Ambulance stories (16)

Don’t look in the carrier bag

In the 1980’s, people in their late 70’s had been through the Second World War. The women in particular had endured special hardships. They had been left to cope without support from husbands, fathers, or brothers; often managing a life torn between work, and having to cope with young children, or trying to bring up large families. They did this during bombing raids, with rationing in force, and often having to work in hard, manual jobs, previously done by the absent men. It made them resilient, it hardened them to pain, and they also learned not to complain about things, as it made little difference. By the time they had reached old age, they were a force to be reckoned with.

One morning, we were called to an elderly lady, to take her into hospital for an arranged admission. Her age was given as 78, and the diagnosis was; ‘gynaecology-expected’. This could mean almost anything in the area of ‘women’s problems’, though due to her advanced years, it was unlikely to involve reproductive issues.

On arrival at the house, not far from the hospital that was expecting this lady, I was surprised to see her waiting at the door for us. When she saw the ambulance pull up outside, she waved to us, and began to lock her door. I got out to see if it was actually the patient, as it may well have been a visitor, or relative. She confirmed her name, and said that she was ready to go, handing over the letter from her doctor, as he had instructed her to do. I asked her if she had any bags, and she offered me a small, vinyl case, that was as light as a feather. I noticed that she was also holding a supermarket carrier bag, clutching it close to her leg, in an awkward manner. I offered to help her with that too. She smiled at me and said, “Better not, love. Me fanny’s inside it.”

This remarkable old lady had suffered a complete prolapse of the vagina. It had dropped down between her legs like a grotesquely swollen sausage skin, and though uncomfortable, was not unduly painful. Her simple remedy for this inconvenience had been to pop it into a handy carrier bag, and walk around with it, awaiting our arrival.

They don’t make them like her anymore, that’s for sure.

27 thoughts on “Ambulance stories (16)

    1. Here’s a definition, Kerin.
      ‘Vaginal prolapse is a condition in which structures such as the uterus, rectum, bladder, urethra, small bowel, or the vagina itself may begin to prolapse, or fall out of their normal positions. … As a result, the bladder may prolapse into the vagina. When this condition occurs, the urethra usually prolapses as well.’
      I encountered it a fair bit, but that lady was the only person I ever saw with it in a shopping bag. šŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.


  1. There’s something you don’t hear about every day. “It happens regularly”. I have never heard of it before. Sounds dreadful. I love tough old birds. My mom is one. They are a special breed and make us all look like weenies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose when you work as an EMT every day, some things are considered to ‘happen regularly’. But there are many who would never have heard of this condition. It is more common in older women who have given birth many times. She had such great spirit though, and I was humbled by her fortitude.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 2 people

  2. A much more stoic attitude than that shown by the constipated French woman! Prolapse of the uterus was very common in Afghanistan, especially after the woman had five or more children. Often, it could be pushed back inside and held in place with a rubber ring. Never came across one as extreme as your old lady. No ambulance service either. Nor many carrier bags come to that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am sure the ladies in those poorer countries have the same spirit shown by my old lady. They have to get on with their lives without the benefit of the NHS though. I believe they used a mesh device back then in the UK, and that helped hold it in place.
      Thanks, Mary.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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