Man Down

You are going to love this…

I'm at work, it's 7am and I'm checking the ambulance to make sure that all the kit is there and that it is placed where I can find it. As it is 7am and I'm not a morning person I drop the electronic thermometer, part of which falls under the trolleybed. I get down on hands and knees to retrieve it…

…and hear a pop in my right knee.

Lots and lots of excruciating pain follows.

So I collapse onto the floor and scream a bit.

One of my stationmates hears me and comes to investigate, “What the bloody hell* are you doing down there?”.

He goes and gets some help. Help to stand there, point and laugh at me. He includes some trainees in the mockery. I think he is getting his revenge because I keep calling him tubby.

I get given some entonox, a painkilling gas better known as 'laughing gas'. For some people this gas does nothing, for me – three puffs in – I'm giggling like a schoolgirl and can feel hardly anything. That which I do feel doesn't seem that important. I laugh a lot, use my good leg to get onto the ambulance trolley, and have some more entonox.

Mobile phone photographs are taken.

The trainees take my blood pressure, pulse and the like. I refuse to take my clothes off as I am a *bad* patient. I am also, as the young people say, 'off my head' on the entonox. It's good stuff, and to think they give us huge bottles of it to play with.

At the hospital, inbetween giggles, I am assessed by my favourite nurse (who, sadly, is escaping that A&E department soon) and I get seen by an Emergency Nurse Practitioner. I know Dr Crippen moans a lot about ENPs and the like, but the one who sees me is a good one – a full exam, a justification for an x-ray and good clinical skills.

The x-ray shows an effusion and maybe some ligament damage. I may get an MRI scan in the near future.

My duty station officer arrives, his first words? “If I'd known it was you I wouldn't have bothered coming, I thought it was one of the trainees”.

He is, of course, joking.

So I'm hobbling around on crutches, with painkillers should I need them and an appointment to see the knee surgeon in a little while.

A big thanks to everyone involved, from my stationmates to the folks at the hospital, the care was excellent.

I have a few computery type things to do, but then I'm going to be at a bit of a lose end. I'm pondering learning a computer language, something that I can use in Xcode to knock up a Mac app. I'll search for a book on the Mac API in a bit, I just need to find a good one. It'll give me a chance to write some stuff for Mental Kipple, but I'll have to ration the eight or nine post ideas I have here. No work equals no inspiration.

*He may have used words stronger than 'bloody hell'.

84 thoughts on “Man Down”

  1. Arr Tom get better soon, my son had 2 ops on his Right knee (he is 23!) he would have empathy with you! painful, and you can hear him coming as he 'clicks' as he walks Take carejoan

  2. That'll teach you for being so thorough ! Sorry to hear about the injury, but at least the time off will give you lots of time to write….Vacuum splints are the coolest thing ever, I must say. Well, possibly after Entonox but then we don't have that in the US.

  3. “Right trainees, the patient is a male, in his 30s complaining of severe knee pain. What's the first thing to do?”Trainee 1: “Figure out his GCS?”


    Trainee 2: “Immobilise the injured limb?”


    Trainee 3: “Whip out your mobile, take lots of pics and rip the piss out of him?”

    “Keeeerrect, take a gold star!”

    Seriously mate, ouch! Take it easy.

    Unless my eyes deceive me, did they treat you in Resus? Talk about getting the Royal treatment. Normally I only get to see inside there when they want to give me something with a paper thin theraputic margin…

  4. Here's a thought that just occured to me. So you're lying on the floor of the ambulance in writhing agony, and the thought flashes across your mind “good blog material”, so you dip into your pocket and give YOUR phone to your crewmates to take pictures of you ? Mad. Bloody mad.

  5. You're a copper's wife and the instinct of the uniformed British man to take the piss out of his colleagues at any opportunity comes as a surprise to you? 🙂

  6. Fleeces – luxuary, in Germany we get sweaters that shrink and fade in the wash!Sorry to hear about your knee, hope you get well soon.

    Joel, Goettingen, Germany

  7. Big ouch, hope you're feeling better soon – thanks for the pics, they provided some amusement and cringing.My placement back in the summer was in Paeds A&E Newham, I'm trying to figure out if we met, I also spent a day with an ambulance crew.

  8. TomI'm a new visitor to your blog having received your book for Christmas. Enjoying it a great deal. Keep up the good work.

    Coincidentally, my twelve month old son had a fibral convulsion the day before yesterday due to a virus that he picked up. Even though I had read about these and knew they are rarely serious it really scared me. My wife completely freaked out. We dialled 999 (not sure it counts as an unnecessary call-out) and a Forward Response Unit arrived within minutes followed by two ambulances. Everyone was completely professional and the little lad was kept in for observations and is much better now.

    Can't believe you have done your knee. Hope you get better soon.


  9. Did you learn anything being on the other end of the electronic thermometer?Suppossedley doctors are the worst possible patients. How do EMTs (that's the American term) fare?

    Hope you're serving the public soon!


    I'll have to rethink being an uncooperative patient in my next ambulance ride, I might be listed as 'critical'!

  10. Poor you…i've done the knee ligament thing before and i'm wincing away here empathising just thinking about it (until the entonox anyway, at which point i feel a bit jealous!).Seriously though. I hope the wait for the surgeon isn't too long. Good luck!

    Kimthevet (long time lurker)

  11. D'oh! Assume you weren't listening in the health and safety courses then? Bend at the knees, not on your knees!Should be a nice bit of time off anyway – will they let you take a cylinder of the laughing gas home?

  12. Whose idea was it to take photo's? It's a little bit worrying that you're rolling about on the floor in pain whilst your work mates are posing for photo's with their thumbs up!In the picture where you're having your good knee felt you look like you're in labour!

    Hope it gets better soon.

  13. Rather than learn a computer language, why not a language from one of the non-native locals. It will impress everyone when you can ask them about their ailments in their own language.

  14. Sorry to hear about your injury. Hope you get well soon. I did my knee in back in September and (probably foolishly) didn't go the Doctor's, as I was the leading man in a show at college that was only a week away. It was painful, but the show much go on and after a few weeks, it stopped giving me any trouble. Don't think I would have been as happy to allow pictures of the incident to be taken though!

  15. ahhh, ohhh, ahhh, owwwwch.Hope that gets better quickly for you.

    By them way, I'm ploughing through your book and rather liking it. I came to this blog late so the book is all fresh material so far (he says, on page 207). Now you're sitting down, perhaps you'd like to work on the sequal? :-p

  16. Make sure you get the MRI as soon as possible. I snapped my anterior cruciate ligament, and was wrongly diagnosed with stretched medial ligaments. Nine months later I chipped the cartilage throwing a frisbee (I know, I know, and how the nurses laughed too) and during the ensuing arthroscopy my ACL was nowhere to be seen. Oh – and do as your physioterrorist tells you.When my ACL snapped I was playing cricket and all I could do to try and stop the pain was bite on a cricket ball. Entonox sounds like more fun.

  17. Oops. You didn't want to do that… I suppose if you're going to get yourself injured somewhere, there are worse places than in an ambulance.I've never done any Mac programming, but I've always been impressed by the O'Reilly series of books – – so they're probably a safe bet.

  18. Still, you didn't have to wait for an ambulance. And while there were extra people to take photos and make comments, those are professional courtes… um. Well, you did get good care and good drugs too.These things always happen when we are tired.

  19. WOW!!!!!!!!!! You get issued really nice fleeces better tan the ones we get in SCAT oops sorry SCAS, can I borrow your's, please, as you wont be needing it for a while??? You didn't expect any symphony from a fellow techie now did you. Hope you're better quickly and don't have to go onto half pay.Phreddie.

  20. Oooh bugger. The best thing about doing my back in was the Entonox, which soon had me gibbering like a fool at the poor RRV person. Hope you're back on both feet soon, and in the meantime enjoy the handy upper-body workout that crutches give you every time you need a cup of tea/leak.If the suggestion to learn a human language doesn't grab you might I suggest Wrox's 'Beginning Applescript' if you've not done a lot of programming before?

  21. Ow…You really do look in pain with some of those photos….You are very lucky that Entonox works on you…I am one of these that it has very little effect.Hope you get well soon, and are back protecting the streets of London…

  22. Ouch, sounds painful, I hope it gets sorted fairly soon, just one question though, on the first picture, of you on the floor of the ambulance with the entonox and the splint on, what on earth is going to be done with the suction unit at your feet?!?! I don't even want to know where the yankeur is going!!

  23. man – Ouwch! been following your blog for a while (and passed the link to my bro who wants to be a doc – and looks like he will be one in spite of bad Crohn's). Never thought I'd see u on the trolley 🙁 the bright side I presume (although you never said) is that you get some time off – at least some with the lovely Laura – all the best fella and hope that in spite of the pain you have a relaxing new year – and that the waiting list is not too long! better go and finish this leek and potatoe pie my missus has had me makin from scratch lol!

  24. Owwww. Can't help you in any way with the knee, but I have done some Mac programming. Objective-C is the way to go, or Java. Java is actually pretty nice on MacOS, but Objective-C is what apple use for their apps.AppleScript can be handy for doing neat tricks with a bunch of random apps working together – rather like automator but with teeth. But it's a little quirky which can be annoying.

    On the whole I'd start out with Objective-C.

    I just hope you're not off long enough to write your own World of Warcraft 😉

  25. You're getting old, mate… ;-)Keeping yourself occupied shouldn't be too difficult – you've got a whole internet of amusements at your fingertips.If I could offer you only one tip it would be: don't start any new ongoing things that will want to be continued when you get back to work. So, don't start a new online game, and don't watch any soaps. Otherwise you'll go back to work and panic because you can no longer fit everything in each day.Oh, and get well soon, but I hope you were planning to do that anyway…

  26. LoL Tom, this leaves plenty of time to play WoW, blog and take pain killers. Welcome to my lifestyle. Also did I add ROFL. I know what it is like to be young and a “Trainee” and all I have to say is our “He He's” come few and far between, but whent hey do. ROFL are they good.

  27. Sry, after revising the images, one cant help but laugh. Sry Tom, good luck with the get better, By the way, pelase never, never, never show your legs on the tinternet again. Or you will be fined lol.

  28. Ouch!!!Poor you 🙁 Not nice – try not to put on weight! (Crutches = people taking to the pub for lunch or did when I was on them!)

    And grrr! I waited ages for an MIR scan and then got told I'd fallen off the list and last time I checked they said I'm not having one now 🙁 Sorry feeling slightly jelous!

    Get better soon.

  29. You've posted before that you're squeamish about knees – so probably a good thing you didn't have to treat yourself.You had said that you needed a rest – but I think this is a bit extreme…

    Then again it allows you to be looked after by Laura 🙂

    Get well soon

  30. Cynical time. Does the fact there were so many photos that were bound to be posted on the net influence your standard of treatment? Or was it your star status?

  31. Tom,I'm very sorry for your pain etc, but you're right I love it to the point of roflmao

    take it easy, lap up the sympathy and sometimes it's really ok to do nothing but veg!


  32. Ouch – poor you! My daughter dislocated her patella in the summer, so I have some (very vague) idea of how painful knee injuries are. Look after yourself, and do what the physio says, however much it hurts (and it will 🙁 ). But most of all, get better soon.

  33. Whooooo! Way to skive New Year and all the drunks, eh? 😀 Kidding of course (am I?) – hope you are up and about soon. That gas is an absolute hoot, I loved it too – was giggling like three schoolgirls at a dodgy art exhibition ( la Love Actually) myself.Good idea of Vic's by the way to learn a bit of the local lingos – goes down v well in my own experience! It all starts somewhere so if you have a penchant for languages, go for it!Anyway – happy new year to you and Laura. /j

  34. For an EMT, you don't half get alot of injurys/illness' you would think being a medical profesional you'd look after yourself with a bit more care, but i'd imagine it's one of those do as I say, not as I do things.But that does sound and look painful I hope you make a speedy and full recovery.

  35. The hopalong bit is all very Pirate really – but then Johnny Depp is extremely gorgeous and if you add your uniform to that look it would be quite unbeatable!

  36. I'm going to assume the suction unit is for the vacuum splint – suck the air out so that it moulds around the leg and protects it from movement.

  37. who whats to use a hand vac pump when there is a suction unit that can do it for you. save your sweat for a double crewer.

  38. oww, i wish that you are as comfortable as you can be. how did your shift with laura go, did you two have a good shift together. Is she going to come around a nurse you back to health 😀 if so are you going to get her in a nurses outfit, heheI wish you and laura a very happy new year together.

  39. Sorry about the knee. You will get better.About this desire to code

    Using XCode is fantastic. It is one of the best programming environments around. I am using it for a project right now.

    If you wish to code on the Mac the native API is Cocoa and the language is ObjectiveC. My favorite book for picking this up is Aaron Hillegasss Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X. It is in its second edition. When I started working on Mac OS X it took me approximately three weeks (6 hours a day, 5 days a week, new baby in the house), to get through the book doing all the exercises. Once you have that book down the OReilly books are very useful.

    An alternative path if you what your code to run on anyones machine is to learn Java. A bit steeper learning curve but then your software will run on almost anything. For this I recommend starting with Bruce Eckels Thinking in Java (4th ed). There is also a lot of stuff on the web for Java including Suns site. Another book that may be good for Java is Deitel & Deitels Java How to Program.

    Though I havent tried it I believe you can program in Java through XCode.

    Have fun. Get better. Looking for more interesting stories from you. Hopefully you wont be the patient next time!

  40. Hm, obviously that wasn't St Thomas' A & E, or perhaps it helps to know the people who are treating you. I “popped” my knee on New Year's Day a few years ago. After it had swollen to twice its size, I went to the aforementioned A & E to get it checked out. One X-ray, it's not broken, go home and elevate and ice it. No mention of follow-up with GP or, hah, a knee surgeon, other than the on-call idiot mentioning the fact it probably wasn't the ligaments either. They didn't give me any nitrous either, the wankers (or a script for any kind of anti-inflammatory/painkiller).Cut to a month ago, when I finally had knee surgery that cost me nearly $6000 *in Australia* to remove the damaged portion of my lateral meniscus, after four years of pain. Thanks so much, St Thomas' A & E and the NHS.

    Hope you get it sorted soon, though.

  41. Ouch! Hope it's feeling better soon.Love the pics – particularly the ones where your crewmate is giving the thumbs up – hilarious!

  42. you know what how dumb am I?!?! I never thought of doing that before!!! Lol. My excuse is EMAS have only had vac splints for about 6 months, so I have only used them 3 or 4 times….. D'oh

  43. oh, OW. You daft sod. Loving the photos though! I bet that was your idea, some people will do anything for a photo opportunity *rolls eyes*Shame you can't keep the crutches when you get better, they'd come in handy to keep in the ambulance and wallop poke drunks with..

    Hope you and Laura have a happy new year 🙂

  44. What are there so many photos of you on the floor. Didn't anyone actually think the priority was to move you?Notice the number of smilley faces and thumbs ups.Next week – smilley faces and thumbs up at an RTA.

  45. I've tried in the past and have no aptitude for it whatsoever. While I have the basics of programming hardwired into my brain from BASIC and Assembly programming with a bit of Pascal and C++ thrown in for good measure.

  46. I've only got a few weeks, not a lifetime…(I've tried Linux of many flavours before on several occasions, and I'm convinced that it's deliberately made as obscure as possible)

    I guess I'll never be one of the 'cool' kids

    (Hmmm, maybe I should expand on this in my other blog)

  47. It was one way of keeping me relaxed while waiting for the entonox to work – it's not as if I was in any danger.As someone further up says – it would be england if you couldn't take the micky out of your mates.

  48. I'll happily go out to febrile fits, it's never a waste of a call job – especially given the tripe that I have to go to otherwise.

  49. Ouch! Your brain aint ill, so get the knee better soon. Spend 'body telling you to take time out' time with Laura and whatever else you have to do to catch up, but listen to your body!Happy New Year.


  50. Helloooo Laura, and Tom!Liked the video, Dave.

    Have a great new year- don't drink too much and have to call an ambulance!

    Stay safe- see you in the new year!


  51. But did you remember to pick the thermometer up while you were down there writhing on the floor in agony?All the best for the New Year and hope the knee gets lots better soon.

  52. I've seen herbal medicine to great things, used in first aid at festivals.Although the only way to mend a snapped ligament is to stitch it, there is alot you can do to speed up healing and relieve pain, using herbal medicine.

    If this isn't taboo I can post some more information.

  53. Ouch!Did it get you off the New Year then?Reading your book at the mo, bought it before Crimbo and asked the girlfriend to wrap it for me and sign the tag as from someone else. She signed it as being from me…I'm an EMT based in Handsworth, Birmingham and it's really nice to know you get the same crap as us and that I'm really not sliding into madness.Happy New Year to you and get well soon. Oh, I've just read the bit about how you'll never be as famous as a big brother contestant. It's a show I never watch, so to me, that point is wrong. I suspect I am not alone in this 🙂

  54. Sorry about your knee – 3 knee surgery's and 25 years and I'm off the rode and in a desk job. I love your blog and read it often so keep up the good work! Here in America I work with a bloke from London.

  55. Hi Tom sorry to hear about your injury. hope you're better soon. Also the waiting list for you book has now grown to not only include the local fire service but also includes various members of the ambulance service. They like the website 🙂

  56. I thought there were whole calendars and websites about uniformed men…. oh, no – sorry got the wrong idea there (grins)

  57. Oh dear! Hope you are better soon. It seems you have to be made of strong stuff to be in the LAS, unsympathetic buggers! T.

  58. hi tom, my name is paddy, work for Shropshire/West mids ambulance service as a tech, just finished your book, top marks mate, could not but it down.ive been off sick for the past six months with a complete rupture of my anterior cruciate ligament, had surgery week before xmas, hope you get better soon mate.

    keep up the good work

    paddy mc

  59. 3 times already ? that doesn't seem right, i know from a personal experience oh and surgery is the last step you need to take. I have seen a few Images

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