Due to my crewmate skivving off over the holiday period I found myself with no-one to work with. The resource centre rang me up and asked if I wouldn't mind working on the FRU. I've found that it's in my best interests to do as they ask, otherwise there is a fear that they'll send me to the other side of London for a giggle…
So I loaded my kit onto the car and got ready for a busy night.
Fifteen calls in a twelve hour period later and I was glad to be heading home.
Luckily for me, a lot of the calls were for 'Man-flu' and in one case the female version of the same – 'Bird-flu'.
Blame fellow 'twitterers' for that joke.
With all this man-flu going around I wasn't surprised when I saw a call come down to my FRU. “27 year old male, unwell ?cause”. So I whizzed round to the address and was met by a woman I would find out to be the wife of the patient. She led me into their one room flat where my patient was lying on the bed.
My immediate impression was that he was fine. No obvious difficulty in breathing, no rolling around in pain. As I entered he looked at me and his gaze followed me around the room. So unlikely to be anything serious then.
I looked at the wife, she'd started crying.
“Don't worry, he'll be fine”, I said.
“No he won't”, she sobbed, “He's going to die”.
Well, he didn't look like he was going to die to me, and I'm normally a pretty good judge of people who are likely to stop breathing.
So I asked the patient,”What seems to be the problem?”
“I'm going to die tonight”, he said with utter conviction, “God is calling me”.
“What makes you think that?”, I asked.
“I just know, I've already phoned my family back home and told them”.
So now his family halfway across the world would be worried. Happy Christmas!
After some prompting from me he continued, “In my religion, Islam, God sometimes calls people. That is why I know I'm going to die tonight”.
“Look mate”, I told him, “I work round here, so I meet a fair few Muslims, none of them have ever mentioned that before”.
I spoke to his wife, they had just come back from shopping, there hadn't been an argument or anything unusual that day. He'd just taken to his bed and declared that he would die.
At this moment the ambulance crew arrived. I explained what was happening and we all agreed that he needed to go to hospital. While he (almost certainly) wasn't going to die that night we were worried that he might take matters into his own hands.
Rather predictably he didn't want to go to hospital.
So now we were looking at arranging a Section. Which needs two GPs and an approved social worker. At 3am in the morning. Over the Christmas holidays.
The chances of arranging that were slightly less than him actually being right and God beaming him directly into Heaven that night. I contacted our Control – they had the same view that we were pretty much stuck on our own.
Our hands were tied, if he were in a public place we could get the police to emergency section him, but as he was in his own house, they were as powerless as us. Except… There is a bit of information floating around in my head that with enough high-ranking officers we can maybe section him anyway.
Time to turn on the charm.
“Look mate”, I said, “the thing is that we think you are having a psychotic episode. So we'd like to take you to hospital. I don't feel happy leaving you here. So I'm going to give you a choice. I'm all about choice me. Choice 'A' is that you come with us now – spend some time at the hospital and have a chat with someone. Choice 'B' is that we contact the police and ask them to come down and see if they are able to persuade you to come to hospital. Either way I think you'll be going to hospital”.
“Ok”, he said and got his shoes on and walked out to the ambulance.
There is a line between persuading someone, coercing someone and forcing someone to do something. I think that this was persuasion rather than coercing, as I truly would have called for the police and often they can persuade someone to go to hospital. I would have been really unhappy to leave him at home as if he wasn't suddenly suffering from a mental health problem it could have been something more physical and life-threatening. Either way his life could have been in danger and, while I don't have the power to force him to come to hospital, I can do my best to persuade him.
I've not had a note from the coroner's office yet – so I don't think that his God's plan was for him to die that night.
So far I've been keeping my 'Photo a day' thing over at Mental Kipple. Thanks to those who have offered services, but I'm pretty well set up with Flickr and my WordPress blog.