I work in the city, so incidents involving livestock are pretty rare. When we got dispatched to an old man with a suspected broken leg following a fall, I thought it would be fairly straightforward. We were greeted by his wife and daughter and led to where the man was lying on the couch at home. As we walked down the hall I asked what was happening today – sometimes you can get a few quick details from family members as they take you to the patient. His daughter just said he speaks mostly Italian, but she would let him tell the story. For a moment I thought she appeared to by trying to stifle a laugh, but I dismissed it as I walked into the back room.
Our patient was a fit looking older fellow with a thick accent, but his English was substantially better than my Italian. He was smiling and greeted us warmly when we walked in. I asked what had happened and he said “well…” and the vigorous arm waving began, “well…you know that bloody cow?”. For a second I was worried he was talking about his wife who was hovering nearby. His daughter must have seen the look on my face and began explaining that her father and mother had a small farm on the outskirts of Melbourne and both had been up there today fixing a fence. I asked again what had happened and was told by our patient that he had been working on the fence when ‘that bloody cow’ had stepped sideways and bumped into him. “Ah and that’s how you hurt your leg?” “No” all three of them replied almost at once. “The cow… he hit me..and... I hit the sheeps” Lots more gesticulating. Hmmm. I needed clarification.
I turned to his daughter who by this stage was unable to contain herself and told me the full story. Her dad had been knocked sideways by a cow he owns, who it seems sort-of nuzzles up against people, and he had then fallen over one of the sheep who was also crowding round thinking it was going to get fed. Her father had gone down in a heap on the ground injuring his leg. While we assessed him, I asked a few more questions. “So your wife then drove you home and you rang an ambulance?”, “No she is no good driver, I drive”. “You drove?!”. It turned out the farm was over an hour away - a long way with a broken leg.
I enquired about his pain level, and he waved me away dismissively saying he was alright. I looked at the increased heart rate on the monitor and the beads of sweat on his forehead and decided to try and make him a bit more settled. He had a probable fractured leg that would make most of us weep and he was being stoic. Tough old bugger. When he was loaded up in the ambulance and away from his family I again offered him some pain relief – I was glad he agreed and was soon a bit more comfortable. I joked with him on the way to hospital; “So what are you having for dinner tonight – the cow or the sheep?” He just said; “Pasta, she always make pasta”.