You Can’t Make It Up
There are some stories that you just can’t make up.
This week, I was on duty at the UniTown theatre. This time it was a show I wanted to watch, which is almost as bad as using the q word.
My partner and my house-mate sit down, and the music starts. Almost immediately, we are approached by a member of theatre of staff.
“You’re needed downstairs.”
Brilliant. We have brought a kit and an AED to the theatre, and grab the kit as we head in the direction we are pointed. Sure enough, we find an old woman sitting on a chair, looking unwell, accompanied by her daughter.
Daughter tells us that she was complaining that her chest hurt, she is having a little difficulty breathing and is feeling tired. I have a quick look at our patient. She is old and rather a bit overweight, so there is a good chance this is the serious kind of chest pain.
Our patient refuses to answer most of my questions chosen to confirm this, becoming very snappy when I try to get a history. My house-mate wasn’t able to get her pulse, and she wouldn’t stop talking long enough to get her breathing rate.
Then comes the comment from our patient that I can’t believe:
“I’m probably just having another heart attack.”
My house-mate gives me a look that makes it clear she’s just taken a mental double-take. It is a challenge for me to stop my jaw from dropping. Our patient’s tone had been so matter-of-fact, she might as well have been talking about the weather. There was none of the panic normally associated with a heart attack. None of the ‘impending sense of doom’ we joke about in training sessions. I didn’t think anyone could be so blasé about the real possibility of a potentially fatal condition.
Oh yeah, and she refuses to take aspirin and won’t tell me why… It just get’s better.
I skip immediately from ‘trying to work out what’s happening, possibly need an ambulance’ to ‘I want an ambulance yesterday’! I tell Daughter’s son to go grab the bag with our AED in, and the theatre’s duty manager to get me an ambulance.
During my conversation with the ambulance call taker, our patient finally decides to tell me that she’s on Warfarin. This explains why she doesn’t want to take aspirin. Via me, the call taker tries to overrule this instruction, but we both get ignored.
It takes another hour until my house-mate and I get our heads around what we’ve just seen.