I used to feel guilty about calling 999. In fact, I still do a little bit. I used to worry that I wasn’t sick enough, that I was wasting people’s time and didn’t want to make a fuss for nothing.
With asthma, it’s a bit clearer when to call 999. You can’t breathe and your inhaler isn’t helping so you go to a&e or ring an ambulance. But sometimes with adrenal insufficiency you just get a whole load of low cortisol symptoms at once and a feeling of ‘you’re in trouble and need help’.
I said this earlier this year to a paramedic who treated me. He said it’s often the patients who actually need the ambulances that hold off calling whereas lots of people who don’t actually need an ambulance don’t think twice. He pointed out that the worst case scenario for me as a patient with adrenal insufficiency is that I could die if I got it wrong, put off ringing and didn’t get help quickly enough. But if it all turned out to be ok, nobody would mind because of the fact that I have a life-threatening, complex condition. He also said that patients like me tend to ‘put up with’ more than patients without conditions before ringing for help, because we’re so used to having to make decisions about our care ourselves that we forget it’s ok to ask for help if we’re worried or unsure.
He told me about some of the call outs paramedics have to attend for silly reasons. A minor headache with no paracetamol taken. Ongoing back pain lasting for a year and with no worsening symptoms, they just decided that right then was the time to deal with it. Someone needing help with their TV remote. Sore feet from having been shopping all day.
I don’t feel as bad for calling 999 now. I don’t misuse the emergency services and I only call if I’ve got to the end of what I can manage myself. What the paramedic told me last time definitely eased my mind when I needed to ring 999 this time though.
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