I work with an incredible group of people - men and women who have dedicated their lives to rendering medical assistance as Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics. These folks have devoted countless hours to perfecting their chosen professions and they treat their patients with understanding, concern, and care. How they treat fellow employees when it comes to medical issues is another story!
Anyone who has read some of my postings here may recall that I mentioned getting a sunburn a few entries back - in particular a sunburn on the top of my feet. Even though I had gotten the sunburn last Monday and it seemed to be healing in most spots, the burn on my left foot just didn't seem to be making any progress towards getting better. I had gotten permission from the Director of Operations to wear civilian clothes over the weekend as the thought of trying to put my boot on was not appealing at all even though I had crammed my feet into them on Tuesday and Wednesday. Damian granted said permission so I spent Saturday and Sunday hobbling around the dispatch center in my stocking feet.
Towards the end of my shift on Sunday I asked the on-duty supervisor if he might be able to extend my "civilian clothes" status to Monday as the burn was still pretty bad and suggested that perhaps he take a look at my foot to verify my claim. Now - let me just say that even though I have been dispatching ambulances for the better part of three years now and have gotten somewhat adept with medical terminology, I have no medical training whatsoever except for CPR certification. I can no more look at someone and say "oh, you're having tachycardia with bouts of hypertension and diaphoresis" then I can rub my stomach and pat my head at the same time. As far as I was concerned my foot had a bad sunburn and that's where it ended. Okay, so it was quite swollen, looked black and purple in places, and was extrememly painful but it was a sunburn, right? Wrong!
One look at my foot and Jeff said "that's not a burn, you've got cellulitis". I've got what?? Cellulitis. Definition: an acute inflammation of the connective tissue of the skin, caused by infection with staphylococcus, streptococcus or other bacteria. In addition to getting Jeff's diagnosis, my foot was examined by Sean (a medic), Russ (a dispatcher who's been an EMT forever), and Wayne (a former dispatcher who's an EMT going to school to be a medic) and the overall consensus was that I needed to go see a doctor unless I wanted to consider losing my foot sometime in the not-so-distant future.
So it was off to the emergency room at Backus, a place I hadn't been to since last year's three trips for my screwed-up back, and an hour later I was discharged with my foot wrapped in guaze, a pair of crutches, two prescriptions, a doctor's note to be out of work for several days, and orders to keep my foot elevated and avoid stairs. Okay, so it wasn't just a burn ... duh!
Today was my first day back and as I hobbled around still trying to get the hang of using crutches for the first time in 47 years do you think I got any sympathy from the good medical providers that I work with? Heck no! "For crying out loud what did you do now?", "Do you want a wheelchair?", and "Cellulitis is something old people get" were amongst the remarks I got to hear. Oh well, I guess that all of their sympathy and understanding go to the patients in the field that they treat which is as it should be but I just want to remind them of one thing ... they have an in-time and out-goal ... hint, hint!