My Hair Hurts

 

 
 
 

Guy H. Haskell | | Thursday, January 12, 2012


I wish I had kept a list of silly calls over the years. There are, of course, certain ridiculous dispatches that are unforgettable—the best one is x-rated and therefore not appropriate for a family-oriented publication—but I’m sure there are dozens of wonderful examples that have faded into the sands of time and gaps in my atrophying synapses. “Pt. states his hair hurts” is unforgettable, but unfortunately the actual run itself wasn’t memorable. Nevertheless, a few gems still remain in my memory.

It was minutes before the end of the shift and, of course, the tones went off for a “sick person.” We marked en route and checked the MDT for details. I was driving. My partner says, “You’re not gonna believe this one.”

“Try me.”

“Caller states she put lotion on her leg, and she is having a reaction.”

Well, kinda silly, but hey, she could be having a systemic reaction to a topical cream, right? I mean, it’s possible, no?

We get to the apartment complex, and there isn’t a number on a building or apartment. I tried using The Force to locate our patient but got nothing. Then, a citizen came running around one of the buildings and lead us to our destination.

The apartment wasn’t too bad for that neighborhood, but it was a little strange—not what you’d call clean, but it was very, very neat. OCD neat. Shoes lined up with geometric perfection neat. As this fellow lead us up the stairs to his wife, seeing a dozen pairs of shoes so precisely placed on the steps, I asked, “So how many kids to you have?”

“None” he answered, incredulously.

“Well, I thought, because of all the shoes” I stuttered.

“They’re ours,” he said. Oops.

So we mount the stairs and he motions us to a bedroom. I scan the room and notice about ten Bic lighters on a dresser, all lined up perfectly like soldiers, all facing precisely the same way. On the floor of the bedroom is a large blanket. Lying prone on the blanket, propped up on her elbows, is a thirty-something female with prodigious hindquarters, in underwear and a T-shirt.

She explains to my partner, who’s in charge on this call, that the back of her leg hurt and she had applied pain relief ointment to it. And now it burned. My partner—a young, earnest medic—asks to see the ointment. Deadpan, with a tone exuding gravitas, he reads from the box, “Causes a burning sensation when applied. Ma’am, it says right here on the box, ‘causes a burning sensation when applied.’”

“But it’s been burning since yesterday. I can’t stand it.”

“Did you wash it off well?”

“Yes.”

“Put ice on it?”

“Yes.”

“Put cortisone cream on it?”

“No.”

“So what would you like us to do?” my partner asks.

“I don’t know, don’t you guys have something to stop the burning?”

“No ma’am, it’s just doing what it’s supposed to do. Do you want to go to the hospital?”

“What can they do for me there?”

“Nothing I know of, but we gotta ask.”

I chime in, “Ma’am, it’s a long shot, but we can try one thing. Now, you have to understand this is not scientific. It probably won’t work, but it can’t hurt. I’ve heard sometimes it helps. My radio emits low level electromagnetic pulses through the microphone that can alter the polarity of the epidermal cells and may provide some relief. Do you want me to try it?”

“Sure” she said.

So I took the radio off my belt, turned down the squelch, and slowly passed the lapel mike about half an inch above the affected area several times. “Like I said, can’t hurt.”

It took us a few more minutes to get the information required for the Statement of Refusal and her signature. Just as we were about to leave, she flipped over on her bottom, sat up straight, and said with a big smile, “I think it worked, it feels better.”

“Glad to hear it ma’am. Have a nice evening.”

Another satisfied customer.
 




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Related Topics: Patient Care, Special Patients

 
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Guy H. HaskellGuy H. Haskell, PhD, JD, NREMT-P, has been an EMS provider and instructor for more than 25 years and in four states. He is a paramedic with Indianapolis EMS, Director of Emergency Medical and Safety Services Consultants, LLC, firefighter/paramedic with Benton Township Volunteer Fire Department of Monroe County, Indiana, and Clinical Editor of EMS for Gannett Healthcare. Contact him via e-mail at ghasell@indiana.edu.

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