Tag Archives: Nellie the Elephant

My Left Arm: The Story Of Crusty Scabs

27 Feb

You may recall I took a flying visit to the pavement some weeks ago.  My left arm bore the brunt of the impact but it’s on the mend.  The scabs have almost gone and would have been gone long ago if I’d stopped leaning on the Hub’s face with my elbow.

Although it still hurts to stretch too high or too quickly – – – sorry, short break for hysterical laughter while I corpse at the thought of me exercising  – – – it is fully functioning.  That’s why I thought I’d be okay to give blood from it on Monday [the Hub interjected with something about getting blood from a stone-hearted…butenoughfromthegallery].

I don’t have a favourite arm (does anyone?).  I have great veins, according to many nurses, and they can siphon it from either side, so I didn’t think twice when I sat in a left-handed chair (this post is beginning to seem weird even to me); and maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference but my left arm was not happy with the way the Blood New Donation Executive – BloNDE for short though, in actual fact, she was a BruNeETTE: Brutal New Executive Trying To Extract.

I’m not sure she was new, if I’m honest, but it’s the only explanation I can think of for the way in which she hacked at my left arm with the needle, came back several times to wiggle it about, and smiled nicely at me in the most terrifying way.

The blood eventually seeped out, reluctant though it was.  I don’t understand it because I’ve donated blood at least nineteen times and never had a problem. This time, the area around my elbow was tight and ached and my left hand went extremely cold.  I was told to report it if it still hurt after my orange juice and Club biscuit (two Club biscuits…I was feeling quite sorry for myself) which it was, so I did.

Boy, was I sorry.  Yes, I was.  They sent me to the nurse.  It was like being back at school, except I didn’t come away with a cloth brick and two safety pins at the end of it.

Forty minutes to go through my story, check for bruising, explain possible forthcoming symptoms, explain what to do in the case of possible forthcoming symptoms, explain what is on the other leaflet instead of the bruising leaflet which was all she had to hand but most of the possible forthcoming symptoms were the same on the one leaflet as the other and the advice anyway was to immediately phone this number and ask for advice about those possible forthcoming symptoms if I showed any of those possible forthcoming symptoms.

I didn’t have any forthcoming symptoms and I told the nurse as much when she phoned next day to check on me.  They really want you to go back and give more blood, you know.  Something about ‘saving lives’ and ‘helping research’. I’m not sure what exactly; I couldn’t hear her over the lump on my left arm.

The lump had almost disappeared by Wednesday evening and the ache had long gone, so I didn’t consider missing last night’s First Aid class.  My church applied for funding to provide this sort of education to the community and I thought it would be useful to attend, especially as it was free (I may be a Christian but I’m not made of money): if I ever deck a ReDHEAD (Really Doesn’t Have to Ever Ask DoesthiswhoppinggreatneedlethatI’mstabbingyouwithhurt?), it would be good to be able to revive her again.

The trainer was very funny and had us all singing Nellie the Elephant: half of the chorus sung twice amounts to thirty chest compressions.  First Aid has changed a lot since I took a course twenty-five years ago.  No more three breaths good/five compressions better; now it’s all assume-if-it’s-a-stranger-they-have-Hepatitis-and-don’t-give-mouth-to-mouth-unless-he’s-particularly-good-looking (though I might just have added that list bit to my notes without hearing it from the instructor first).

CPR was harder to do than I expected, especially the breathing; but I aced Burns – no butter!  No bandages!  No hot water! (how my mother once treated my sunburn).  Dealing with choking was easy enough to do on small dummies; however, I was the class dummy when it came to adults – bottom of a class of seventeen people.

The trainer put on a harness thing which had a large pad to protect her back when we whacked her – five times, having first bent her over our arms – and a simulated choking throat on her front (sponge in a bottle).  The idea was to stand behind her, make a fist and thrust up around the area of the diaphragm, five times; then go back to five whacks and so on.  Some people managed to expel the sponge fairly quickly, especially the men, who were stronger; but plenty of the women did it too.

I had a little trouble.  I have no strength at all and, although the spirit is willing, the flesh is as weak as one of my puns.  I grasped her from behind and looked for all the world like an enthusiastic Goldilocks desperately humping poor Papa Bear, and having as much success.

Jo is an excellent trainer and wanted to ensure that everyone went away knowing they could do this, so I kept at it until she’d have been long dead in real life – but I got that sucker out in the end!  Thank you, Jo.

Which brings me back to my left arm – nobody tells you that saving people’s lives is difficult.  Okay, perhaps they shouldn’t have to tell you that, it’s kind of obvious when you think about it, or doctors wouldn’t train for so many years so they could be sued for their BMWs;  but I hadn’t expected it to be so physical, and I could barely use my left arm last night.  Instead of using my left hand, I had to rest my right hand on my hypochondriacal damp brow.

I’m not sure I’ll bother using the skills I’ve learned (it’s not like I paid for them); it seems like so much hard work.  It might be okay for someone who I quite like, such as my children; but what if it’s an MP, or a telesales person, or the Hub? My arm really hurts as a result of all that being noble and brave guff.  I’d give my left arm for it not to be aching right now.

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