I came out of the house and started coughing. I was glad that I'd needed to leave, it was so I could get some fresh air.

Picture the house, an elderly married couple, both chainsmokers, both requiring home oxygen for emphysema, both suffering from recurrent chest infections. As our patient put it, “I think they are fed up with me down at the hospital, I was only there a few days ago”.

The walls were yellow-brown. Actually everything was yellow-brown. An old Labrador had wheezed it's way up the hallway to great me, it's tail wagging furiously. My crewmate was attending so I was free to play with the dog.

Thankfully it was nothing serious, a chest infection that hadn't gone with the first round of antibiotics, our patient would need something stronger.

I could feel the tar seeping into my skin, there was a horrible taste in my mouth and I started wondering what the lethal dose of nicotine is. Would it be a good idea to get our hazardous rescue team out in their noddy suits?

They were a lovely couple, rattling and wheezing away, rows of cigarettes lined up like soldiers. Cigarettes put into cigarette holders, something that I haven't seen except in movies set in the 50's.

Hundreds of souvenirs, all covered with a patina of tar, nicotine and heaven knows what else told me of their life before they became housebound. they were quite happy in their life, they had each other, their had their 'little sin' and they weren't hurting anyone.

They were lovely, we had a little laugh and a joke with them, I stroked the dog a bit more and we took our patient off to hospital.

But I could taste that house for the rest of the day.

Browsing through the BBC news website I came across the following. Imagine being the ambulance sent to this call…

17 thoughts on “Yellow”

  1. This story reminds me of walking around outside a hospital when I was recuperating from a nasty eye problem. The only other person who seemed to want to see the outdoors was a thin little old lady who smoked. She had her IV drip on a rolling pole / holder with her. She was enjoying the ducks and the spring and the sunshine, joking away about things. We had a great conversation. When she laughed, which was often, it sounded like gravel rolling around in a barrel. I still admire her whenever I think about her.

  2. that newspage, made me cross my legs. did he say anything about ' ramaseed niblick the third, whoops wheres my trousers.'

  3. BLESS THAT LIL OLD COUPLE… *cough* *wheeze*I saw on bbc breakfast about the guy and his er… missing appendage.. and even I crossed my legs ( I should point out I dont have one of those!)

  4. I love cigarette holders. Those cats had class. Good for them, despite the home/poor dog. Everyone needs something to love, I guess! I'm glad they could make you smile as they polluted your lungs, at least!-

  5. When I left school in the late sixties, I had a job working in a computer section. One room to a side of the building housed three rampant chain smokers. The door was always closed and (for some reason) the windows we taped up so they could not be opened. The sat in this fog filled room all day puffing while working. As you can image no-one ever went in there. Even the heavy smokers from elsewhere in the place could not stand more than two seconds. I wonder if their homes were the same.

  6. Sadly, this reminds me of a woman i met during my short ante-natal hospital stay.There she was needing a wheelchair to get outside for a fag. She explained the problem was she had a chest problem (can't remember what it was) and at 7 months pregnant neede help to go for a ciggerette.

    Not sure if she stunned or saddened me more.

  7. On monday evening I went to a 60 year old man with “chest pain” When I checked him over, it turned out that he remembered that his father had died when he was 60 this caused him to have a “funny feeling in his chest (NOT PAIN!) so he had several puffs of GTN ,he then felt dizzy so called us. When I told him that he was OK and he didn't need to go to hospital he said “Thanks son (I'm 63) you've put my mind at rest”. Then had a fag while I packed my gear away!!

  8. Well we were having a meal at the restaurant when it happened and all I can say is I'd never seen anything as horrible as that before. We all thought he would start stabbing others around him and I can't tell you how scared I was.

  9. According to Google a lethal dose of Nicotine is 40-60 mg. Might be worth noting as well that Nicotine is a potent enough poison to be mentioned in the Anarchists Cookbook.

  10. Aye, a couple of kids a year die of it apparently.And I think there was a CSI episode that used it as a plot point.

  11. How awful for you. I guess it would take a while to get over a shock like that. I think it would put me off eating out for a while.

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