Another Virgil saga, chapter one
When our niece Brenda came in from work late on the evening of Friday, July 22, there was no one around, but she found the stainless steel kitchen sink awash with blood. A towel soaked with blood was in the dish drainer and blood was splattered on the floor. She followed a trail of blood spots out the back door and down the wooden sidewalk to the workshop. She peered inside the window with a flashlight.
No one. Nothing. Just more blood on the concrete floor.
Brenda is an LPN and she didn’t panic, but she wasn’t sure whether to call the sheriff or the hospital. She chose the hospital and, exercising her woman’s intuition, asked about ‘Uncle Virgil.’
Someone, I’m not sure who, tracked me down in the Emergency Room at Harrison County Hospital in Corydon and said Brenda was calling. Would I please call her and let her know what was going on. (That is another story: the all-important privacy restrictions imposed by ‘HIPPA.’ We won’t get into that just yet.)
I called Brenda right away, using the free local phone in the ER waiting room ‘ a thoughtful convenience provided by the hospital. ‘Brenda, I don’t know what we’re going to wind up doing, but first we went to After Hours Care (a fairly new place in Corydon designed to save time and money by avoiding the more-expensive Emergency Room. When possible). ‘How did you do that,’ the woman there asked.
‘Well, I have this new table saw, and … ‘
‘I see,’ she said. ‘When was the last time you ate or drink anything? Are you taking any medicines?’
‘About 5:30. Uh, Plavix … ‘
She declared: ‘I’m afraid this is beyond my expertise. I want you to go right over to the hospital ER. This needs some extensive cleaning and stitching, and I’m not too sure the bone in that finger isn’t broken.’
She wrapped up Virgil’s bloody left hand again, and we headed out the door.
I backed the car off the concrete island I’d run up on earlier and headed across town to HCH. The waiting room was practically empty, and they took Virgil right in. I think it was about 9 p.m.
A nurse there came in to clean up the hand, so the doctor could see the damage. ‘Wow! Would you look at that. How did you do that?’ she asked. ‘You’re really bleeding, huh? Here, let’s slip this (a plastic-lined sheet) under your hand. Let’s put your hand on this pillow; you need to keep it elevated … ‘
‘What time did you eat or drink anything last? What medicines are you taking? Plavix? Uh oh. That’s a blood thinner!’ she declared.
‘We’re going to have to get an X-ray,’ the ER doc said a few moments after he had come into the exam area and started poking around the four sliced fingers. (The damage could have been much worse.)
‘When did you eat last? What time did you last drink anything? What medicines are you taking? Plavix? Uh, huh.’
The X-ray technician soon arrived at Virgil’s bedside in the ER. He wheeled everything in to him instead of him to it. ‘Would you look at that!’ he said. ‘How did you do that?’
‘Well, I have this new table saw, and … ‘
‘Uh oh. What were you making?’
‘A magazine rack for my wife.’
The tech rubbed his chin, obviously pondering how sensible that was, and said, dryly: ‘I usually buy mine at Wal-Mart.’
He went on with his work and then left. Later, we learned the X-ray results were good: No broken bones.
Then, another angel of mercy appeared at Virgil’s bedside. ‘Wow, how did you do that? Here, let’s change this dressing. Oh, dear, you’re really bleeding. Here, you can put your hand down on this pillow. What kind of medicine … ‘
By now, Virgil knew the routine.
‘New table saw. Magazine rack. Plavix. I used to have thick blood. Plavix thins it out. I’ve already taken it tonight. I ate Jay C’s fried chicken about 5:30. Nothing to eat or drink since.’
Next came a heavy duty shot of antibiotics to guard against infection, and a tetanus.
After that, the doc decided my husband needed surgery to correct nerve damage in two fingers. He sent us to the Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center surgical unit at Jewish Hospital in Louisville.
‘Oh, are you taking him?’ the doc asked me.
‘Of course.’ (Do you know what it costs to take an ambulance from Corydon to the Louisville medical plaza? No way were we going by ambulance as long as he was conscious. Insurance does not pay for it; premiums do.)
‘Good,’ the doc said.
I happily thought this was great; the bleeding would soon stop, and we’d be home in a jif.
After giving Virgil something for pain, the ER doc’s parting words were: ‘You sure do have good blood flow.’
Moments later, another angel of mercy wheeled Virgil out to the car, folded him into the front seat, and we were off.
To be continued