I was working on the rapid response car a little while ago when I was dispatched to an elderly gentleman who had fallen whilst at a day care centre and had possibly injured his hip.
Once I had arrived on scene, I was shown through to the dining area where my patient, Jim, was sitting propped up against the wall. He appeared in good spirits and not in too much discomfort. I on the other hand could not help but wonder how we were going to get him off the floor.
Let’s just say that he was a very large gentleman.
After doing my initial assessment, I examined his hip. There didn’t seem to be any shortening or external rotation and there was no apparent deformity to the leg, although this was very difficult to assess due to the sheer size of his legs.
What was obvious however was that any movement resulted in considerable pain. One cannula and a substantial dose of Morphine later, Jim was feeling far more comfortable.
Luckily, the day care centre had access to various hoists and lifting devices and once the crew arrived, he was gently lifted onto our trolley.
The crew that had backed me up were not a paramedic crew which meant that I was going for a ride in the ambulance whilst one of the crew drove my car up.
It was a 25 minute transfer, so shortly after I had finished my paper work we started chatting about this and that.
Jim was a navy veteran from the Second World War. He started off with the Atlantic convoys, and then ended up in the pacific towards the end of the war.
” So did you end up in the water then Jim? ”
” No, not me. They never sunk me!!……….Mind you, my mates Jonesy and Tommy both got sunk 3 times”
He giggled like a child, obviously recounting numerous episodes of ripping into his friends for always ending up in the Ocean after their ships had been sunk.
“Maybe I was a lucky omen. We had a fair amount of trouble, we had people killed, but we never went down”
We proceeded to have a great chat about the war years. I could listen to these men and women for hours. I feel privileged to be in their presence. It saddens me that it won’t be long before their voices are lost forever, but until that time I will always have time to listen and appreciate what they did for the world.
It wasn’t long before we got on to other stories from his past.
“So did you have a war bride then Jim?”
“You’re joking aren’t you…Im not one for being tied down son. Never got married”
A wink followed with a sparkle in his eyes which went against the many years he has lived…
“But…… I was never short of a lady, if you know what I mean”
We both laughed loudly, and then giggled as he reeled off an impressive list of names of his ‘lady friends’ around the world.
“It was a different time back then. You never knew if you were going to be alive the next week, or even just the next day. I took every opportunity I could to enjoy myself”
“I don’t blame you Jim, not at all mate!”
By now, we were almost at the hospital, and I was trying to string out just a little more conversation, but before I knew it the door opened and we wheeled Jim into the department.
As I handed over to the nursing staff, I was hoping that he had just pulled a muscle rather than any breaks. He was an elderly man, and I wanted him up and mobile as soon as possible to stop him getting any complications.
I said my goodbyes, and did what I always do when I get the chance to look after any veteran. I took his hand and thanked him for all he did for me, my family and our country.
Later in the day, I managed to get back to the hospital and thought I would ask how he got on. The Consultant informed me that he had actually had a mid shaft femur fracture and was listed for surgery the following morning. What concerned me most though was the doctors leaving comment :
“It’s not a good injury for him to have. If he was fit and well, for his age, it has a mortality rate of 50-60%, add in his size and co-morbidities, he will be lucky to get out of hospital”
I hope he is in the minority, I really do. It seems more than a little unfair to survive a life like Jims, only to be taken by a relatively minor fall and all of the complications that go along with it.