Mrs Symonds collapsed as she sat down in her own home for the first time in over a month. At first, her family thought that she'd just fallen asleep, exhausted by travelling half way across the world. Moments later, the strange noises she was making alerted them that something was wrong. Her head lolled forwards and she started to fall towards the floor. Only the quick thinking of her son prevented her from injury as he helped her gently to the ground. Frantic, he tried to wake her up as his wife called for an ambulance.
Five minutes later, I was there, and Mrs Symonds was lying on the floor wide awake and wondering what the fuss was all about.
"She just dropped! I caught her and made sure she didn't hit the deck, but I think she had a stroke or something!"
"What makes you say that?"
"Well, I remember seeing those ads on TV, you know where they show the head on fire, and I think that that's what happened."
Mrs Symonds didn't seem too impressed.
"Don't be so ridiculous man, just get me up off the floor!"
I convinced her to stay where she was at least until I could make sure that her blood pressure was high enough to allow her to sit up again.
"You've got to watch her," said her son,"she's usually got her wits about her more than all of us put together."
"Right. Will do."
It sounded like a simple faint, with the action of laying down on the floor rebooting the systems that so clearly needed a brief rest. However, without further tests, nothing could be ruled out for sure.
An ECG showed that her heart was probably the one they used for the text book of a normal heart.
Her baseline observations were all normal.
Her arms were at full strength.
Her speech was normal, her mind sharp.
A request for her to smile and show me her teeth, just to test for any facial droop, indeed had her smiling.
And digging into her handbag for her teeth...