Saturday, 13 November 2010

Selfish society

You can say what you like in this town!


Working through the emotions of another person while they struggle with the death of their baby is a powerful incentive to keep those close to you special because life, especially for some, is short. This job wakes me up every so often. When I slumber under the illusion that all is good and there’s nothing more important than me and mine, I get sporadic reminders through other people’s realities, that, and without being permanently morose, I should keep myself grounded. What I am exposed to makes everyone in my life special to me.




I’ve been criticised, but not too harshly admittedly, for once again being less than sensitive with the issue of hyperventilation. I’ve responded to this comment, which I know was made without malice and I want to share the essence of it.

The diary is a process for me; I write it when emotions about specific things; calls I work on, people I encounter, conflicts I am involved in, or whatever, affect me in an immediate way. I can reflect upon them all I like but recording them for posterity to humanise them is essential, otherwise this is not a diary – it’s a reflective essay.

Yes, I have been a little off-hand about certain aspects of ‘illness’ that I’ve come across and one of those is hyperventilation panic attacks, but not because I don’t see them as clinically relevant – more often than not, individuals who call ambulances for these events are not having much more than a little dizzy spell accompanied by some very well acted out breathing routines. Sorry but it’s true. They want a day off work. They are upset about something. They want attention. Quite frankly, the emergency ambulance service is not here for that. It’s here for dying babies.

True hyperventilation, the spontaneous without warning type, is very scary indeed. The person suffering it will think that they cannot breathe and that they are about to die – I know because I’ve experienced it myself. I stopped breathing in my sleep (sleep apnoea) and when my brain caught on to this, I woke up suddenly and over-compensated my breathing – this resulted in hyperventilation, which was not funny. I had to calm myself down before it resolved and getting back to sleep was a worrying prospect, let me tell you.

That happened once only; I haven’t experienced it again since but I can at least draw on real life to justify my remarks. So, I deal with those suffering from hyperventilation that is changing their lives sympathetically and clinically but I have no time for those who are simply emotional. We are all running out of time for people like that and I’m not talking about mental illness; I’m attacking selfishness. We all have problems in life – most of us… the vast majority of us, get on with it and deal with it. We don’t bleed our emergency ambulance service, GP or hospital dry of funds and personnel by creating illnesses around it.

Be safe.

7 comments:

Rafael said...

Right on sir, as a 13 year medic in the US, I have seen my share of panic attacks. The ones who are usually hyperventilating the worst, well, they for the most part are females of certain ethnicities, hence the term Ethnic Emotional Emergency or tripple E. I often have success with doing an assessment and showing them ( or their translator) that everything is normal. Usually they are able to convince themselves that they don't need a ride. Just another one of the many silly reasons for calling 911 that continue to take up beds in our already overwhelmed emergency departments.

Anonymous said...

On a few occasions in my career I have had to call an ambulance to people that are taken acutely ill at the same time as the taped interview I am conducting with them takes a turn they don't like. Each time I have rung that ambulance I have done so knowing there is bugger all wrong with them. The ambulance then arrives on blues to this. One such person was a frequent flyer, the paramedic rolled his eyes when he saw who it was.
So, off they go to hospital ( probably because the ambulance staff don't feel they can risk telling them where to get off).
Makes me mad. Someone really really ill might need that ambulance.
Minty

Jen B said...

Hi, just a few things really. Thank you for doing your job is defiantly the first thing! Reading this post caused a memory to come flooding back, way back when I was at a very difficult point in my long and complicated medical history, a time when no one least of all the doctors knew what was going on with me (not that those questions have been answered now more then 8 years on, oh the world of chronic pain) I had been forced into returning to work when everyone knew I was still to ill and unstable with my pain but I had a mortgage to pay, needs must, I had just started my 3rd shift back after 6 months off when my pain quickly became out of hand, my my MR morphine was not helping and I was in a bad way pin wise, took myself off to the medical room where I hoped to either ride it out or call for a friend or relative to come get me and take me home so I could get onto my pain team but no, the 'first aider' decided to over rule my begging them not to and called 999! I was in a great deal of pain, my worst pain is in the upper right abdo and I have adhesions that when in a pain flair up make taking a deap breath very painful so I had started to hyper ventilate but knew what was happening and why and was trying to get myself sorted as normal when a paramedic/emt arrived having pulled up in a FRU, he took one look at me and quite rightly looked pissed off, someone had obviously said I having trouble breathing. He helped me get my breathing slowed down and by that time an ambulance had arrived, work made it clear I had to get in that ambulance and had already gone through my phonebook, called my mother and told her I was on my way to hospital as well as calling my partner at work and telling him the same, both by that time had set off on a long drive to get there and were not contactable, thanks a bunch. Once in the ambulance I explained my medical history and what the twonks I worked with had done and they were very understanding, they and I knew that there was nothing the hospital could do for me especially as I worked in a difference city then I lived so they couldn't even get my pain doc down for me, a waste of everybody's time and resources.

Jen B said...

I am a bit of an essay writer and what I wanted to say was too long for one post so sorry, there is more:
Bring all that round to 8+ years later, this Saturday night just gone, my 5 year old has a massive asthma attack, her inhalers aren't helping, although I now live in the sticks a FRU is with us in less then 10 mins, barely had time to put the dog away, poke my sleeping husband and tell him what was happening and he had responsibility for our 2 year old and switch on the outside light, a couple of moments after the FRU arrives so does the ambulance and I have 5 of Oxfordshires finest in my tiny living room taking care of my little girl who can't talk she is working so hard just to breath but the wonderful crew managed to put her so at ease she managed a week smile. The FRU was off again quickly leaving us in the care of the 2 ambulance crew who looked after my little girl like she was theirs treating her on the half hour trip to hospital and then when we arrived at the very busy Saturday night A&E noticing that the cubical we were given hadn't had a new sheet put on and rather then ask for someone else to do it did it himself, making sure my girl had enough blankets, that she was comfortable, fetched me a chair to sit at her bedside, made sure we were both okay, coming back to see how she was after the first dose of steroids, he couldn't do enough for us and I am sure most of what he did when we were inside the doors of A&E were not his job, he really cared about my girl, he seemed genuinely concerned that her condition was still failing to improve much with the treatments, I thanked him profusely and I was sad to think I wouldn't get to see the crew again to thank them properly for coming and helping my child when she needed it most. After four hours the efforts of all who treated my daughter from the call to 999 all the way through to the staff at A&E who even though they were run off their feet with an overflowing department still made the time to ensure my girl knew what was happening to her and wasn't scared paid off, just in the nick of time when she was about to be admitted the final nebs worked well enough for my girl to be able to speak and for me to take her home under careful watch knowing should she deteriorate again help would be there in a flash. A few days on and she is still poorly but she is home and breathing okay, I don't know the names of the crew that came to her, have no idea how I could thank them properly so as a blog reader I am doing it here, to all the people who put up with so much, get paid so little and put themselves in harms way so they can be there for people like my little girl, thank you, thank you so very much.

Jen B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen B said...

I am a bit of an essay writer and what I wanted to say was too long for one post so sorry, there is more.
8+ years later, last Saturday night, my 5 year old has a massive asthma attack, her inhalers aren't helping, although I now live in the sticks a FRU is with us in less then 10 mins, barely had time to put the dog away, poke my sleeping husband and tell him what was happening and he had responsibility for our 2 year old and switch on the outside light, a couple of moments after the FRU arrives so does the ambulance and I have 5 of Oxfordshires finest in my tiny living room taking care of my little girl who can't talk she is working so hard just to breath but the wonderful crew managed to put her so at ease she managed a week smile. The FRU was off again quickly leaving us in the care of the 2 ambulance crew who looked after my little girl like she was theirs treating her on the half hour trip to hospital and then when we arrived at the very busy Saturday night A&E noticing that the cubical we were given hadn't had a new sheet put on and rather then ask for someone else to do it did it himself, making sure my girl had enough blankets, that she was comfortable, fetched me a chair to sit at her bedside, made sure we were both okay, coming back to see how she was after the first dose of steroids, he couldn't do enough for us and I am sure most of what he did when we were inside the doors of A&E were not his job, he really cared about my girl, he seemed genuinely concerned that her condition was still failing to improve much with the treatments, I thanked him profusely and I was sad to think I wouldn't get to see the crew again to thank them properly for coming and helping my child when she needed it most. After four hours the efforts of all who treated my daughter from the call to 999 all the way through to the staff at A&E who even though they were run off their feet with an overflowing department still made the time to ensure my girl knew what was happening to her and wasn't scared paid off, just in the nick of time when she was about to be admitted the final nebs worked well enough for my girl to be able to speak and for me to take her home under careful watch knowing should she deteriorate again help would be there in a flash. A few days on and she is still poorly but she is home and breathing okay, I don't know the names of the crew that came to her, have no idea how I could thank them properly so as a blog reader I am doing it here, to all the people who put up with so much, get paid so little and put themselves in harms way so they can be there for people like my little girl, thank you, thank you so very much.