Like many of my colleagues who work in a range of health care roles, I have got used to and don’t usually mind, being asked for medical advice by family, friends or occasionally even relative strangers when off duty.
We get used to the unexpected knocks on the front door or approaches at social events. They are part and parcel of life for us. In fact have lost count of the number of times that someone has pitched up on my doorstep in a state of panic following some incident or another take these real examples;
- An hysterical young mum whose baby had been covered, head to toe with the entire contents of a tin of gloss paint by her toddler – Dulux Bright White – in case you were interested. Only his little eyes and tongue remained pink, cute!
- A plumber – cut to the head when a frying pan fell on him while working in my neighbour’s house! That’s what they said and I believe them!
- A neighbour called me to help her friend, a man definitely old enough to know better, who had been enjoying a bevy or three at her party and then decided to have a cheeky bounce on the trampoline – dangerous combination by any standards – he had fractured a vertebra during a failed somersault attempt!
- And not forgetting a very young lad who had panicked when he cut himself practicing some premature shaving – bless him!
I didn’t mind any of these; I’m a good natured soul, but then there are also the numerous phone calls and generally speaking, I don’t even mind any of these either. One such call even came while I was on holiday feeling slightly tipsy on the local vino “Lysa i’ve been in a fight and I got hit on the head with a bottle, there’s blood everywhere, can you come?” Clearly not!
But it’s not just my altruistic tendencies coming in to play here; it is also the hope is in the back of my mind, that when I need to call on these friends and neighbours – they will be there for me. And indeed, so far this has always proved to be the case. It’s a win-win situation.
BUT –what I do object to is being disturbed and then having my professional advice ignored. Take this example;
“Hi Lysa it’s only me sorry to bother you, but I have this dreadful central crushing chest pain, I’m sweating like a pig and feel sick, and I’m not sure what to do”
“You should hang up and dial 999 immediately, it may be that you are having a heart attack” I reply.
“Oh no! I have to be somewhere in an hour, can I just call the doctor in the morning do you think?”
“No – my advice to you is to call for help right away”
“Ok well thanks for that – I’ll probably leave it for a bit though sorry if I disturbed you”
Then there is the call during the early hours of the morning. At first I thought I was the victim of a dirty phone call as a breathless voice gasped;
“ I can’t breathe” wheeze “What shall I do?” wheeze.
“Take your medications and call for help straight away” I replied once I had woken up enough and established what was going on.
“But it’s very late now“ wheeze “I’ll see how” wheeze ” I go” wheeze “ for now” wheeeeeze!
And this is when I really object – Do not wake me at three in the morning to ask my opinion on what action you should take next and then IGNORE IT! Now you have made me aware of the problem I shall have a sleepless night wondering what has become of you and that just isn’t fair! If you simply want to find out what you should be doing during your health crisis, try calling NHS Direct (0845 46 47) and if you chose to ignore their good advice, well that is your prerogative because a) they are being paid to be awake at three in the morning dishing out advice and b) I will be none the wiser and can sleep soundly in my bed!