In my case, I remember it was 2am and I was wide awake. I could hear him wheezing in the other room and even timed his respiratory rate at 40 breaths per minute.
Thirty seconds later, I was rummaging around looking for a stethoscope. Two doctors in the house and not a stethoscope between us.
I did find an otoscope, an ophthalmoscope, a tendon hammer, a sats monitor, a model uterus and a copper coil, but no stethoscope.
I shook hubby awake and shepherded him into Twin 1's room. 'What do you think?' I asked, waiting expectantly for the diagnosis.
'He has a wheeze,' said the bleary-eyed one.
'Duh, even I can tell that and I'm just a GP.
Do you think we should take him to A&E?' The mention of A&E produced a distinct shudder, which I ignored.
'He's not that bad - he's fast asleep, for one thing. He can't be that ill if he's sleeping,' he retorted.
'No, I'm awake,' wheezed Twin 1. 'I was only pretending to sleep so you would leave me alone.'
'He's only pretending to have asthma so you'll give him more attention,' retorted Twin 2, who had sneaked out of her room and was standing disapprovingly in the doorway.
'Let's check his sats.' I waved the sats monitor in the air. Surely it would make the decision for us to go to hospital or not.
The screen read 76%. I looked at it blankly.
'He doesn't look cyanosed,' said hubby. I popped it on my finger. It read 76%.
'You don't look cyanosed either. That's what happens when you accept freebie gadgets from reps,' said hubby, cheerily.
'Actually, I paid for that thing (although not a lot) and I don't see reps (often),' I retorted.
We ended up trying short bursts of salbutamol through the night but he was still quite breathless so we took him to our GP in the morning, and he had a nebuliser and some steroids. But perhaps he should have gone to hospital that night.
- Dr Aziz is a GP partner in north-east Bristol.