Life is hard in episode 11 of ’24 Hours in A&E’
This week’s episode focuses on patients and families whose good humour and positivity helps them to cope in tough circumstances. Life can often deal out tough hands to people but with the right frame of mind, it’s possible to rise above very difficult situations. This episode proves it.
84-year-old Paula has been referred to St. George’s by her GP for urgent treatment. A routine blood test has detected that Paula has a dangerously high level of potassium, or salts, in her blood.
“High potassium can be quite dangerous, but you can appear very well,” says registrar Matt. “When it gets to a very high level it can be toxic to the heart and cause your heart to go into cardiac arrest.”
Paula’s had tough times; she’s lost three husbands and one of her six children. Her mother treated her very badly. “If I did anything wrong, she used to pull me up the stairs by my hair and all she would feed me would be a slice of dry bread and a mug of water. When I was seventeen and I became pregnant, I was a disgrace to the street and my mother put me in the workhouse. She didn’t want to know me.”
But Paula has bounced back through her good humour. “I like making people laugh, make them smile when they’re a bit down,” she says. “I like helping people, it makes me feel good.”
74-year-old Derek is brought into A&E after suffering a suspected stroke. He had a sudden severe headache and his wife Mary noticed he was confused.
Derek and Mary are devoted to each other. “He’s a lovely likeable guy. He reminds me of my father, old-fashioned,” says Mary. “When we met we felt like we’d known each other for years. We just hit it off straight away. I met him in September and we got engaged in November.”
Derek worked as a driver on film sets and used to come home to Mary with lots of stories. “He loves Sandra Bullock,” says Mary. “She wasn’t stuck up or anything, she chatted to everyone.”
A CT scan reveals that Derek’s had a bad bleed in his brain and is taken for emergency surgery. Mary is determined to help Derek recover.
Meanwhile 31-year-old fireman Glenn has come in to A&E with his twin brother Dean suffering from a suspected abscess in his throat. The pair are inseparable and even finish one another’s sentences. “We’re very similar in a lot of way, but he’s brains, I’m brawn,” says Glenn. “But he’s not that brainy and I’m not that brawny.”