Friday, August 16, 2013

the vanishing point

Pull-along suitcases, handbags and briefcases, strollers, bikes, phones, watches, coke cans and coffee cups, suits, shorts, skirts, hats, flats, heels – all moving out across the booming concourse, through the archways and ticket halls, beneath the iron and glass canopy of the station forecourt, around the taxis and the buses and the cars, out into the bright afternoon sunshine, and on into town.

Around a man in a fluorescent tabard, a man in a wheelchair.

I recognise the man in the wheelchair: Matthew, a frequent flyer.
‘Hello!’ I say as we approach.
‘This is Matthew,’ says the railway man, leaning in. ‘He told a member of staff he’s got chest pain.’
‘Chest pain? Okay. Have you still got the pain, Matthew?’
He nods, reservedly, not looking up.
‘Let’s get you on the truck and talk there,’ I say. ‘It’s a bit more private. Is this your chair?’
The railway man nods.
‘We’ll just use it to get Matthew on board if that’s okay, then we’ll give it back.’
We do that, whilst the railway man talks into his radio.

Matthew sits neutrally on the trolley, hands in his lap, spindly legs stretched out. He describes his symptoms.
‘Let’s see what the ECG shows,’ I tell him.
Everything checks out. It always does with Matthew – although to be fair, he normally presents as leg pain / weakness and / or stroke.
‘How are you feeling now?’
He stares at me, his eyes rounded out, filmy and grey. I feel like I’ve broken into a mausoleum and woken him up.
‘I’ve been better,’ he says.

The last time I saw him it was late at night and he’d just been discharged from A&E. He’d made it about five hundred yards down the slope to the main road, then lain himself down on a grass verge. It had just started raining, a heavy shower, the kind that when you tip your head back and look straight up, the droplets strike your face in hard, cold lines running out endlessly from the vanishing point.
You can’t just lie there, Matthew. It’s the middle of the night. It’s pouring with rain.
We help him up.
Where’s your rolator?
He shrugs.
In lieu of anything else, we take him back up the slope.

I show Matthew the ECG strip. He turns his eyes in that direction, then back again.
‘What would you like to happen now, Matthew? We can’t find anything wrong, but obviously these tests aren’t definitive. Would you like to go to hospital?’
He considers that a while, then nods.


jacksofbuxton said...

I've said it before Spence,and I'll say it again.

Rubber gloves,rubber hose,rubber cosh.

That'll sort them out.

Spence Kennedy said...

But where would he keep them?

I wish there were better alternatives. It's such a waste. But at the moment, our hands are tied. You'd think it'd be worth trying to find alternatives. The number of frequent callers isn't that high, but they do use up a disproportionate amount of resource. But of course, if someone complains of chest pain, they might be having an MI. And in this increasingly litigious society, who would risk a claim of negligence? (Even if the person says they've got chest pain every day of the year) A tough & frustrating situation, Jack.

BTW - if I didn't already know you were a barber, I'd have guessed you ran a hardware store... :)