This one goes out to @Jay Scott Clark , though I don't think he realized he would spark this reaction (much less me creating a blog) by such an innocent quip.
Not working myself to death just for kicks and giggles. There are a LOT of those, thankfully. Without those moments of utter absurdity or silliness, I'd be lost. I hit professional and personal goals all the time. I'm just not the type to brag or point them out, I suppose. I feel like doing that is arrogant and rude. But sometimes, the bad can seem to outweigh the good in a disturbingly rapid way, and so I vent.. Apparently more than I thought I did, to the point people don't realize the good.
For those of you who don't know me, and therefore don't know what I do, I am an Emergency Medical Technician. I work nights (1900-0700, or 7p-7a for you scrubs) on an ALS(Advanced Life Support, so I work with a paramedic) as a rescue unit in one of the most violent cities in America. I've seen quite a bit in a short period of time, and in the past year and a half of this job, I feel like I have aged ten. My hairline certainly reflects the latter. The things we see can lead to a need to vent, and often you can't to co-workers, because as tight-knit as we are, that family vanishes when they think you might be suffering mentally. So you turn to laypeople for that. Odd how it works there, huh? But I have done good things in this job. Might not make a lot of money, but that isn't the point to me...
Hell... In 2015 alone I managed to bring back a handful plus of over-dose patients from certain death. Like barely breathing, barely alive, and in 10 minutes they were talking and walking. Narcan is amazing. I helped bring a lady out of super ventricular tachycardia (her heart was beating uncontrollably fast and in danger of stopping, and when it does that from SVT, the electrical nodes can 'burn out', and never restart) and get her to the hospital, and by the time she arrived rather than the operating table she was given a bed thanks to me and my partner. And those are the 'easy calls' that happen routinely, and are no big deal because of their routine occurences. I've made a lot of new friends on the City's Fire, EMS, and Police departments. Those friends do on occasion tell me i'm wasting my time at a private company and am too good for the job I do, because Private EMS is rarely rescue/911, but a lot of medical transportation/monitoring.
I was awarded a 911-Rescue shift performing Mutual Aid for the City I live/work in that usually is given only to multi-year veterans of the company I work for. I hadn't been there a year yet when this happened. I am vice-chair of the Advisory Committee for Policy and Procedure/Employee Morale, and though it isn't much of anything we have done and continue to do a lot to try and relieve stress of the crews. Creature comforts from grits & oatmeal (instant kind) in the breakroom(one of our members pays for this out of pocket just because) for anyone needing a quick meal, regular weekend cook-outs/breakfasts, to working on trying to convince management of re-zoning the building to get couches, maybe a few bunks to sleep in for night-crews, and possibly showers in the station for us. Oh, and comfy chairs because we currently have those god-awful plastic cafeteria/elementary school ones. You all know them. They are evil.
I was awarded a full-ride paramedic scholarship and am attending one of 10 Nationally Accredited Paramedic programs in our state, and so far am right at the top of the class. Each class I come away with a deeper understanding of Emergency Medicine, how to treat my patients, the healthcare system (that can be frustrating, understanding it, sometimes) and more. I have learned things most will never know about the human body, it's mysteries, and sometimes though it is a burden, other times it is marvelously delightful knowledge.
A medic I know, with decades in EMS, has told me after working with me that I possess a good head for the job, complimented my bed-side mannerisms (I consider putting the patient at ease and getting them to smile/groan at my jokes and hijinks just as useful as the drugs I draw-up), and told me to be a little less hard on myself. So I guess he and Jay would get along.
Every call I run, I review after. Every single one. I find something I could have done better, whether it is a fumbled IV set-up, a slow response to getting vitals, not anticipating my medic's movements and needs, or something. There is always a way to improve, and i won't let those chances slip my by or rest back on prior accomplishments. That is doing a disservice to my patients and partner.
I had the opportunity recently to use my Spanish speaking skills to calm a sweet little old grandma down when she was worried that she was having a heart attack after she had a stint placed. I bridged the rather minor language barrier and was able to explain her EKG to her for my medic, and by the end of the trip had her smiling and hugging us both. She could speak english, but didn't comprehend it the best, and the situation combined with that made it so she was even more scared. Just a simple, albeit broken, conversation in her native tongue completely changed her attitude.
I've also had bad moments, moments I won't go into or discuss here, because frankly? You lot don't need to know their details or be burdened with the least of them. Much less the darkest and worst. But in addition to seeing things that make it so I would never give up this job and love life, I have seen things that wake me up at night drenched in sweat, heart racing, my muscles on fire and on occasion crying. Punching and swatting and yelling at the darkness in my room, which ain't even close to that which I just woke (or worse yet, can't wake up) from.
Because sometimes I, along with my partner, weren't enough, and I've failed people in the worst of ways in my estimation. Because sometimes, no matter what you say or do... No matter the technology we invent, or the drug cocktails we push into your bone and veins, it isn't enough to cure the pain or heal their wound, and you loose them. Either to the final sleep, or to whatever ailment or injury they have, be it addiction or chronic disease. I've saved lives, but I've lost them or have watched them wither away to nothing time after time.
Those are things a lot of people brag or moan about, I suppose. But there it is, so the venerable JSC doesn't think my life is solely stress and worry. I won't lie and say that I am the most knowledgeable or experienced EMT, or even in the top tier. But I have done some amazing things in my 2015, and 2016 will only see more of them. So to those who think my life is crap - it isn't. It's quite frankly amazing and awesome and I wouldn't change much, if anything, about it.
Stay safe, Chaos... I'm off to memorize 140 or so drugs and their indications/contraindications/dose/side-effect/moa/usage and more