Posted by: medicblog999 | March 14, 2010

Putting my foot in my mouth again!

putFootI have mentioned in the past that there have been a number of times where I have asked a question which came back to bit me in the bum and made me wish the ground would open up and swallow me.

Sometimes these create a bit of a laugh and a giggle (ususally getting peoples relationships wrong….”So Is you mother coming with you to the hospital?”, “Thats not my mother……Thats my Wife!!!”), but other times it makes you just want to say sorry and then look for the quickest opportunity to change the direction of the conversation and hope that you completely innocent question didnt cause too much pain or discomfort for the family involved…….

I was called to an elderly gentleman who had tripped and fallen in his back yard, causing him to have some discomfort in his knee. He had managed to get back into his house and had called the family over who in turn called 999 when they realised that he was having difficulty walking.

On arriving to his house, I got out of the rapid response car made my way up to the house. The gentlemans daughter invited me in and showed me to Ted, who was sitting in his chair in the front room.

A quick primary survey followed by a more focused exam on his knee suggested that it was nothing more than a soft tissue injury, however, due to his now poor mobility, I was unable to get him to the car to get him up to hospital for an x-ray and some further treatment. I put in the call to control to request a crew as a Cat C reponse (no lights or sirens) and settled in for my wait with the patient and his family until the crew arrived.

Its at times like these when you cant help but have a scan around the room that you are in. I tend to look for photographs of family or special places, the older the better, so that I can hopefully start off a conversation which will help make the time pass quicker for all those in that house.

Whilst sitting with Fred I noticed a photograph of a truly stunning, beautiful young woman. She is obviously on holiday and is standing in the shallows of some ocean with the water lapping around her mid calf level. She looks so happy!

“Wow Ted, what a wonderful photograph! Who is the beautiful young lady then? She looks so content”

Silence…….Dropped gazes and looks passed between Ted and his family.

“That`s Sarah, she was my grand daughter, and she committed suicide the day after that photograph was taken………….”

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Responses

  1. Ooooo no! I know you meant well, but how could you have known? Perhaps you felt worse asking, then they did telling. Either way, a tough situation for sure.

  2. Well, speaking as someone with a knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time I can relate. I once walked into the student lounge in school and asked O…K who died?” Well, the lifeless body of a physics professor had just been removed from his office upstairs. Later after a couple of years in the fire department I worked a code in the rescue while the family waited outside unsure of what was happening. The followed us to the hospital and after the crew brought in the patient I went over to the (now widowed) husband of the patient who had just parked and said “Sir, just walk through those doors to speak with the staff” when he thanked me I smiled and politely said “You're welcome sir. Have a great day!”. As I started to clean-up the truck it dawned on me what I actually did and said…

  3. Oh, wow! That's so awkward, it's actually kind of funny! (When taken from a distance). I have a knack for making comments like that, myself. Aren't they great?

  4. You win some, you lose some. As long as you win more than you lose…

  5. Don't beat yourself up about it. How could you have known? We all try to find conversation points, it just awfully unfortunate how yours ended up.

  6. I started telling a relative in my department that her husband had probably had another stroke. She burst into tears, and asked me when his first stroke was. Turned out I was talking to the wrong relative – her husband had a mild chest infection. Then, after I had calmed her down, she asked me what my role was in the department – I had to tell her I was in charge!!!

  7. On a lighter note, having been called to an elderly gentleman with a fractured hip, I asked the young lady, probably in her mid – late twenties if she was going to accompany her granddad to hospital. Elderly gentleman looked a little irate and told me in no uncertain terms that said “granddaughter” was actually his wife.I wanted to burrow a hole in the floor of the ambulance and jump through it…….

  8. Do enough calls, speak to enough people & those situations happen to us all at one time or another unfortunately. It still feels dreadful at the time though.

  9. Having suffered foot-in-mouth disease for years, I understand your feeling less than the total pro we know you are, BUT…A family that displays a picture of a deceased family member must be used to comments made just like yours. You could [or might, in the future] simply pursue it further, if they seem receptive. The young lady is missed, displayed as she is, rather than hidden in a box or otherwise out-of-sight.

  10. Having suffered foot-in-mouth disease for years, I understand your feeling less than the total pro we know you are, BUT…A family that displays a picture of a deceased family member must be used to comments made just like yours. You could [or might, in the future] simply pursue it further, if they seem receptive. The young lady is missed, displayed as she is, rather than hidden in a box or otherwise out-of-sight.

  11. […] @UKMedic999: New blog post: Putting my foot in my mouth again! http://999medic.com/2010/03/14/putting-my-foot-in-my-mouth-again/ […]


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