Friday, 6 August 2010

The Vauxhall Grasshopper

Neglect of the elderly and vulnerable is rife in this country; my first call to a 74 year-old woman with abdominal pain revealed a lot more than just her acute condition. Her ‘carer’ was on scene and I got very little information or interest out of her. The crew fared no better when they arrived.

The woman had high blood pressure, swollen ankles and an irregular pulse. Her ECG showed some worrying changes and when the electrodes were applied to her skin we found suppurating areas where the tissue was peeling away. It smelled rotten and her necrotic condition extended to different areas of her body. When I palpated her ankles my gloves lifted off wet skin – not nice. This poor lady is being neglected disgracefully. We took her carefully to hospital.

Apart from the odd kind-of interesting cardiac call, I was bounced around for cancellations all night and the most fascinating thing to happen was that I found a grasshopper in the car. I threw him out onto the street and he headed back towards the car again. I thought once I’d closed the door and left the street he’d be a memory but about an hour later he appeared again, this time on the outside of the windscreen, crawling happily along! I saw him again once or twice and decided to leave him alone. He was happy and if he wants to live out his little green life on a Vauxhall Zafira then who am I to judge?

People who weren’t happy, however, included the drugged up man in the back on the ambulance I was in and whose BP was dropping as a gang of weapon-wielding (I’m sure one of them had a sword) thugs surrounded the ambulance after attacking someone on the street. I called for police assistance but the mob moved on, searching for another victim – someone specific I think. It was a tense moment for me and the crew inside the vehicle. We thought they might try to get in. It happened before a few years ago when a man being chased by such a gang burst into an ambulance while the crew was treating a patient. The gang simply followed him and stabbed him to death in front of the paramedics.

The patient got no better after fluids, so we took him in, rapidly, to hospital, where he spent a while in a queue of stretchers and chair-bound ‘sick’ people until he was brought round with some gentle but firm violence from one of the nurses.

His pupils were pin-point and he was clearly more than just drunk on alcohol – if he was ever drunk on alcohol in the first place.

Be safe.

1 comment:

Uncle John said...

Re 'neglect' of the elderly. "Her ‘carer’ was on scene and I got very little information or interest out of her."

Quite possibly the terms of the 'carer's' contract meant she was supposed to act professionally - do the specified job, nothing more - and don't 'challenge' the clinical decisions of those better qualified