“Get Trudy to a Doctor,” Ensign, Jan. 1999, 65
One day I called Trudy, a 70-year-old widow, to make an appointment to come visiting teaching. She told me she wasn’t feeling well because her leg was hurting. She admitted she had been shoveling snow the day before and wondered if she had pulled a muscle. Since she didn’t seem to feel well, I wondered if we should come, but I told her we wouldn’t stay long.
When my partner and I arrived at Trudy’s home, I asked about her leg. She described the pain in her leg and showed me her foot, which was turning a dark color. This puzzled her, she said, because it was her leg that hurt, not her foot. Though my medical knowledge was limited, the thought crossed my mind that she might have a blood clot. My partner and I urged her to see a doctor, but she laughed and said she would feel better tomorrow.
Later, at home, I happened to talk to a friend, a nursing student, and told her about Trudy’s symptoms. She showed some alarm and said Trudy should immediately see a doctor. I called Trudy, relating my conversation with the nursing student, and urged her once again to get medical help. She replied that she would if she were still in pain tomorrow. I hung up the phone. Most doctors’ office hours were over for the day, so perhaps she was right in waiting.
Just then the phone rang, and I heard my friend, the nursing student, on the line. She had talked with a colleague at the hospital where she worked who had voiced the opinion that Trudy should definitely seek help immediately. I called Trudy once again, even though I felt she must be weary of hearing my voice, and offered to take her to the emergency room. She laughed and said she was feeling a little better and that I should not worry.
I hung up the phone telling myself I had done all I could. Yet I continued to worry and to feel I should do something more. But what? I felt I had done everything possible, yet my thoughts kept telling me that wasn’t so. I paused. Was the Holy Ghost influencing me? The word yes registered clearly in my mind. The thought then came that I should call a Dr. Worley, a close friend of Trudy’s. After I recounted my experiences of the day, he promised to visit Trudy during the evening.
The next morning Dr. Worley’s wife called. She said her husband had visited Trudy and, despite her protests, had taken her directly to the hospital. She was then transported by ambulance to another hospital in a nearby city, where she was put immediately on the surgery schedule. The surgeon who operated later told Trudy that a blood clot had cut off circulation to her foot and that if she had waited any longer she would have lost the foot.
When I heard this, I felt weak. It would have been so easy to ignore the persistent urging to do something more, and the results would have been much different that day. I was grateful that as a visiting teacher I had listened and responded to guidance I received to help one of my sisters.