There’s Always Tomorrow – Episode 30

The main characters from the story Illustration: Sailesh Thakrar

Between them, they gently laid Betty on the floor and eased her into the recovery position.

Helen held the lady’s wrist to find her pulse, then her hands gently moved her face round until she was staring into the blank, terrified eyes.

Helen lifted a finger and moved it slowly across the woman’s vision.

“Can you see this?”

Betty’s frightened eyes half-followed her finger. She gave a slight nod.

She tried to talk but all that came out was a jumble of words.

“Easy,” Helen said softly. “Take my hand and push against me. Good, now pull. Now take it in your other hand and do the same.”

Helen patted her arm.

“We’ll have you fixed up in no time. I think I know what’s happened to you. It shouldn’t last.”

She turned to Larry.

“I think she’s had a TIA – a mini-stroke. There’s no facial distortion, and she’s able to move her hands to push and pull weakly.”

She turned to Betty.

“Did you feel anything when it happened?”

It took three attempts to say the words.

“A wee burning in my head.”

Helen nodded.

“Did it last long?”

Betty gave a slight shake of her head.

“That symptom fits,” Helen said, then turned to Larry. “We need to get her to hospital.

“She’s responding well, so it must be minor.

“We can’t risk giving her aspirin until we rule out bleeding. Once they know that, they can sort her.Where’s the nearest hospital?”

“Strathcathro,” Larry replied. “Twelve miles, far closer than Aberdeen. And it has a specialist stroke unit.”

“Phone for an ambulance,” Helen said.

“We could wait for an hour or more. We should take her in a car,” Larry replied.

He looked over to Lorna.

“Get your car. I’ll guide you there, but you’ll have to step on it.

“Wullie, contact her relatives. Helen, come with us and sit in the back with her. Let’s get moving.”

Lorna ran for her car as Helen and Larry eased Betty down from the counter to a waiting chair, brought through from the kitchen by Isa.

“You’ll be fine,” Helen assured Betty.

Larry took his phone out of his pocket, did a quick internet search for the right phone number, then dialled.

His voice was calm.

“I know you don’t have an A and E, but we need your stroke unit. We have a lady, suspected TIA. We have an ex-nurse in attendance.

“We can be with you in twenty-five minutes.”

Wullie scratched his ear.

“Her son Ian will be working in the fields at Balgairnie Farm.

“He might not hear his phone over the tractor engine. Maybe I should go and fetch him.”

Lorna’s car skidded to a halt outside. Larry gently picked up Betty and walked towards it.

Lorna scuttled round to open the rear door of the car, then Larry eased the patient inside.

Half the village gathered to watch the car roar up the brae and disappear from sight.

“Just as well that incomer was here wi’ her car,” a woman commented.

Wullie turned on her.

“She’s no’ an incomer,” he growled.

“She’s an English school teacher who retired here, because she liked this place.

“That’s why she opened the community shop.

“Tae help every one o’ ye,” he continued, “in the hope that you’d take her into the village and befriend her.

“It’s her money that’s set up the shop – she’s risking her life savings for you lot.

“She must be mad.” He shook his head. “And now she’s driving a total stranger to the hospital because she wants to help.

“She’s wi’ another English woman who was a nurse.

“The two of them would have done the same for any one o’ ye.

“Would you have done it for them? Or just stand back and criticise?”

Angrily Wullie turned away to fetch his car from the cottage.

Isa reached out and caught his sleeve.

“My car’s just across the road, Wullie,” she said quietly. “Let me give you a lift.”

To be continued…

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