We have just had a very sad weekend. We invited my Aunt Ruth round for her 88th-birthday dinner on Saturday evening. We were five: me, my wife, Ruth, and her two sisters: my mother and my Aunt Violet.
The dinner was a huge success, but about 30 minutes after sitting down in the lounge for coffee, Ruth began complaining of an ache round her lower back, and a piercing pain just under her breastbone. She had had indigestion occasionally, so we gave her the usual solution of bicarbonate of soda.
This gave her relief for a further 30 minutes, until both pains became worse and she began feeling sick. We knew this couldn’t have been because of the meal, for the rest of us were fine. Ruth’s abhorrence of hospitals, doctors and all forms of medical attention made us think twice about getting help for what seemed like a simple stomach upset.
She was clearly in great distress, however, so I called G-Docs. Ninety minutes later, the doctor and her driver arrived. The doctor administered morphine and an anti-nausea drug, then conducted a rudimentary heart scan. “I’m worried this is an aneurysm,” she said, and asked me to call 999. An ambulance arrived 30 minutes later, and half an hour after that Ruth was on her way to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, with my wife holding her hand.
They got barely more than five miles down the road when Ruth’s heart stopped. After 20 minutes of heart massage and a further emergency paramedic team being summoned from Aberdeen, Ruth was pronounced dead in an ambulance at the side of the road at 0150 on Sunday.
We have yet to hear the formal findings from the medical authorities, but all the advice from the attending doctor and the paramedics is that an abdominal aneurysm was responsible. A weakness in a major blood vessel ballooned and eventually burst in the ambulance, causing massive internal bleeding and Ruth’s heart to stall. Even in an intensive-care unit, virtually nothing could have been done.
We are very upset, as you can imagine.
Please, if anyone around you begins complaining of lower back pain and starts vomiting, learn from our experience. Call 999 immediately. It’s much more serious than you think.