Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The Circle of Life

Life is a funny old thing and if this job has shown me anything it is that. The general public of this fine country never fail to disappoint. I see incredible strength and incredible weakness, absolute joy and crushing sadness. Stupidity is rife, common sense is sparse and everyone loves a good drama. I get to see a snap-shot into people's lives, I get to see inside their homes, inside their bedrooms; see their photos, their prime and their squalor. The difference in people is truly amazing but the basics are the same. You are born; you are helpless and rely on everyone for everything. You grow up; work, live a life and occasionally get so drunk that you regress to the behaviour of an infant. You then grow out of it; retire, get old and eventually you are back to square one. You are helpless and rely on everyone for everything again. It is the circle of life. It is only ever going to start and finish in exactly the same way. It's how you act in the middle that defines you.

This night shift was no different to any other in terms of the length of shift, the crew mate and the type of jobs we did, but there were three jobs that stuck out, that got me thinking:

"1 month old male, crying, DIB"

Not the most exciting of headlines really! We headed round to the address expecting the usual 'walk on, walk off' type of job. They are our bread and butter jobs; no lifting required, from start to finish it would take an hour, the patient probably not that ill but a trip to hospital regardless. We arrived and headed inside. The doting parents were stressing, the baby was indeed crying. He way lying on his back, massively distressed about something. What? No one knows; they can't communicate and it's a case of 'best guess wins'. Try cuddles, try music, try food, try toys, try Calpol. Clearly in this case it was then 'try ambulance'. Unlike most other mammals, human babies are helpless. For years they can't really do anything for themselves. They need their nappies changed, they need to be fed, they can't explain what they are thinking; their frustration must be immense. This is how it all begins. Ahead are years of learning, years of making mistakes and years of paying obscene taxes, working for the best part of 50 years and if they are lucky having a reasonable retirement. We checked him over, walked to the ambulance and off we went to hospital. I love the innocence of them. Yes it's annoying that this is a complete waste of time, an arse covering exercise if you will, but babies go to hospital. I'm not risking it! I also remember how I felt the first night I came home with my son. I just stared. 'Has he stopped breathing?', 'Is he ok?', 'Why is he crying?' The fact is I was still learning and so are they! Handover complete, I ran to the shop to buy my nutritious dinner of a BLT and a coffee; a pretty standard diet. Next!

"26 year male, lying on pavement,  intoxicated"

This is the regression I mentioned. Having had 2 bites out of my pre-packed BLT sandwich and a few slurps of coffee, we arrived on scene outside a pub in the heart of the city. Lying on the floor in what appeared to be a very expensive suit was our patient. He was conscious but plastered. Apparently he had been drinking all night with friends and something went array after the last Jaeger-train & Sambuca chaser. Binge drinking seems to be the hobby of choice for most 16 - 30 year olds. They can never handle it; loose all sense of decency and end up lying in a pool of  their own vomit in front of the group of girls they had been trying to impress with their power-drinking prowess. Oh how the mighty have fallen. We got him on to the bed and onto the ambulance. His friends were very well spoken. Apparently he was a hedge-fund manager, whatever that is. Rich people investing in hedges? I genuinely have no idea. I can barely afford a tea fund. Job title regardless, he was now back to being helpless, just like he was 25 years ago. He needed positioning so he didn't suffocate, his face needed wiping and at hospital he would need undressing and dressing again. I have no doubt that once fixed he'll be mortified and full of regret. En route to hospital the regression was more than evident. Remember boys when they are born? Remember the nappy change horror? The arch of pee?! Yes... Half way to hospital this guy whacked out his crown jewels and did his best impression of being back on the changing table. It's amazing what 25 years, a degree and a bottle of Jaegermeister does to one's sense of decency. True to form, my solution was simple; chuck patient's Hugo Boss suit jacket over his crotch and swiftly avoid the golden river heading towards me. We dropped him off, cleaned out the vehicle and I got back to my BLT. Next!

"93 year old female, fall, can't get up"

The address was a care home. The word 'care' is meant to be ironic or sarcastic I think because, despite an army of 8 carers on scene, they left her without blankets until we arrived.  Obviously, for health and safety reasons they cannot help their patient, a patient in their care, off of the floor. Silly me. Unless there is an injury we are not supposed to be called, but in all fairness due to her advanced dementia she was unable to tell them. This is where life reaches full circle. Ok, so I don't imagine that in 1944 she was binge drinking her 20's away, things were different then, but I'm sure in her own way she had a raunchy dinner and dance or two. She has lived her life, a good life if her photos were anything to go by, and was now back at square one. Lying on the floor unable to do anything then herself; she needs her nappy changed, she needs to be fed, and can't explain what she is thinking or feeling. The frustration must be immense. This is how it all ends. Depressing?! Kind of. I don't want to end up like that, I want better care and more dignity but we cannot change the inevitable. We will end how we started. We checked her over and put her back to bed. There were no injuries or anything untoward going on. It was another bread and butter job, a pick up and put back to bed. I knelt down beside her. I felt something strange. A weird sensation; one I have felt before but one I promised myself I wouldn't feel again. It was the all too familiar feeling of urine seeping through my trousers and onto my knees. Joy! Next!

10 comments:

  1. Philosophical and interesting, but no reply needed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Fab blog babe, I'd like to point out though that some people never seem to really progress beyond the helpless newborn stage rofl so instead of a circle it's more of just a continuation of pathetic :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Gem! Always nice to see a comment from you! You are right about the continuation of pathetic!

      Delete
  3. Dementia is such a terrible affliction, it is really sad to see once active, intelligent people reduced to the level of helpless children. I wonder how much of their frustration is what I see in the perpetually terrified / anxious patients with dementia? I feel for them the most, it's bad enough not to recognise the people around you, on whom you are completely dependent but to live in almost constant fear must be truly awful. If I ever end up with dementia I sincerely hope I will be one of the "happy" dears, stuck in a ground hog day of a happy event / time in my life. Perhaps there is a lesson here for us all, live life to the full, try to find joy and contentment in every day, few of us know when it will be taken away and if you have led a happy life I expect you may be more likely to have a "happy dementia".

    Keep up the good work Ella, your blogs are invariably entertaining, thought provoking and topical - in short BRILLIANT!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment and compliments! Much appreciated! I agree with what you have said, dementia is such a horrible thing to watch someone go through.

      Delete
  4. Have never come across your blog before. Really enjoyed reading this post - so interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've just come across your blog from the Tots100 10 at 10. Brilliant blog! Consider me your newest follower (although not in a weird sense!) :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I won't look over my shoulder when out lol!

      Delete

I love comments! All bloggers do! If you have something to say, agree or disagree I would love to hear it! I will reply to all! (or try my very best!) If however, you're a troll, save your breath!

Due to an increase in spam I moderate comments but ALL genuine comments will be posted. See above exclusions!