Thank an Old Woman Today

The other day at work one of my patients was a 49 year old Hispanic gentleman who had been transferred to us from one of the smaller community hospitals as a head bleed from an assault. Head bleed in hospital language meaning bleeding on the INSIDE of the skull. He did in fact have quite a large bleed on the CT scan--even I could see it--but it was deep in the brain and there were no signs of trauma. He probably bled as a result of untreated high blood pressure and one of the vessels in the brain, in the basal ganglia, broke open.

His neighbor,"some cranky old lady," in the apartment building where he lives called the police complaining about "a fight" after she saw/heard four men dragging him up to his apartment. The truth is that Hispanic man worked at a Chinese restaurant, and that he had lost his speech and couldn't walk, was dragging his right side around, and the four men from the restaurant drove him home and got him up the stairs to his apartment. The hospital translator complained when she came to see him,"People think any Hispanic man is a Mexican, and that he's been in a fight." Now I don't know about that, but I do know that this cranky old lady saved Hispanic man's life and, if life were fair, would be thanked for her nosiness and cultural insensitivity.

Instead of being found dead which which could have been a very big problem for that apartment building..."Lucy, you got some esplainin' to do," Hispanic man is with me in the ICU looking fairly confused. Perhaps that's because I speak very little Spanish and the words I don't know I tend to say in French. "Levanter ses yeux,""Avez-vous mal?" He usually looks at me and nods yes; could be hoping that I'll quietly tiptoe back out of his room and babble badly in FranSpanglish to someone else. But here he is, alive and preparing for rehab, and that's all because some cranky old woman called the police.

I think tomorrow we should all go out of our way to thank a cranky old woman we know. You know who I'm talking about--the one at your local grocery store who snaps at you if you ask her if she needs help getting a can down off the shelf, the one with the wig that's always a little crooked. That's her. Just tell her thanks and don't tell her why. Thanks get played forward, she gets a little crankier; it's a win-win.


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