'Midwives to tragedy'
It's an awful phrase that came to me as we were returning to station after our latest job. We often are there at a transition between a normal happy life, and one that has taken a sudden, permanent, and terrible turn for the worse.
When the job came down the computer terminal we thought it would be one of our regular types of calls – A 35 year old man was complaining of numb hands and legs. This sort of thing often turns out to be someone having a panic attack, a frightening, but fairly harmless condition.
We arrived on scene and was met by the patient's wife, a number of small children milled around her feet. She led us upstairs to her husband and I could see straight away that it wasn't a panic attack.
He was unable to talk to me and he was unable to use the right side of his body. Surely he couldn't be having a stroke?
But further investigation ruled out anything else – he was having a stroke and there was little that we could do about it. So we carried him downstairs and rushed him to hospital.
Half an hour ago he was fit and well – then, moments later, he has been struck down with a debilitating illness. His wife has gone from looking after her children, with a husband who provides for her to someone who will end up nursing him, possibly for the rest of his life and will need to rely on disability benefit.
He won't be able to dress himself, or clean himself after going to the toilet – he'll rely on his wife to do these basic things for him.
As it gradually dawns on his wife that their life together is forever changed she looks at me in the hope that it is not true.
And me? It's another job, another life destroying event that I'm a witness to, there to watch as the realisation sinks in that their lives will never be the same.
Another to go on the list that I can no longer remember.
He is the same age as myself – it can really hit you how a life can instantly change when it happens to someone you can relate to.