Thursday, January 27, 2011

A medical emergency

One can laugh at it all now, but as events unfolded it was a serious and frightening matter for all concerned.

We do not usually attend an annual get-together for members of our local Residents’ Association. This winter we did.

With our bought ticket came a drink, to be followed (much later on this evening) by small bites. With this in mind, we had enjoyed a bowl of soup beforehand, hoping for more substantial fare at the party.

My selection from the drinks on offer was a pint of Guinness which, with another half a pint lasted the one and a half hours that I stood, making the usual conversation that one does on such occasions.

Then, when enough was enough, I indicated to Margreet that perhaps we should make a move toward home.

So I passed her on my way to the door, where I suddenly felt a bit faint. So I sat down. She saw my plight and we left.

What I had not realised was, that standing for so long and with a comparatively empty stomach, and with one and a half pints of the black stuff inside, the blood in my body had drained downward, depriving my brain of enough of it to sustain normal life.

As the pub venue was near to our home, I had not bothered to wear a coat – even on this cold evening. The low temperature of outside air, after the very hot interior of the bar room, should have been bracing enough for full recovery.

It seems that I moved rather slowly toward home, where, having unlocked the house door with some difficulty and help, I fainted, collapsing from my considerable height to form a pile of limbs, set in a pool of blood from the head.

Margreet, in trying to keep me upright, fell on top of me. I had passed out, to a state of complete unawareness.

On regaining consciousness, I heard Margreet shout for help. She thought I was dying.

Neighbours rushed from their houses, and Margreet, beating on a nearby doctor’s door without success, left bloody stains on the paintwork in the process.

One neighbour, unknown to us as a doctor, recommended that I lie still until help, in the form of an ambulance, arrived.

Not only very cold as I lay uncovered on freezing flagstones, I was now a little damp in the lower regions.

The ambulance men helped me aboard their vehicle and tested me to decide on which hospital I should be taken to. Charing Cross was decided upon.

There, with equal courtesy, compassion and professionalism, I was subjected to a variety of tests for brain and lung function – and sewn up with stitches at the source of blood from my head.

Doctors recommended an overnight stay to check on brain damage. There was no sign of any. (After all, on crashing an aircraft in the war, my head had knocked two instruments out of the instrument panel without ill effect.)

Margreet collected me in the morning, and I continued life just as before, but with some aching joints, and awareness that at future “dos” I should be prepared to sit occasionally and to eat well beforehand.

Out of it all came the added awareness, if it was not already quite plain, that I have a wonderful wife, and that our National Health Service is, in an emergency, beyond reproach.

Except, one item did surprise me. When being allowed to depart from the hospital, a doctor wondered aloud what to record as the reason for my admission to Casualty. On reading from my hospital notes that I had consumed a pint and a half of Guinness, she decided that the reason for my trouble was alcohol.

So, when next you read a statistic that hospital casualty departments have admitted a certain large number of alcoholic cases for emergency treatment, please deduct one from the total.