Case Study #4: Heart Failure (HF)

In the Supermarket

Day: 0
Time: 09h30
Place: Supermarket

Dorothy looked over her shoulder at Meryl, who seemed to be trailing with the shopping cart . This is a bit unusual. Meryl hates food shopping and tries to complete it as quickly as possible, she thought.

“Meryl, you doing ok dear? I think we are out of mayo. Can you grab the low fat, small jar as you walk past?”

Meryl looks up at Dorothy and smiles weakly. “I am feeling a bit tired, but I’m ok. Yes, I’ll grab the mayo, but I’m getting the one that is on sale.”

Meryl reaches up and grabs a small plastic jar of mayo and places it in the top part of the cart.What the heck is going on? I really don’t feel so well and Dorothy is walking so fast today. She usually likes to shop, she thought.

Dorothy waits for Meryl at the end of the condiment row and rubs her back and gives her a quick peck on the cheek before moving off again down the next row. Meryl, taking a deep breath and leaning heavily on the cart, plods slowly forward.

Time: 10h00

“Meryl, where are you?” Dorothy does a 360 degree turn in the row and does not see her spouse anywhere. She quickly checks the next row only to see it empty. Feeling a bit panicked, like losing a child, Dorothy retraces her steps to the previous row to find Meryl, sitting on the floor with the partially full cart a few feet down the row.

Rushing up to Meryl, Dorothy quickly looks around and then bends down. “Did you fall? Are you ok?”

Meryl looks up slowly and Dorothy immediately recognizes that something is not right.

“Oh my, Meryl, you do not look good. You are pale and quite dusky looking. I’m not quite sure you are over the flu.”

“Dorothy. I am not. Feeling good. Not the flu. Very dizzy.” Meryl whispers breathlessly. “I think it’s….My heart.”

Dorothy goes into full panic mode on hearing ‘heart’. She helps Meryl stand; Meryl wobbles a little bit before seeming to settle on her feet. Together they walk out like a coach guiding an injured player from the field.

“Dorothy… our cart!”

“Meryl, the least of my concerns is the cart. Someone can put the stuff back on the shelves. I am more concerned about you. We are going to the Emergency.”

Meryl places both hands on the roof of their small sports car and waits for Dorothy to open the door. “What if I. Don’t want to. Go to the Emergency?”

“Sorry, hon. Laying in the middle of Safeway examining the floor tiles closely, gets you one free express ticket to the Emergency. Don’t gripe. You are going to suck it up.”

Meryl allows Dorothy to help her into the passenger seat. Dorothy hears a bit of quiet grumbling from Meryl but chooses to ignore it.

Dorothy starts the car and backs out quickly. Driving faster than usual, Dorothy navigates the two of them through the back roads and into the parkade of the hospital.

Time: 10h30

“See, Meryl? This was meant to be. Someone left us a wheelchair to use.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“Try me, hon, you are riding until they tell me what is wrong with you.”

Dorothy guides Meryl out of the sports car and into the wheelchair. Pushing the wheelchair by the parking meter, Dorothy stops and pays for four hours of parking.


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