Terry Prone: Impressed by health service after Bryan’s bloody dash to Beamount

He gave me concise instructions as to how to get to the A&E and a minute later, I pulled up with a scorched rubber noise in front of a line of ambulances, writes Terry Prone
Terry Prone: Impressed by health service after Bryan’s bloody dash to Beamount

Nurse holding Blood bag for patient in hospital stock image

HAVING conducted two visitors through a tour of my Martello tower last Sunday, I was having a cup of coffee, looking out over the sun-shimmer sea, when Bryan appeared, one hand pointing at the ceiling, the other hand clutching the wrist of the first hand. He was also dripping blood on the floor. He doesn’t do this often. Mostly, he does gardening and painting.

He stood there and apologised, which nearly created a conversation where I said he was welcome to drip on my tiles any time, sure wasn’t it lucky I didn’t have carpet? I skipped trying to find out what he was sorry for and ascertained he had accidentally brought his full weight to bear on the blade of a Stanley scraper. Even though he had his wrist clamped by a strong hand, blood was pulsing out between his fingers, which suggested an artery had been cut.

“Beaumont?” I asked and he nodded. I belted him into my car, since he was short of a couple of hands to do it himself, closed the door and off we went. At this point he went into full shock, shivering all over, which worried me because I have no idea how to get to Beaumont Hospital from my house so was relying on his directions. Through clenched teeth, he got me onto the M1, where I drove in an inspired way that made me expect Garda sirens and seriously irritated a few sedate Sunday drivers.

I was also experiencing by-stander regret. First of all over not doing a tourniquet, although the only time I did a tourniquet before, maybe 30 years ago, it frightened the life out of me and my patient by sort of concentrating the blood and speeding up its expulsion. Instead of a forearm releasing a decent flow of the red stuff, my tourniquet achieved a small fountain. 

So maybe I had done him no disservice by leaving him hand-clamped. On the other hand, I did regret not making him a cup of hot sweet tea before we left, although time had seemed to be the essence and getting him into competent hands outweighed, as a priority, getting hot sweet tea into him. Or calf’s foot jelly, which I vaguely remembered as the only other thing it was good to get into the sick and injured, although that wasn’t handy either, and the nearest thing I had, a jar of Bovril, might be a decade beyond best by date.

To slow his heart beat and persuade him he’d be mighty in no time, I decided to get him talking. How painful was it? He took a minute to work out if the pain was caused by the cut or the clamp. Pretty painful, he admitted. Given that he has the highest pain threshold available — he never, ever complains of pain — that meant it was agonising. 

Then he apologised for bleeding on the car seat, which, it has to be admitted, he was doing with some commitment. 

I told him that he hadn’t even lost a pint of blood by that point, and had oodles more in him. He said “Six.” “Six what?” I asked, changing lanes. “Six pints,” he said. “That’s the amount of blood we have in us.” “See,” I said, reluctantly obeying a red light, “you haven’t even lost a sixth of your supply.” He looked unhappy about this and told me I was not to tell his wife and worry her. I didn’t point out that I don’t have his wife’s phone number so how the hell could I, even if I was in the mood to worry her? Since I hadn’t managed a tourniquet or a hot sweet tea, I thought he was crediting me with a lot more initiative than I had. However, I concentrated on getting the two of us to Beaumont alive but soon.

By this time he was sitting in a pool of blood but the shaking had died down and we were in the grounds of the hospital, which boasts circuitous roads. He gave me concise instructions as to how to get to the A&E and a minute later, I pulled up with a scorched rubber noise in front of a line of ambulances. One of the ambulance men looked up from where his bottom was planted on a window sill and started to rise to tell us we couldn’t halt there. 

I ran around the car, opened the passenger door, released Bryan’s seat belt and he stood up and bled convincingly at the paramedic, who subsided, nodding him on his way as I went to park the car. By the time I got back, someone had mopped up the blood drips, which was impressive, given this was Sunday morning when you wouldn’t expect our health service to be that quick. 

I asked at the reception for him and the nurse was delighted to see me. I could provide the family details she hadn’t got from him, she told me, pulling a flip chart toward her and getting ready for me to divulge. I was his mother, right? No, I said, I wasn’t. Furthermore, I didn’t really know his family details. Or even his address. Well, sit over there, she said, losing interest in me. “Over there” turned out to be a clutch of chairs, each glassed-in on three sides like someone had started to make telephone kiosks and realised there was no market for them any more.

I sat over there and texted Bryan. A few minutes later he texted back, claiming to be possessed of three tourniquets, which I thought impressive but probably justified. They were going to transfer him to Connolly, he added, because he needed surgery and by the time a Beaumont surgeon became available, he would have lost too much blood. God, yes, I thought, seen as how you have only six pints to start with. He had let his wife know and I could go home and he was sorry for bleeding in my car.

They transferred him to Blanchardstown and operated on him and when he came out of the anaesthetic he texted to say he was in overnight and that he had realised he had told me something untrue. We have 10 pints of blood apiece, in general. Not six. He had no idea where six had come from. I didn’t tell him, having spent a couple of hours swabbing his blood out of the car, that he was lucky he started with 10 because he’d left at least two in the passenger seat area. And that him being in shock might affect his normal knowledge of blood supply because less of whatever amount he still had would have been reaching his brain.

He’s now plastered about the wrist and will be for six weeks, which is not great, but impressed to death by the health service. You win some, you lose some…

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