Sunday, 12 June 2011

Head Injury

Barely a cupboard under the stairs, the tiny top-floor room in the residential care home had no more than a bed, a two-door bedside cabinet and a tiny sink. The floor space was almost entirely taken up by Jasmine, and she was no bigger than a ten-year-old. As I walked in through the door, the sloped ceiling made me tilt my head to the right a little, just to make sure I walked in unscathed. 

From the look of her, Jasmine looked like she weighed no more than a wet tea-bag, and even then after the water had been squeezed out. Her skin was dry and fragile, veins spidering up arms so thin they seemed as though they would snap like sun-dried twigs. The red tinge to her thinning white hair gave away a secret, as yet unseen, cut to her head. She lay there confused and a little disorientated, but a winning smile crossed her face. 

"I'm not too sure how I ended up here, but I think I'm alright. Just get me up and I'll get right back on that gin that must have floored me in the first place!" 

"Now, Jasmine, if you'd have said whisky, I'm your man, but not gin. Might have to leave you on the floor until you can choose a proper drink."

The care home staff looked horrified, but Jasmine saw the funny side. 

"You'll do as you're told, young man! Now get me up so I can see exactly who I'm telling off." 

With the help of one of the carers, Jasmine was lifted off the floor and helped to a chair. It was the first we saw of the damage she'd done to her head. 

"You're going to need a trip up the hospital, I'm afraid. That's quite a nasty cut you've got on your head." 

"I'm not going anywhere, but back to bed." 

"Jasmine, your scalp looks like you've put a cat-flap in it - it needs sticking back together again. It's that impressive, that I can almost read your thoughts!" 

"I'm NOT going to hospital!" 

"See! I knew you were going to say that!" Jasmine eyed me suspiciously, a small, half-smile giving away her amusement. 

I tried to replace the flap of skin back in place and hold it all together with some bandaging. The carer who helped me lift Jasmine off the floor started to feel faint at the sight of the injury, so I sent him to get something completely irrelevant, allowing him to get some fresh air and maintain some dignity. 

As he left, the ambulance crew arrived, the two-wheeled carry-chair in hand. Having spent a few minutes explaining, cajoling and joking with Jasmine about her injury and the need to have it treated, she finally agreed. We helped her into the wheelchair, wrapped her in a blanket and secured her with the belt.

"At least I managed to arrange a blanket that matches your new hair colour. Anyway, I'll leave you with the  friendly ambulance crew, I'm sure they'll be nicer to you than I was." 

As they turned the chair around, Jasmine said a polite "Thank you", and I turned back to sort out all my bags. 

"I'll check on you a bit later at the hospital if I get the chance, make sure you're behaving yourself." 

"You do that. I look forward to it. And make sure you don't forget that gin!" 


"Oh. Alright then. Make it a whisky." 

With that, Jasmine was wheeled into the lift and taken down to the ambulance for the short journey to the hospital. I tidied up the mess of packaging, wrapped some of the blood-stained bandages in an inside-out glove, picked up all my luggage, turned to leave the room, and without looking up properly, walked head-first into the low sloped ceiling.


Anonymous said...

"With the help of one of the carers, Jasmine was lifted off the floor and helped to a chair." Really??! Are yo sure that was a proper nursing home you were in?

RapidResponseDoc said...

Lovely!! Never saw that coming (and neither did you...)

Nicki said...

You have a wonderful way with your patients! I wish all medics were that caring! Sorry you got whacked in the head though...totally undeserving!!

InsomniacMedic said...

Anon - the help was forthcoming, if a little reluctant...
RRD - the only thing I saw coming were stars spinning!
Nicki - Thank you. Most medics ARE that caring. Thankfully...

Amy Whittaker said...

I do love this. As a fellow EMT (not having worked yet as an EMT I'm afraid, :( ) I am encouraged to see medics like you. It really does make the incident a little less embarrassing, scary and confusing. Keep up the great work, you are extremely appreciated!