Steve gave me a scare yesterday evening.
It started off gently, as these things do. Late in the afternoon, he got a headache, and decided that the sensible thing to do would be to scoff half a packet of biscuits and a paracetamol tablet. He hates taking any kind of medication and only does it when there's no alternative, but it seemed to help a bit, and after a while we started thinking about dinner. We decided that fishfingers held about the right level of challenge for the evening and turned on the oven to preheat.
Steve started on the washing-up, but then he started feeling worse again and went for a lie-down. No problem, I do that all the time. So I took over the washing up, a little bit at a time like I do. About half an hour later I had finished. The oven having preheated, I decided I was feeling well enough to manage to heat up some fishfingers without close supervision, so I called up the stairs to see how many he wanted.
So I clambered up a few stairs and shouted again. And again. No response. That's quite unusual. Certainly unusual enough for me to think it worthwhile crawling the rest of the way up the stairs to investigate. I found Steve in bed, sound asleep. Aww, bless. I sat on the bed next to him and tried to wake him up.
"Steve, wake up, it's dinnertime."
"Steve?" gentle shaking "I just want to know how many fishfingers you want."
Rather more enthusiastic shaking "Steve, wake up, stop pissing about, this isn't funny."
So I tried a few more things. The only things that got any kind of physical or audible reaction were very loud noises, vigorous shaking, and pinching him - and even then, it wasn't words, his eyes flickered but didn't open, he didn't try to pull away, he just flinched and grunted. I could not wake him up.
Now don't get me wrong, Steve is the sort of man who has deep affection for his duvet. It's practically impossible to get him out of bed and up and dressed unless there's something concrete that he has to do, like go to work or catch a train. But it's fairly easy to wake him up and he goes from asleep to responsive and brain-functioning really quickly.
Knowing how much he detests doctors and hospitals, I tried another tactic. I shook his shoulder until I got another grunt out of him and then told him loud and clear "If you don't wake up, I'm going to call 999."
Crap. This really wasn't just a love of the duvet. Something was wrong, and to do nothing and assume he'd wake up in a little while would be tantamount to negligence. But, on the other hand, he was breathing quite normally and wasn't turning funny colours, no blood, no limbs missing, no trauma, and he wasn't totally out-cold-unconscious, so was 999 appropriate?
My first thought was to call the GP, but quite apart from the fact that it was Saturday evening, Steve doesn't have a GP. Heigh-ho, NHS Direct it would have to be.
After 15 minutes on the phone to NHS Direct, giving all relevant details, and prodding and shaking and shouting at Steve as instructed (and still getting no response), the nurse put it to me that this was not normal and that she would like to put me through to a 999 operator in order to send an ambulance so that Steve could be checked over.
I come out with some stupid comments sometimes. But, "I'm sure he'll come round in a minute," after trying to rouse him for close on half an hour, has to be in the top twenty at least. She put me through.
Ambulance Control already had a certain amount of information from NHS Direct, so I just had to confirm my address and stuff. At that point, apropos of nothing, Steve moved. I told the 999 guy this, but he said that even if Steve properly woke up, he needed to be checked out anyway, and that in the meantime, I should stay with Steve, make sure he kept breathing, help him if he vomited and so on.
"No problem," said Mary.
"OK," said 999 guy. "The ambulance is on the way (I'd heard they weren't allowed to say that). Shut away any pets, open the front door of the house, and wave down the ambulance when it gets to you."
"No problem," said Mary. "Thank you. Goodbye."
As I hung up, I realised that it was in fact physically impossible to stay with Steve, in the bedroom upstairs, and also open the front door, which (and I realise this is rather unoriginal) is downstairs. Added to which, it takes me over a minute to get myself up or down a flight of stairs at the best of times. And I hadn't thought to mention this to anyone.
Just to make things even better, at this point Steve stirred again, sat upright, went horribly pale, and fell back down onto the bed again. Well, mostly onto.
Swearing may have occurred. I got him settled, although still not awake, then slid down the stairs to unlock and prop open the door. Then I sat four steps up the stairs, so that I would be able to hear any movement from Steve upstairs or an ambulance outside.
The ambulance arrived a couple of minutes later. I lurched forwards to greet it... as Mr Dazed and Confused staggered out of the bedroom to find out what was going on (well, that's what he says he meant, this being the first part of the proceedings that he has any recollection of. At the time it came out as more "wstfgl?"). He reached the bottom of the stairs at about the same time as the ambulance people. Half an hour of no responses to anything I said or did and then seconds before help arrives, he's up and about. I though only toddlers were supposed to do that?
Poor Steve then got his finger stabbed and a light shone in his eyes and cold things stuck to his chest while he was still barely awake and wondering why there were loud people in green outfits in his house. I think he'd have preferred a cup of coffee. Still, he was steadily waking up more and more, so I was happy about that. I think given a choice between feeling like a wally, and rushing to A&E with an unconscious boyfriend, I'll opt for 'wally' every time.
Eventually, the ambulance people decided that he didn't need to go to hospital but that he should see his GP (ahem) and probably see about getting painkillers that aren't paracetamol-based. I don't believe Steve has any intention of doing anything so sensible, but it was a relief to be able to re-set the evening from 'hospital?' back to the original plan of 'fishfingers'.
He's fine, though. There are two ways of telling.
Firstly, he won't stop teasing me, big meanie that he is. :(
Secondly, the ambulance people left behind the finger-stabbity-clicky thing. It's meant to be single-use. It's not any more. Engineers...