2014-08-29 / Letters

Community shines in times of need

To the editor:

Everything was going well when suddenly there was a loud crash, thud, and an, “Oh, oh, oh” finished off by a groan. I rushed into the family room to see Dan sprawled on the floor and stepped to the sunroom. The plate with his sandwich had flopped jelly-side down on the tile, and the cane had shot over the tiles in the other direction.

Dan said, “I don’t know what happened.” It was clear that something had happened to his back or hip, and as we studied the situation, he assessed that he couldn’t get up. Since I couldn’t help him get upright, he suggested our neighbor, Bill. “I’ll be right over,” Bill said.

Bill’s an engineer type, quick to assess what’s needed and how to do it. He said, “I’ll lift Dan under the arms, and you push the wheelchair in under him.” Dan got onto the chair within a hair’s breath of grace. Not that he’s heavy, but he was dead weight. Dan and I were still processing what had just occurred, quick to deny that something bad had happened.

While adrenalin was rushing around his body working its charm, Dan didn’t feel so much pain. By the time his slapped-back-together sandwich was done, we decided that the only place to go was Southern Maine Health Care by ambulance. We needed an X-ray to solve the mystery.

Three weeks later, we’re back home. Dan can’t put more than 50 percent of his weight on his leg. He did do something bad. He had three breaks in his upper tibia. His surgeon pieced his bone together with metal and fancy screws. With prayers from everywhere, surgery was performed. Not only that, but his bone could withstand the metal applications and with a promise of full recovery.

Dan spent last summer on the couch with his right leg up. He had a wound that was slow healing. Over the years he has suffered many scrapes and cuts on his legs, and he has had to make frequent trips to the wound center. The wound he got in July 2013 got him a referral to a surgeon in Portland. Dan did everything possible to save his leg, but he had to have an above-the-knee amputation in October. Thanks to Atlantic Procare in Portland, Dan has a new leg. That right leg was working beautifully until, who knows what happened, and Dan went down.

During our great upheaval here and shuffling back and forth to Portland was going on, our neighbor, Bill, took over our lawn mowing. He has been a stalwart, loyal neighbor, hauling in our garbage cans, making visits to the different hospitals, and our list goes on.

The other night his wife slipped in the bathroom. Instead of trying to lift her, he remembered Dan’s situation and called 911. She broke both bones in her lower right leg and cannot put any weight on her leg for now.

There is an unpleasant irony in this story. Bill has been telling me for weeks to take care of “the caregiver.” There is not too much of a silver lining in these events. They were accidents, and the two neighbors involved are healing. Mending bone is slow, but once the initial few days are past and some of the pain has subsided, we begin to look on the bright side. We have a vast bright side on our street.

Neighbors who send cards, bring food, visit, encourage and comfort us with their caring. The rest of community reaches out, too, and for all of this, we are filled with gratitude.

A lesson here? Don’t have the neighbor assist with lifting the victim, call 911 after a fall. Lesson No. 2, take notice of the kindness of neighbors in Kennebunk and around our area. How lucky we are.

Cynthia and Dan Doolittle

Return to top