This blog is up a little late, but for good reason: I accidentally poisoned myself.
If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you’ll know that I work in a laboratory, and it is here that I accidentally inhaled phenol fumes. Soon thereafter I began to struggle to focus on written words and verbal communications alike, becoming increasingly light headed. Being so close to the end of the day I battled through the final minutes of my shift but upon reaching my car to head home I recognised that I was in no fit state to drive, so called the NHS (the British public healthcare service) non-emergency number to ask for advice on how best to proceed…
Before I knew it I could hear sirens in the distance, and for the first time in my life they were coming for me. The ambulance staff were incredibly kind and well mannered, helping to keep me relaxed and even putting a smile on my face. They performed some basic tests to check my blood pressure, pulse rate, blood oxygen and glucose levels, before performing an ECG. Whilst my condition appeared to be stable, the specialist toxicology team with whom the ambulance staff were consulting requested that I be taken to A&E for further evaluation. As my workplace is outside my home county, and given my stable condition, the ambulance staff asked if I had a family member available that could take me to a hospital closer to my home – but that if not they would ask for permission to work within a different remit and take me there themselves.
I am blessed to have the mother I have. She had just received the keys to her new home, and had hardly taken a step inside when her phone rang, but not even twenty minutes later she pulled up next to the ambulance to take me to our local A&E herself. Despite the devastating effects phenol poisoning may present, after eight hours of constant observation, regular ECGs, several blood tests, and chest x-rays later I was discharged.
I am very lucky that the exposure I suffered lead only to mild intoxication and nothing more serious, but am glad that I took action when I did and didn’t try to just tough it out. There are times when it’s good to be a little tough, but sometimes you’ve got to know when to play it safe. May this serve as a reminder that you can never be careful enough when working in a potentially dangerous environment.