Health Magazine

‘Tis the Season….

By Ambogirl @ambogirl1

Full of festive spirit.  Yes, that would describe the majority of my patients during my forthcoming run of night shifts leading up to, and including, Christmas Eve.  Not the cheerful kind of festive spirit of course.  More the alcoholic kind.  Not just your frequent flyer alcoholics either, or your regular weekend binge drinkers.  Oh no, this time of year brings out another type of drunk, the Christmas reveller!  These people are the kind that drink very little if anything at all during the rest of the year.  Then decide in their infinite wisdom to celebrate Christmas with their fellow colleagues by drinking their own body weight in alcohol.  When the relentless onslaught on their unsuspecting  liver, kidneys, stomach and bloodstream reaches it’s final crescendo, their body decides enough is enough and they proceed to projectile vomit. Usually in the pub toilets (but not always) and either pass out on the toilet floor or get escorted from the pub by the endearing and sympathetic doormen.  After being unceremoniously dumped on the pavement they either pass out (again) or stagger in the direction of the nearest dodgy area of town.  This usually results, at some point shortly after, in a phone call requesting our services.

Arriving to the sight of a patient lying on a pavement covered in their own vomit (and probably someone else’s now too) I have to admit does not flood me with a wave of excitement, the adrenalin is not flowing because I am about to save a life.  I try to gain some form of response from the snoring patient by shouting above the noise into their ear (expertly avoiding any contact between my face and their vomit-matted hair) but ultimately the only response I’m going to get is to pain.  ’I've already tried waking him up love, he’s unconscious’ says the drunk do-gooder who made the phone call.  After a moderate painful stimulus is applied by myself, much to the astonishment of said do-gooder the patient miraculously regains consciousness and mutters a few obscenities in my general direction.  Charming.

After a few brief observations to establish that the patient is in fact drunk (really!) and not diabetic and hypoglycaemic, hasn’t had a stroke, and is not injured, we skilfully guide the inebriated gentleman now resembling a slippery salmon up the steps to the ambulance and onto the incontinence sheet-covered stretcher.  He is already snoring away again as we heave him onto his side and notice that he has also urinated all over himself.  Vomit bowls and paper towels at the ready, the lucky attendant (me) gets to monitor vital signs, catch vomit whilst remaining entirely unsoiled and evade any drunken punches or if I’m really lucky, groping. All the while trying to obtain more details other than just his first name. It takes practice.

Sadly, this type of job is all too common.  It’s not an ambulance they need but a sober person to keep an eye on them overnight, some fluids and paracetamol ready for the thunderous headache they will have by the morning, and a stern talking to.  Police are now reluctant to lock them up, charge them with being drunk and incapable and let the custody sergeant have a quiet word in their ear, for fear of anything happening to them.  So instead valuable ambulance and hospital resources are wasted looking after them.  That said, the ones we pick up are the lucky ones, unfortunately others stumble into the road in the path of oncoming vehicles, some may make it home only to choke on their own vomit during their sleep because no one is watching them.  Tragically, a few wander off aimlessly to become the victims of a beating or a mugging or even become disorientated and lost only to be found dead days later in a ditch or be fished out of a river or marina.  A family in North Wales is currently fearing the worst following the disappearance of an 18 year old man after a Christmas party last Friday.  My thoughts and prayers are with them. Personally, I’d rather be called to them on the earlier occasion.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

And to quote a fellow blogger (I’m sure he won’t mind)

Be safe…..

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