Before I vent here about how caregivers are underpaid and underappreciated, let me say that I’ve changed all the names to protect the people in this story.
My sis lives in a care home, which is like a mini nursing home in a house. Right now, there are only two residents with a 24-hour-a-day, live-in caregiver. The job alternates between Carol and Rose. The owner is a woman named Marina and she lives in a different city across a toll bridge.
Friday afternoon, when I took Sis her daily ice cream, I noticed that Carol had a big swollen finger and two rings on that finger. Something like that had happened to me years back, when I cut my finger on a tin can lid and then went to a Christmas Eve dinner and a nurse there noticed my swollen finger. Christmas fell on a Saturday that year.
“You’d better get that ring off,” she said. “Your finger’s infected.”
Of course, by then it was too late to pull the ring off my tender swollen finger. The nurse conferred with an MD, also there for dinner, and he agreed. The next thing I knew, three guys with wire cutters were taking turns trying to cut off my diamond ring, an heirloom from a distant dead relative.
The pharmacist who was hosting the party got a script from the MD who had a pad in his glove compartment. The pharmacist went to his drug stash and filled my prescription for antibiotics before the first course was served.
Back at Sis’s care home, I looked at Carol’s angry red finger with a bulbous bulge above the rings and told her she needed to go to the ER. Carol texted a photo of her finger to Marina, her boss.
“At least soak it,” I said. “Do you have Epsom salts? Use the hottest water you can stand.”
Carol texted her boss that evening, who told her she’d have to wait until her shift ended Tuesday afternoon before she could go to the doctor.
It’s not right, Carol texted me Friday evening.
I texted Carol the next morning. How’s your finger?
Better. I’ve been soaking it and pus is coming out.
When I got there that afternoon, it wasn’t better. It was way worse and now had blood and pus coming out.
“You need to go to the ER”, I said. “You can’t wait until Tuesday. You could lose your finger.”
Or die of sepsis, I thought to myself.
I texted Marina and told her that Carol needed to go to the ER. She sent back excuse after excuse, Carol waited too long to tell her. Marina was in Sacramento. Carol couldn’t leave until she got there.
I am truly getting angry, I texted. And you know I must have been because I despise adverbs.
I’ll talk to Carol, Marina texted.
How is that going to help anything? I texted back.
Then Marina texted Carol, asking her to ask her boyfriend to get her some antibiotics.
“Is your boyfriend a doctor?” I asked.
“No,” Carol said.
I texted Marina. Maybe the fire department could cut off the rings.
I appreciate that, Marina texted.
To me that was the green light. I called 9-1-1. I told the dispatcher it was a medical reason when they asked if it was for fire, police, or medical.
Four good-looking young guys were there with their ambulance in a minute. Then four more guys arrived in a fire truck. One guy cut off the rings while everyone else watched. Carol cried out and squeezed my hand because the pressure on her infected finger hurt so much.
I explained to the guys about how Carol worried about leaving her post. A paramedic asked for Marina’s number and spoke to her on my phone. He told her that I promised to stay there at the home until someone arrived.
Carol got her finger treated and got to go home early from her long four-day shift.
I told the paramedics I can be a bee-otch when I need to be. Then I went “Grr!” They laughed and told me to call them if I needed anything before the owner arrived.
Marina dropped off Rose an hour later. After all, no one was running her care home, and she could get in deep doo-doo if anyone found out.
I ended up dancing in the park to a live band later, so the day wasn’t all bad. And I went to lunch with one of my offspring.
But the best part is that Carol gets to keep her finger.