No matter what anyone calls 999 for, we wont be shocked or surprised about it (at least not that the patient will be aware of)
I bet there are so many stories that could be told about this patient that had…. or that patient who did….. or even, can you remember that patient who was…….
When we are with patients, we always tend to reassure them and tell them “its nothing that we haven’t seen before”
We do our best to put patients at ease. There can be nothing more mortifying for some patients than a ‘stranger’ seeing them when they are not ‘appropriately dressed’ or are in a state which they normally wouldn’t let their husband or wife see them in.
There is obviously a generational slant to this too though. The elderly population are usually much more reserved than the younger adults these days. We need to remember that some of the patients we deal with hold their privacy, and more importantly their dignity in the highest regards.
I hear the same thing each day when I am at work
“Oh, son, I’m sorry I’m in such a state”
“I haven’t even had time to do my hair”
“I cant go out of my house looking like this!”
But what I find worse than any of this is the elderly man or woman who says nothing, but you can see the look in their eyes which just shows that they are having trouble realising that they have come to a point in their life when they need the help of a couple of ‘strapping lads’ to help them get changed or cleaned after they have soiled themselves.
The best we can do is to try and keep them covered as much as possible and reassure them that ‘ it is no big deal to us’.
Depending on the circumstance and the type of patient I am dealing with, humour can also have a great effect on putting the patient at ease too, but this obviously can go one way or the other, so you have to be really quite sure that the patient isn’t going to take offence!
Then there are the other types. The elderly ladies who end up making me blush more than them!
I recall one lady who I had gone to, who was having chest pain. She was in the front room of her house with her daughter and son – in – law. She was a widower, and was a sprightly 69 yr old who still looked very fit and active. After finding out her history and presenting symptoms, I asked her if it would be alright if I undid her top so that I could get to her chest to do a 12 lead ECG?
Pt: “Ooohh.. theres an offer I haven’t had in a while!!”
We all smiled and made some passing comments about how she didnt expect this today etc etc, then as I was placing the chest leads, she looked at me with a cheeky grin on her face and said
“How about them then? I bet you dont see a good pair like that in someone my age!”
I could feel my cheeks starting to redden…
M999: “Err…Ummm….right then…..err (frantically thinking of something appropriate to say other than, yeah…they arent bad!!”
Luckily the daughter steps in
“Eeee Mum, you shouldn’t say things like that, look at the poor lad, hes all embarrassed!!”
However, it certainly lifted the mood a bit and we all had a good laugh and a good flirt on after that, with the conclusion that I wouldn’t be her toy boy as she didnt have enough inheritance to offer me!