The view from the back of the ambulance

Perspective makes all the difference to a story – here’s an alternative view of our adventures on Sunday night.

Bruce (of Bruce’s Taxis) brought us home from the hospital, sun shining, radio playing, all well with the world.  Turns out my Grandma was right – things always look less scary in the daylight.

Doctor Dave (a very suntanned version of the Swedish Chef from the Muppets) had prodded me, held my hand reassuringly and told me that these things happen to middle aged women, not to worry unless I fainted again, Happy Holidays…… off he wandered spreading good cheer throughout A&E.

The two hours before that are a bit foggy – machines that went beep waking me up each time I dozed off.  The nurses were great – lots of admiration for my accent and my frilly cotton nightie.  I think we all decided I was going to be ok when they offered me the alternative of removing my nightie myself or having it cut off me so they could put me in a puce-coloured hospital gown.

On balance I suspect ambulances are more fun riding up front than in the back.  Roy was playing with sirens, I was in the back being hooked up to yet more machines and watching the road disappear behind me.

Man and bike
The hero!

My husband is my hero.  He sat calmly while alarming machines beeped, heart monitors flashed, needles were inserted and removed, blood pressure rose and fell then rose again.  He gathered together clothes so that I didn’t have to come home in my nightie.  He remembered that it’s 911 in the US instead of 999.  He chatted with the Sheriff about college football / baseball (we realised afterwards that the Law were there in case he was a wife-beater).  He even found me some clean underwear so that I was carried out to the ambulance with some modesty intact.

Sandbar sunset
A great place to recuperate

The medics were fantastic – only in Florida would they describe the ride on the trolley / chair as being better than Disney because there was no queue.

All in all, my advice would be: when you get up in the middle of the night, do it slowly; when you feel dizzy, sit down before you fall down; if you do fall down, do not under any circumstances stand up again by yourself – it is the second fall that does the damage.  If you decide to ignore all of the above then make sure you are in paradise, where your recuperation can include sunset walks on the beach, time by the pool and gentle bike rides.


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A memorable birthday

Beach Bistro
Trying to eat the pattern from the plate as well

I had a memorable birthday on Sunday. I got to read the Sunday Times from cover to cover,  a ten mile bike ride, a trip in an ambulance and dinner at the best restaurant in Anna Maria. Oh yes, the ambulance bit. Everything is OK now but we did have a bit of a drama.

Reading the paper always makes me feel like I should be doing something else but it was my birthday. The advent of the iPad edition means that, wherever you are in the world, you have the latest copy (internet permitting).

The bike ride was a pleasure. Compared to the mountain bike last summer that tried to kill me, this one is much friendlier. Built in the northern shipyards with a seat that is kinder to the ‘gentleman’s area’. We looped around the northern tip of Anna Maria Island then headed south before a left turn took us on Key Royale. I suspect this is where the majority of the million dollar plus houses are but not a shop or a bar for miles. The car definitely rules in the US.

Man and bike
Man and machine in harmony

My only regret is that I passed on the best photo op of the day. One house had supplemented its normal garden display with some Christmas figures. We saw Mary and Joseph (presumably carrying an infant) but standing next to a three foot long cannon. Well, you could’t be too careful, it was the Middle East after all. I am very tempted to cycle back later in the week for a furtive pic.

With a Florida thunder storm brewing, we almost regretted our decision to do without a car for this holiday. We needn’t have worried. The rain held off and the driver of the brilliant free shuttle bus dropped us off almost by the door. The Beach Bistro is quite formal for this part of the world but the food is amazing. The waiter managed to up-sell us a couple of times (even though I was ready for him). I suspect we were meant to recognise the couple next to us who were something in TV but, sadly for them, we didn’t.  Just when we would normally settle in with a second bottle, we realised we had to set off for the last bus! The gods were with us again as the rain had stopped.

Now then, the ambulance! We commented on the fact that we were in bed by 11 and relatively sober for a birthday. Previous birthday celebrations have been known to enter a third day but we won’t talk about that. All went well until about 3am when I woke up and realised Ruth was no longer beside me. I did what most blokes would do at this point, rolled over and tried to get back to sleep. At this point I heard a muffled shout followed a second later by a series of loud crashes. Like a cross between Mr Blobby and Hong Kong Fuey out of the filing cabinet, I was across the bedroom and found Ruth sprawled on the floor just outside the bathroom. She was shaking violently and I can honestly say I have never been so scared in my life. I managed to get her turned on her side and grabbed a pillow from the bedroom to support her head. Two strides and I had the phone, somehow remembering it was 911 not 999.  By the second ring, Ruth was calling that she was OK and still capable of giving orders! I hung up and went back to her. At this point the phone rang, the emergency operator following up the suspicious hang up. Anyway, we quickly decided she wasn’t OK and could we have an ambulance please. Less than 5 minutes later, huge ambulance, flashing lights and the sheriff (or at least one of his boys). The paramedics were brilliant and quickly established that the likely scenario was that something had caused Ruth’s blood pressure to drop sharply, she fainted and cracked her head and knee on the way down. It was only later we realised the sheriff was probably there in case it was a domestic. After half an hour they decided she needed a trip to hospital. I wasn’t allowed in the ambulance so would have to follow by car. What car? I am sure they thought we were a bit weird for not having a car in Florida. The upshot was, Ruth refused to go without me so rules were bent and I got to ride up front. I resisted the urge to turn on one of the three sirens (called cycle, yelp and fek off out of the way, interestingly).

The next few hours was mainly sitting around listening to machines that go beep, waiting for blood pressure to stabilise.  The doctor decided that there was nothing serious and we could go home. Wheelchairs were wheeled and a short taxi ride later we were home and preparing to go back to bed for most of the day.

Ruth is feeling better today, sore head and ankle with a massive bruise on her knee. Obviously, the stairs to the basement are out of the question so I get to keep laundry duties. Certainly a birthday I won’t forget in a hurry.

Please leave comments if you have ridden with emergency services!


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