Friday, 14 August 2009

Personal problems

Day shift: Three calls; one by car and two by ambulance.

Stats: 1 Sleepy-head; 1 ?TIA; 1 Chest pain.

Not much shaking in Old London Town for me today – the sunshine and holidays made calling an ambulance unfashionable obviously and only the genuinely ill, injured or needy required my services. Either that or there was enough of us on duty for the call volume to seem benevolent.

A 38 year-old Portuguese woman, currently taking Diazepam for stress-induced insomnia, found herself falling asleep at work in the theatre where she cleaned. Obviously her employer was concerned about her safety and called an ambulance, thinking she may slip into a coma whilst buffing the floor. The poor woman spoke very little English, so it was down to her friend to translate and explain that she’d been worrying about something in her personal life (there are a lot of immigrant workers with this dilemma) whilst putting in the hours she needed to survive in the UK. The effects of a build-up of the drug in her system meant she couldn’t stay awake during the day but kept nocturnal waking hours instead (like I do on night shifts). The call was given as ‘unconscious’ but she’d never been near that and was simply ‘groggy’. We need a call category for this; ‘patient is groggy – red2’ it would state.

Bingo was being played on the 4th plinth at Trafalgar Square and I indulged them by taking a free card as I sat in the car. Of course I wasn’t taking it seriously but there were sweets to win and when I started crossing off numbers as they were called, I could feel the competitor in me chomping at the bit, eager to beat anyone to the call of ‘house!’ or ‘Bingo!’ or whatever the current word is. In fact, not knowing the current word for sure made me slightly nervous about the prospect of winning and I found myself wondering if I’d have the bottle to say anything if my numbers came up. Honestly, you’d think I was about to win a car.

In the end, someone else shouted out and beat me to it; I would have been livid but I was three or four numbers off anyway. The nice man who was giving out the prizes came over and lobbed in free sweets, despite the fact that I hadn’t won. The benefit of the uniform still surprises me. I hope the sweets don’t count as a bribe for free treatment (oh, wait a minute, it is free).

After the Bingo excitement, I was off to see a 51 year-old man who’d had a seizure in front of his colleagues at work. He’d recently been diagnosed with Prostate cancer and when he came round (he was very confused for a while when I got there) he denied this, even though his friend had just told me. I’d also been told he had taken time off sick but hadn’t told anyone at work the reason for this absence. I wondered if this meant he was keeping something serious from them and that his seizure had something to do with it. His face had suddenly ‘contorted’ just as he collapsed, I was informed.

I took the man to my car as he recovered and an ambulance pulled up to take him to hospital. I had seen pictures of his family around his office and it’s possible he was protecting them and his friends by withholding information about his health. He may have had a TIA, caused in turn by something else in his brain but it would be his secret until he decided to let people know – or he’d take it with him.

At the end of the day a 55 year-old woman collapsed then got herself up and walked, with her friend, to a restaurant, where she promptly collapsed again. She had a ‘heavy chest’ and was a known angina sufferer. Her ECG showed a racing SVT, so she was taken to hospital very quickly.

Some people try to get on with things despite their pain and discomfort. This lady didn’t want to cause a fuss so the restaurant manager had to call us to help her. If she'd been having a heart attack, she may have gone into cardiac arrest outside where she sat if they hadn’t. That would have ruined everyone’s day.

Be safe.


pamey said...

Hi Stuart,

What does TIA mean?

Love your posts by the way.


Toni said...

I hate to say it but I did the same once. I fainted in the high street but came round before the ambulance got to me. I stood up, managed to walk about ten steps and hit the floor like a sack of spuds all over again. The paramedics were there just as I came round the second time and stuck me in an ambulance to the hospital with me apologising the entire time for wasting their time. Superwomen, who's have them?! :-p

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Xf said...


Transient Ischeamic attack (mini stroke) - its all in the glossary. :-)

pamey said...

I did check for TIA in the glossary, just looked again. Pretty sure it's not there.

Xf said...


Now that's strange... I was sure I'd added that ages ago. It's now done, so you can look it up or:

A transient ischaemic attack (TIA), or 'mini-stroke', is caused by a temporary fall in the blood supply to part of the brain which results in a lack of oxygen to the brain. This can cause symptoms that are similar to a stroke, although they dont last as long. TIA takes only a few minutes and is usually resolved within 24 hours.