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Patient Care

“I Can’t Breathe!” you keep using those words…

blog engineI don’t think they mean what you think that they mean.

It has been a long time since I asked “You called 911…for this?” mainly because I moved on from that attitude and learned to embrace my inner adult.  No in a creepy way though.


Units dispatched for the 62 year old male, trouble breathing. 0510 hours.  Rescue and Ambulance are responding code 3, I add myself as the Captain just in case we have a serious case.  Hey, sometimes it is and I’m glad I’m there.

This was not one of those times.

We arrive and I grab the suction unit from the rescue and we all head in, still wiping the sleep from our eyes as we weave through the long line of people at the security checkpoint.  When we reach the front the TSA supervisor indicated that he has no idea who we’re there for when I spot a man waving to us holding a tissue in his hand.

He sneezes.

“Ah, everytime I fly I get stuffed up, I can’t breathe,” he says, nose clearly clogged.  He looks like the exaggerated cold and flu commercial;  Red nose, slightly watery eyes, sad look on his face. “I need something for the pressure. I can’t breathe.”

“What medications are you taking right now?” I asked casually as we slowed the ambulance and set down all the gear nearby.

His answer will not surprise you: “Nutting, why?”  I smile as he is unable to pronounce certain syllables.

We impress upon him the need for common medicines for congestion as all assessments reveal a healthy 62 year old suffering from flu like symptoms.

“Is not da flu, I got my shot.” Another wipe of the dry, red nose.  I cringe just thinking about it now.

“It doesn’t work that way,” my Medic tells him listening to his lungs and giving me a nod.  All clear.

Each time I walk past a shoppe in the airport, I note who carries what medicines, especially for the kiddos.  Out comes the notebook and I indicate shoppes nearby who sell medication that could help his symptoms.

“So you can gib me sumping?” he asks, wiping his dry, red nose…again.  “No,” I reply, “how about we walk over and I’ll help you choose the right medicine?”

He refused, citing the need to make his flight to avoid missing his connection.  Despite my warnings that the change in pressure while flying may lead to discomfort, pain and an increase in symptoms, he signed our form and went through the checkpoint.

I truly hope he stopped into the shoppe near his gate and got something, otherwise my counterpart at his destination is going to have the same conversation with him.

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