I’d spent the morning at the school at a music lesson in the usual way. One lad, who isn’t very confident and whom I couldn’t get to do what was asked of him a few weeks ago, particularly shone. He had to be persuaded and encouraged to perform his part – really nice that the other lads in the group showed kindness and understanding – but afterwards he was happy and friendly to me. At one point, chatting, I made a silly mistake and apologised and he grinned in a moment’s real friendship .
Some time later, I called at the library, paid the fine from some while back, when I forgot the week my books were due and took them back a whole 7 days late, which cost me £6.30, took out more books and cycled down to Al. I talked to him, and admired the lovely new woven shopping bags he has. Someone rang him the other day and asked to send a sample, and Dilly and I both said immediately that he must stock them. They’re made in Uganda, or the palm leaves are grown in Uganda and they’re made in Kenya – I”ll have to get back to you on that. Anyway, after a few minutes chat, I said I must go to the cashpoint and then I’d come back for my vegetables.
I put my card in the cashpoint, keyed in the PIN and the amount I wanted, and then started to feel woozy. I would have liked to sit down at once, but both card and money were locked in, so I had to wait. As soon as I had them both, I went to sit down, but couldn’t quite control my legs and banged my forehead (not hard) on the wall. A woman came up and asked if I needed help. “I feel a bit faint” I explained. “I just want to sit down for a few minutes.” Actually, I wanted to lie down and close my eyes. Al appeared looking worried as she offered to get me a glass of water. I accepted with thanks.
I shut my eyes and was startled, on opening them, to find several people clustered round. I was helped into the bank and given a chair – offered the office, but I said I was all right. I drank some water and rested my head on the desk – and heard someone say an ambulance had been called for. “I’m all right,” I said, “really, I don’t need an ambulance.” I explained and was as coherent as I ever am, so they phoned again and it was decided that a paramedic would come. A friend came into the bank and offered me a lift home, which I accepted, but then I was told my husband was on the way, so when she returned, having transacted her business, I thanked her again and said I had a lift. A few minutes later, the Sage, Weeza and Zerlina appeared. Yes, it was embarrassing. I also had to ask to go into the office after all, so that I could lie flat. The manager had to vacate it.
I started to feel better when I was lying down, and then the paramedic, Neil, arrived, took my blood pressure – it was low, wouldn’t you have guessed and then I sat up and he took it again, and then he wrote down all my details – the Sage started to intervene helpfully, but I suggested that perhaps checking that I knew my name and age and all was part of the checking procedure. Then I decided to lie down for another little rest before I fell over, so he checked my blood pressure again, which had dropped further, and then he checked my blood sugar level, which was fine. It was agreed that I’d simply fainted and I needed to rest.
Actually, I didn’t realise I had fainted. I thought I’d just closed my eyes. But Al said that when he arrived and sat down and put his arm around me, I leant into it and my eyes rolled back and I went limp. He was awfully worried, until I started to snore gently. Mm, yes, that’s what I wanted to hear, isn’t it?
Finally, I said I was ready to go home and I tottered out of the bank, remembering to thank everyone. “Take it slowly” said Al kindly. “Actually, I need to go as fast as I can so I’m in the car before I fall over again,” I explained. My head was thoroughly swimming. But by the time I got home I started to feel better, and went from being too hot to chilly. Weeza got me some lunch, because it was getting on for 3 o’clock and I knew I should eat even if I didn’t feel like it, and I spent the afternoon on the sofa.
When I went out to get dinner ready, I found that the assortment of veg that Weeza had provided was new potatoes (Cornish), calabrese and, puzzlingly, two bunches of watercress. I realised that she was feeding me iron. I made soup, it took less than 25 minutes, and we had the potatoes and the calabrese with smoked mackerel, which I filleted while the soup cooked. I’d meant to have salad, but the message didn’t quite get across.
Anyway, I’m all right now, but I’ve discovered that not only do I have a scrape on the right side of my forehead where I hit the wall on the way down, but a bump on my left eyebrow and a scrape on my left cheek, where evidently I hit the pavement.
I’ve done about the most embarrassing thing I shall ever do in public with my clothes on – or I hope so, at any rate. I’ve found, yet again, that people are kind and helpful and anxious to lessen my embarrassment as much as possible, while doing all that they can to look after me and, perhaps most important of all, that however slowly you take it, you should never get on your bike straight after giving blood. It’s the car in future, even if it’s only 2 miles from home. I’m not sure that my half-litre of O Rh+ is quite worth all the drama.