Three and half hours I was on this job. Lovely little lady with classical dementia, who’d had a fall. And after all my investigations and tests I was eventually able to leave her at home with an acceptable “alternative pathway plan”.
But give it its due, this job saw me off bang on time at the end of my night shift. That is, until I closed the front door, locked it and posted the patient’s keys back through the letter box and realised . . .
. . . my coat and car keys were still inside!
Now, under any normal circumstances this would be easy to sort – knock on door, wait to be answered, apologise, collect coat, leave. But this was different . . . oh so very different.
Currently, my patient was asleep on the living room sofa. Her ability to retain any information longer than a minute was practically none. Her hearing was diabolical and her mobility was, I believed, next to none. Hmmmm, my only hope was to return in a couple of hours at about 08.00 when the carers arrived . . . or about 17.00 when the next lot did. What a pain in the ARSE!
I know, I thought, I’ll leave a note for the carers and tell them to put my coat to one side and contact me to arrange for me to collect them later. I ambled down to the FRV and scribbled two notes identical to each other and made my way back up to the flat. The first one I posted completely through the letterbox whilst the second I started positioning half in and half out. This way I was sure the carers wouldn’t miss my note.
However, just as I had the second note positioned perfectly, I felt a tug and then watched, stunned, as the note disappeared within the flat. To make matters worse I heard it being torn up and thrown somewhere.
“. . . er, Dorris*? Is that you dear?” My voice leaned slightly toward the very desperate.
There were a few grumbles and a shuffle.
“Dorris? Dorris! It’s me, Binder. Is that you?”
“Who are you? What do you want?!”
Oh thank goodness. It was Dorris. Brilliant! This means she can open . . .
“Dorris? Dorris sweetheart. Could you open the door for me?”
Now, this is why it was oh so very different . . .
“Please Dorris. It’s me. It’s Binder. The paramedic from earlier. I’ve left my coat inside darling.”
“What do you want!”
“Just to get my coat – bless. I left it hanging on your stair lift right behind you there”
“There’s no coat there, ohohohohwohwoh. Go away!”
Uh oh. Dorris was starting to get anxious.
“It’s ok Dorris. It’s me, remember? Binder? The paramedic?”
“Ohohohohwohwohwoh . . . what do you want!”
“My coat darling. Please. Can you just open the door?”
There was the sound of the door being unlocked . . .
“That’s it Dorris. Now, just the top lock here . . . you can do it”
“Ohohohohwohwohwoh . . . ”
“Go on Dorris. You can do it!” There was silence. “Dorris?”
“What do you want?!”
“My co- . . . look, Dorris, do you have the keys there? Can you pass them through to me? I’ll open the door then yeh?” I poked my hand through the letter box and wiggled my fingers.
“Well, then I can get my coat and leave you be eh”
“There’s no coat here. And I don’t have any keys”
“Dorris. The keys are right by your feet. I posted them through a few minutes ago”
“There’s no keys here. Ohohohohwohwohwoh”
“Dorris. Do you have the keys then? In your pocket?”
“Ohohohohwohwohwoh . . . Go away!”
This went on for a while. But eventually I felt a set of keys pushed into my fingers. For goodness sake Binder, I thought, don’t bloody drop them! As carefully as if I were handling a live bomb I teased them through the letterbox and out into the slowly dawning light. At last! I’d have my coat and then be off to bed in no time!
They were the wrong keys.
“er . . . Dorris. These are you kitchen keys sweetheart. I need your front door keys yes?” I passed the kitchen keys back through and felt them being taken from my hands.
“I need to get in Dorris dear. I need my coat yes?”
“My coat inside there. We’ve been over this”
“Who are you?! Ohohohwohwoh”
“It’s me, Binder? The paramedic?”
“Go away! I have a dog!”
“No you don’t Dorris. It’s me. I just need to get my coat . . . if you can give me the correct keys yes?”
“I don’t have any keys ohohohwohwoh”
“Yes you do Dorris. Come on my dear, if you can just pass me them yeh?”
This futile performance went on for another few minutes before I felt a new set of keys passed onto my fingers. I delicately prized them out and . . .
“Dorris. You’ve given me your kitchen keys again sweetheart.”
This entire circular fiasco continued for at least half an hour more until the real front door keys suddenly emerged. I stood staring, as if someone had suddenly given me a wad of fifty pound notes.
Quicker than the Scouse thieving the wheels off my old Ford Sierra back in 2002, I was inside Dorris’s flat and snatching up my coat (which had somehow made it’s way behind the sofa!) and leaving. I locked the doors again, checked that my keys were in the jacket, then handed Dorris her keys back to her through the letter box . . .
“That’s me done Dorris. Ok?”
“Ohohohohwowowo. I think I need help . . ”
“You’ll be ok Dorris. See ya.”
. . . and ran off.
We all make mistakes. We all cock up at some point. I guess the best thing to do from things like this is learn from them. I am CERTAINLY going to learn from this.
That stupid mistake had made me an hour and half off late.
Well done Binder . . . you nugget!
*not her real name of course.