We were racing down the road on blue lights and finally saw our patient waving at us from the other side of the road. We swung the ambulance across the traffic and screeched to a halt beside him.
He was standing by a telephone box clutching at his chest and was attempting to look in immense pain. I wound down the window.
Binder: You can take your hands off your chest now Alan. And please stop making that ghastly face, there’s a good fellow.
Our patient did as he was told and his face reverted back to a frozen expression of placid morosity.
This was Alan* – a regular caller. Alan is an average looking middle aged man whose facial expressions would remain simple and plain for every mood of the day. He would make his way to various locations, chosen non-strategically around London and call for an ambulance complaining of chest pain. He’d shuffle rather than walk and his head always seemed to face forward. This meant he’d only used his eyes to look in different directions and as such this made Alan a strange enigma – as you were never quite sure if anything he was doing was a complete act or not.
After all our checks pointed toward inevitable clinical normality – for Alan – we set off to Hospital.
On arrival I went on ahead to boot open the doors to the A&E Triage area. Stepping in majestically I spoke with a loud and deep voice.
Binder: And now, I present to you . . . the one, the only, the most legendary . . .
Pausing, I checked behind me and saw that Alan was still shuffling toward the outer doors. Looking back I could see I’d gained the attention of the entire department.
Triage Nurse: Who?
Binder: I’ll let you guess
Triage Nurse: Alan?
Grinning, I stepped aside to allow for Alan’s grand entrance. He shuffled past staring ahead. Upon seeing Alan the entire department cheered and applauded. Apart from a couple of drunken patients waiting to be seen – who looked bemused.
Triage Nurse: Alan! Good to see you again – chest pain is it? Come this way . . .
He took hold of his arm and gently led him away.
*not his real name