Wow. Completely blown away today!! I made a few baby steps today, and God blessed me above and beyond anything I could imagine. This month, I am choosing to be joyful and positive; and also place my relationship with God as my top priority. This morning I woke up when my First 5 alarm went off. First 5 is the devotion app I’ve started using. One of my Plexus up-lines recommended it. I love it! Well, I read at least half of it before I dozed off. I tried. Like I said, baby steps. I got my days mixed up this week, and completely forgot that my A&P II final was today. I studied when I could between my chiropractor appointment, trip to Walmart to buy dog food for class bonus points (and some junk food), a mad rush to print and fill out my clinical sheet for January, and an upset stomach. Not a great morning. Anyway, I prayed that God would help me remember all of the things I learned in class and in paramedic class (paramedic school is really the only reason I passed this class). I didn’t feel great about the test, but I did my best. I spent some time talking to my paramedic instructor, and then barely remembered to hit the finance office to set up my payment plan for next semester. After sorting a few things out, I was told that I will not have to pay for one of my classes next semester. Money is gonna be tight next month, but I was going to do my best to make sue all of my bills were paid. Thank you, God, for stepping in and providing for me!! After I got home, I discovered that I had gotten an 85 on my exam, and ended the semester with an 86 or 87 depending on if the professor rounds. Thank you God for helping me even though I didn’t deserve it! That was two positives in 24 hours instead of just one. 🙂
Today, I am thankful for a paramedic instructor that really cares about me and wants me to succeed. Secondly, I am thankful for Deborah Key (my VA adviser). She always does everything she can to help me whenever I have an issue. And lastly, today I am thankful that my the arthritis in my knee has not bothered me very much over the last year. I’ve been on my feet a lot with clinicals and internships, but it has held up pretty well.
A few months ago, I started working for Plexus as an ambassador. I knew their products worked, but I had no idea what an impact the business and those in my up-line would have on me. The way this business works is for you to pour into those below you. I have been incredibly blessed to have a team full of Christians. The majority of them are women, but there are some men as well. The message that I see over and over again is be thankful and believe. The other thing I see and hear over and over again is to pray for my business. The lessons that I have been taught by those higher in the company are not just lessons for business but lessons for life. So thankful for this company!!!
I was challenged by my up-line to be more positive. To build an attitude of positivity, we were challenged to come up with three things each day to be thankful for; and to journal about one positive thing that has happened in the last 24 hours. I’m starting today.
The three things I am thankful for today are my Savior, my mother, and my grandmother. Jesus- the one who paid the ultimate price for my sins. My mother- who has always been an example of what a strong and independent woman should be. My grandmother- she is always willing to help and always prays for me. Without these three, I don’t know where I’d be. I have never had the relationship with God that I have wanted to or should have. This month, with my quest for positivity, I hope to change that. I’m nervous, scared, and really excited for this adventure.
I’ve been stressing about the EMT practical test for several weeks now. Today was text day. The first time I failed two and passed two. Then I passed one. One left. Of course, everyone else passes all of theirs. Besides feeling depressed and stupid, I feel lonely. The only person that said good luck and that said that they were praying was my mother. She said a lot of people were praying too, but obviously they didn’t. Nobody cares enough to keep track of the date. This is the last time I’ll believe it when my teacher or anyone else says I’ll do fine. Obviously she doesn’t know what she’s talking about when it comes to me. It wouldn’t be so bad, but the paramedic program (which i want so badly to go to) starts Tuesday. I guess i need to pick new friends as well. If somebody can’t remember something as important as this is to me then, they must not have liked me at all. One friend’s son’s birthday is today. She gets a pass,of course. If no one is willing to make an investment of themselves in my life then, I’m done with them.
I just spent an hour or more typing this out, and managed to erase it all in seconds. Perfect.
Things that I normally enjoy, mean nothing. I feel myself shutting down. Opening up feels too painful. Why should I be happy? A man just died. I was there, and because there was nothing I could do to stop it I don’t deserve to be happy. These and lots of other similar thoughts float through my head daily. They go away, only to return a few hours later or the next day. I am only human. I have no power against death; yet I still feel defeated. In EMS we joke about snatching people back from The Reaper and other similar phrases, but nothing could be further from the truth. All we can do is attempt to make your next 60 seconds easier. Then, we get ourselves through the next 60 seconds on and on until we can begin to process what happened.
EMS is an extremely isolating field. Not sure if I phrased correctly, but whatever. If you’re reading this it’s not because of my wonderful grammar or punctuation. At least I hope not. If so, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. 😉 Anyway, I now understand why one paramedic told me that is really hard to have friends outside EMS. The schedules suck, and what the heck am I supposed to say when I’m asked about my shift? Do I tell you about the boil on the butt of humanity that drove drunk, but doesn’t want to go to jail so he says he’s in pain and has to go to the hospital? Do I tell you about the patient who’s struggling to find her new normal while battling a mental illness whose meds are worse than the illness? What about the little tyke who’s so sick and scared that he won’t let the paramedic touch him at the beginning of the call, but in the hospital he screams because he doesn’t want the paramedic to put him down? What about the little tyke’s pregnant mother who manages to relax on the long ride to the hospital because you and your partner talk and joke with her? What about the elderly vet who only remembers his birthday, favorite singers, snatches of cadences from his army days, and barely his wife? What about the one that died in the middle of the road? What about the majority of your patients who are too lazy to get off their butts to go to the doctor so, they call you to go to the emergency room? What about the slightly creepy guy who hits on you in one breath, and then in the next breath suggests that you are sleeping with one or both of your male partners simply because y’all are riding together? That same creepy patient rocks out with the three of you to every song on the local country station. Every shift feels like a rollercoaster of emotions; yet, you couldn’t imagine yourself doing anything else. The words that you mean as kind and encouraging instead feel like a bandaid being ripped off. It would be very easy to surround myself with this new EMS world, and unknowingly find myself pulled into the rip tide of emotion and depression that’s common in EMS. The best things that you could ever do for me are pray for me and give me a tug back to normal so I remember to come back up for air.
The aftermath of a storm like a tornado or a hurricane isn’t pretty, but neither is the damage left behind by an emotional storm.
At the beginning of July, I started my EMT-BASIC ride alongs. So far, I’ve ridden for 6 full days and in two counties. I’ve answered roughly 36 calls that have ranged from playing taxi driver to helping someone through their last hours. I have learned more about myself in the last 72 hours than I have in years. The call was a bit scary, but instead of freezing all I wanted was to have something to do. The EMTs that I rode with, quickly gave me a job to do. Within 20 mins, we worked as a team with the first responders to start treatment and load patient in the truck. Three of us continued patient care on the way to the hospital. Unfortunately, the patient didn’t make it. The impact of the call didn’t immediately hit me. A paramedic from another service rode the call in with us. After the call, the paramedic told me that he hoped this call didn’t scare me away from EMS, and that all of the calls regarding that issue aren’t the same. I told him that I’d rather see the call with EMS then, the army’s version of it. He laughed and agreed. While he was working on his paperwork, he went on to inform me that no matter what happened during the call the end would have been the same. He told me that I did a good job during the call, and not to give up on EMS. The EMTs that I road with told me that I did a great job during the call, and through several conversations also came to the conclusion that there was nothing more that we could have done for our patient. Throughout the morning, the nagging thought that maybe my part of the care wasn’t good enough. Eventually, after several conversations about the call I began to work through those feelings. I’m not God. I don’t possess any power over death. I am only human. There are calls that I know will be triggers for me; by that, I mean that those calls will be harder than most for me emotionally because of my past. Those triggers are the schizophrenia, domestic violence, and rape calls. Any case involving children is hard for anyone in EMS. The first patient death and unexpected deaths (those due to trauma) are also hard. You don’t realize the effect of calls until later. The rest of the day was crazy busy so, there wasn’t a lot of time to think. I got home super late, and once I fell into bed I was out. During class the next day, we talked through that call twice. After lunch, I started seeing the patient’s face in weird places – walking into the bathroom and on the whiteboard. After class, I went to my teacher and told her what was going on. She said that it’s normal. She explained how she deals with calls like mine. We’re both Christians so, her point of view was very helpful. She said that what helps her is to see her job as helping each patient through the next 60 seconds. We can’t save anyone. We can make their transition easier. Each patient is transitioning whether it’s from home to the hospital or life to death. All we can do is try to make whatever the transition is easier. Sometimes, it’s not the patient we are treating; but the family. Sometimes, we continue to work a call for our fellow EMS personnel or ourselves. Sometimes, the next 60 seconds are the last; but sometimes they lead to another 60 seconds and another after that all the way to the hospital. Without a shadow of a doubt, I know that EMS is where I’m supposed to be. Thank you, God, for showing me where I’m supposed to be.
Can you forget your past without forgetting the lessons you learned? I don’t know, but I’d like to. I’ve made quite a few decisions that I wish I hadn’t. If I hadn’t, I would have missed out on some of the best friendships of my life. If I hadn’t married him,I might have kept my best friend. As it is,I only hear from her if I make contact or when she announced her engagement. I’m beyond thrilled for them, but selfishly I miss her. My past does come back to haunt me. So much so that I’ve used food, alcohol, and smoking to numb it. Obviously, they don’t work. Can I really take what I’ve learned from a failed marriage and in general a useless life? I plan to; and unfortunately, Dear Internet, you are going to have to listen. First step, apply top an EMT basic program- done. Apply for my GI Bill benefits- done. I’ve tried to make people around me proud, but no more. I wanted to be a paramedic growing up, and mom talked me out of it. So,I picked nursing to make her happy. I’ve been all around the world, and I needed to come home to face my demons before being able to move on.
Until next time,