Making our way towards the community entrance of the block of flats we veered around the many upturned wheelie bins and assorted detritus of this secluded area of ‘No Hope Estate’. With the resus bag, monitor and big green bag carried between the two of us we stopped at the main door and pressed the big steel buttons on the communication panel. Trying to avoid the dried, and not so dry, remnants of someones meal that had come back up to see how the world was doing I pressed the flat number.
A metallic voice at the other end answered “Yeah? Who is it?” sounding mightily pissed off. “Hello, Ambulance!” I replied thinking that maybe we had the wrong address as were they not expecting us in the first place. Or were we lower down on their list of priorities ie. ‘drugs…extra strength beer…ciggies…shopliftling’? A buzzer sounded letting us pass through the main door and into the entrance hallway which reeked of cheap disinfectant but was spotlessly clean!
Luckily for us the flat was on the ground floor and within seconds we were squeezing down a dim passageway loaded with all our kit. At the end was a door leading into the lounge or living room. On first sight I had to blink a few times to readjust my vision after emerging from the dim passageway. A single bright lightbulb burned fiercely away in the middle of the ceiling which highlighted the fact that this room was very brown. Brown ceilings, brown walls, brown furniture and brown floor covering. But this brown was mostly made up of nicotine not paint or wall paper!
“Who have we come to see?” I asked the middle aged male who had shown us in. He points to the young female sat on the edge of the settee and states “Her!” “The daft bitch who should know better!” Noticing a slight atmosphere in the flat I ask the female what is wrong with her? “I’ve got a chest infection and me inhalers are not working!” Noticing, apart from her dishevelled appearance and her grey bra which was once white, a hospital bracelet on her wrist I ask how long she has been out of hospital? To which she replies that she discharged herself an hour ago against the advice of the doctors and nurses.
Seeing, and hearing that she has a wheeze, we put her on some oxygen and do some baseline observations. Everything points to a bad chest infection and we advise her to go back in which she agrees to. The boyfriend is not happy! But I’m more concerned about the bruises on the young womans arms which look suspiciously like finger marks. Once on the truck and settled down I ask her about the bruising. It turns out that they are injection bruises from where she has just recently started to inject heroin.
I ask her why she injects rather than smoke it? “Well I cant smoke it cos of me chest infection can I?” So in her twisted sort of reasoning she finds it safer to inject so as to not worsen her chronic asthma! I feel at a loss as to comprehend how far some people will let drugs take them over. It seems that her life, her home, her entire reason for exsisting is based around ‘Brown’.
Common Sense is a Rare Commodity!