The hinky

Dad had a fall the other day. Heading out with Paul to walk to the Post Office, he missed a step and went down into a pile of snow. Uninjured, he carried on down Main Street. But when they returned, they were greeted by a first responder, then soon the local ambulance. Flashing lights, bustling uniformed people, considerable confusion. (“What’s the problem?” “Huh? Are you sure you have the right address?” And so on.) These are locals. H used to work on the ambulance as an EMT before she went off to college and when she was home on vacation. We know these folks. And we also have a some medical history on-site. My aunt Helen lived in what is now my dad’s apartment for some years, and ambulance calls were unfortunately frequent. The tenant before Helen had issues, too, and emergency vehicles of various types were often screeching up at odd hours. Not to mention another tenant with health problems that sometimes require quick care. So, no, they didn’t have the wrong address. 

Gradually, we sorted it out. A few months ago, I signed Dad up for this Philips Lifeline service. He wears a gizmo around his neck so that if he falls or otherwise has a problem, he can push the button to get a helpful voice over the speaker. He can ask for help or, if he doesn’t respond, help is dispatched. I got him the fancy model, so that if he falls and loses consciousness, the sensor recognizes the gravitational trip to ground level and automatically dials in. When he fell, even at what I would consider extreme distance, that sensor did its thing. He got up, brushed himself off, and carried on, not being in the house to call off the cavalry.

No harm done, a good test of the system, and our wonderful local volunteers never seem to mind being called out for this sort of thing. They took his blood pressure (still, as always, superbly healthy) entered him into their newish electronic system, chatted briefly, and were off.

Dad, not so much. The whole thing confused and upset him. His response was to assert that was not going to wear that goddam thing around his neck anymore. These people and their strobes might show up again. I tried to explain things rationally, but no go. He no longer lives in that world. But he still likes to laugh. So I said, “Dad. Gotta wear the hinky.” No. But a smile. “Wear the hinky, Dad.” No answer. Still smiling. “The hinky, Dad. The hinky.” Big smile, and a wave as he headed home with Paul. And he’s wearing the hinky.

Picking blueberries in Vermont a few years ago.


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