Thursday, 2 February 2012

Football Pictures

A young father meets me at the door, his face wracked with worry. He ushers me up the stairs and in a rare gesture even offers to carry one of the bags for me.

"He's just not stopping!"

"What's his name?"

"Harry. He's only five."

A quick look into the room allows me to take in my surroundings and looking at the posters and t-shirts, I see that we support the same football team. Maybe a little later it'll be a good conversation piece, but right now, this little boy needs help. The seizure that's taken hold of him is relentless and, according to his dad, has been going for almost fifteen minutes. It's the first time he's ever had a fit.

"I wish his mum was here, she'd have known what to do! She's a doctor. She's on her way back, so she'll be more help."

Great. A doctor. Just a little bit of added pressure - as if treating sick kids isn't bad enough. As promised, she walks in less than a minute later, after I'd given Harry oxygen and some other medications and just as I'm about to cannulate. The needle and tiny plastic tube need to pierce his skin and a vein, giving me access to his blood stream and the ability to give him some more medications to help stop the fit. It's not a skill I use often on children.

I turn round to see mum as she walks in and realise that she's a doctor I know. She used to work in one of the local A&E departments and was one of the more positive when it came to attitudes to ambulance crews. She would always take the time to listen to handovers, talk through a call if we needed to, show us x-rays and blood results and generally involve us more in a patient's continued treatment.

"Hey Doc." I tell her what's been happening, what I'd already done, what I was planning to do. "You're welcome to do the cannula if you want." She declines and I have to say that I agree. I'm not sure that if it was my child that I'd want to play any role other than the parenting one. With a little skill, a little help and a little luck, the cannula goes in first time. The drugs hit his system moments later and after seconds that seemed to stretch for hours, the seizure finally stopped. 

Harry's breathing needed a little support on the way to hospital, but by the time we arrived, he was starting to come round a little. Mum came in with us, blending into the crowd as just another parent until one of the nurses recognised her. 

"You been helping out the paramedics again?"  

"Not this time. Just been trying to stay out their way for a change."

Harry starts to notice his surroundings, the unfamiliar faces, sterile walls and disposable curtains leave him confused and scared, but a familiar voice and the gentle, welcome hand across his face do something to allay his fears.

"Mummy, is this where you go to work?" 

"Sometimes it is. Do you like it?" 


"Why not?" 

"Because there's no football pictures!" 

"But is it OK that I come to work here?" 

"Yes, but only if you're my mummy first. Then you can be a doctor too." 


TAZ THE AMBO said...

Been here but it was the Dr's partner and father of their child who was having the seizure.
She was kneeling on the bed with a cannula in hand as we arrived and offered it to me to continue treatment as she became not a Dr.
All was good but very useful kudos.

Anonymous said...

That's very admirable of Mum. Not all doctors are able to keep it together when their loved ones are unwell. I've seen an consultant anaesthetist fall to pieces when his wife had an unexpected anaphylaxis at home. Sadly he just got in the way as he was trying to help, although eventually we managed to calm him down enough to let us do what needed to be done.

It must be really difficult to see things happening to your loved ones, knowing that you can help, even when someone else is already doing it.