Three Glass Stories

I've got the hump for reasons that I don't want to go into here – still, there is the light at the end of the tunnel that I have to look forward to. The previous sentence will only make sense to a couple of people.

Some injuries are like buses, you don't see any for ages and then two come along at once.

We were called to a young man with a cut foot. The trail of blood led up the garden path up to a small pool of the same blood underneath a rather annoyed young man. While walking in the street he had stepped on a broken bottle, the glass had sliced through the sole of his trainer and managed a fairly nasty cut to the sole of the foot. It was a simple job to wrap his foot in a bandage and then stare in awe at the lump of glass poking through the trainer. He was a nice enough lad who hopped to the ambulance, and who's friend's mum had already put on a pretty good dressing. He just needed an x-ray to exclude any glass being left in the wound and a couple of stitches.

Our last job was also a foot cut on some glass, this time it was a fifteen year old girl who lives in a pub, she'd been barefoot, and as is typical with the pubs around our way, there had been a nice sliver of glass on the floor. Cue much screaming and a rather huge amount of blood. Feet tend to bleed a lot, partly because there are plenty of blood vessels in them and partly because gravity tends to make the stuff leak out of you. I'd give the people in the pub a medal though, not only had they tried using a towel to stop the bleeding, but they'd also laid her on the floor and lifted her foot above her head. If only all out patients had such sense.

She still had the sliver of glass in her foot and while we aren't supposed to touch such 'foreign objects', I believe that have enough minor injuries experience to pull it out and better control the bleeding with pressure. It's a bit nasty to put pressure on a wound when there is a two inch lump of glass in it. Needless to say the patient managed to leak the red stuff all over the floor of the ambulance and my crewmate looked as if she had performed surgery on the patient. The bleeding was controlled, the patient was taken to hospital and everyone was happy.

A question now : In 'my day' working in A&E, we'd try to find an example of the glass that the patient had been injured with, then x-ray the wound *and* the glass. The reasoning behind this is that glass shows up on x-rays in different ways depending on the type of glass. If the example glass was invisible on the x-ray then we'd take more care to examine and wash out the wound, while if the example glass was easily visible then we could be more sure that there was none left in the wound. Do hospitals still do this, as the nurse in the local A&E looked a bit befuddled when I told her about this trick? (Although to be fair she was under some strain as the department was very busy).

My final glass story happened the night before last. We were called to a 'collapse behind locked doors', the relatives of a woman in her sixties had called us because they could see the woman laying on the sofa in her house but she wasn't answering the door or telephone. We arrived and the door was well locked – there was a deadbolt as well as the normal Yale, so neither I, not my martial arts master/built like a brick outhouse of a crewmate could kick the door down. At the relatives request I smashed the bedroom window and, after some backbreaking limbo work, climbed in.

Unfortunately the patient was deceased, it's never a nice thing to try an explain to relatives that their loved one is dead and that there is nothing we can do to help. I tried to explain that the patient looked very peaceful and that she had probably passed away in her sleep. We waited for the police and left them to look after the family – I had to have a quick run back to the hospital so I could wash the blood off the brand new cut I'd given myself on my hand. A minor injury that needs no treatment, and if it meant that the relatives thought we did all we could, then perhaps worth it.

Although I have spent the last two shifts picking glass dust out of my hair/clothes/boots.

I am now listening to 'Out Of The Blue' by E.L.O in order to cheer myself up. No posting on Tuesday as I'm out at 7:45am to do about seven regional radio programmes before sadly heading off to work.

14 thoughts on “Three Glass Stories”

  1. It seems that human-doctors aren't the only ones who know that trick with xraying the glass. When my cat swallowed some plastic wrap that became wadded up in his intestine and gave him a bellyache, the vet asked me to bring in an extra sample of the wrap to xray along with him. (Happy ending: it turned out that a dose of laxative was all that was needed to pass the plastic on through.)

  2. SEVEN regional radio programmes!Hey, Tom. You're becoming a media man!

    Next move MUST be Big Brother – I can just see your view on life going down a storm with the wannabes!

  3. I resolved not to read the old postings before I'd read the book – come on Amazon, I can't wait much longer!

  4. Well, he is god in physical emergencies, as far as I am concerned Big Brother has more to do with psychological emergencies… Anyways, I like him more outside on the road ;)Greetings from Jordan,


  5. Ref Glass:No we don't as nearly all glass has enough lead in as part of the manufacturing process to show on xray. I would do an extensive exploration of a wound in a&e. If it is that hard to find it may warant a semi elective explore by the surgeons if it is causing bother.

  6. (Quote)there is the light at the end of the tunnel that I have to look forward to. (Quote)So you are doing training on the underground. hehe.

  7. As a radiographer I can say it is so, so useful to have a bit of what you're looking for to x-ray at the same time.You can usually see glass but I remember one case as a student where someone came in with a 5-6 inch shard of glass from a shed window protruding from her eye. Wanted an x-ray to see how far it went in before they removed it. The x-ray showed nothing.Same goes for any other foreign objects, especially inhaled/ingested ones as these can be real buggers to see.You can also x-ray them first to demonstrate to cas officers who are insisting you x-ray that they really won't see that missing lego brick that Jimmy may or may not (usually the latter) have swallowed.

  8. A few years ago I took my then-2-year-old boy to A&E at Homerton Hospital (which hospital is the reason my daughter was born at home, but that's another story) because he had some glass in his foot after an accident in the garden with a jam jar, and could'nt put his weight on it. I knew he had glass in there! I knew where it was. We waited at the hospital for ages, and then he was X-rayed, and this officious male nurse told us there was no glass. End of story.No: that IS the end of the story. He wouldn't listen to me, he wouldn't ask someone else, he wouldn't look at the child's foot again, he was done. The place was piling up with drunks. We went home. My poor kid had to just get on with it.

    One morning two weeks later a nice big shiny piece of glass, about half a centimetre long, popped out through the calloused skin that was by then building up on the bottom of his foot.

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