Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Talking to God

Several things on my mind right now, and it's hard to keep hold of any of them, given my level of exhaustion. It wasn't this hard to get ready for vacation and work last year, was it? Though perhaps the amount of prep time in the evenings had something to do with it.

I can't complain much though. So far this week, I've gotten off shift on time every night. I keep expecting it to change, but the EMS ghods are smiling on me. So far. I expect tomorrow will suck several big donkey dongs, but we'll see what happens.

After the horrible day that was yesterday, today was relatively good. I was back with Bald Partner, and the FNG (a new hire that we are training, who really is a FNG. He's been an EMT for 3 or 4 months...he's still all new and green and squeaky). We ran 2 patients, both of whom could walk. The second one was a psych patient.

I hate psych patients. Even given my ability to read people's body language and facial expressions, psych patients are just too unpredictable for me to feel truly comfortable. Today's patient was different though. Clearly suffering from some sort of psychotic break, her manifestation wasn't violence or random voices...she thought she heard God. I didn't read the paperwork (FNG did all the paperwork, thank heavens, because I would have been hard-pressed to give this patient the attention she deserved AND get my paperwork done at the same time), but she had been taken from her home from the police early in the morning, and, by her claim, had been left without food or water all day at the EEP facility. She claimed they hadn't let her read her Bible, took it from her, wouldn't let her pray, all manner of horrible things (including claiming that the Devil kept shutting her up when she tried to talk to the workers there). And all she wanted, she said, was peace. Life, peace, and to feel safe.

I felt sorry for her. She wanted help, but she was so afraid. It took me a while, but FNG and I got her calmed down. I got her to feel safe with us. Not hard when you consider we were taking her from a frenetic place with screaming people. She kept calling us her guardian angels that she had prayed to God for, and God told her that He sent her guardian angels. She cried when we left her at the psych hospital, and calmed down when we told her we would visit her if we could, and that she was safe here, and they would take care of her.

As much as I bitch about days like yesterday, when everything in the world goes wrong, days like today remind me why I put up with the shit from dispatch, and the disregard from the company BigWigs. Because I can take a patient who was terrified of the world, and make them feel safe. I can take someone who was crying from fear and turn them into tears of joy, and make them laugh. I can teach a person a very small way to assert some control over their fear, simply by teaching them to control their breathing. I made a difference in someone's life, if only for a very small amount of time. As cynical and jaded as I've become about people and life in general, patients like this really do remind me of why I enjoy this job so much.

And they very often come when I need them most. Like today, when I was questioning my whole plan to become a paramedic, and how could I survive years of dealing with crap like this, only with more letters after my name, and did I really want to do this, and how could I get out of having to do this even part-time. That, my friends, that is fate right there.

And faith. I may have a somewhat twisted view of the world, I may question my purpose here (really, who knows what their purpose is, anyway?), I may be more superstitious than is generally healthy, but I have a firm belief that everything happens for a reason. The fact that I get patients like this, who reaffirm for me that I am doing something right, after I've had days that make me question my continuation in this field, means that Someone up there is telling me that I'm on the right track. I'm doing something right.

I've been told by several people that I have a gift. The gift of empathy and understanding. I'm not sure how much of it is gift, and how much of it is humanity. I've worked with a lot of EMT's in the years, and with many of them, it's hard to believe they mean it when they tell someont to 'Take care.' Is it experience that seperates those with a 'gift' from those who just go through the motions? I don't know. I do know that Bald Partner has the same 'gift' as I am purported to have. He doesn't use his as much, since he drives on every call, but even though he tells just about every patient the same thing, he is sincere. I believe that he really does want them to get better. When we ran the code a few weeks ago, and said goodbye to the wife, he grabbed both her hands and said I'm sorry for your loss. But his words, though cliche, were sincere and you could tell she knew he meant it.

Bald Partner and I have talked about it, and both of us feel that it is a manner of treating every patient as if they were your family, and how you would want a member of your family to be treated. Maybe it is as simple as that.

In other news....a young member of my firehouse (early 20's maybe) who isn't an EMT yet had an exposure a few days ago. From talking to her this morning, there is no info on the patient who gave her the exposure, so they're doing the whole nine yards of prophylactic treatments, as far as I know. I know transmission rate is very low for most of the diseases we worry about, but it's still a scary time.

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