As the truck came to a halt outside the property I went to jump out the passenger side. Unfortunately, my foot caught on the door . . . the result of which was a horizontal dive straight into a puddle below.
There was much mirth. Even the woman waving at us from the front door shared a chuckle. However, it should be noted at this point, it was the last time anything remotely funny happened on this job . . .
Walking into the house we were presented with a tiny little old lady who was physically shaking with pain. I’d only just been “promoted” to the dizzy heights of an SP3 (Tech 3 in old money) but it didn’t take a high IQ to recognise this patient was sick – big sick!
“This is my mum, Jan*. About twenty minutes ago she started getting pains in her lower belly and back. But it’s just got worse . . . I don’t know what to do”
Jan lay on the sofa clutching at her belly, shaking violently and moaning with the pain. Her eyes were wide with fear and tears streamed down her face. As I approached she tentatively reached out to me with one hand and opened her mouth to speak. But only more painful moans came out.
I quickly glanced at the daughter, “Right then my dear, grab your bits and pieces – we’re going!”.
And with that we delicately scooped our patient up, placed her in our chair and got her out and into our truck at double time. With no time to play around we set off immediately, putting the blue call in as we went . . . our best guess? A rupturing AAA (Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm) – not good.
En route I did what I could . . . which really wasn’t much. We were a double tech crew and both newbies. I put Jan on full flow oxygen and tried to get some obs but she was shaking so badly that nothing was coming up.
Inside I was panicking. Outside, I think I was too but was desperately trying to hold it together. I mean, what can you do? I was trying to think if I’d missed something . . . but no, there really was nothing more we could do. In fact, the best treatment we were giving her right now was diesel power – ie the strength of my crew mate’s right foot as it pushed the accelerator to the floor.
Jan’s colour was turning a deathly white yet she still stared at me with those imploring eyes. I gripped her hand and attempted to smile down at her. Her shaking was easing. She seemed to be relaxing somewhat . . . brilliant! Maybe my charms were having an effect. But then her grip was easing too. It must have looked obvious in my face.
“What’s happening?!” The daughter begged, her voice desperate. “Mum? Mum? MUM!”
We’d arrived. The back was down and we were out and into resuss in seconds just as Jan’s grip finally let go. My expertly thought out hand over to the Consultant went as follows;
“I think she’s just gone Doctor!”
The Doctor and his crash team took over as we backed away. The daughter stayed with them, her face in her hands, sobs almost choking her every breath.
All that kept running through my head was, what a mess! What a bloody mess Binder! And, after booking in and finishing all my paper work I ventured back into resuss to see how things had gone.
There was no staff about. So, poking my head round the curtain I spied Jan lying peacefully on the bed. The lights were low and the daughter sat to one side of her stroking her hand and looking up into her face. I must of made a slight noise as she turned to look at me. Had she lived? Was Jan still alive? Catching the daughter’s eye I raised my eyebrows to pertain to that effect. Tears streamed down the daughter’s face as she shook her head gently.
I looked back at Jan. Her body was lifeless. She was still connected to the machines beside her – but none of them were switched on anymore. Of course she didn’t make it Binder. Of course not you fool.
I mouthed the words “I’m sorry” and quickly turned away before heading back to the truck.
*not her real name of course
NB We don’t reflect or think about all our jobs we go on. Just some . . . just the ones that seem to get passed the chinks in our armour. It depends on the tech or medic to what job it’d be. But everyone has jobs they reflect on . . . some a lot worse than this!
This was one of mine. It happened several years back now but I often think about it. Did I do the right thing? Did we pick her up wrong? Could I have done more on the truck? The list of questions goes on and on.
Thankfully, in this case at least, I still reckon there wasn’t much more we could have done. Her aneurysm had ruptured – she was going to die. Diesel power really was the only medical treatment that we could have given her but sadly, in this case, not even that was enough.