You might want to put down any food you’re currently eating . . .
In 2003 I commenced paramedic training in Brisbane, Australia and as part of the course we shadowed operational paramedics for a week to prepare us for going on road. One morning we received a dispatch call for a “22 year old female, severe difficulty breathing” (a call of this seriousness would normally be accompanied by additional pertinent information and so was a bit suspicious) but still we zoomed there under lights and sirens.
On arrival I walked straight to the front door whilst the two paramedics retrieved their gear. On knocking urgently, a grubby fat young slob casually opened the door and just looked at me in my uniform. I informed him of the emergency call we’d received to this address and he responded “ah yes, that’s for my girlfriend. Be careful where you walk – the pups have been a bit messy”. By that he meant that their three puppies had been allowed unrestrained shitting for the past six months and as he opened the door fully, I saw turds EVERYWHERE. Some were squashed completely flat from being trodden on, others were dry, some still moist. The two paras arrived and we followed the boyfriend in. I was so focussed on where I trod, that I didn’t see the patient until I was at her feet.
The stench became almost overwhelming. As I looked up, I saw a mechanised reinforced recliner chair, a light brown fluid splattered all over it. Fallen by its side was a similarly splattered weight bearing table. And there on the ground, emitting guttural sounds from a yet unseen head, was our patient. Naked, massively obese, her reddened, sore skin glistening with the same light brown liquid. It transpires that she lives in the recliner 24/7, at night she reclines and in the morning, up she comes again. Because of the pain she would be in because of this, she is permanently on opiates but opiates cause constipation. The constipation is worsened by a diet of cake and biscuits (wrappers littered the ground around her chair). She has a bowel motion once every 5 to 9 days and so suffers (among many serious conditions) faecal vomiting. The chair has a third setting which is to push her to an almost standing position whilst she leans on the weight bearing table. The boyfriend positions a bed pan behind and pulls the ass cheeks apart to allow the shit out, but sometimes liquid shit spurts out, rebounds off the back of the chair and splashes onto everything. This makes it all too slippery for the boyfriend to handle, and so down to the ground she slides. Her lungs were being crushed under her own weight and the respiratory muscles were struggling to get air in.
I was told to manage her head and in order to do so, I pushed away another chair and saw cockroaches flurry. As I supported the head, I noticed faeces around her mouth. They didn’t even bother to wipe shit from her face! My partners slid a sheet underneath her to help with lifting. As they withdrew their arms, I distinctly remember thinking how the latex gloves need to come up to the armpit as I witnessed the different shades of gunky (tummy-fold) slime extend up to their elbows.
I heard the fire fighters arrive and fixed my gaze at the door to catch their facial expressions as they surveyed the scene! That gave me a quiet giggle.
Once we had her naked, diarrhoea covered body back up on the diarrhoea covered chair, she sat with ruffled greasy hair, faeces around her mouth and declared in a surprisingly upbeat tone “Well! That was a all a bit of excitement!” I didn’t realise at the time that anti-depressants gave her the ‘positive vibe’. So when my partner asked if she suffered a UTI (urinary tract infections are common in the obese) she responded with an enthusiastic “YES!” as if she’d just won at Bingo and I naively advised her that a UTI wasn’t a good thing to have.
I was stunned when I enquired as to why we weren’t transporting her. The guys explained that her situation was no longer a stand-out case and is now accepted as merely ‘lifestyle choice’.