Bank holiday Monday, and the weekend had already been much of a disaster, I was just hoping that we could get through the day, well famous last words. Today was going to be no different than the way the rest of the weekend had panned out except this time one trip to A&E wasn’t enough, Chris was going to make it two!
The morning started off pretty normally, waking Chris up, breakfast, wash, dressed, sorting out the girls, watching them having the most amazing time outside on their trampoline. Preparing them their lunch, and generally having a pretty average day, the only thing was Chris mood was low, it wasn’t improving and as he was pacing around, getting more and more agitated I was starting to worry about him. I asked him at varying times to give me a number from 1-10 with 10being the worst, he wasn’t able to give me anything lower than a 9, for most of the time he was scoring 10’s. It was now I was realising we needed to get him some help, prevention is better than cure and after Friday night and his overdose I wasn’t going to take any chances and followed the only plan we seem to have, and took him to A&E.
Arriving in A&E we waited to give his details to a lovely receptionist, before taking a seat and waiting to be called through. I was a bit anxious as well because we had never used the psychiatric liaison nurses in there before and didn’t really know what to expect. Triage called Chris through and he expressed a wish, once again to see someone regarding his mental health, we were told to sit in the waiting room and they would call us through shortly and true to their word someone did. Across the tannoy came Chris name and we made our way through the doors where we were greeted by a nurse, she showed us through to the special room, with two quick escape doors, four very heavy, sturdy looking comfy chairs and a big brown boxy looking table. This room was plain; it was however slightly more appealing than the last time we found ourselves sitting in it.
She started by introducing herself as a psychiatric nurse, she asked what had brought Chris to there today, what was going on, what he was thinking, it was the same old questions once again, she asked for a copy of his care plan, only problem is, we don’t have one, in fact, I’m not even sure what is written on it! After a brief chat about what had been happening, including his plans of suicide and means of harming himself she said she would ask the home treatment team (crisis team) to visit him and help him through what seemed to be a difficult time, that she would also speak to the doctor about getting him some more of the medication he had run out of, this would however take around twenty minutes…
I stood outside the hospital in my usual spot, with Chris beside me, thinking about what had just happened, how honest Chris was and how little emotion she showed towards him, I felt like once again it was a case of if in doubt, give him more medication, drug him up. She came out to find us, carrying a piece of paper with the home treatment teams number written on it, they were going to come out to him the following day, at three thirty. I couldn’t help but think why we had gone up there, Chris clearly needed help now, help that wasn’t drugging him up and help that wasn’t going to follow twenty four hours later, or he would have held on for the community team the following day. We took the paper, collect his medicine and called for a taxi back home. Chris was no different, he was anxious, agitated, shaking and really down, you only had to look at him to know there was something wrong.
We arrived home, I thanked his dad for watching the girls, and he got on his way. I made their tea, put the littlest ones to bed and started about the usual household chores, dishes, clothes, tidying, putting away shoes and toys with the help of my eldest. It was now around seven thirty and I was taking her up to bed, she was tired and it had already gone past her usual bedtime of seven o’clock. I snuggled her up into her bed, gave her a big cuddle and a kiss and turned out the light. This is when I usually go and pick up any dirty washing on the landing, have a quick clean around the bathroom, and then I went downstairs. As I got to the bottom step, where my front door also is, Chris was about to leave the house, I asked where he was going, he seemed slightly confused and not quite himself, his speech was a little slurred, he told me he was going out but wouldn’t answer why or where. I became suspicious; I knew I had seen this before, when he has overdosed. I went to the bin, the safe and the cupboards to find out what he had taken. Managed to find the empty blister packets of tablets he had taken along with the empty bottles, gathered them all on the table and asked him why. He was too tired to string a sentence together, I told him to sit on the sofa while I called his dad who said he would come up right away. While I kept talking to Chris and asking him questions and reassuring him he was ok his dad arrived and rang an ambulance. I took Chris pulse it was 154bpm, his dad was asked loads of questions and then told that help was on its way but that we might get a phone call back from a medical professional.
I left Chris with his dad and went to turn on the outside light, it was dark outside with a slight cool breeze, and my body was shaking in reaction to what had happened. I stood for a moment to gather my thoughts. After quite a long time waiting, perhaps twenty minutes of popping in and out from Chris to check if they were there, realised this ambulance was going to be awhile I shut the front door and helped Chris dad keep him awake and responsive. This was now by no means an easy task, luckily the healthcare professional rang us back, he asked loads more questions and said that an ambulance was coming but we could be waiting up to an hour, did we have any means of getting him to hospital quicker. Sadly we didn’t, this had been a last resort.
I heard a big clunk of a door closing outside it was the ambulance almost one hour after we called, out stepped two men, one carrying a bag and the other introducing himself to me, I let him in and pointed him in the direction of Chris. One sat at the table looking closely at all the tablet packets, the other went to Chris and started to get him more alert, took his blood pressure, blood sugars and asked various other questions, checked his pulse and yes 156bpm, he announced he was ‘very tachy’ and would ‘need to hook him up to the machine on board.’ Once they were happy they had everything they needed they asked if anyone would be going to hospital with Chris, to which I said I would. He managed to get a very dizzy Chris to his feet and accompany him into the ambulance where they lay him down on the bed. I followed closely behind and sat in the chair they had pointed to. Our journey to hospital was pretty short, loads more questions were asked, he treated Chris with the upmost compassion and understanding, he didn’t judge and he made Chris feel like he was valued and not a hint he was wasting his time or not worthy of the ambulance. All throughout the journey he remembered and used my name, I was quite struck by that, normally healthcare professionals remember their patients name but never the relatives, that really stuck with me.
They pulled up into the ambulance bay outside A&E where we had only been standing a few hours before, they took Chris inside and I followed, while we waited for the nurse they were asking where my accent was from and sharing their knowledge of London with me. Soon Chris was taken to a cubical where they helped move him onto the trolley. They told Chris they hoped he felt better soon, and to stay and get sorted. I thanked them ever so much for everything they had done, I told them the ambulance service is the only group of professionals that I have come across that have never been judgemental to Chris or myself and I was truly grateful to them for their compassion and understanding. They brushed it off like it was no big deal and they do it for everyone, I don’t think they realised exactly how big a deal this is to people like Chris and me. So thank you to the two men from North West Ambulance service who crewed Chris ambulance that night, you were amazing.
No sooner had we seen off the ambulance crew, did I get a tap, tap, tap on my shoulder followed by a ‘Hello Mrs B’ now there is only one person known to call me Mrs B and that is my old next door neighbour, who is also a frequent A&E visitor but for very different reasons to mine. ‘Mrs K?’ I said as I turned around, it was indeed Mrs K standing in front of me. She asked what I was doing there before taking one look at Chris and another at the vomit bowl filled with tablet packets sat between his legs. ‘Oh Chris’ was her answer. But why was she there? Well it wasn’t one of her adventurous children this time it was her next door neighbours who we also knew, seeing as they were once ours too, now this was starting to feel like a reunion and less like a hospital trip!