Saturday, November 26, 2011

'it might make you a little bit woozy....'

The only option left for paramedics in a small vehicle who can’t right an upturned house husband is to call an ambulance - so an ambulance was called.

‘It’s not an emergency one’, explained Clive. ‘It’ll probably take about an hour. They’ll not keep you in though. My guess is Diazepam and codeine and then back home. You’ll not be dancing, but you’ll be mobile’

Clive was happy with the fact that the ambulance was in no hurry and squeezed in a few more telly questions to Maude, before surprising her with a fan-like hug and kiss as he made his exit. Robert looked vaguely embarrassed and waved awkwardly.

Maude filled one of the children’s backpacks with my pyjama bottoms and a toothbrush, ‘just in case’.

My battered back felt every bump in the road, as I took in the multitude of signs on the interior of the ambulance. Most of them could be boiled down to the simple message: ‘please don’t hit the ambulance staff, they are trying to help you’.

I was, as ever, too long for the stretcher. My feet protruded over the end and it was my feet that opened the plastic trimmed doors of the Accident & Emergency department. The staff nurse’s greeting ‘We’ve got a tall one here’  set the tone for the rest of this healthcare experience.

After the inevitable wait of an hour, a doctor appeared. His eyes were bloodshot, but he seemed thorough and concerned enough. After much probing and examination, he fulfilled Clive’s prediction:

‘Diazepam. It’s a muscle relaxant – it might make you a little bit woozy. And something for the pain. You should then be able to go straight home, but not driving yourself.’

I noticed that he was eyeing my feet as they extended beyond the end of the stretcher. I was wearing rather fetching socks, but later realised that he was making a prescribing decision based on a bloodshot visual assessment of my body size.

‘I think you’re the tallest person I’ve ever met’, observed the nurse, as she squeezed past my feet and into the cubicle.

She set a small paper cup of medication beside me, along with a paper cup with just insufficient water to properly swallow all of the tablets.

I took the medication and waited. An hour or so passed. It felt safe to try and get to my feet. The pain had subsided. It felt good to be able to slowly straighten up. I tried to focus on the Angel of the North – a motif on hospital curtains in the Gateshead area. I couldn’t, I passed out.

I came to on the floor of the cubicle. I understood that I had fainted, but that my collapse had gone unheard. I stretched painfully to reach a cardboard vomit catcher from a trolley and hit the call button.

The dispensing nurse arrived and seemed unmoved. She folded a blanket and put it under my head, which was lolling on my outstretched arm.

‘Just lie there until you feel a bit better, pet.’

I lay there and squinted up. The nurse looked down and smiled a kindly smile, in much the same way that Clive and Robert had smiled kindly smiles.

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