A Shot Of Ignorance

, , , , | Healthy | November 11, 2019

(One evening, I get the call every person with an elderly relative fears: my 90+ grandma has fallen down and can’t get up. Luckily, she ended up next to the phone; she actually tripped as she was walking over to it because it was ringing. Since everyone else in our small family is either on vacation, not on speaking terms with Grandma, or living in a nursing home on the other side of town and not in possession of a driving license — or their full mental faculties — I am the only one who can help her out. I race over, hoping it’s just a case of having to help her up because she is in an awkward position, but as soon as I walk in the door and see the unnatural angle of her leg, I know we have a fracture on our hands and have to go to the hospital. We end up in an examination room at the ER, waiting for either the x-ray nurse or the neurologist, whoever shows up first. The neurologist has been called because Grandma hit her head on the stone windowsill when she fell, which caused a small wound and a bit of blood. That wound is the cause of the following conversation with a very chipper ER doctor.)

Doctor: “Well, Mrs. [Grandma], I know you’re waiting for the x-ray nurse and the neurologist, but I’m neither; I’m just here to give you a little tetanus shot.”

(My grandma is neither stupid nor suffering from dementia, but she has never had more than an elementary-school education, and apparently, she never learned what a tetanus shot is, leading to this little gem:)

Grandma: “A tetanus shot? What is that for?”

Doctor: “Well, ma’am, that’s for what we call ‘street dirt’–“

Grandma: *interrupting indignantly* “Street dirt? I fell inside my own home!”

(She sounds like she thinks what the doctor said is the most ridiculous thing she’s ever heard, and he and I simply couldn’t contain our laughter. The doctor gives a brief explanation of what a tetanus shot is for, but too brief, apparently, because as soon as he is out the door…)

Grandma: “[My Name], what was all that about? I don’t get it. My house is clean!”

(I gave her a much more expansive explanation of germs, and why even her nice clean house wasn’t free of them. She was pretty horrified, but finding out her femur was broken soon took precedence. She could laugh about it later, though, when I mimicked her indignant tone. She almost sounded insulted at being associated with any kind of dirt.)

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