Tuesday, June 19, 2007

BUS STORY # 37 (A Bloody Mess and Rory’s Bus Story # 1)

“We coulda used a nurse here yesterday.”

This from an occasional fellow passenger waiting at my bus stop for the Yale bus. I don’t know his name, but I know he works with the state Medicaid administration. He’s told me if he can get his department organized well enough to function smoothly and competently, he’ll be able to write his own ticket.

“Why?” I ask. “What happened?”

Seems two days earlier, when I had carpooled with my wife, he was waiting at our stop and watching a fellow drag himself up the sidewalk toward Yale. This is a pretty good climb, but especially so for a guy who just finished a dialysis treatment and was heading uphill dragging a suitcase behind him. When my co-rider asked him why he was taking the bus, he answered it was the only way he could get to dialysis and back. What about a cab? Too much money. About this time, the dialysis patient started bleeding from his shunt. “He had on this white jacket, and the lower left sleeve just went red.” He also left a lot of blood on the sidewalk (“at least a pint, maybe more”). My fellow passenger instinctively clamped the arm above the red with both hands and after that seemed to stop the bleeding, wondered how to reach his cell phone to call 911. The dialysis patient emphatically rejected calling 911. He didn’t have money for an ambulance ride or an emergency room visit. He’d be fine if he just held pressure long enough. And, sure enough, the bleeding stopped before the bus arrived.

But before the bus got to Central, the dialysis patient became very woozy. My co-rider was feeling responsible and nervous, and got off the bus with him at Central where he saw the dialysis patient’s eyes roll back in his head before he slumped to the steps of the McDonald’s. The Medicaid guy promptly called 911. The patient recovered consciousness by the time the paramedics arrived, but he wasn’t too alert or oriented.

I told this story at the office the next day. One of my coworkers said, “Hey, at least the driver let him ride.” Rory* then told his own story. Several years ago, he was on his way down Pennsylvania to catch the 66 at Central. He’s less than half a block away when he sees the bus heading west. He takes off running, cuts across the Circle K parking lot toward the bus stop, looking back at the bus and waving to try and catch the driver’s attention. He doesn’t see the metal flange normally used to hold one of those swinging signs, but signless at this particular moment, protruding at forehead level from a pole near the corner of the lot. A few dazed seconds later, he realizes he hasn’t gone down, and the bus is stopping. He then realizes he is bleeding furiously from his forehead. He staggers to the open door of the bus. “I’ll never forget the expression on his face,” says Rory, “a cross between utter disgust and pure self-preservation.” The doors close in his bloody face, and the bus pulls away.

That wasn’t the end of Rory's story. He recounted going into the Circle K for some Kleenex to staunch the blood flow and try to clean up a little. “There’s these two cops waiting in line when I walk in. They both look at me, then back at the clerk. They don’t say a word, just get checked out and head for the car -- and they don’t look back.” But Rory, a former cop, tells me he understands. “In this neighborhood, someone staggering around and bleeding profusely is just part of the normal scenery.”


*Real name changed.


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