Posted by: medicblog999 | January 16, 2010

All Alone…

elderlyAt various times in my life I have toyed with the idea of emigrating. It used to be a bit of a childhood dream of mine when my uncle moved to Texas when I was 12; I always wanted to go out there too. Then life came along and things happen and you settle in to the routine of work, home, kids and trying to get your finances sorted to last you a life time.

But it’s always still been there, the what ifs and what would it have been like?

Since coming back from San Francisco, I have even looked into the possibility of going over there to work and live, although I had BIG reservations about leaving my first born son behind with his mother whilst Sandra, her mother and our other two children went to live in San Francisco. I had even spoke to my eldest about how he would feel if I moved away and he came to visit every holiday from school.

He wasn’t too sure about it, but after getting some information from Chief Wong from the SFFD, it became very obviously impractical to try and get over there.

However, I also had a patient a little while ago which made me re-think my goal of moving abroad.

June was an 84 year old female who called on our services as she was feeling dizzy and a little sickly. It was 02:10 in the morning and as I entered knocked on the door; June opened it and showed me in. She seemed quite a spritely elderly lady and had a certain something about her which placed her in my ‘adopt a granny’ class straight away.

We went through to the front room and she sat in her arm chair in the centre of the room. It was a clean and well organised space, with one wall completely covered with photographs of family members of all ages. She seemed to have a very large family judging by the pictures.

I knelt in front of her and started taking some baseline observations as I got some history from her about why I had been called and what was wrong with her.

She gave a history of 2 days of feeling short of breath and feeling as though her heart was jumping out if her chest. She had been really quite tired and seemed to be lacking the usual energy that she has. In fact she even missed her Sunday trip to the community centre for her lunch with some of the other elderly members of her community because she just didn’t feel like she had any energy.

There was no chest pain, her colour was good and whilst sitting in the chair, she didn’t seem to be noticeably short of breath. A quick feel of her radial pulse showed me that she was tachycardic at about 170 (ish) beats per minute and that her pulse was irregularly irregular, the classical sign for Atrial Fibriliation.

With it originally coming through as a Cat A call, the crew was already en route to the house, so I busied myself with getting a rhythm strip and a 12 lead ECG. The rhythm strip showed AF with a rapid ventricular response of approx 160-180 bpm, and the twelve lead showed a little ischaemia, not likely related to June’s rate.

No O2 required as her SaO2 was above 96% so it was just a case of popping in a cannula and waiting for the crew to arrive.

Whilst we were waiting we got to gossiping:

M999: “You seem to have a large family June, going by the pictures anyway”

June: “Yes, I have 3 boys, 8 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren”

M999: “Do they live close by, do you see them often?”

June: “No, not really one lives in Australia and the other 2 live in America”

M999: “Really? I have always wanted to do that. How often do they come home?”

June: “I haven’t seen any of them for the last……..let me see now………….Oh, it must be at least 10 years”

M999: “Really? Do they never come over or fly you out to them?”

June: “Oh no, they are far too busy to be bothering with me. They have their own lives to lead”

With that, I could see her eyes glaze over and she glanced over to the photos on the wall.

“I’ve never seen my great grandchildren in person, and I haven’t even seen 3 of my grandchildren. I don’t suppose I will anyway now. I don’t have long left and to be honest I wish I could just die now. Since Jim died in 1999 I have been alone in this flat. I hardly see anyone, I only get out once a week for a couple of hours, and that’s just down to the club. I wish they had never gone, I really do. I don’t see the point in me being here suffering, when I could just be dead and be with Jim again”

As she was getting her coat on, the crew arrived and I gave them a quick handover. Before I left June looked at me and said

“Good luck in what you do, but remember if you do go, you will be leaving so many people behind who love you and rely on you. I don’t want to be by myself here, just waiting to die alone. I want to be with my family”

As she was getting on the chair and getting wrapped in blankets, I couldn’t help but look at the pictures on the wall. The happy family portraits, the kids playing together and everyone raising a toast to the camera on a new years eve.

They all looked so happy together, but for me, now, there seemed to be a big hole where June should be.

I know that every family is different, and I don’t think it’s wrong to emigrate if you have a wish and a desire to do that, but I just know that I couldn’t do it. I really dont think I could go without seeing my son every week and I dont think I could leave my parents as they are making their way through their 60`s. I know there are quite a few of my readers who have ‘upped sticks’ and moved abroad. Please dont see this as a comment on you leaving families behind, perhaps that was just the right thing for you to do. All I am saying is that I dont think I could, although I am a little jealous of those of you who have made the move.

I am happy at my home in Newcastle and working to provide care to the people of Newcastle and Gates head, and I think thats where I will stay for the forseeable future.

I hope June does get to see her entire family at least once more, I really do!

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Responses

  1. None of my family or my wife's family live in the same area. Her parents are 2.5 hours away which isn't a big deal and we see them often. My parents are 7 hours away which isn't exactly a weekend visit… We see them as much as we can. I know that they would love for us to see them more and we do to. My brother is 4 hours away, on sister 5 hours away, and another sister 10 hours away. My only living grandparents are 10 hours away and we do not see them often at all. Therefore I know how difficult it can be and we are in driving distance of all of them. Great post Mark!

  2. Tough call indeed, mate. We'll talk more when you get here and in Chicago next month. Oh shoot, was I supposed to keep that a secret?heheheHang in here Mark, life only gets easier AC keeps telling me.When life makes you frumpy, make frunpydumples.

  3. None of my family or my wife's family live in the same area. Her parents are 2.5 hours away which isn't a big deal and we see them often. My parents are 7 hours away which isn't exactly a weekend visit… We see them as much as we can. I know that they would love for us to see them more and we do to. My brother is 4 hours away, on sister 5 hours away, and another sister 10 hours away. My only living grandparents are 10 hours away and we do not see them often at all. Therefore I know how difficult it can be and we are in driving distance of all of them. Great post Mark!

  4. Tough call indeed, mate. We'll talk more when you get here and in Chicago next month. Oh shoot, was I supposed to keep that a secret?heheheHang in here Mark, life only gets easier AC keeps telling me.When life makes you frumpy, make frunpydumples.

  5. Oohh, are we allowed to talk and tweet about that then?

  6. I don't know what the criteria is for a UK medic to come and work in Canada is … but we have probably close to a dozen UK medics now working over here in the Great White North for the city agency I work for. I once had a nice conversation with a UK medic about the 'scary core', but any ways.

  7. What you two planning now?? Details please!!

  8. Ah ha, you will have to wait. More coming from the Chronicles of EMS soon!!

  9. I don't know what the criteria is for a UK medic to come and work in Canada is … but we have probably close to a dozen UK medics now working over here in the Great White North for the city agency I work for. I once had a nice conversation with a UK medic about the 'scary core', but any ways.

  10. What you two planning now?? Details please!!

  11. Ah ha, you will have to wait. More coming from the Chronicles of EMS soon!!

  12. NO FAIR!!

  13. Could always go for an escape to the country Barnard castle or even northumberland 😯

  14. Sadly, I can relate. All of my family lives in the UK and we're in the PNW (Seattle, Wa) USA. I'd give anything to move over there just so I could be close to my family. Unfortunately, my husband doesn't want to move. I feel your pain. The grass is always greener on the other side. I hope June finds peace. You too.

  15. I can only imagine how difficult it would be leaving your family behind, even knowing all the fantastic experiences that await you. I'm from Australia and have family in Newcastle too, and I would love to work with LAS so I can spend some time with them, however it would be so hard to leave my family here.Maybe you can keep the Chronicles going, and make homes all around the world? And more Chronicles scheeming, hey? 🙂

  16. I've talked out loud several times about moving in a more southerly direction several times for fairer weather, lower taxes, cheaper homes, and more progressive EMS, but Mrs. CB won't hear of it. With a small, tightly-knit immediate family, she can't even think about leaving them. I get it it and respect it, but it doesn't keep me from thinking about the possibilities.

  17. Relocation is never easy….but it can be for the better in some cases. We hope to relocate to the beach somewhere in SC, Georgia, or Florida upon retirement. However, we never know what the future will hold.

  18. Mark,there is something else to consider; having been lucky enough to work in the Caribbean as a 21 year old I can tell you that however beautiful the weather/scenery/lifestyle the novelty wears off and you get used to it.In the end you have to get up and go to work and the usual frustrations, etc are there, you also have the home-sickness to contend with.I have never regretted my time overseas – it really was the experience of a lifetime but it also allows me to see these things in a different way to people who haven't worked abroad – a holiday it is not!You are dead right when you say that if people want to do it they should but they should think long and hard about it first (as you clearly have).Nick.

  19. It works two ways though. Originally I and my husband are from different parts of England but met at Uni in Scotland. Nearly 30 years ago we (me, husband and daughter no. 1) moved from Scotland to Germany, initially for a one year placement for my husband but ending up staying for 10 years. We had a great time, another daughter arrived, both girls went through primary school, and then dad decided he needed another career move. So we all went “back” to Scotland – except it wasn't back for the girls, they hated it, even though both grandmas were close by as they had moved to Scotland as well. racial abuse has nothing to do with skin colour – one of our neighbours threw my children of his premises and allowed his children to call ours “Nazi bitches”. They'd moved from Germany so they must be German was the basis of this Polish immigrant's logic. And if you are German you must be a Nazi – even in the 1990s and with a very English sounding set of parents. It was a very difficult 10 years “back home”.We moved to the north of England where we never felt really at home, one daughter came with us, the other moved but stayed in Scotland, where she and her family still are. We have now moved to the north of Italy, both working as freelancers, and feel very at home – we always intended to return to a German-speaking part of Europe once we were retired. We rarely saw our daughters even before this move, a 3 hour drive each way is almost as bad as a 3 hour drive and 2-hour flight which is what we have to Scotland now, if all of you work in the NHS so weekends don't exist. People ask us if this is “forever” – the answer is, not necessarily. If we are frail and can't manage here alone, there is no point. We will go back to Britain.BUT, what must be remembered, is that the ones who shouldn't be expected to make the compromises are those who are working with a lifetime before them. I have freedom now because of that move to Germany originally, it was the basis for my husband's later career which makes what we are doing now possible. My mother whinged, felt sorry for herself – even though my brother still lived with her. Until she started doing voluntary work and had no time to notice we weren't around the corner. My mother-in-law gave us money to get out of the country! I was back in Britain long before my mother died, she was fit and well and travelled all over the place with her friends on buses. It was fine as long as I was in Scotland, but she very rarely visited us in England – she said she didn't have time.If you have the chance to work abroad for a temporary period I would always say – go for it. It is a wonderful experience and may lead to many unexpected things. A permanent move is something else. I have never lived anywhere for more than 10 years since I left home to go to Uni. I would say I have no “roots” now so I don't mind where I am. Others need to look at what they have and how complex that move would be – but I hope that if my daughters and partners want to move abroad they will do so without any sense of “having to look after mum and dad”.Your old lady would possibly not have seen her family even if they had lived within Britain – because in the end it all comes down to wanting to and being able to “fit it in”. Skype video calling is a wonderful thing to keep in touch – but even then both sides must want to use it. As a young woman I left home for Uni because the best there was where I lived was a job in a village shop (not even our village, it didn't even have a pub). I wrote every week – my mother replied once a month if I was lucky. Phoning wasn't an option. It wasn't a case of “no time” – so it must have been will.

  20. So what is the 'Scary Core'?

  21. There is always more scheming in the Chronicles of EMS world Sqeezey!!

  22. Hi Eileen, thanks for the comment!There is a lot to think about in what you have wrote. I can see the difference between a temporary move and a permanent one, but even a temporary one would have to be a number of years for it to be truly worth while. I have friends who have done it, and I know the benefits it has brought them, but I think I have realised that my family means more to me than my aspirations and 'dreams'. I know that sounds a bit old fashioned, but thats how it is!And lets face it, I dont exactly have a dull and boring life, especially after becoming part of Team Chronicles !!!

  23. […] @shell1972: RT @UKMedic999: New blog post: All Alone… http://999medic.com/2010/01/16/all-alone/ […]

  24. I was going to move from my home in Southern California and try out a new life in Texas. I couldn't find a single reason not to make the move. I had a great job lined up with a local ambulance provider, the housing market was affordable, the music scene was right up my alley (I play music on my days off) and I had some family just a couple hours from where I wanted to move. About the time I was offered the job in Fort Worth, I was offered a promotion at the service I currently work for. The pay increase topped what I would be making in Texas, however it still wasn't enough for me to want to stay in California. What finally convinced me to stay was all of my close relatives that I have lived close to all my life. I just couldn't bring myself to leave them. As is turns out, my wife and I ended up getting a divorce 1 year later, so I guess sticking around wasn't such a bad idea after all.

  25. I do really hope she was just joking with me, but after moving my UK medic and her partner into my downtown core I got a CAD message that said something along the lines of this … “Hi Dispatch, Can we got back to our station now?” they had been in the core for maybe 10 minuets, when one of the regular medics to works in the downtown core had just clears the hospital and was on the way back to their station. I was thinking “You've got to be kidding me,” but I replied with “Um …. official you hold the GEO station, but I guess you can go back to your station if you want.” “GREAT!! Thank You so very much … the core is scary …too many one way streets, C-Train, tall buildings, Urban Campers, over all bad guys, and the chance of getting a call down here is SO much higher then back in our area.”There is just proof that is it take a certain type medic to work in the downtown core of a large city vs the suburban communities that are in the outer edge of the city.

  26. Oh I forgot, one of her other reasons for being scared of the scary core was because we drove on the wrong side of the road too. 🙂

  27. Which is exactly what I was saying. You have thought about it. The only thing that you have to remember is that once you are in a partnership with children as well YOU become the source of a new family. Always also think about whether that nucleus of family may also benefit from what you might think are just your aspirations and “dreams”. It was my husband's aspiration – and I was absolutely terrified. But once we took the step off the edge there was so much that was a benefit to all of us. I got a new career too – and our daughters have had experiences they would never have had otherwise and has made them the people they are today.I know how difficult the thought of moving must be when you live in the NE. Even moving a couple of hours away seems to many of you to be a mind-boggling thought. I knew some people who hadn't ever left GB even on holiday. You have at least broadened your horizons – time to let Mrs Medic999 go with you next time!!!!!!!

  28. I live in a different continent to my parents and my only sibling. We make it work by visiting each other at least once a year. Its not easy but we all get to live where we want and live the lives we want.I'd suggest giving it a try for a year, see if your service will give you a sabbatical or a leave of absence. I'm sure the worst thing that can happen is for you, 10 years down the line, to say 'I wish I'd given it a go'….

  29. I live in a different continent to my parents and my only sibling. We make it work by visiting each other at least once a year. Its not easy but we all get to live where we want and live the lives we want.I'd suggest giving it a try for a year, see if your service will give you a sabbatical or a leave of absence. I'm sure the worst thing that can happen is for you, 10 years down the line, to say 'I wish I'd given it a go'….


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