Outreach Clinic typically travels with all kinds of their own equipment; No small feat, considering that they had flown in from Hospital City via a commercial flight. They rely upon the local site only for exam rooms and x-ray equipment. Everything else, they bring with them. Everything.
Except the keys for the wheeled toolboxes that were all safely padlocked.
And, for the first patient of the day, they needed to open several of those cases.
Bolt cutters, anyone?
The local hospital outpatient clinic where we were sitting is on the edge of The Greater Metro Downtown. Several years ago, the local economic development authority had lured one of the big box hardware stores to the eastern fringes of the Downtown area. The Wrench was all revved up to go buy a pair of bolt cutters just to get things going. After all, it was Daddy's Little Princess who was going to have to wait, and that just wouldn't do.
Just as The Wrench was about to take off to buy the bolt cutters, a security guard showed up with a pair, and after about a seven or eight loud POPS, the cases were open, and Outreach was officially in business.
While we waited for the bolt cutters to arrive, Twinks had been weighed and measured, just as if we were at The Hospital itself. Next, we saw the Nurse Practitioner, who came with the Outreach Team. We discussed Twinks fibromyalgia, and the "treatment plan" that had been formulated by our crack team of local doctors. We talked about arthritis, about pain management, about PT, about the weather and the price of tea, and then... we talked about weaning off of the braces.
As in, eventually not having the braces. No braces. At all.
No braces. (sorry, I just like writing that. I could fill pages and pages with just those two words...)
The Wrench and I just looked at each other. Cathy, the NP, reached out and touched my arm lightly, and asked if I was OK with that?
OK doesn't begin to cover how I felt about that - try astounded. Amazed. Delighted. Thrilled.
The boxes are popped open, and we learn which one of the staff members was responsible for bringing the keys.
We all know he is going to be teased mercilessly about it; he takes it with a big grin and a shrug. He knows right where those keys are too - on the corner of his desk, 400 miles away in Hospital City. The Wrench offers to drive him over to the big box hardware store to buy new padlocks for the cases. Before they can get out the door one of the Shriners arrives with enough shiny new MasterLocks to get the boxes safely home again.
Now we go to the improvised O & P Department. They are spread across three exam rooms, with one room for fittings, one for casting, and one for shop work.
First we meet someone new - a guy we have never seen at Hospital City. We learn later that he is a hired gun, along for the ride because The Hospital is short-handed. He knows the entire staff well; he used to work at The Hospital before he opened his own O&P clinic, and he often travels on Outreach missions, so that they can leave a tech at The Hospital to take care of the patients there. The Hospital has to continue to function, even while the Outreach Clinic goes on here.
New Guy exams Twinks current AFO's, and takes them across the hall to Craig for adjustment, and new Velcro. They will try to make them work long enough to get this (hopefully) last pair of AFO's made. He whistles, he sings silly made-up opera songs, he does character voices, all while deftly covering Twinks legs with the fast-setting fiberglass that will be used back at The Hospital to make the molds of her legs. Then, it is time to remove the fiberglass molds.
Suddenly, Twinks stiffens. My Mommy-Radar lights up with one word:
New Guy has a cast saw in his hands.
At The Hospital, the techs in O&P know Twinks - and they know about her reaction to the cast saw. New Guy is about to get a lesson in fear and loathing, Twinkie-Style.
Hospital City? We have a problem...