Dr. Advice and I arrived three hours early for our annual flu shot. We were obviously not the only ones who did not read the signs posted on the entrance to the lab giving the times the shots would be given,as there were already twenty or thirty people ahead of us. The annual flu shot has become something of a ritual. Some people would not have it if their life depended upon it. Others like us, line up like sheep, just waiting to be stabbed in the arm, and wear a sticky note on their jackets proudly announcing “I Had My Flu Shot”. That is good medical P.R.
A small bouncy woman who looked to be in her late forties,was in line behind us. It was very cold, but she had no jacket and had an out-sized fanny pack strapped securely around her middle. She made a joke about us each taking one of the wheelchairs standing in the corner of the hospital corridor and having races up and down the hallway to take up the waiting time. Her speech was slurred and she seemed to have trouble controllling her hands, After apologizing for her speech, she told me her story.
She had had not one, but two brain aneurisms some years before, with resultant surgery. One is usually enough to do you in. Her short term memory is gone, and in her fanny pack she carried not only everything she needed for her day, but a most important pad and pencil to write down things she needed to remember. Her sense of humor was amazing, and her self-deprecating jokes infectious.
She related a story which happened about 10 years ago in front of her local grocery store where she had gone to pick up a few things. She had written them down, but wanted to try to remember what they were instead of relying on her note. An angry looking woman was pacing back and forth in front of the store. She spoke to her and made a joke about trying to remember just what it was she had come for. The woman seemed not to hear, so she went into the store and completed her shopping. W hen she finished and came out of the store, the woman stared straight ahead with no recognition. The little woman thought no more about it.
A couple of years ago, when shopping at the same store, my new-found friend was approached by a woman who said “You probably don’t remember me.” She did not remember and told her so. It seems that on their first meeting, the woman had been listening to every word she had said. She told her, “On that day, I was contemplating taking my life. After hearing your story, I decided that if you could undergo all that you have, I did not have that right. Instead, I worked to solve my problems, and I have you to thank for my life.
We are all put here for a purpose. Most often, we don’t know what that purpose is. I know that with her sense of humor, and her inspiring story of survival, this woman has saved at least one life.