Some jobs will just make you sad, and it's those that you'll find yourself carrying around with you for a time. It isn't always the death and horror that affects you – and you can be surprised by the things that haunt you.
We got a call to a block of flats, it was given as a 69 year old female who is unresponsive and who has a history of schizophrenia. Her condition could be caused by any number of things, so you carry all the equipment up the flats and you never know what you are going to encounter.
We were met by the woman's husband who led us through to the bedroom where our patient lay. She was on the bed and was not talking to anyone – with one hand she was 'fidgeting' and plucking at her clothes. This was normal for her, and could be due to the anti-psychotics which she uses to treat her schizophrenia. Looking at her prescription sheet we found out that she is also a diet controlled diabetic, but her blood sugar test showed a normal amount of sugar in the blood. The patient was unable to talk, and looked very scared. Was this episode related to her schizophrenia?
Our physical exam however, showed a complete loss of function and muscle tone down the right side of her body; this led us to think that she had had a CVA, or stroke, and that this had affected her speech and muscle function. We rapidly removed her to hospital, and to be honest, the job itself went like clockwork.
The thing that stays with you though, is her husband telling you that they have been married for fifty years, and for the last twenty of them he has stuck by her while she was suffering first from manic depression and then schizophrenia. To have stayed by her side while she was under the shadow of these illnesses shows true love. Every so often, during the transport to hospital, her husband had to wipe a tear from his eye, he was sitting holding his wifes hand – trying to provide some comfort to her, and to try and ease the scared expression on her face.
Now, if she survives the stroke, she will probably be permanently disabled, and will require quite intensive care for the rest of her life.
I think her husband will continue to stand by her.
In unrelated news…I was so tired driving home this morning that I took the wrong turning to go home and went down the wrong street. Aren't you glad I'm looking after the health and well being of people?