Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The kindness of strangers.


On Saturday morning we drove westwards to Instow in grey rainy weather and in just over 24 hours we were driving eastwards home. When we left our hotel the weather had improved with faint sunshine but when we hit the moor we were enveloped in thick fog. Why did we come home after only one night?

Eager beavers that we were, we had arrived early but our impeccable room was ready, so we dumped the luggage and went to have a light lunch in the bar. Once I had unpacked, feeling smug that I had managed with one suit-case instead of the usual two, we chilled and read the papers until it was time to get ready for dinner. The weather precluded a walk on the beach.

After a leisurely dinner the hotel owner/manager who I will call S, said he would take our coffee to the lounge. Just as we were going to leave the table MTL said he thought he would go to our room and I noticed his colour had changed and he looked unwell. Almost immediately a woman introduced herself, she was the daughter of the golden wedding party that the hotel was hosting, she was a doctor and as MTL was in her eye-line had noticed his change in colour. S appeared and we decided to take MTL to our room with the help of the doctor’s mother’s wheelchair. Fortunately we were on the ground floor.

S thought MTL had just got too hot and opened the French windows. I told the doctor that MTL had atrial fibrillation and the same thing had happened three years ago. She said she could ring for an ambulance if we agreed, and we decided it was safer to get him checked over. Within a very short time two paramedics were with us and shortly afterwards another one turned up having seen the ambulance, to see if he could be of further assistance. They decided to get MTL in the ambulance and give him further checks before deciding whether to take him to Barnstaple hospital or not.

I changed into trousers and an anorak and as I walked to the ambulance S gave me a card with his telephone number and said he would come and pick us up if we were coming back that night. I said we could get a taxi but he insisted it was no trouble. By now it was between 9pm and 9.30pm. After various tests it was decided to take us in to hospital. It’s really weird riding in an ambulance as you have no idea where you are.

When we reached the hospital the paramedics asked me to book MTL in and I noticed the receptionist was protected by thick glass with microphones you could speak into. When that was done I found MTL, ensconced in a cubicle, on a trolley propped up with pillows and wearing an oxygen mask. His colour was back to normal and he said he was alright now. We said good- bye to the cheery paramedics and were very grateful for their efficient help and support.

Then MTL was surrounded by female nurses in their dark blue trousers and smock tops – so different from the crisp uniforms we used to wear - but perhaps more comfortable and practical? When they had completed their tasks, another nurse came and started asking MTL questions - presumably to establish how confused he was: what was his name, what year was it, what day was it. When MTL said Saturday she said ‘NO!’

‘YES!’ we chorused. A welcome moment of levity.

MTL – when we were alone – said there would probably be a few drunks around as it was getting near closing time on a Saturday night – but fortunately we were spared that. Eventually a young doctor appeared and introduced himself. There didn’t appear to be anything to distinguish him from the nurses. After his examination and reading the charts he thought we may be able to go home but was just awaiting some results. Later he said he’d like MTL to stay, so the consultant could see him in the morning. I asked if it were possible for the consultant to see him now, he said no but then he phoned the consultant who apparently said we could go, dependent on one final result.

Then to my delighted surprise S appeared to see how we were getting on and insisted on waiting to take us back to the hotel. Finally at midnight we were allowed to go, with a letter and all the results for our GP, who we were told to see on Monday. We had already decided that after a night’s sleep we would pack up and go home. On the drive back S told us about his late father; we had met him on our first visit, and the family were devastated when he died after a gallant battle with cancer.

S delivered us to the night porter telling him to see us safely to our room. I couldn’t find words to thank him, so gave him a grateful kiss. We had a reasonable night’s sleep and when I rang the desk to tell the receptionist we would leave that day she asked if we would like breakfast in our room, which was a great comfort.

‘What a good job we didn’t unpack,’ said MTL.

‘Oh but I did.’

I had managed to keep it together until I went to the desk to pay the bill, and found they had only charged us for one night and none of the extras. I tried to say we expected to pay for the whole holiday but I couldn’t speak Later MTL went and paid them more as he said if they didn’t let the room they would lose out. You see why it is such a special hotel and why we go back.

On Monday we saw our doctor with all the results. After scanning them he reassured us that all was well and we should carry on as normal. We decided to take it easy for a while and yet again have cancelled our trip to see my younger son this week-end. In to every life a little rain must fall, and we are thankful for the kindness of strangers and our good fortune.


Shane said...

Heroes and heroines. You fluked out on the absence of drunks. At our local A&E, such features are assumed to be present 24 hours a day.

PI said...

Shane: why was it unheard of in my day - appalling behaviour I mean. There was such respect for the staff - it wouldn't have occurred to the general public to disrespect them. Call me old fashioned but the sloppy uniform isn't exactly inspiring IMO.

Jack said...

Glad you both came through in good health. The hotel deserves accolades for its efforts -- and perhaps a mention of its name.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Oh Pat, I worried and worried as I read this. I'm now taking a deep breath, didn't know I was holding it in. I'm happy YTL is well and you can both relax, take things easy.

It's funny how, though I don't *know* you and YTL, apart from what I read here and from your comments on blogs, you don't feel like a stranger to me.

Conan Drumm said...

A shock, surely, but your experience restores one's faith in humanity.

R. Sherman said...

It's nice to know there are still good people out there.

This will sound weird, but you crossed my mind Saturday afternoon out of nowhere. I remember thinking I hope Pat is having a nice weekend with her husband.



sablonneuse said...

I go along with every word G-G has written.
It's such a shame your holiday was curtailed but so heartwarming to read how kind people can be - and, of course, it's a relief to know that YTL made a quick recovery.

Kim Ayres said...

After all that it sounds like you could do with a break to recover.

Pleased to hear it turned out OK in the end.

PI said...

Conan: it does indeed. I just wish it didn't bring tears to my eyes.

Randall: but I often think of you - out of the blue:)

Sablonneuse: thank you- I thought of you and how you have to cope with so much.

Kim: it's warm, the sun is out and it's great to be home and back to normal. Oooh and we've just got our first rose.

john.g. said...

Mum2, I'm so glad everything is alright!

Nea said...

Pleased to see you're both safely home. Enjoy the roses, our snowdrops are just starting to come through.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

That had to be rather scary, Pat! And it is really impressive the way people stepped in to help...That doctor at the Hotel who just happened to see your MTL change color---And S. My he sounds like a GEM..In fact, that Hotel seems like the perfect place to go under any and all circumstances. Did they decide what actually happened? Or is it all inconclusive? I was thinking about you and am glad to know you are home safe. Sorry this trip didn't work out as planned....

PI said...

Johng: thank you honey.

Nea: how did you know I spotted our first rose today? Oh you clever girl - you read Kim's comment.

Naomi: three years ago MTL developed this condition atrial fibrillation. Most of the time it is kept under control with various drugs. It is an irregular heart- beat. From what our GP said it would have been alright to do nothing but just stay quiet, but I certainly wasn't going to go against what the doctor on the spot advised. That is the reason we don't fly or travel far these days.
I don't feel so fearful as I did three years ago. Our doctor assured me it wasn't life threatening but MTL is 80 so we take it easy.

Sam, Problemchildbride said...

I feel as Guyana gal does. Please send my best wishes to YTL. I'm so glad he's feeling better. What a shock you both must have had.

S sounds like a star. Conan's right - it's truly heartening to hear of kindnesses like these.

kenju said...

I am so glad you had good people to take care of you both! I have atrial tachycardia sometimes, but it is better now that I am on medication for it. Sorry that you couldn't continue your holiday.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

How very scary that must have been. A (((((hug))))) for you, Pat (I'd like to send one for YTL, too, but I'm afraid I'd scare him;-))

savannah said...

*hugs* as i read my heart started racing! so glad YTL is ok, sugar...the MITM is 58, but he had an agina attack that sent him to hospital about 10 years ago, so i KNOW that anxiety/fear. xox

rashbre said...

I'm so glad it has all turned out well. The hotel owner and staff seem absolutely special too. Its great to see that so many people stepped forward to help.

My best wishes.


PI said...

Sam : thank you for your good wishes. I'll pass them on.

Judy: you never cease to amaze me. You make me feel a wimp.

Zinnia: he seemed to quite enjoy the attention of the nurses:)

Savannah: I think it's a question of getting one's confidence back. It wasn't nearly so bad as the first time. I hope MITM continues on an even keel.

Rashbre: we were blessed and also reassured by the NHS.

Anonymous said...

The kindness of strangers costs so little yet means so much.

Glad to hear YTL is better.