Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mrs. Sharp is Sharp

Mrs. Sharp came in exclaiming, it was so bright, I just couldn't see! It was so bright! A tiny little woman at the age of about 90, she could probably barely see over the steering wheel into the setting sun when she crashed into a telephone pole. She had no major injuries except a blood-soaked bandage over her lip. She was so slight, she reminded me of hare-lipped children I worked with in Asia.

Her eyes were unnaturally bright, like cat-eyes, with facets gleaming with different angles of light.  She had the most delightful mannerisms, however, and was very fussy.  She took care to remember all our names, the name of the ambulance driver, and various pieces of information about us.

First, before everything else, she wanted to use the bathroom, so I fetched a commode and bedpan, but then she wanted to talk to the doctor. She refused to get undressed because she insisted her sweater would not fit over the collar. No amount of convincing, cajoling, insisting, commanding would do.  However, she did try to bargain with us. "If you take this Thing off, I can get my sweater off."  "Just for a moment, no one else will know." (Because it's cute, here's a picture of an elephant shrew...)

When she couldn't get her way, she pouted and refused to get undressed. It took several doctors to convince her to do so. She insisted it was impossible! I walked her through how we would do it, arm by arm, then slide the sweater neck opening over the collar.  Knowing she was defeated by yours truly, a certified professional clothes remover, she sighed and began to undress.  She refused all help with the removal of her clothing ("I am a very independent woman, you know!"), however, and threatened us, "this sweater is cashmere! If it is ruined, you will be buying me a new one."  Then, as a declaration as she demurely slid her little pencil skirt down, "I will keep my slip on, thank you."

The feeling of the room was a little tense, so I smiled warmly and said, "you have always been a bit of a spit-fire, haven't you?" She looked at me with a poignant lift of her chin, "always was. Still am, always will be!"

If I were to guess her profession, by her organization of mind and manner of dress, I would have said lawyer. However, she was actually a schoolteacher, newly retired, so she says.

I took her on my arm to go to the bathroom a few times. She draped her purse over my shoulders and insisted I take the wet bath towels and tissue box in case she had to dab at her bleeding lip.  Very thankful for the attentive care, she became quite sweet and held tightly onto my arm as we walked.

At one point, while I was taking her vital signs, she looked very pale to me. Worried, I asked her if she felt all right- she was a mentally sharp little thing and looked me in the eye, "why wouldn't I be, dear?" I took her blood pressure, and it was a little low. "Here, try my other arm," she offered. The pressure was higher. "Let's try this arm once more, just to see," she said, and memorized the numbers for later. I was bemused. She was a curious little soul and likely because of her profession, quite young at heart.

Mrs. Sharp is as sharp and interesting as I should ever hope to be at her age. : )


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