Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I may have followed Isabel's nose to Jamaica, but it was Debbie who was by my side when I was hit by the car near the border of Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth parish.
As we pulled into the clinic at Black River, I remember seeing a hand-lettered sign that read "Emergency Service only on Saturdays and Sundays." It being Sunday, I guess we were in luck. Sort of.
It seemed like hours passed before I was wheeled out of the loading dock admitting area and into an actual operating room. The place felt ancient. The tiled walls were a pale, institutional blue; there were two Ben-Casey-era overhead lights, like octagonal space ships, each with 6 separate bulbs, hanging overhead. There was a plaque in the wall with a nozzle, and the word "oxygen" engraved above it. I had a hard time imagining any kind of actual surgery taking place in this room.
The nurse was very calm. Almost disinterested. She didn't want Debbie to stay with me, but we insisted. She also refused our request for ice, basic first aid, and said simply, "wait fi de doktah." So Debbie asked for a glass of ice water instead. And dutifully plucked the ice from the mug to place upon my injuries.
The nurse asked if she could cut open my jeans. Jeezus. I had to be wearing the expensive jeans. "Can't I just slip them off, ma'am?" I asked.
"No miss, bettah if mi jess cut dem." And she carefully cut apart the seam threads with a razor, making certain not to damage the denim itself. That gives you some idea of how much time we had on our hands until a doctor arrived. Not to mention the thrifty nature of a Jamaican who knew an expensive pair of jeans when she saw them. If they were HER jeans, she'd want them spared. She slit those jeans from ankle to hip, stitch by stitch, gradually spreading apart the leg of my pants.
I think Debbie was afraid to look.
I asked her, "How, how bad is it? What's it look like?"
She glanced down at my leg and then looked at me, blinked once and said, "It's not so bad. Really. Not so bad. I think maybe your ankle might be broken, but really, not so bad."
That's why Debbie is my best friend. She'll tell you the truth when you really need to hear it.
And lie like no tomorrow when you don't.
Posted by VH McKenzie at 10:14 PM