What Harm?

Four more chapters of the novel Mortal Men are posted at the following site:

Mortal Men


It’s been a typical day in the suburbs. A nursing home rectal bleed, an elderly man from home with pneumonia, a lady with hypertension and a nose bleed, and a call from our most frequent flyer — Hazel, the old woman with dementia, who I have written about in Patience and a couple other posts.

Today she was laying in bed and said she just wanted her heart checked. She didn’t sleep a wink last night, she said. I told her we didn’t check hearts. I could either take her to the ER where she could see a cardiologist or ED doctor, who could evaluate her.

“But how will I get home?” she asked.

“How have you gotten home the other two hundred times we’ve taken you to the hospital?”

“They make me take a taxi.”

“Well, then you’ll have to take a taxi?”

“But I just want my heart checked.”

“Well, we need to take you down to the ER for that.”

“But I don’t want to go.”

“You called us. We’re here to take you?”

“But how will I get back?”

“You’ll probably have to take a cab.”

“But I just want my heart checked.”

“Listen, I’ve taken your pulse and your blood pressure and they are both good, but I can’t tell you your heart is good based on that, other than its still working. If you want a full heart check, they can do that at the ER. What have they told you when we’ve taken you in on the other two hundred occasions?”

“They told me it was anxiety and my heart was good.”

“Well, we can take you down there and they can check it out one more time.”

“But how will I get back?”

This went on and on, until she finaly signed a refusal. She had a neighbor with her, and I told the neighbor to call us if anything changed. The neighbor just rolled her eyes. “It never does,” she said.

I suppose at the beginning I could have just put my stethoscope on her chest, listened awhile and pronounced her heart fine. What harm would that have really done?

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