Lady had a syncopal episode on the toilet, hit her head and sustained a lac above her eye. She crawled to the phone and called her neighbor, who came over and helped her call her doctor, who said she should go to the hospital.
She checks out okay. Vitals are good, skin warm and dry, no deformities, just the lac above her eyebrow. Is she in pain? Yes. Anywhere you touch her body. Her response is disporportionate to the light touch. She whines and moans. “I don’t feel well. I don’t feel well.” “I hurt all over. I hurt all over.” “My face hurts.” “My feet hurt.” “My legs hurt.” Her words are interrupted only by fits of crying.
“Mary come with me! Mary come with me!” she cries to her neighbor, who shakes her head at me as she leaves and closes her own apartment door.
All the way to the hospital, we hear it. She hurts. She hurts. The blood pressure cuff hurts. The torniquet hurts, the Iv hurts. “Ow! The bumps! The bumps! Why don’t they fix the road! I don’t feel well. I hurt!”
She is eighty-eight years old.
“I don’t feel well. I don’t feel well.”
I try to imagine her as a child, as a teenager, as a young woman. As a mother, a grandmother.
I try to imagine how her life left her like this — living alone in a small apartment with her walker, and a neighbor, who helps her because that’s what neighbors do, but who wants no more part of her than that.
I am unable to do so.
“I don’t feel well,” she says again and again.
Tell me how you really feel, I want to say.
I hurt, she says. I hurt.