Oi, Sonny!, You’ve got a red call !
Yawn, yawn. Goodness, its nearly a week since my last post. My new patch has a reputation for being busy and having more than its fair share of ‘exciting’ jobs; that was, until I arrived. Its been pretty quiet lately so I’ve been getting on with Abbey’s book amongst other things. We don’t normally mention the ‘Q’ word as that’s the signal for getting blitzed for the rest of the shift. One of the reasons the area is notorious is due to a small enclave, near one of the major towns, which the crews refer to as ‘Beirut‘. I’ve only done one
“waste of time” minor job there so far and its an amazing place. I was told its like another world but the best way to describe it would be to imagine a shanty town but with concrete houses; the lanes between them are all broken tarmac with only enough room to squeeze through the parked and abandoned cars. There are rat runs between the houses and everything is just way beyond my experience. Stab vests are compulsory and the crews joke that when you pull up you need to take the wheels off the car and lock them in the boot (trunk for any North American readers). There could be fun times ahead……
….but not yet.
I met Danny the other day. A fit young lad in his early twenties who’d had an intense, stonking headache for 24 hours with no history of headaches or migraines, although others in the family suffered. He’d tried paracetamol (acetamenophin for those over the water) and migraleve but nothing was even touching the pain. He’d been sick, was dizzy when he sat/stood up and was somewhat photophobic (sensitive to light). My mind was considering the worse and after a quick chat with mum, discovered that she’d also been thinking along the same lines: meningitis. She’d already checked for the obvious. No rash, no stiff neck, no recent or current flu-like symptoms. There’d been, what seemed like, an outbreak of a viral infection some months ago in my old patch; similar symptoms, 24-48 hours of headache, dizzyness and vomiting. My gut rather felt that this was probably what Danny had. Still, I did all the usual observations; his blood pressure was somewhat high for one so young, 150 mmHg systolic, but everything else was normal, and no temperature either. I checked his pupils a few times just to make sure there wasn’t something sinister happening. I ran through a few possible diagnoses: meningitis, sub-arachnoid bleed, viral infection, migraine. I wasn’t going to take a chance, particularly as he’d had this for 24 hours and with no relief from any of the analgesics. I spoke to the senior medical house officer at the assessment unit of the local hospital. Yep, they were happy to see him, if only to rule out all the nasty stuff. I hope he’s feeling better.
Later, I got a call from one of the crews to pop round and see Bill. He’d had a fall in the nursing home and although things appeared ok the family, who’d come to visit, were kicking up a bit of a stink. The crew had already requested a district nurse to visit to attend to his ulcerated legs and they wanted me to check that he didn’t have a UTI and to possibly glue up a small laceration on his head. Seems my reputation for gluing my gloves to patients’ heads had preceded me. (I’ve actually only done it once but the story gets better with each telling and now I do it all the time – apparently!). Turns out the family were just pooh-poohing the crews’ statement that I’d been called “how do we know you’ve done it?” when I cheerily walked in the door escorted by a couple of lovely female residents, both over ninety and quite demented – bless ’em. My entrance ‘on cue’ seemed to calm the family down. Bill was happy enough to wander down to the toilet with one of the staff so that I could get a urine sample. As it turned out he didn’t have an infection but I always like watching the little colour patches on the multistixs turn different shades, particularly the one for nitrites which goes from cream to a lovely shade of purple. (It’s amazing how much pleasure you can get from silly little things!).
I wanted to have a look at the cut on Bill’s head but he was far more interested in tucking into his dinner, which had just appeared. He asked for more gravy so I took the opportunity for a quick inspection. Once I’d cleaned away the matted hair it was obvious that he just had a small abrasion; nothing to worry about and certainly no opportunity to stick my blue glove to his head. All was well. His dinner reappeared, now drowning in gravy and, just as we were all about to depart, the district nurse rang to say she’d be round in half an hour to sort out his legs. A satisfactory result all round.
I’ll just pop back to station and put my feet up again then. Oh, and while I’m at it I’ll check my eyelids for holes.
Wake me up when the shift’s over.
*Picture from www.musicweb.uk.net