait. At least the Senior Cat was able to lie in a relatively comfortable bed. The ED was only half full and there was none of the buzz of urgency there often is. All the beeping monitors sounded normal. That was good.
All the usual checks were made. The Senior Cat, worn out by the effort of getting there, dozed off. One of the staff asked me all the usual questions as a very young trainee nurse stood there listening. The Senior Cat had not understood her - hardly surprising as her first language was not English. "He wasn't being rude. He simply didn't understand. He'd actually love to talk to you in the normal way." I explained what is a communication issue for many people his age - an unfamiliarity with an accent which makes it very difficult for older people with a hearing loss to understand what someone is saying.
"That is useful," she told me with a smile, "Thank you." Her supervisor backed me up and they went off. The Senior Cat dozed on until a doctor turned up. She had a good educated Scots accent - the sort the Senior Cat can usually understand from around Edinburgh. She asked questions, ordered the usual blood tests and a CT scan and said as she hurried off to a real emergency, "I'll be back."
And so it went on. The Senior Cat could not have anything to eat or drink, "Just in case...." He dozed off - but mostly because there was nothing to do. I knitted. Anxious people prowled backwards by our bay. One of them asked, "How can you sit there and just knit like that." She looked deathly worried so I kept her chatting for a bit. I knitted some more.
Middle Cat phoned to find out what was going on. I told her. Mobile phones do have their uses.
Another very elderly man arrived. He didn't understand what was going on. One of the staff jerked her head towards me and I went over to the bay trying not to show reluctance.
"Can you make him understand we need to take blood?"
"What's his name?" I asked. She told me and I asked him, in his own language, whether he spoke any English. The answer amounted to very little. They went to find a staff member to interpret as he tried to tell me what was wrong. All I could do was reassure him Really "language spoken" is a question that all members of staff need to have written down in a wide variety of languages so help can be obtained as quickly as possible. Hand holding might be out right now but I decided I could thoroughly sanitise mine after I had left him.
"What was that about?" the Senior Cat asked me. I explained. He grimaced in sympathy and said, "That must be frightening."
In the early afternoon they took the Senior Cat off for a CT scan.
"Do you need a cup of tea?" someone asked me, "I'll show you where the kitchen is...no actually stay there. I'll get you a cup of tea - and would you like a sandwich if there are any left?"
I do get rewarded for helping out! The sandwich was made with the sort of soft white bread that has no substance to it but it was fresh and the filling was quite tasty. The tea was nectar. I ate and drank and went back to the other old man who was still very anxious. His son arrived from his workplace a little later and took over. I don't know what passed between father and son but I was thanked and we discovered we knew people in common! I left them as staff came in to talk about inserting a pacemaker.
The Senior Cat was returned and we had an interesting time transferring him back to the bed. He promptly fell asleep again. Time crawled by then. I knitted on. Staff went past and checked. A few more bays filled. Others emptied. An alarm sounded in one bay but the situation was resolved.
At just before 5pm they decided the Senior Cat could have something to eat - and actually found a small serve of a hot meal for him. Fish, mashed potato, carrot and beans. I insisted he eat it. It actually looked very nice - and he said it was.
And yes, he could go "home" - in a transfer ambulance when they could get one. That might be a while. They told me to go home and thanked me for my help as they did.
I left wondering about Emergency Departments again. I heard questions being asked and wondered what doctors actually think of people who "refuse to eat fruit and vegetables" or who have "climbed a ladder without making sure it was stable" or "I was just fooling around with a mate and..." I know. Emergency departments are full of these things.
And they are full of people like the Senior Cat who might have had a blood clot - but didn't. One doctor going off duty as I was going out said, "Thanks Cat. In the nicest way I hope we don't see you in here again." Me too!