I thought to write this several months ago, but just never got around to it….. And then, to be honest, I pretty much totally forgot about it.
Just about a month and a half ago (or maybe it was two and a half months (I can’t remember now if this whole thing happened the end of August or end of September) I was faced with a dilemma that had me seriously questioning what to do.
The story actually begins a few days before the actual event when my husband came down with a bad cold (which he had managed to pick up from my son). No big deal, right…. And for the most part you’d be correct. As it turned out, however, the cold kept getting steadily worse and worse (but still no red flags or anything of concern)….
Fast forward to Saturday morning. My husband “wakes up” – I use quotes there because he had been having trouble since the evening before and hadn’t been sleeping well. We had been doing the whole “self-treat” bit (still no major red flags and hadn’t wanted to go in just to be told “you just got a cold – nothing we can do, et al”). Anyway, hubby “wakes up” and is definitely having a hard time with breathing (but not necessarily what you might classify as a “difficulty breathing call” – or maybe its just me not wanting to be a burden
Ohhh, I should probably point out that my husband is in a wheelchair. He is semi-ambulatory (less so since the stroke a few years back). The combination of the cold, along with lack of adequate oxygen had left him weak. Even with myself, he wouldn’t have had the strength/ability to transfer from the bed to the chair to the truck.
So here I am with a husband that needs to go into the Urgency Care Clinic (not necessarily Emergency Room) and no idea how to even get him there. It wasn’t a question of transportation. We had that….. It was a question (or rather a problem) of how do I get him to the doctor when I can’t even get him into the truck. I was getting frustrated not knowing what to do or who to call…. and husband was getting frustrated and agitated as well. I think somewhere in there he might have mentioned 9-1-1, but I’m always of the mindset that 9-1-1 is for EMERGENCIES, and that I don’t want to be a burden/call for no reasons. Being new to the area, I had no idea what my options were for assistance in this matter…. At one point I called the local hospital to ask advice and was told that if husband needed to get to a hospital and I had no other options that 9-1-1 was the best choice. I’m sure there are varying opinions out there as to whether or not the lady I spoke to was right or wrong in her advice. I’m not even going to try and validate one way or another because, to be honest, I don’t have the expertise in which to do so…..
Needless to say, feeling incredibly guilty but at the same time totally at whits end (and probably nearing tears at this point). I bite the bullet and put in that call to 9-1-1 (might I add feeling like an incredible louse) scared that they’re going to check my husband out and tell us he’s perfectly fine.
As it turned out we learned (after he was hooked up to the nifty machinery by the paramedics) that his O2 Sats were down in the low to mid 80’s….. Holy Moly that’s not a good number (in fact it’s down right terrible). He later ended up in the hospital for several days with multiple infections including respiratory and urinary (and I believe an overall viral infection).
One, if I had known his O2 Sats were down that low, I wouldn’t have been pussy-farting around (pardon me) on how to get hubby to hospital and whether or not to call 9-1-1…. I’d be have been on the phone punching out that number…. Don’t get me wrong, I would certainly never want to abuse the 9-1-1 system and call when there was no reason, but low 02 Sats in a disabled husband who is weak to transfer on his own (and which I can’t transfer him myself).
And thought number two. What is the answer to this kind of dilemma that I was faced with. Ok so in the end it turned out to be the right thing to do, given the low O2 Sats….. But taking that out of the equation…. Was it the right thing to do?
There’s a bit of a duality (or maybe it’s a contradiction) in thought process here. On the one had we’re taught that 9-1-1 is for EMERGENCIES only (If you got kids you probably remember teaching them (or remember them being taught through school, etc) that 9-1-1 is not a game/not a toy….. But then we’re taught, if in doubt call. And, for those of us who follow along with discussion, there’s there’s talk of those dreaded “B.S” and “you called us why” calls of fame – the kind that I don’t want to be associated with having been accused of doing. Perhaps I am oversensitive and air on the side of being overly cautious about calling (I tend to hem, haw, and drag my feet – not a good thing).
I know I’ve doen a bit of rambling and to be honest…. I don’t have an answer or even an idea for an answer. I know there’s been the idea pushed around about community paramedicine – which seems to be geared towards the idea of giving the community the tools necessary (ie education, etc) on preventative medicine, self care, and knowledge on monitoring their health….. All well and good. What about situations where you got someone who has a definite need to be seen by at the hospital, but doesn’t require all-out lights & sirens, pedal to the medal, balls to the wall response time – say with someone who is in a wheelchair or an elderly.
Thoughts? Ideas? Opinions? In the end do you think the advice/decision to call 9-1-1 was the right thing (O2 Sats not withstanding)? What about the Contradiction/Duality of 9-1-1 is for Emergencies only vs If in doubt call?
I’ll have a (somewhat) related blog out, probably tomorrow) that looks at the various levels of types of calls in relationship to a ladder (think rungs).
Good Night all