I was being ushered into the house by the patient’s immediate family. Their looks of grave concern was matched by their eagerness to get me to the patient as quickly as possible. This sort of behaviour generally makes up your global overview of what is going on and how serious the situation potentially could be.
I therefore decided not to make ice breaking jokes at this particular time and instead, took it as serious as the atmosphere dictated.
Inside were more family members, some of the older women crying. They all ushered me upstairs to where the patient lay on a bed, one hand clutched to his chest, the other wiping tears from his face.
He appeared a young man in his 30’s, and didn’t appear to be having a good time. I slowly dumped my bags and lifepack machine, taking in more of what was going on as I did so.
“Hiya guys. My name’s Binder, I’m a paramedic, what seems to be the problem here then?”
The patient, now crying more and clutching at his chest harder, motioned with his spare hand, toward his chest and head whilst shaking his head and crying more tears.
I could see at this point that he had good colour, no sweats and was breathing fine. Something wasn’t right though. I raised my eyebrows to the surrounding family.
“He has pain!”
“Uh huh . . .” I said, as if to say, ‘go on’.
“He has pain in his heart!”
“In his heart?”
“Yes. In his heart. Right there” She pointed at the patient’s chest.
“You mean in his chest?”
“Yes. In his heart”
“In his chest or in his heart?”
“Yes. In his heart. All over”
“So, . . . never mind” I moved forward to the patient and addressed him directly.
“Where exactly is your pain sir?”
“Right here” He said, slowly placing his palm over the centre of his chest
“When did it start?”
“And here” He added, placing his palm slowly on his head
“So you have chest pains and a headache?”
“Pain in my heart”
“Pain in your heart?”
“And pain in my mind”
“In your mind? Do you mean a Headache?”
“My heart and my mind”
His puppy dog eyes were full of tears as he looked up to me forlornly. And with theatrical expertise he sighed and and turned away to stare out the window, continuing to clutch at his chest and head.
Something definitely wasn’t right here. Something I’d seen before. On one or two jobs ages back. What was it now. What was so wrong with this. What was it now . . .
Ah yes! I remember now.
And just like that I stood up. Still looking down at the patient I turned my head slightly to address the family all gathered in the room.
“So. This pain in the heart sir . . . do you actually mean your heart is broken? Do you have a broken heart?”
“Yes. My heart broken. Completely. WHY! JANA, WHY?!!”
This last words set of a new set of tears. The family all rallied round and pawed at his sadness. I stepped back out of the way. And without altering the glazed expression off my face and without staring at the patient through the crowd of family, I pulled the handset radio from my side and called up Control.
“Hiya Control. Cancel down any extra resources here. Nothing needed. I’ll um . . . sort this one out”
“Thanks X895*. Red Base Out”
And after a “full” set of obs and a carefully directed talk to the patient and family on what constitutes a 999 call, I left them to it. In my car I face palmed and chuckled before heading off to my next life saving adventure.
*not my real call sign of course