A Year Not Wasted.

Today it will have been an entire year since I’ve posted.  A year.  365 days.

It’s mind boggling to me.  This used to be my safe place.  I’ve shared so much of my life on here.  I have to wonder what happened to shut me down.  There’s been so much I’ve wanted to share, and yet…  I feel that nothing that I’m going to write is going to be worth reading.  When I think about this blog, this creation of mine, and how I felt when I first started to write… I wasn’t writing for anyone other than myself.

I’ve come so far, but as far as I’ve come, it seems as if I’ve taken just as many steps back.  I think I need to break that.  Right now.

**********

Dear Epi,

It’s been almost three years since you wrote these words:

It’s 0240ish…

And I can’t sleep.

The one goal I’ve had in the last five plus years is to be a Paramedic.

Yeah, for some of you out there, I know that doesn’t sound like much.  Some of you have been working as Medics  for longer than I’ve been in EMS.  In some cases it’s five times as long as I’ve been a Basic.  Some of you have forgotten what this feels like.  Some of you have never felt this way.  This is just me being very real.

This is not just some job to me.  It’s the only thing (other than my little ones) that means anything to me.  And I’m *THIS CLOSE*….

And I’m terrified.

I’m no longer worried that I’ll finish.  I’m worried about being set loose with a P card.

I don’t want to be half assed at this.

I don’t want to be merely adequate.

I’m not cool with just meeting the minimum standards. I believe the standards should be set HIGHER.  And at the same time, I want to exceed those standards.

I know I’m rambling… This is what happens when I have enough time to step back from my situation and take everything in.

I have three weeks left before my final.

21 days.

That’s it.

Oh…my… Goodness.

First of all, congratulations, girly… You did it.  You’re going to come close to losing your mind the day before you sit for the National Registry exam, but you’ll show up bright and early, and you’ll knock it out of the park.  You’ll instantly believe that there is no mountain you can’t climb.  You’ll believe that there is nothing that you can’t accomplish.  And that is something you need to hold on to, particularly as a new Paramedic, because the journey ahead of you is not going to be sunshine and roses.

The day after you receive your state card, you will be set loose with a 10-year-old ambulance that leaks every imaginable fluid,  half of a drug box and a monitor older than your partner.  Oh, and your partner is a brand new EMT-B.

Okay, to be fair, it wont be older than your partner, but you’ll joke that it is.  And despite the shocking condition of your drug box you’ll still do your job and do it well.  You will begin to calm down.  You’ll notice over time that your hands don’t shake nearly as much.  I promise.  It just takes time.   You really need to learn to go easier on yourself.

You will eventually leave the service that believed that ALS wasn’t needed to go work for “That Service that shall not be named”.  And you will again start to question yourself.  That sparkly superhero cape that you started to believe would accompany you on every shift will slowly disappear.  This will be your first experience on a primary truck doing true 911 runs.    I wish I could just hug you and tell you to believe in yourself, because you will have some truly amazing moments while you work there.  You will see things that you can’t wrap your head around.  You will watch as someone you were doing compressions on just a month before walks into the ambulance bay to thank you.  You will deliver a healthy baby girl.  Two weeks later you’ll do an umbilical line on a dying neonate.  You’ll do your first intubation in the field.

And then you’ll start wondering about what was drilled into your head while in school.  That sentence that was written on the wall in your classroom for months.  “Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.”    You’ll miss several IV’s in a row and start to torture yourself over why you missed them.  You’ll trudge through a series of runs that were hopeless causes.  A psych patient will come close to breaking your nose.   You’ll make more phone calls to your people, the ones who dragged you through school than you can imagine.

Did I do the right thing?  What if I would have…  Should I have…  Why didn’t I…

Those people, the ones you’re closest to, the ones who have forgotten more than you know at that point…  They’ll tell you that you did everything right.  You won’t believe them.  I wish I could get you to just exhale and believe your people…  You start to think that this isn’t something you can handle, and that you are failing your patients.  You’ll start to think that you don’t want all of this responsibility.  You will constantly dream about that young father and that little boy.  You’ll wake up in a cold sweat still hearing the echoes of their family member’s sobs.

What I wish I could drill into your head, particularly at this point, is that YOU ARE NOT GOD.  You didn’t funnel alcohol down anyone’s throat that night that that father ran his charger  into that ditch, and you didn’t start the fire that killed that little angel.  I wish I could convince you of that.  Nothing that I could say to you will ever convince you, because you are who you are.  You have to go through it.  You will survive it, and it will make you stronger.

And then you’ll find something that lights you on fire.  You’ll get the opportunity to work with students.

And you will fall in love with the education side of this job.  Because you’ve been where they were.  You can spot a nervous student from a mile away, and you can calm them down.  You can also recognize when someone is bored and needs to be challenged.  You will sit in a room and watch while students you worked with receive their certificates stating that they did it.  They passed.  You’ll start to tell them that the real journey is ahead of them.  Because you know that it’s true.

You will stop questioning yourself so much. The little ones, the babies, they will still shake you up a little bit, but the stuff that scared the hell out of you…  It’s not so scary anymore.  Your confidence will start to build again.  There will some setbacks along the way, but they will not be related to the care that you provided on the job.  You’ll truly start to get it.  You’ll find that you don’t have to call a friend after every tough run.

A year ago you were grading Basic students sitting for their National Registry practicals.  Today you did the same thing.  And you’ll be just as proud of them then as you are now.

You will realize what a gift this career is, and how lucky you are to be able to do it.  Despite the horrible pay.  Despite the BS that you will ALWAYS get from dispatch, and despite the workplace drama that will always be there.  And despite how tired you always seem to be.

You made it.  You’re doing what you set out to do.  And you’re doing it well.

And now you have a new partner.  A firefighter who had sworn off EMS and then forced himself into it.  And he’ll decide almost immediately that this was what he needed to do.  Someone who believes that what we do is a privilege.  A partner who is exactly where you were when you started your journey.  Someone who will look up to you, someone who will pick your brain almost constantly.    And your love for the job will grow even more because of him.  You’ll watch him form relationships with our patients effortlessly.

And then he’ll mention that he’s interested in becoming a paramedic.

And you won’t be able to contain your smile.

15 Comments

  • PLEASE don’t go a year without posting again.

    You’re too good at this not to.

  • Thedieseltherapist says:

    The best part of reading this, is knowing exactly what you were feeling…I’m scared as hell, but I don’t want to come out of this just a “paramedic”. I want to be up there with the greats. AD is right, and I’ve told you the same many times. You ARE great at this.

  • TC says:

    Although google reader will be disappearing at some point and I will have to find another solution to this blo thing, right now I’m pleased that it alerts me when people like you post new things. And though an anonymous person’s opinion won’t hold as much weight- I agree wholeheartedly with AD.

  • Jason says:

    Love it!!

  • hilinda says:

    Glad to see you post again!
    The things you write DO matter.
    You have no idea how much it means to us, here, knowing people out there who care, who are doing their best to do this thing right. See what you said about having “people”?
    YOU are one of our “people.” People who keep us going.
    It’s great to see you writing about teaching, and how much that is giving you. I’m starting in that direction as well. I’m very excited about putting the two “halves” of my life together, where they belong.
    We haven’t been able to get to conferences this year, but hope to get back to that in the coming year.
    Enjoy your new partner!

  • Greg/Paramedic39 says:

    Wow! I’m still a young buck in EMS in my own world. 20 years ALS and teaching ALS for the last 8-10. I know what my students feel everyday and make sure my head doesn’t ever swell. They are the future of this profession. Some old, some young and sadly some only in it for the promotion. You are right it takes time to spot each one of these people. Gladly I haven’t lost my love for EMS. I LOVE THE JOB today as much as the first day. I hate the fire house politics and the “old timers” who hate EMS but I know we are what keeps the “House” together. It does take that one call/run to make you say “I LOVE MY JOB AGAIN or THIS IS WHY I DO THIS. It might be the biggest BS call ever but to watch the fear in a person’s eyes and your knowledge can take away their fear. Your first day out you think REALLY I WILL SCREW THIS UP, but you will look back to your instructor’s and say well we did work on that kinda. I look at the burnt out MEDICS and wish I could spark that passion again and sometimes it takes that new MEDIC to make them see it over again, or make them leave the field because they realize they have lost the love. Please remember why you started in this line of work and how scared you where your first day. Remember when you panic go back to the basics of ABC and take it slow, remember you always have an out “CONSULT for HELP”. I great medic knows their limitations and when to call for HELP, it isn’t a failure but knowing your limits.

  • Bobball says:

    What AD says. While I’m blessed to keep in touch outside the blog; I do value & look forward to your posts here too!

  • CEMT12 says:

    This is the first time I have read your blog and as an EMT, I can completely relate. I enjoyed reading this so much that I made your blog a home screen app. Please continue to post because you are stating things and feelings that everyone here can relate to. Thanks!

  • TransportJockey says:

    Epi! I know the feeling. My blog has been rather sparse as of late too. But please stay posting :) we missed you!

  • Kyle says:

    Epi,

    We have been friends and we have been far from friends. Despite all of that I can say you have an incredible passion and love for this business. You also have a talent in expressing the feelings and emotions we face. I read this post and immediatly thought of a friend I have that started Paramedic school this week. She shares your love of EMS and caring nature and I am sure she will become as great a paramedic as you have.

    Please keep sharing.

    Kyle

  • Angie says:

    I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to find your blog, but I LOVE it! I’m studying for my paramedic final and decided to take a break. Then I remembered that you wrote a blog… holy fantastic! You put all my feelings right now into words.

    You rock and I’m happy to say I know the you behind the keyboard. Keep this up.. you have a talent. As for me, I’m going to read some more then go back to studying.

    How long before all the rhythms don’t look the same? J/K

    Angie

  • Firecap5 says:

    Well, about friggin time! It was late April when I griped at you in Indy to get back to blogging! You have to come back next year, I may be a presenter at FDIC……….. First one at Kilroys is on me!

  • Mike says:

    Found your blog by accident while searching for EMS blogs I must admit, but I really enjoy reading your posts. Thanks for sharing your life, and keep those stories coming. :)

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