…One Last Thing

We pulled up outside the front door of the house and I had the unmistakable feeling of having been here before. I searched my memory, but as the best description of said memory is 'Swiss Cheese', I couldn't remember why I'd been here before.

We'd been called because an eighteen month old child had been having a fit. Normally these are caused by a high temperature, sometimes by epilepsy. The older sister who opened the door seemed uninterested, so we assumed that the fit had finished.

We were led upstairs to the bedroom where the child was lying on the bed, the mother standing over her. The mother didn't seem too distressed, so my crewmate asked what had happened while I examined the child.

Apparently the child suffered from epilepsy and usually had one seizure a month, she was on various medications for this but they didn't seem to work as well as hoped.

My examination of the child showed her to be breathing, and a bit 'knocked out', which is usual. But there was something alerting my 'something's not quite right' sense. To be honest I was sure if the child was still having a seizure.

Some seizures involve the classic flailing around of the limbs, others are much more subtle sometimes showing up only as flickering eyes.

There was something not quite right about this child, her eyes didn't focus on me, she was holding her body in a strange manner and she wasn't trying to pull off the oxygen mask I'd put over her face.

We asked the mother and she told us that the child was normally like this after a seizure.

So we bundled her up and took her to hospital, my crewmate keeping a close eye on the patient while I drove.

As we got to the hospital and I opened the door to the ambulance my crewmate was standing there with a big grin on her face.

The child still looked neurologically unwell, but the next words out of my crewmate's mouth removed all doubt as to why this was so.

“The mother has just told me that the child is blind, has cerebral palsy, developmental delays and is unable to communicate”.

It was only after our assessment, our treatment, and halfway to hospital that the mother remembered to tell my crewmate this rather pertinent bit of information.

While the child looked rather ill to us, it was apparent that she had made a full recovery to her normal state of being.

Funny how people can forget to tell us about these apparently small bits of information.

21 thoughts on “…One Last Thing”

  1. Some of the calls we get in control are rather like this. For example: someone isn't breathing. Five minutes later the caller happens to mention that the reason the patient isn't breathing is because he has been shot in the head. Six times. Or the old lady who'd had a fall where the caller only mentioned that she'd fallen from a third floor window when asked how far she'd fallen. Or, best of all, the call from a hostel given as “Has psychiatric problem” Turns out the patient had slit both wrists, taken an overdose AND hung himself. And was somewhat dead. The caller, who HAD been into the room, had for some reason decided not to furnish us with those irrelevant extra details…

  2. When you live with the disability for long enough, you can forget that other people don't know about it. Plus, it can actually be quite depressing to list all of them (really knocks it home).Which is why we have a Red/Amber/Green sheet with my brother at all times. Red has what everyone need to know (like not to cannulate his hands if you want it to last >5 minutes), Amber has information for, say, his named nurse, and Green is extra stuff that all his full-time carers should know, and that others can access as and when.

  3. Isn't that the typical British power of understatement though?”Hello medical person, this lady doesn't look very well.” A head on one side of the dual carriageway, a torso on the other…

  4. No doubt the “Swiss Cheese memory” will transform itself into a rock solid “Cheddar memory” if you should ever get called to the same house again !!!;o)

  5. I can't figure out for which thing the Mother is more of a plum for. Completely forgetting to mention to the ambulance crew that her daughter has several disabling conditions on top of the one she happens to be in the throes of at that moment, or calling an ambulance for a siezure apparantly witnessed once a month, something which should, i'm guessing, be routine.Poor girl, my heart goes out to her

  6. Maybe the Mums memory was better than yours! In that she recognised you and knew she had told you the childs medical history before!

  7. Of course you can get it the other way around too: My son has a similar diagnosis to the child in this story (no epilepsy though) and I can't count the number of times I've had to explain to medical professionals (including EMT's and Paramedics) that he is more unwell than his 'usual' symptoms would indicate (he has the unnerving propensity to laugh at the most inappriopriate times, eg during injections, that makes his actual level of discomfort difficult to gauge).Cheers

    Mark

  8. When to a male in his 40's, living with parents, O/A he was still fitting which only stopped with diazepam. After the fit he was only reactive to pain, wouldn't react to voice however loudly we shouted. I drove the para responders car into hospital for her, carrying the blokes mother. On the way in I was asking the mother about the history of the fits, she told me how he had had meningitis at 16 months which had left him epileptic and totally deaf!

  9. When blindness or CP or whatever is a part of your life, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, then it simply doesn't occur to you to mention it. Particularly if there is something rather more pressing on your mind such as the rather scary sight of your toddler, your precious baby, having an epileptic fit, which even in this case is NOT a 24/7 thing that has just become part of day-to-day life.If the kid is only 18 months old then “routine” at an occurrence of about once a month is a strange word to use. It's not a novelty, but not an everyday thing and she's probably a bit different now to how she was 6 months ago.

    and finally, I suspect that the mother may have been told by the specialist that if there seems to be anything about the fit, perhaps it seems a little more severe or isn't stopping the way it should, or mum feels uneasy about it, she should call 999. Routine or otherwise, a fitting toddler is a fitting toddler and is, I feel, deserving of emergency medical attention.

    Yeah, the mum probably feels a bit silly for forgetting, in the worry of the moment, that not everyone has the same definitions of “normal” and that the ambulance crew didn't know about the CP/blindness/etc, but that doesn't make her a bad mother.

  10. Wonderfully said batsgirl. It's so easy to be judgemental. What a daily hell that mother must live. So many times on this site I have read people critisising parents for over / under-reacting, but just because they don't respond in a text-book manner to an emergency situation doesn't make them bad parents or bad people. We all cope with stress differently, and even if the situation was pretty mundane to a health professional, to the parent it's the most frightening thing in the world.

  11. Ah, understatement… A few years ago, I skidded on black ice while driving and spun my car across the dual carriageway, across the reservation and the other carriageway, hit the kerb and rolled the car. When I was out of the car, the car was loaded on the tow truck and a friend was on the way to collect me, I rang my dad and said 'Er… I've had a bit of an accident'. It went down in legend as understatement of the year!

  12. I hear you. I just think that describing a basic fact about the kid (or in my experience, granny, graddad, dog) would have helped the responding team.It's not about judging, it's about learning (for me, and maybe for other posters, I cannot guess) and your posts have brought your POV to the fore – for which, thanks. :o)

  13. That is skillful – I hope that you pass that method on to people dealing with the same situation, because you have really thought that out, and that knowledge and usefullness shouldn't be wasted.Is there a website that offers this kind of thing?

  14. Cool.Is the only appropriate response to this!

    Well done, you're a credit to womankind! (guessing gender from screenname, apologies if not, etc….!)

  15. As a first aider doing public duties, one of my usual questions to parents/carers is “what is he/she usually like when he/she is ill/unwell/has hurt her/himself?” because this helps you decide how much to worry.

  16. Tom, it's a phenomenon that usually occurs in the higher echelons of corporate management, one which I have identified and named: information by osmosis.The theory of IBO is that information is telepathically transferred by the information giver to the information receiver merely by standing next to them. In the corporate world, senior managers seem the believe that by passing their underlings in the corridor or on the way to the director's canteen. Information is transferred to their subordinates. Workers are then questioned later only to be met with blank stares at which manager goes apoplectic because you are supposed to know everything he knows.

    I'm sure this principle applies in the NHS and LAS.

  17. Haaaa, I am indeed a woman (typed girl first, still feel 15 in my head!). Even at 26 my first instinct in a crisis is to call my mum and dad but not till I've had a good stab at fixing it myself! First time I changed a tyre on my car I had the manual out and was there on the pavement, following the instructions, lol.

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