The Fall – and its Consequences!

The Fall – and its Consequences!

by Sr. Jo Anne Kelly MMM                        Ireland/Nigeria                           01.12.2023

Many years ago. I was doing a brief spell of relief work for one of our Hospital Administrators. The sisters in the community all had different health-related professions. An older sister, Nora, herself a retired nurse, took care of the house and indeed, of all of us. One Saturday morning I came back from the office where I was trying to finish up the week’s work. Nora was at the door. I knew something had happened. She had climbed up onto a stool in the store, it slipped, and she fell. She had a pain in her back. I wanted to call Sr. Liz our doctor. She said “Let her rest, she was up half the night. We’ll have the tea first” and we did. When Liz saw her, she insisted she lie down until she had an X-ray. We settled her in her bed. The X-ray department was new and the only radiographer available for the call had gone to a wedding. It was long before we had mobile phones or any kind of phone.

On Sunday morning the X ray showed a fracture of the spine and, thankfully, no displacement. But we could take no chances. Any wrong move and she could be paralyzed. Nora came back carried on a stretcher by four men. She was a tall heavily built woman and I feared she would slide off on our steep stairs. The men were very careful. With Nora safely in bed everything else started moving. There were no facilities anywhere near us to cope with that type of injury. She had to be flown home.

There were journeys to inform our MMM leader, the airline, the airport and Drogheda and all kinds of preparations to be made. The nearest airport was small, about two hours drive from us, but it did have one international flight each week direct to London. We had to get that – the next one was five days away. The airline officials were most cooperative and helpful. We did our best to care for Nora with very little facilities and she was a great patient. People in the village heard about the emergency and help came from everywhere. The Local Government graded our rough and stony road out to the tarmac. Our hospital tailor made three very wide canvas straps to ensure she would be secure on the stretcher down our stairs and up into the plane. We didn’t have an ambulance then, but a local Polytechnic lent us a long vehicle.

The day came for the journey. We knew there were many roadblocks on the way which would cause a lot of delay so one sister set off early to inform the police. Then followed the ambulance with Liz, who was accompanying Nora to Ireland. I followed with four men and all we would need at the airport, including a picnic supper. We sailed through the check points, the police graciously waving us on. In the airport, Liz set about making Nora ready for boarding while the rest of us had our tea. We got an early call to board. The men carrying, we proceeded up into the plane. Already a stretcher had been firmly secured over seats there. Space was very limited and transfer from one stretcher to another would have been very difficult. After many negotiations and ascertaining who took responsibility, we were allowed to secure our stretcher onto the one already there. We had brought the ropes hoping that would happen!!

I was aware Liz had not even had a drink, so I ran down and got her a mug of tea. As I started up the steps the plane door closed, and the official turned to come down. When he saw me he spoke into his ‘walkie-talkie’. The door opened and he came and took the mug of tea up and handed it in. The door slid closed again. The engines were already revving up. Two of us waited until the plane moved down the runway and prayed they would arrive safely. They did. About four days later Liz returned with the stretcher, but not the mug! About fifteen months later, Nora herself returned fully recovered.

Recently we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King. The Gospel was of Jesus telling people what they had done for Him when He was in need. They didn’t know they had done anything. I think of all the people who helped us at that time and all the millions of people helping others over the world today who don’t know that they are doing it for Jesus and so building up the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Love here on earth.