Thursday, September 29, 2011

Old Country Manners

Mr. Right-Handed had been a carpenter for the last 40 or so years before he had an accident one morning that split his dominant thumb in half lengthwise, cutting several tendons and causing him a lot of pain. He kept apologizing for not speaking English very well, though I understood him perfectly.  His deep blue eyes searched my face and crinkled into a smile. He trusted me to take good care of him.  His daughter sat in the background, distant and businesslike.

A stoic man, Mr. RH, didn't want to admit to pain at first, but as he got to know me through his many hour stay, he began to let me see the grimaces and such. He refused almost all the pain medication, however, and I stopped in many times to grab him another pillow or ice-pack.

When the surgeon finally took the bandages off, I was fascinated. The jagged cut went clear to the bone. It was then that Mr. RH finally agreed to have some morphine as the surgeon cleaned and stitched the wound up for evaluation the next morning. He asked me to stay with him, and I distracted him by making conversation through the bloody procedure, though the numbing medication was wearing off quickly.  We got along really well- he told me about his family and about his love for his profession, making customized handiwork for clients.  Occasionally, he would wince and I would hold his good hand.  My father is the same way about pain- he would never admit having any. I notified his nurse, and Mr. RH received some more morphine, but will eventually need surgery to re-attach the tendon.

10 Hours after I first met him in which he wasn't allowed anything to eat or drink, I sent him off with some juice and a sandwich box.  As he stood up, he thanked me, then remarked with a grin, "it looks like after alcohol" as he left on his daughter's steady arm.


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