Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mrs Dr McCrumble

Aah yes, the love of my life. We met over ten years ago at a seminar for youngsters looking to improve their relationships with their parents. Mine were largely absent from the home, both being hard working accountants for a petrochemical firm, hers were both locked up for fraud (something to do with race-horses). I think we simply wanted to know how to get on with life in their absence. Anyways, nothing much came of it except declarations of undying love not three weeks later. It was a sweet, old fashioned romance, and I like to think that our relationship has grown much firmer over the years. Sure, we have had the odd argument, but nothing that a fresh skimming of plaster and some new wallpaper couldn't mend.

Nowadays Mrs Dr Mccrumble divides her time between charity work and caring for her sick mother (her father received a considerably lengthier sentence). I'm not sure what's wrong with her mother, except for the fact that she comes all over faint whenever housework is mentioned. Still, all credit to my good wife for her never failing devotion to her mother (footnote: Mrs Dr Mccrumbles mother's nickame was 'feather fingers McHaggarty' due to her incredibly light fingered approach to lifting money from other people without them noticing. One time I lost the entire contents of my wallet without it even leaving the breast pocket of my jacket. The only thing I had noticed was that Mrs McHaggarty had shifted sideways by three feet and coughed slightly).

Mrs Dr McCrumble makes the occasional appearance at the Cumbernauld Institute of Parasitology, usually when we are a bit short staffed or to help out with post-operative care of the volunteers (counselling, removing stitches etc). On one occasion I recall her help was particularly welcome. Our handsome yet modest research assistant Ravel had just been through a fairly painless procedure of having some of his tapeworms surgically removed, and was in post-ops listening to Bulgarian radio. Mrs Dr Mccrumble came to check on his recovery, and had kindly brought some flowers and a box of chocolates. I showed her in and left them chatting in the recovery room as I went about cleaning my scalpels and mopping up around the table we use for operations (being short of space the table is also used for hosting corporate lunches, meetings etc). As I rung out the bloody cloth into the bucket for the last time I suddenly heard a commotion outside. It was the sound of a woman shouting to be released. I knew immediately it was Mrs McHaggarty from the broad geordie accent (her father was from Edinburgh but she grew up in Sunderland). I went outside and witnessed Mrs McHaggarty struggling to release herself from the grip of my other research assistant Herman McCavity. She was demanding to be let in to see the patient, but McCavity was rightfully disallowing her entry. Our hygiene rules clearly stipulate that no-one must visit our post-ops room having just walked across the field in which our mobile laboratory is situated. The risk of bacteria-laden manure-contaminated boots or shoes carrying tetanus or some fungal spores into a room where patients have freshly stitched wounds is just too great, even for me. Mrs McHaggarty knew this and should not have attempted to gain entry. She nonetheless pleaded with us, saying that she had wanted to accompany her daughter in the car to the lab, but had been caught short in the village. She had absent-mindedly told her daughter to proceed whilst she visited the toilet-block in market square. This was barely credible, as the village was over five miles away, and I suspected that Mrs McHaggarty was up to her old tricks again.

The argument continued for another fifteen minutes before finally my good lady wife made an appearance. She seemed a little out of breath and somewhat flushed. I momentarily wondered what could have happened, but she quickly explained to me that she had spent the last ten minutes trying to get Ravel back into bed after he had fallen faint on his way to the toilet. There was no-one else around (Denise was off sick and the other staff were on holiday), so she had slowly pulled him back to the bed by his arms and with great effort levered him back onto the mattress. I told her to take her mother back home and went in to check on my patient. He was sound asleep, as I expected after such a long operation with only local anasthetic and no food for twenty four hours previously, and there was no sign of bruising. So clearly the fall had not affected him greatly. But the episode realised how much I valued my wife. In times of crisis, she's the only woman I would have around!

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