Thursday 3 November 2011

Dr Shaw: Open all hours?

What do you do when your kid is ill? We all have different approaches, some of us are lenient, some of us are strict. Me? I'm strict, I can see through the 'I have a tummy ache' and 'I don't feel well' and have no doubt that as he gets older his fake illnesses to avoid school will be common place. On the occasions where he is sick I used to do what everyone does! Freak out! What if it's something really bad?! I would give Calpol and cuddles, it cures most things after all! Failing that, i'd call NHS direct or call the GP and make an appointment. One thing I didn't do this......

"35 year old female, her daughter doesn't feel well"

I recently moved house. After a prolonged absence I came back to my home town. It was a stressful yet exciting time. I moved in on a Friday and was unpacking solidly until work on Sunday afternoon. I finished this particular shift at 3am. I crawled into my bed, knowing that there was no need to set an alarm. I had 4 days off so catching up on sleep was top of my priority list! Therefore, you can imagine my displeasure at being woken at 7:30 by a ring on my doorbell. Who in god's name is that? The postman? I don't care, it can't be that important. Apparently it was, the bell rang again. Begrudgingly I got up, chucked some clothes on and staggered down stairs. Looking like a wild banshee I opened the door. A 35 ish year old woman was standing there, well dressed, well kept, with a 6-7 year old girl standing by her side looking miserable. That makes two of us.....

"Hello there, my name is Joanne, I live a few doors up"

Failing to see her point I croaked a vaguely audible hello back, making my displeasure at being woken perfectly clear with the cunning use facial disgust and body language!

"I saw you leave for work yesterday and couldn't help but notice you were a paramedic"

I knew where this conversation was heading. Things started to make sense now, she was being strangely friendly because she wanted something and the child was looking suitably unhappy to suggest she wasn't well. Begrudgingly I replied 'yes, I am' in a tone that conveyed annoyance, displeasure, frustration and anger all at the same time.

"I was wondering if you could help me, Chloe here isn't feeling well, she is really hot and flushed as you can see and says her throat is very sore. She has hardly slept all night and has a terrible cough. I didn't want to go through the palaver of dragging her up to the GP, you know how it is. Would you be able to check her over?"

Firstly, I had to check over my shoulder to see if there was anyone behind me who gave a crap. Nope, no one there, she is actually talking to me. Secondly, I had to decide how to play this one. Do I......

a) assess the child like the consummate professional and provide the necessary health advise to appease this anxious mother.

b) rant, tell her exactly what I'm currently thinking, tell her what I'd really like to do with people like her.

c) stare blankly for 3 seconds, turn slowly and slam the door as i staggered back up the stairs.

Well, A was never going to happen, I was too annoyed and too tired. B, tempting, do I risk upsetting a neighbour after 2 days and C, again, bit risky. After a brief moment of consideration, I went with B. A rant. 

"I don't mean to be rude, but I didn't get home until gone 3am. This is my rest day and now I'm up. I'm not a GP, I can't prescribe medication, I can't even take her temperature. I'm not telling you how to suck eggs but surely, if a kid is hot and coughing, they have a cold. Calpol will probably do the trick but what you expect me to be able to do I don't know. And, to be perfectly honest I think it's a bit off for you to come here, first thing in the morning based on seeing me leave in my uniform yesterday. If you are worried take her to the GP."

"Sorry, I should have thought, I'll let you get back to sleep, sorry"

Admittedly, I got a card through the door to apologise again which I appreciated but still! What a bloody cheek! The audacity, to knock on my door because she couldn't be arsed to go to the GP.  Is she for real? And, someone she has never met before! I was speechless! It doesn't say 'Dr Shaw: Open all hours' above my door. In fact, if I did have a sign above my door it would say 'Jog on!' I get it, people worry about their kids, but a kid with a cold? She is 6 years old. That means she has had 6 years at managing and treating a cold! Surely, knocking on a strangers door isn't top of her list of things to do? How dare she?! Needless to say, I vented, ranted, stomped and shouted for the rest of the morning.  

I'm not a miserable git, honest, and if someone was in need I'd always be there and have been. I've helped out with cardiac arrests and RTC's when off duty but interrupting my sleep for a cold is not, and will not, ever be acceptable. Ever. 



  1. I'm not quite so sure about this. It's all good and well being a miserable git to your neighbors, in fact it's one of my favorite pasttimes - however as a healthcare professional it's probably inappropriate to just pass it off as "probably a cold, give calpol" without actually making even a minimal assessment. Meningitis has been mistaken for flu by experienced paramedics before, and with disastrous consequences. Imagine how things would be if you said she had a cold and to take some calpol and 6 hours later she stopped breathing? "Oh but the Paramedic downstairs said that it was only a cold!", have a feeling that wouldn't turn out too well.

    1. I can't do any kind of assessment on a porch, whilst wearing pyjamas without any kit! I advised her to go to her GP if she was concerned. I wasn't on duty, in uniform or representing a service! She made an assumption I was a paramedic based on a green uniform! I am not!! Thanks for the comment though, I get what youre saying! Apreciated!

  2. My comment to anyone who expects me to be on duty 24/7 is that I'm only as good as the kit I'm able to carry. If I'm not driving my shiny big motor, I don't have any kit, and am therefore no use to you. That's what GPs are for. That's why they get paid the mega-bucks. Feel free to bother them as much as you need.

    I too have stopped at RTCs before now in my off duty time and lent an extra pair of hands, but that gives me the advantage of being able to use the kit in the shiny motor that has been provided. In my normal everyday mode I'm no more than a basic first aider, at best.

  3. I agree with you 100%, I used to live 200yards from an ambulance station, then 800yards from it. I now live 1.2 miles from hospital and an A&E department, with an emergency first responder who lives two floors above me. I don't know on his door and ask for medical advice. I didn't pop to the ambulance station and ask for treatment. I knew the right courses of action.
    My girl is now 5, and she knows if she's poorly sleep and "huggles" help her feel better.
    My neighbour had asked me before Xmas if I was ok, I was walking very slowly and obviously in a lot of pain. (I was in my student nurse uniform) and he asked if I had been to see anyone. I said I had been prescribed painkillers (strong ones too) yesterday but they weren't working and had an appointment in an hours time. He offered me a lift to my dr but I declined as I didn't want to be a nuisance (or turn up in a first response car!) lol
    If only everyone had brains, then people wouldn't know on your door expecting you to treat them without facilities and when they're perfectly capable of getting to their GP themselves

    Sorry for the rant!


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