TW: Elderly/social care, suicide, death
On Monday evening, I was attended to by our hardworking emergency services. I was going to comment on my luck but couldn’t decide if ‘lucky’ or ‘unlucky’ was a more appropriate word; ‘lucky’ that the NHS provided such wonderful paramedics to aid me in an unlucky time of ill health; ‘unlucky’ that my chronic illnesses caused a collapse at work and issue with my heart causing my admission to hospital following.
But I think lucky maybe is the word. NHS cuts are spreading across all areas like a wildfire, so I’m more than grateful that I was treated by some wonderful clinicians named Matt and Eamon,if I correctly remember (though things truly were foggy and their names are the least of my worries).
It took a while for me to fully come round,post collapse, but when I did, one of my paramedics was talking about his career with me; he truly has crammed a lot into his life, being in the police, armed forces, ambulance service and even going back to uni this year. On the topic of his current job, the TV show ‘Ambulance’ was raised. I’ve been totally hooked on this real life programme (and it has always made me feel emotional about the fact one of my best friends is going to be training to be a paramedic soon) and it turns out my paramedic commutes from the Midlands himself and actually knows Mel from the show.
One thing he did was talk me through the workings of the show.Although we may not want to believe it, we know the paramedics are likely handpicked, having backstories and cases of convenience, but that’s not what I’m here to speak about.
When chatting, the storyline following a man who was rescued but ended up dying of secondary drowning cropped up. It was a storyline that really got to the nation; first, we thought he’d been saved (the paramedic went on to explain drowning and secondary drowning to me and it’s unpredictability); second, the circumstances.
A lady called 999 after a man supposedly fell in a lake whilst fishing due to a heart attack. Later it was suggested he was having a fit, and when they fished him out to find him in an electric wheelchair, they presumed he fitted whilst driving by the lake and navigated himself in by accident. Both of these theories were proven wrong when it was revealed neither happened and the man shouted things such as ‘I want to die’ ‘don’t let me live’, ‘I don’t want to live anymore’. The poor eighty-something man was trying to commit suicide.
Now, this really got to me. For reasons of mere human emotion, and because it made me think about my grandma of that age. Luckily my grandma is supported and surrounded by love but what if she didn’t have us?
Upon discussing this, the paramedic sitting in the back of the ambulance told me this is a growing issue. I was told of the amount of call outs the ambulance service faced to elderly patients trying to end it, or having a mental earth crisis. This scared me. We tend to forget about mental health in the older patient; we seem to forget about mental health enough generally.
After discussing this sad revelation with friends once out of the hospital, it was the general consensus that this was a social issue. Elderly patients with no family or financial support due to the state’s lack of support and it is NOT acceptable.
Although many people may know of the state’s general inadequate support service, they likely will not know of the many attempts elderly patients have carried out to end their lives as a result of this. That’s why I wanted to write this post.
I hope this will become a visible issue soon enough and we can work together to make people feel less lonely in this terrifying world.
Love always, Lauren xx