Jimmy is lying in bed, rolling a fag.
‘I’m not going in, so don’t ask.’
‘Please don’t smoke whilst we’re in the room, Jimmy. We’ll stink of fags all night.’
He leans over and takes a swig from his vodka and coke instead.
I can’t help laughing.
‘What’s so funny?’
‘It’s not exactly funny, Jimmy. It’s more bizarrely frustrating. You’ve got chest pain. You call the ambulance. We come and have a look at you, we say: yes, you’ve had an MI in the last twenty-four to forty-eight hours and you need to come to hospital, and you say no. I must admit I don’t get it. Why did you call if you didn’t want help?’
He shrugs, puts the fag in his mouth, then remembers what he’d said and takes it out again.
‘I don’t know,’ he says. ‘I thought maybe you could do the bloods here and that’d be that.’
Jimmy had an MI last year. He knows exactly what’s involved.
‘That’s not something we can do on the ambulance,’ I tell him.
He smiles and shrugs again. ‘Then I’m sorry for wasting your time.’
He closes his eyes, laces his fingers behind his head, and leans back against the headrest. His expression is one of complete satisfaction, like a giant cat that’s just finished snacking on a delicious bird. He’s infuriating and entertaining in equal measure.
‘Look. Jimmy. Let me be as clear as possible.’
‘Fire away,’ he says. ‘It won’t make a blind bit of difference.’
‘You’ve got a history of MI. You’ve had chest pain and shortness of breath for the last day or so, and the GTN hasn’t helped.’
He nods, but keeps his eyes closed.
‘Now you’ve started getting pins and needles in your left arm and a funny feeling in your neck and chin.’
‘Yeah, it’s weird. That’s what freaked me out a bit. I didn’t get that last time.’
‘Okay. Fine. Our ECG shows you’ve recently had an anteroseptal MI. We haven’t picked up anything more acute than that, but like I’ve said, this ECG isn’t definitive. You need to go to hospital for bloods and further tests. Otherwise…’
‘How will I get back?’
‘How will you get back?’
‘Yeah. I know for a fact those tightwads won’t get me a taxi.’
‘Jimmy – that’s the least of your worries. You’re heart’s under a lot of strain at the moment. You could have a cardiac arrest and die. I don’t mean to worry you…’
‘Oh! I’m going to die! Thanks for not worrying me.’
‘I’m just trying to be clear, Jimmy. If you don’t come to hospital you might well suffer a cardiac arrest and die. So what do you think about that?’
‘About staying here and dying.’
‘Fine by me.’
‘It’s not though, is it, Jimmy?’
‘Look. Thanks for coming out and everything. I appreciate it. But I just thought you could do the bloods here and I wouldn’t have to go to the hospital. I’m not hanging about for hours with the doctors coming by every so often scratching their nuts going hmm and ok-aay and interesting and all that, just to turf me out in the middle of the night to walk home in my onesie.’
‘The thing is Jimmy…’
‘Go on, then. Tell me the thing.’
‘…the thing is, our jobs are on the line.’
‘You’re having a heart attack…’
‘You just said I wasn’t.’
‘No I didn’t. I said you’d had one recently and you might well be brewing another.’
‘In your opinion.’
‘In my opinion.’
‘So how’s your job on the line?’
‘Because we’re the last clinicians to see you. And when we’re called up in front of the Coroner to explain why we didn’t take you to hospital, he’s not going to be too interested in us saying Oh, well, Jimmy didn’t really want to come because he was worried about getting home again. He’ll say Maybe Jimmy didn’t understand what you were saying, God rest his soul. Maybe you could’ve tried harder to convince him. Maybe you should try some other line of work. And he’ll throw us out on our ear. For what? For a ten pound taxi fare?’
‘You’re not going to give me ten pound, are you?’
‘No. I’m not.’
Jimmy shrugs.‘I’m staying put, then.’