The interesting thing about my changed work practices is that I'm now much closer to my patients.

I don't mean I feel like holding their hands or buying the Christmas presents, I mean I'm physically closer to them.

Which seems strange, after all the back of an ambulance is certainly more cramped than the examination room that I use to diagnose, treat and educate my patients.

The problem is that I find myself having to get much closer to my patients to examine them.

As an example – if I were to pick up a healthy looking person with a sore throat and a cough, I wouldn't get too close to them. I'd plug them into the machinery of blood pressure, oxygen levels and temperature, then take a seat across the way from them while they coughed and spluttered and made out to be much sicker than they really were.

Now, however, I find myself getting very much up close and personal with my patients – if someone comes to me with a sore throat and cough I need to know what their tonsils look like, whether they are pus-ridden, what their breath smells like. I need to look in their ears, I need to feel their lymph nodes. And so on and so forth.

I was always convinced that when I left shift work I would stop getting ill – and several of my old colleagues have commented on how healthy I look when compared to my time on the ambulances. And this is true – I do feel a lot better.

That was until an outbreak of a viral upper respiratory tract infection became a rather popular reason to attend the UCC.

(And as an aside, are viral URTIs rare in SE asia? I only ask because a lot of the people I see are from there and, while the demographics of Newham are in their favour, I wonder if the reason they pitch up to hospital is because they have had no experience of such things in their homeland. In a similar vein, I would guess that chickenpox is also rare there).

So, I've been seeing a lot of these viral URTI patients. And getting close to them.

And now I have the bloody thing. During my four days off which, I swear, were going to be spent doing interesting and productive things, but which have now been spent drinking lemon tea, lying on the sofa and wondering if this really is just an URTI and not the first stages of The Himalayan Coughing Yak Death-plague. Of Doom.

Thankfully I'm feeling a little bit better now, just in time to return to work tomorrow.

(I suspect that in six months time I shall be immune to everything).

14 thoughts on “Lurgy”

  1. For a non-reader you sir got me hooked and can't wait for the next book to be released. Also working in care (care home) I have wanted to work on an ambulance for years! And still do! Love your work just it's a pitty the NHS don't pay more for an invaluable job!!Jez

  2. I suspect that in SE Asia the symptoms of a URTI could indicate something much more serious, hence the likelihood of seeking medical attention.

  3. glad to see your back writing even if you are feeling like death warmed over and pi**ed on. only recently started reading the blog after discovering the book on my kindle and it cheers me up no end reading through them. guess its the fact that someones life is always worse than your own that makes you smile and helps you through the day just a little. hope your feeling better soon,regards,


  4. In SE Asia the set up is different (generalising hugely here – on experience in Cambodia, China and Mongolia and now HK). No doctors surgeries, and few specialist clinics. Just hospitals.You go to the hospital for everything. Which is a bitch if it's serious because the none medically trained receptionist still has you or your family fill in forms and pay before a doctor gets anywhere near you.

    The difference I guess is there is minimal education regarding basic disesases because medical care is not the responsibility of the government, and since you pay – the hospital is quite happy for you to come with a cold/minor disease , another easy customer.

    Equally – smoking in China especially is endemic, I suspect it's more common for people to to get seriously ill from what appear to be chest infections to start with.

  5. these bugs hve their origin in asia, maybe so many asians turn up because they are the first to get infected from vists by relatives etccopmared to the sixites when i grew up it's a viral holocast now !



    you should ask yourself if you have the immuen system for medical work

  6. Hi got your two books for xmas half way through the second already, love em , will you be writing another one ??

  7. Happy New YearHope you are now better (it's a b/gger isn't it)

    Got your second book for crimbo and am enjoying it as

    I did the first

    Keep up the good work

    Best wishes


  8. Hope you are feeling better. The whole family has been ill over the last 2 weeks to can sympathise with you. Looking forward to an update when you can. Found you after reading your two books, hubby works in Newham – providing equipment etc for folks – he can see some similarities!Nels

  9. oh I know this feeling well…I've only been a couple of years qualified, however during my 3 years nurse training I seemed to pick up everything under the sun!

    Since qualifying and moving on to work as a “real live nurse” but in operating rooms, I don't get sick as much. I even had someone with confirmed swine flu vomit right beneath my nose and didn't catch it. I'm hoping they did me a favour and built up my immunity to it since I never got the vaccine for it that we were all offered a few weeks prior.

    I've just read both your books on kindle in the last couple of days… great reads! I've been spreading the word of them, much like a virus… except it's your great books that are getting spread about! Many folk I've told to get them have done so and have loved them as I have!

    Hope you're all immune soon!! But not in your successes 😉

  10. My nephew had a chest inf just before xmas and it irritated his asthma, so sis took him to docs. got strong anti-biotics then passed out all day. then woke up and threw up. sis made appointment to see locum out of hours doc at 6pm (it was a weds and they don't do weds afternoon up here!) but she was struggling to keep his temp down so took to the minor injuries unit at local hospital. between the car and recption he went into a bronchial spasm, (silent lung?) the receptionist put him straight through to the waiting at top of queue as she did not like his breathing. sis thought he was a bit floppy as the doc came in and started shouting to 'call an ambulance now'! (in a strange turn of events, the ambulance flew past me, blues and twos as they got him to the main a&e for the area). he spent 4 hours in resus, not a place for kids at all. there was an unshockable MI in the cubicle on one side and a burst aeorta on the other so lots of screaming and sobbing relatives. my sis is a nurse, but her brain stopped working properly as panicking about the temp. after lots of nebuliser treatment he was chatting to the docs on peads and having fun so he came home. very scary. i had the same inf for 2 weeks and it's going round school (am a teacher) for at least 2 months.

  11. hi Brian my husband bought me a kindal book for christmas and i was looking for free books on the amazon sit (i no cheap skate lol ) and one of the books i downloaded was yours ,dident no what it was about but as it was free thought i,d have a read, got to be honest with you it wouldent of been a book that i would of bought from a shop, normally read family saga books, but what a GREAT read really enjoyed it bought the follow up book ,cant wait to read this blogg and see what you,v been up to .

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