The neighbor

The dispatch sounds worse than it is, using buzzwords like nausea and nitroglycerin. Our patient’s elderly wife meets us at the door, and she looks the worse of the two. She’s pale, shaking, and unsteady on her feet. She points me to her husband, and my partner takes her to the kitchen to calm her down and get the story.

He’s been up all night not feeling well. He says he didn’t want to bother her, and I can see why. She seems to think he’s dying, right here, right now. He needs to go to the hospital, but he will come home again soon.

Suddenly a neighbor appears over my shoulder in the bedroom. Unsurprised, my patient gives him his marching orders. “Watch out for my wife, would you please?” He heads off to the kitchen, and soon my partner returns.

We bundle our patient outside to the ambulance and settle him for the short ride to Local Suburban Hospital. He explains the neighbor: “My son and I used to help him with renovations. Now he mows our lawn, shovels the driveway, and watches out for us. I just can’t do it all anymore.”

As we pull away, he stares out the back windows. “I’ve lived in that house since I was six years old. Guess it may be finally time to move.”