A teaser for episode six of ’24 Hours in A&E’
This week’s episode focuses on freedom, independence and renewal.
27-year-old tree surgeon David is airlifted to St George’s after falling forty feet from a tree. He hit several branches on the way down, landed head first on concrete and was knocked unconscious for ten minutes. The medical team need to urgently assess David for internal injuries. “Twenty feet triggers a major trauma call. Forty feet is a long way,” says emergency care nurse Sally.
David’s mum was killed by a drunk driver when he was only four years old. “I remember playing in the kitchen with my dad and my brother and the front door bell rang. It must have been horrible for the policeman because I ran up to the door and opened it myself,” says David. “All I remember is the policeman coming in with his hat by his side and everyone was crying and I didn’t understand why.”
As a result, David has always wanted to live each day to the fullest, taking risks. “When I rock climb and tree climb it’s the only time I feel awake and alive,” he says. “I’d rather be out there living my life than trying to protect myself.”
74-year-old Anne arrives at St George’s with a sharp pain in her chest. Anne was sent to a convent boarding school when she was just three, but she rebelled and was expelled and put in an asylum at the age of eleven. “I had every diagnosis under the sun. They said I had schizophrenia, personality disorder,” she says. “They made me like a zombie. I was very frightened. I used to smash all the windows to get out.”
Anne was released from asylum after thirty years. “I’ll never forget my first night in my flat, it was like heaven. To think I was free, I could do as I want,” she says. Anne’s now making up for lost time.
51-year-old taxi driver Mark has come to A&E after lacerating his finger picking up some broken glass from the road. Mark’s partner Jane is with him. Jane has been very ill with diabetes, ending up in intensive care. She has since lost nearly half her bodyweight and feels it’s given her a second lease of life. “There’s been so much of my life where I’ve either not had the confidence or the fitness to join in with things,” says Jane. “You opt out of doing a lot of things. I want to start opting in.”
Meanwhile 92-year-old Betty is brought in by ambulance after being found with slurred speech and a shaking hand by her carers. Daughter Karen is soon by Betty’s side. “I’m very much the carer now, but we do create an independent illusion,” says Karen. “I think the hardest thing as you get older is giving that independence away, it’s the cruelest thing.”
Emergency care nurse Sally wouldn’t swap the challenges of her role for an easy life. “This is the most stressful job I’ve ever done, without a doubt,” she says. “Could I get a job for more money for less hours? Yes, absolutely. Do I want to do that? No.”