My First Ambulance Call

I had never imagined that one day I would call an ambulance for a painful foot.

At first it was the mild discomfort resulted from an exhausting 13 km jog (mixed with walking) on a Sunday morning. That afternoon saw a slightly reddened first toe joint on my right foot. I didn’t pay much attention because it happened many times.

On the following day, 13 June, Darling and I went to Legoland as planned. I applied medical ointment and bandaged the toe before I left home. At Legoland, I took off the bandage because it felt uncomfortable. It was mildly painful throughout the day.

The condition persisted for another two days. The joint became swollen on 16 June. Since I could not join Darling for jogging, I brought my Brompton to cycle alongside. Then we went to Changi Airport. The joint suddenly became seriously painful there, perhaps due to excessive exercise.

So I decided to go to Ho Hong Meng Chinese Physician and Acupuncture Centre at Tampines, which I had trusted for long time.

One day after the treatment, the joint was no longer swollen. But because I could not assert force on the toes, my body weight was mainly on the ankle, and that led to a painful right ankle on the following day, 18 June. I did the usual stuff: medical ointment, bandage, massage.

On the morning of 19 June, it felt a bit better, but still had great pain when walking. On the afternoon, however, it suddenly worsened. I could not walk without Darling’s help. Darling suggested we should go to see a doctor. After Darling helped — almost carried — me to the void deck, I realised that I could not make it even to the street to take a cab. So I asked Darling to help me buy some Salonpas patches. The patches were working, but once I started walking again, I almost collapsed.

Ambulance was the next logical option. Since it was not an emergency, I did not call 995 for SCDF but 1777 for private ambulance. I was in the ambulance after some 40 minutes of waiting.

This was the first time I called an ambulance and the first time I was in the ambulance as a patient. It was quite old and shaky. I held Darling’s hand, which gave me lots of comfort and warmth.

We arrived at A&E of Ng Teng Fong General Hospital at Jurong East. The ambulance cost S$150, cash only. We did not have so much cash. Darling had to go to IMM to withdraw money to pay for it.

While she was away, I tried to go to the toilet in a wheelchair. Although I had no problem navigating, I could not open the door. An old gentleman helped me. After using the toilet, I attempted to open the door from inside but failed. The same gentleman came to help me and pushed me to the waiting area.

After the initial examination by a nurse, Darling tried to push me to a wheelchair spot near the consultation rooms. A gentleman came to help us when he saw we had problems.

After almost two hours of waiting, we entered the consultation room. The doctor asked me the same questions that the nurse asked two hours before, and he said my ankle pain should be due to mild gout. He decided the five steps of treatment: blood test, to check kidney function; painkiller, both injection (Tramadol) and tablets (Suniton); lowering blood pressure; X-ray, to check my ankle joints; gout tablet (Colchicine).

My kidney function was normal. Like a few years back, Losartan worked well on me, lowering my blood pressure significantly. The painkiller injection and tablets  relieved much of the pain, but still I could not walk without assistance. The X-ray showed my ankle joints to be normal.

I requested to buy a pair of crutches. This was the second time I used crutches. The last time I used them, I borrowed from a clinic.

The doctor offered me medical certificate of three days, and prescribed Losartan (for hypertension), Colchicine (for gout), Suniton (for pain).

When we were waiting in front of the pharmacy, I felt a bit feverish. Darling touched my forehead and said it did warm up. It might be a side effect of the drugs. Darling went to look for the doctor but could not find him, but a nurse attended to me. Another nurse checked my body temperature and it was 37.2℃, half degree higher than usual, but it was not a fever.

We collected the medicine, made the payment. A nurse pushed me to the taxi stand. It was almost midnight and the taxi stand was empty. I requested a taxi through ComfortDelGo app and soon we were in a taxi back home.

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