Monday, June 22, 2009

There's hope for every one of us.

I saw evidence of it yesterday evening. Amid a weekend of some really bad calls, a miracle of sorts.

Backstory: Jake* is an infamous drunk in his 70s who resides in our area. Just the mention of his address over the air is enough to send medics spiraling into a cuss-fit of which any Touretter would be proud. It would be one thing if ol' Jake were just a drunk. We see enough of those every day that it's not a big deal. But Jake would, in a sense, hold the crews hostage in his smoke-filled living room, while he drank his vodka and smoked and ranted and raved and repeated himself 8,000 times. There was cat food strewn everywhere. Cigarettes left burning in every room. Empty bottles of vodka as far as the eye could see. It got to the point where we wouldn't even engage Jake in conversation when we arrived... just tried to get him moving toward the door. Sounds like poor patient care and - truth be told - maybe it was. But to stand there, feeling your lungs and clothing alike absorbing the acrid cigarette smoke, watching Jake as I did one day chug almost a full fifth of cheap rotgut before he'd leave with us ... that wasn't helping him either. You'd think you were making progress and Jake would sit back down, pull another fifth out from under the chair cushion, and slur "Jushhh waita minishh there guyssshh..."

Anyway, the tones go off, and I hear Jake's familiar address. Before they're even halfway through dispatching us, I've muttered "Rrrrrgh, I hate that guy" at least 4 times. I thought we were in the clear. We hadn't heard from ol' Jake for so long I assumed that maybe he'd gone to the great Liquor Store In The Sky. My partner had never had the pleasure of transporting Jake, so I briefed her on the way. Don't ask him what's wrong. Don't let him start a conversation. Just start moving him. Toward. The door. Sure it sounds hard-assed and a little silly, but anyone who's dealt with someone who is hammered know that you have to deal with them much the way you do an ornery toddler: Do not reason with them. Do not give them an opportunity to flip out. Just redirect them toward what's best and safest for them and even better if they think it's their idea.

Imagine my surprise when we walk in the door and find Jake sitting in that same damn chair - think Archie Bunker's chair - stone cold sober. No cigarette smoke. No empty vodka bottles. No full ones, for that matter. Not even an ashtray in sight. You could understand him when he spoke, and dare I say - he was quite a pleasure to talk to, sober. "Jake, you quit drinking?", I exclaimed, unable to contain my grin.

"Yep. Six weeks now."

"You know, Jake, I like you a lot better sober."
"Amen, honey. Amen.", said Jake, a grin of his own on his face. Something I'd never seen.

Well, I'll be damned, I thought. If Jake can quit drinking then I don't see how I can have any excuse to be powerless over food.

So we promptly walked out the door with Jake and took him to the ER for his cat bite that happened 2 days ago - Oh yeah ... he's still an ambulance abuser. But at least he's not an obnoxious drunk ambulance abuser.

God bless us, every one.

*not his real name... Duh!!! (HIPAA)

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