Another day, another outing for Mr B and me. Today’s trip, however, was nowhere near as much fun as yesterday’s visit to the Sporting Memories Club.
It was Mr B’s annual appointment at the local hospital for his diabetic eye check and I was congratulating myself on having been able to book a wheelchair accessible tax to
get us where we needed to be by 2 p.m. There was a drawback, however, because every single wheelchair accessible taxi in Worthing is always tied up on school transport duties early in the morning and mid-afternoon - which meant we couldn’t be picked
up and brought home before 3.45 p.m. We were going to have a long wait in the hospital’s cafeteria...
Our taxi driver arrived early which was better than
being late but sent me into a bit of a tizzy because I simply wasn’t ready for him. The portable ramps for the front door were still tucked away in the garage, Mr B was still reclining in his armchair, I hadn’t prepared the wheelchair by fitting
the footplates on it, our coats were still hanging in the hall cupboard and my mobile phone was busy charging itself up on the kitchen work surface in case I needed it on our little outing.
Still, where there’s a will, there’s a way - and eventually Mr B and wheelchair had been loaded into the taxi, I had clambered in beside him and we were off. I did my best to act as a kind of tour guide, recognising
that Mr B doesn’t get out too much, by drawing his attention to houses which had been sold, gardens which had been redesigned and fences which had been erected in recent times. In this I not only singularly failed to please, owing to the fact that (I)
he was facing in the opposite direction to me and (ii) he couldn’t actually see out of the windows as he was sitting so high up in his wheelchair - but was a source of some aggravation.
Even more aggravation was to follow. Had I remembered his reading glasses? Mr B asked me. He knew I was guilty even before I admitted it from the shifty expression on my face. The taxi driver made a quick U turn and drove
us back the way we had come so that I could scoot indoors and grab the specs case. “Good thing we hadn’t got all the way there!” he said. “Such a good thing,” I agreed. Mr B just harrumphed meaningfully. I was so glad when we
pulled up outside the main doors of the hospital.
Have you ever had a diabetic eye test? No, nor have I but I have sat in on several of Mr B’s appointments
now. Mostly the optician needed me to help work out how to manoeuvre the wheelchair close enough to the eye machine so that Mr B could (i) position his chin and forehead correctly and (ii) hold them there. This was easier said than done and the poor woman
was clearly losing the will to live by the time she had secured the requisite number of images of both eyes. As always I amused myself by trying to decide which planet Mr B’s eye images reminded me of and congratulating myself that, since having my cataracts
removed at year, I could read right down to the bottom line of letters on the eye test chart. The optician, visibly relieved that our appointment was over, marked us down for a double appointment next time around...
It was a bit of a struggle pushing the wheelchair out of the diabetes centre and over to the main hospital where Costa Coffee was beckoning (other hospital cafeterias almost certainly offer similarly caffeine-laden drinks.
) This was the part of the outing I had been dreading most, fearing that I might lose control of Mr B’s wheelchair and drive him straight into the path of an oncoming ambulance - but amazingly we made it in one piece though I can’t guarantee that
Mr B’s nerves weren’t a little frazzled.
We knew it would be a long wait for our taxi but a hospital cafeteria is a great place for people watching.
We were particularly interested in the couple at the table next to us in that the fella was in a wheelchair clearly marked in capital letters: “Not to be removed from X-RAY.” They really didn’t look the criminal type to us but there they
were, bold as brass, enjoying a cuppa and a cake with a wheelchair which had clearly gone AWOL. Not only that, but once they had finished their refreshments they set off out of the hospital, heading determinedly towards the car park. I was tempted to
release the brakes on Mr B’s own conveyance and to yell: “Follow that wheelchair!” but Mr B wanted another double espresso so by the time I’d waited my turn in the queue at the counter, the wheelchair and its occupant were well away.
Back home, we congratulated each other that we had survived the trials and tribulations of yet another hospital appointment. It seemed best to put to one side any trivial
annoyances that had occurred over the course of our Jolly Outing.
I didn’t even mention the fact that he hadn’t needed his reading glasses after all...