The address was one of those tricky ones. Places in that area tend not to have door numbers on them and in the rough area of this address there is a homeless hostel (which has a lot of people fitting because they are alcoholic) next door to a disabled person day centre (where a fair number of their clients have epilepsy).
We had to take a guess as to which of the two places the call came from – we guessed wrong because as soon as we walked into the hostel the man behind the desk looked very confused and in broken English asked us why we were there. To give them their due they do normally know when one of their lodgers has taken a bit sick, as they are normally the ones who phone us.
So we walked to the large house next door where some of the local disabled people have a day centre. We were met by a member of staff who led us to a young woman laying on the floor. In the corner of the room was a woman 'dancing' with a wheelchair bound patient.
One of the day centre staff told us what had happened – the patient had suffered a short fit, and as part of their care protocol they were to call an ambulance.
I tried talking to our patient but she wasn't saying much. I asked if she understood English and they told me that she spoke it perfectly they also told me that she wasn't deaf and that she was normally quite chatty. I tried talking to her again and there was still no answer.
I sent my crewmate to fetch the trolley-bed, it was tricky to get it in but it would serve us better than the carry chair. Meanwhile I checked the patient out a bit more to make sure that she wasn't hurt and got a bit more of a background from the staff.
In a strange coincidence the staff who was talking to me was an ex-patient of mine, I'd taken him to hospital when he had a heart attack at work. Nice to see that some of my patients do get better…
As soon as the trolley was brought up to her my patient sat upright and told me that she 'wasn't going to go on one of them' and that she would much prefer to walk into the ambulance. So after struggling with the trolley to get it into the centre we had to struggle to put it back on the ambulance.
Our patient and a carer walked onto the ambulance and, after a few more checks, were soon on the way to hospital.
I'm a friendly chap and will quite happily talk to my patients – so I started getting her medical history – Epilepsy was pretty easy to get out of her, but how do you ask someone what their particular mental 'disability' is? I always feel that it's like calling someone stupid, or insane. I'm also never quite sure of which politically correct term is flavour of the month.
In the end we settled on 'learning disabilities' and then settled back to chat about all sorts of things, including her telling me that doctors keep asking her if she has a boyfriend, something that she finds rather rude. We chat about other things of course, like her going to college and about the other people in her family.
Eventually we reach hospital and leave her and her carer there so that she can wait for her mother to come and pick her up and take her home.
At the end of the day I don't think that she really had a seizure – her recovery was too quick and she was too eager to go to hospital. I'm guessing that she really just fancied a day at home rather than at the centre. But who am I to judge, unless I see the fit myself I don't know if it has been faked or not. No ambulance person ever lost their job taking a willing person to hospital.
And I had a nice chat as well.