Previously on GETF(TOWIEW) Part 1… I have arrived at the stables and met my noble horse, Prado, and several of my fellow riders.
There were a dozen horses to be transported, and my term for the horse lorry would have been enormous tractor-trailer. Those of us who had not driven to the stables got to ride in the cab of the horse lorry, comfortably appointed but at least equivalent to a building’s second story, accessible by more than a dozen ladder like steps. I was the last one in, and enjoyed the panoramic view.
Last one in, first one out, and the adventure was about to begin. I enthusiastically stepped to the ladder, grasping the handrails on both sides, and that, in one moment, was the end of one adventure and the beginning of quite a different one.
I slipped on the top step and plummeted the more than 8 feet to the ground, my only reaction to the slight pain in the area of my left hand was “Oh, shit, I’ve broken my finger and now I can’t go on the ride.”
I landed on my well-padded backside and spat out a string of most unladylike swear words.
The next person out of the truck leapt to my side in a flash, and essentially dragged me to a nearby low stone wall where she deposited me, grabbed my left arm and lifted it above my head, all the while holding my wrist in a death grip. Several others had descended from the truck by this time, holding cell phones, glancing over at me with concern, and conferring about something.
My companion, who was a doctor, (what are the chances?) was apparently telling them the local emergency number to call and asking if anyone had bandages. I was just sitting on my wall, with a strange though undeniably kind and competent woman holding my broken finger over my head, wondering what the hell was going on. Why does she need bandages? Why are my pants wet? Oh, no, don’t tell me I’ve…….. And then I looked down, and then up. Ulp. Something more going on here than a fracture.
My jeans were indeed quite wet, but with blood. The doctor, Victoria (wait, that’s my cat’s name, how can that be?) looked me in the eye and asked me if I was feeling dizzy.
“Yes, I am a bit. Why is that do you suppose?”
“Steady on, you’ve lost quite a bit of blood.”
That explained the jeans, but where was it coming from?
“It looks like you’ve severed an artery in your finger. (Fingers have arteries?) It’s still pumping quite nicely, so I’m applying pressure until the emergency vehicle gets here. Try to relax.”
The rest of the riders arrived on the scene at about the same time as the ambulance, not actually an ambulance but a blue and yellow checkered police car manned by a friendly and energetic young EMT named Jessica.
Jessica relieved Victoria of her elevation and compression duties, and Victoria, after warm wishes of encouragement, strode off to fill in the other riders who were peering curiously and compassionately in my direction.
As Jessica was doing something to my hand she called out to ask that someone call the Warden of the Park, as she inexplicably did not have enough gauze bandage with her to calm down my still pulsing blood vessel. She was so apologetic – her last run had exhausted her supply and she hadn’t yet returned to base to restock. The call was made, and at this point Jessica informed me kindly that she would get me to hospital in no time at all, so try to relax.
I still couldn’t figure out the connection between a broken finger and a severed artery, but all the blood seemed to indicate a trip to the ER might not be a bad idea. Then, perched on my wall, still in no pain but becoming increasingly befuddled, one of the riders I had briefly met at the stable trotted to my side. She knelt in front of me and began to pray. At length, with great sincerity and in quite amazing detail considering that our acquaintance had been of less than an hour’s duration. She patted my cheek and returned to the group. NOW I was becoming alarmed.
At this juncture the Warden of the Windsor Great Park arrived in a tizzy. An elderly gentleman with snow white hair and mustache, a top hat and tails, he tipped his hat to me and handed several gauze pads to Jessica.
“I am so dreadfully sorry you are injured, Madam,” to me, and then, to Jessica, “This is all the gauze we had on hand. I do apologize, I must be off. We are expecting…… Royalty.”
And then, just like Alice’s white rabbit, he hopped off, looking at his watch and shaking his head as if saying, “I’m late. I’m late. So terribly, terribly late.”
Out of my line of sight, very considerate I thought, the riders proceeded to get on with their ride. Two lonesome horses remained tethered to the lorry, my Prado and another handsome bay.
I told you, Prado. That one looked a tad dicey to me. We’re better off back at the barn for a nice spot of hay.
Jenny, the office manager of the stable who had planned to join the ride, was not going to leave my side. An evil, cynical part of me thought that she just wanted to make sure they got their hats and boots back, but that kernel of cynicism was rapidly squashed, (almost) never to return.
“Now, dear, I’m Jenny – no, don’t think about it I’m going with you and will stay with you as long as it takes to get it all sorted out. Jessica, wait, don’t go yet, her seatbelt isn’t fastened! Oh, bollocks, where’s the other end? No, keep that arm up, I’ll find it. Not hurting you am I? What a rotten thing to happen to you all alone in a foreign country!”
What foreign country? This is England, my England, and the only thing foreign about it was that people tended to think I was the one with the accent. Still, it was reassuring, particularly since the only thing I had with me was my camera. Shoes and jacket were back at the stable, and everything else – money, passport, insurance cards, the cell phone my son Ben had lent me for the trip – were back at the B&B.
I was a bit concerned about this as we headed, siren screaming (oh, what fun!) to the hospital. You don’t get very far at an American hospital without reams of forms, cards, numbers, ID’s, and anything else to pinpoint your identity, and, most importantly of course, who will pay. I was worried that I would be languishing for hours in some drafty hallway without even my Kindle for amusement until all the representations of my official existence somehow made their way to the hospital. I was wrong.
Next post – Elizabeth R meets Britain’s National Health Service.