Rat Poison

There comes a time as you approach the end of your shift when you start looking for an ‘off job’.  This is a job that will put you at your local hospital as the clock ticks over the shift end.  It’s nice to to get away from work only half an hour after you officially end.  So you try and arrange things so that you are free forty-five minutes from the end of your shift so that you can do that final job.

Then you can go home, sleep and do it all again in eleven hours.

We’d just dropped our patient off at the hospital and had fifty minutes until the end of our shift – we heard a call go out for a 33 year old man who had eaten some rat poison, it was just around the corner.  We called up for it and were there in a few minutes.

The man was visiting his sister’s house, he’d forgotten that there was rat poison behind the sofa and had pulled out the sofa a bit to sit on the floor and eat some rice.  His son and his nephew had crawled behind the sofa and reached the rat poison that looked like crumbled biscuits.  One of the children was at that age where everything goes into it’s mouth.

The children had played next to our rice eating patient and when he looked down and saw what had happened he’d thought that maybe the children had put some of the poison into his rice.  When we arrived he was really rather nervous.

He asked us to take him to hospital.

I suggested that we took the two children as well.  He didn’t understand why until I suggested that the children may have eaten some of the poison as well.

So we found ourselves driving to hospital with three adults, three children and myself in the back of the ambulance.

It took an extended time to book the patients into hospital because this family is of a culture that has half a dozen names for themselves, which means repeated running backwards and forwards asking if they were ever known as one of a handful of names.

Then it was time to fill in three sets of paperwork.

You wouldn’t think that you’d ever get writers cramp in this job.

Still, it did see us off in time.

The patients will be fine, apparently you have to eat a whole lot of the poison before it has an effect on you.

24 thoughts on “Rat Poison”

  1. Good of him to be so concerned about the kids…. as one of them was at the “put everything in his mouth” stage i assume the child was very young.Hate to think of the enviroment those poor kids are living in.

  2. It's very easy to sit in judgement on other people however, there may be unknown factors, For example, to all intent and purposes I live alone (my daughter is a student nurse), and I have MS which means I can't clean my house properly. Yes I get help from Social Services but services have been cut back so all they are allowed to do is clean the kitchen and bathroom. My daughter does what she can but the student nurses course is VERY demanding and I would rather she concentrated on her studies. We seem to have slipped through the (large) cracks in the care system and as an ex-nurse, I know the system.My point is that if 'slipping through the cracks' can happen to a health care professional then it is all too easy for it to happen to anyone.

    I'm not feeling sorry for myself or trying to preach to anyone, just pointing out that there are two sides to every story – and that's also not a criticism of Tom

  3. no alarm or offence taken uphilldowndale and contrary to the way my post may have sounded, i do have a sense of humour. God, you couldn't work in healthcare unless you did lol.Was just trying to give a different perspective and yes, it is very frustrating to live in a tip and not be able to do anything about it but hey, there's a lot of folk out there a lot worse off than me!

  4. Some rat/mouse poisons (and many household cleaners/chemicals) contain Bitrex which makes them unpalatable. (I was going to try and be clever and write the full name of the chemical, but it was so long and complicated it put my dyslexic brain into melt down.) http://chemistry.about.com/cs/5/f/blbitter.htmI wouldnt want a child of mine testing them out though

  5. why where they living in a house that required rat poison to be put down in the sitting/living room?

  6. well sitting on the floor in the lounge to eat dinner in my experience usually results in food diasappearing under the sofa…..and then not getting vacuumed up?That or they are just filthy buggers!

  7. Hi there,I am new to this blogging thing, but was inspired to take a peek after reading your excellent book 'Blood, sweat and tea' (buy it folks, it rules! – do i get brownie points for that??).

    Anyway, being both mature (mature? at 31? No way!)and a student nurse (is it possible to be both?!) i was beginning to wonder if this whole healthcare thing is really right for me. I mean, there are patients out there who annoy the pants off me; i have trouble keeping my mouth in check over management cock ups; i despise pen pushers who think that cutting back staff/budgets is acceptable to patient care and then bitch when we cant provide said care etc etc. I could go on, but i am sure you know the type of thing that winds me up.

    So, to cut a long story short, i was becoming very worried i was doing the wrong thing. After reading your book, and these blogs, i can see i am not alone in feeling this way. That it is, in fact, part and parcel of the job! I too have days when i feel i have made a difference, but they are overshadowed by the feeling that i have most days that i couldnt give the care i wanted due to lack of staff/ equipment/time etc.

    Anyway, i hope i havent offended you or anyone with this. I am just saying that its nice to know i am not alone in the frustrations of the healthcare professional!! I do love my job, and cant wait to qualify, but sometimes, its a little scary when patients expect you to be this angel when you are just an ordinary human being with thoughts and opinions the same as everyone else!!

    Mind you, as you say, some of our patients provide us with many funny stories and the like, so i wouldnt be without them!

    Keep up the good work!

  8. i totally agree with you there. it is very stressfull and it is hard for them to remember that we are just ordinary human beings(well, sort of ordinary!) kepp up the godd work everyone!xx

  9. When I was a student nurse (in the 70s) my friend and I used to have a 2 stock answers to these questions”Have you always wanted to be a nurse?” – No and we still don't

    “Why did you decide to become a nurse?” -Because we like seeing people in pain……

  10. At our surgery we have a pair of twins who have 4 or 5 names each but only one of them is different – confusing or what? I suppose the names that are the same are equivalent to a surname. Trouble is, some nationalities seem to choose a different one of their various names to call themselves by each time they come to the surgery and seem a bit surprised when we don't know who they are!Sri Lankan names are often very long, one of the ladies just calls herself Mrs Nathan to help us out, which is very kind of her.

    When surnames are tagged together, I feel sorry for the children when they start school – imagine poor little mushroom slithering-drip having to learn how to spell her name? The cloakroom pegs must have some very long labels!

  11. Well, there's a rat problem around here (which is not where Tom is) simply because it's a lot of old, decrepit houses interspersed with a high number of late-night fast-food outlets, which are in just the right place to catch people wending their way out of the two biggest nightclubs in town (they're right on the seafront, so all the revellers start off walking the same way). On a Saturday or Sunday morning you're more likely to step on a discarded kebab than a heap of dog poo. It's vermin paradise.

  12. vivdora, am loving your work there! My stock answer to 'why do you want to be a nurse?' was 'to ogle fit half naked male patients' Sadly, the only half naked males i get to ogle are in their 'golden age'!! Bless

  13. NO ONE is ever very far from a rat; you might not see them but they are out there!In the city its food scraps, out here it is animal feed stuffs they eat.

    Even out in the country rats carry the risk of spreading disease to humans, cavers and canoeists run the risk of contracting Weils disease. http://www.caveinfo.org.uk/nca/weils.htm

    Get a smart cat or a Jack Russell terrier!

  14. Please don't say that- i am terrified of rats. Hence the 2 cats…. shame they are both total couch potatoes!

  15. bagpuss, I am sorry, I hope my flippant rat comment didnt alarm you. It sounds as if not being able to keep things as you would like, is very frustratingI wonder if the type of living conditions/personal hygiene Tom and his colleagues see day in day out; are beyond the imagination of most of us, let alone what we have experienced.

    Bummpylady You had best get a dog then, to chase the cats round the back of the sofa.

  16. The problem with long names is the kids never get any qualifications. By the time they have written their name, all the others have finished the exam.

  17. Yeah right! We never had any problems with rats or mice until we got a cat. He was a kitten from a farm, and turned out to be excellent at catching rodents. Problem is he usually brings them in alive (or occasionally half alive) and throws them squeaking on the carpet from where they disappear under the furniture etc etc. We actually had one living behind the washing machine and one in the chimney behind the gas fire for 6 months. We dared not put poison down because of the cats, and eventually caught both rats with humane traps. (They were coming out to eat dried cat food at night).Now we just keep kid's fishing nets around the house ready to catch any live baby rats/mice as soon as the cats release them. (We now have 5 cats, and 3 of them hunt).

  18. Cats and playthings. It appears that Cats have great instinks [instinct] in catching lively bait, but have to be taught by an expert cat to kill, where as terriers of the Jack Russel brand have their killer [hunger] gene turned on.The cat brings back game in thanks for room and board but expects the resident alpha to have truly fresh dinner.

  19. Ah, thanks dungbeetle, I get it now! So the dead stoat I found in the porch was a thank you present! (you should have seen the teeth on it!)

  20. I had a cat once that brought a mouse into the house, only problem was it wasn't dead! He dropped it and the mouse started running around. I (along with my other house bound cat, who had never seen a real mouse) jumped on the couch and proceeded to freak out!

  21. So I wonder how much 'quite a lot' really is ? Obviously for the rat it isn't very much…… Although in weight/volume it probably is.

  22. Only once?!!Lucky you. Fortunately I have an early riser 2 year old (behind a baby gate) who tells me when Ronnie brings a “squeky mouse” in so I know to look for the bodies (yes that is meant to be plural…) and the live ones (favourite hiding place – under the piano!). Only live rat I've seen was living in nursing accomodation in Poole…… Met me at the bottom of the lifts before an early – good job I was too hung over to scream…… Anyway back to the point of my ramble – does make me wonder if it would be worth getting a policitian into an ambulance on a Friday/Saturday night shift to see what ACTUALLY happens – probably best not with Tom though!!!

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