notokinthehead











{March 25, 2014}   Stalked

As a Firefighter/EMT, when we have bad days they very quickly turn into bad weeks. A bad day for us all too often means that we lost a patient or lost one of our own. This week I worked a scene of a young woman who completed suicide. There was nothing we could do for her, she was gone long before anyone called 911. Even though there was so very obviously nothing anyone could do to save this young woman’s life it tends to follow you, stalk you. Some things that you encounter in this profession never leave you.

For the last three days I’ve been haunted by the completed suicides that I’ve worked in my two short years as a firefighter/EMT. None of which were viable. The elderly male who put a gun in his mouth and sprayed his entire bathroom with blood and brain matter. The 19 year old girl who hung herself with the cord of a curling iron from an eye-hook in a bathroom ceiling. The 32 year old mother who we found face down in her own vomit, she overdosed on Oxycodone with her teenage children in the house. And then Saturday, the young woman who sat in her car garage with her car running.

The things I’ve seen make it hard to sleep at night. Natural death is hard to deal with, but when someone actively takes their own life it’s devastating for all involved. It kind of makes you angry, you studied your ass off to learn how to save people when they’re circling the drain, you’ve held the hand of the dying and tried to do your best to comfort them when all they want is more time on this Earth. Then you go and cut down the body of someone who decided that their life isn’t worth living. It definitely makes you question your faith in God, or whatever higher power that you believe in, that they allow the people who want to live, to die, while the ones who have no desire to live anymore can choose to take their own lives.

I’m not putting down people who are depressed, suicidal or mentally ill. I understand some of the emotional distress and chemical imbalances that play a role in depression. I’m just simply asking why things play out the way they do. I understand that I’ll never have an answer to that question.

Conclusion: death is difficult. My job has me knee deep in corpses, when I’d much rather do lift assists all day every day. You can comfort the families who’ve lost a loved one all day, but you can never breathe life back into a person when their time has come.

EMS: the profession of being stalked by death.



{July 26, 2013}   I Work for a Higher Power

And I don’t mean someone with a fancy job title who makes more money than I do.

Here’s how my day has gone, so far:
04:00am- small fire in a machine shop. Piece of cake.

04:40am- 62 year old male, heart attack. With some Aspirin and some Nitroglycerin we were able to stop it, temporarily, and get him to the hospital.

10:30am- 84 year old female with severe stomach pain and possibly bloody stools. Package and transport.

13:00pm- 76 year old male fell, definite broken hip/pelvis. We gave him pain meds before we moved him and transported him.

18:00pm- requested by State Police to respond and check on a 43 year old male who had been assaulted. Upon arrival we fund out that his 20 year old son used his face for a punching bag, and he was positive he didn’t have any facial fractures because he’d fractured almost every bone in his face when he was younger and a “brawler”. We did not transport him. Good thing because any technician sitting in the back of the ambulance with him would have gotten drunk off his breath.

Five calls in one day is a lot for my department. Sometimes we can go a week without a single call. I’m a volunteer firefighter/EMT. That’s why I say I work for a Higher Power. I do it because it’s a calling to help people, not for the puny paycheck. Even if I didn’t get paid a penny for going on these calls I would still do it. I’ve never done anything more rewarding than holding an elderly patients hand while he writhed in pain, or holding a Mother while she cries because her daughter just completed suicide. You can’t put an hourly rate on this job. It has to be in your heart. And you have to have a strong heart to do the job without becoming damaged yourself.



{July 6, 2013}   Day One

humidity

Today was the first day that my nephew has been here. He’s spending the weekend here and then he’ll be moved in on Friday. So far it’s gone well. He wants to be a medic in the Army and so I took him to the Fire Department with me and showed him around. He seemed to really enjoy it. One of my Lieutenants left a Fire Department shirt in my locker for him, which I thought was very nice. A seventeen year old boy isn’t going to be easy to live with but at least we’re starting off well.

I was awakened this morning by my pager going off. One of our frequent fliers passed away last night and her husband called 911 this morning. He said he couldn’t wake her after the six o’clock news last night but he thought she was just in a deep sleep, induced by this awful heat. However when he got up this morning (15 hours later) she hadn’t moved at all so he called 911. She had been gone for awhile and the house was hotter than it was outside. It was not a pleasant call, especially without first having some coffee.

Tomorrow I’m going to a big family cookout. One of my Aunts flew up from Georgia so we’re having a big get-together, and my nephew will finally get to meet the rest of the family. The poor kid has been in foster homes for so long (unbeknownst to my family, long story) and I think he needs to know he has a big family who loves him and cares about him.

Let’s hope this heat and awful humidity breaks up soon! We’ve been at a rather steady 92% humidity. Ugh.



image

I read the news with great sadness. 18 fellow firefighters have perished in the line of duty while fighting an out of control wildland fire in Arizona. To their families: words cannot heal the devastating loss. Be proud of them. They are true heroes who fought a hard battle. To the firefighters left behind: always remember the reason we do this job. It’s never easy. Carry your brothers and sisters close to your heart, they’re still fighting with you from Heaven. To the firefighters who lost the battle: thank you. Rest easy, we’ll take it from here.



{June 30, 2013}   The Monster

Another one of my poems I have imposed on a picture in Photoshop. I’m enjoying this new hobby. With a background photo it gives a better sense of the Poet’s (my) feelings when writing the poem. For instance, the background on this one is dark and maybe a little foreboding, and smoke plumes are usually associated with cigarettes, which more often than not are associated with pain, suffering and death. And finally the hand… we suffer so much at the hands of others. It’s amazing how many things a picture of a single hand can symbolize.

 

The Monster

 



{April 18, 2013}   Every Day Is A Blessing

Yesterday morning my wake up call was my pager. That’s normal. But the dispatcher informed us that we were responding for a 50 year old male that was not conscious, not breathing and the female on scene refused to do CPR. We raced to the scene, my partner and I being the first to arrive, to find a male who was indeed unconscious and not breathing. I said his name a few times and observed his grayish color as I grasped his wrist, searching for a pulse. I almost immediately recoiled- his skin was cold, his eyes were half open and he was very stiff. Unfortunately, I now know what death smells like. That was the worst call I have been on to date.

Between the call yesterday morning and the awful tragedy in West, TX last night, I didn’t get much sleep last night. At times like these I realize just how true the saying is: every day is a blessing.

I’m praying for the victims and the victim’s families of the tragic events in West, TX last night. There’s much clean-up to be done but houses and (most) possessions are replaceable, the people are not. Many lives were lost, including volunteer firefighters and volunteer Emergency Medical Service workers. The people left behind have scars that will never completely heal, but with support and compassion we can all help ease the pain from their losses.



{April 2, 2013}   *~Angels In Blue~*

The blood drains
like ink from my pen
flesh fades to white
I have no feeling left.

I breathe in
emotions run rampant
I breathe out
I’m bleeding out.

I struggle for one last breath
A calm comes over me
As I embrace this early death
I close my eyes and just bleed.

My chest gets crushed
Over and over
They won’t give up.

I feel a strike like lightning
I’m jolted back to life
My eyes are just slits
but I can see he’s smiling.

My lungs inflate, fill
he’s smiling, still.

Today I died
Today I came back to life
“Hang on Sweetie, you’re pulling through”
Today I met Angels dressed in blue.



{December 17, 2012}   Deep Breaths

Initially when we found out about my Mother’s terminal illness we were informed that EVERYTHING was going to change. We were told we’d have to remove all rugs, carpets and curtains/drapes from the house, get rid of the dog, cat and bird, switch from wood burning stoves to oil heat. It sounds selfish but everyone’s world was turned upside down, on top of receiving the news that we’re losing our mother. We spoke with the doctor again today and he said we only need to get rid of the bird and we all need to get flu and pneumonia vaccines. We can keep the dog and cat. We can wait until after Christmas to tear all of the carpets out. We don’t need to do away with the wood stoves.

Of course none of that changes the fact that we are losing our mother to a slow, painful death, but it does bring some comfort to where there was only havoc. My Mother feels much better, too. She felt very guilty and sad about “being the reason” we had to change everything. She felt bad that we would have to find homes for our pets, who are family to all of us, because of her illness. In reality, I would give her my lungs if they could that. What is losing a pet compared to losing a parent? It’s nothing.

I’m still angry.

As for me, I got two nerve blocks and five trigger point injections done today. I’m sore as hell. But I don’t really care. My pain seems so unimportant now.



Tonight my parents called a family meeting. We’ve only had two in my entire life before tonight: to tell us our uncle was shot & killed and to tell us our cousin shot & killed herself.

Tonight my parents informed us (my brothers, sisters and I) that the doctors have given my mother six months to four years to live. I’m devastated. She has terminal emphysema and interstitial lung disease. In short, her lungs both look like Swiss cheese on the CT scans. She’s only fifty-one years old. I’m only twenty-three years old.

I’m angry. I’m so sad. I’m scared.



{August 21, 2012}   Learning to Cope With Death

This morning I got my first “cold call”. Meaning I was called to a residence for a seventy-nine year old female who was unconscious, unresponsive and not breathing. 911 updated us that she didn’t have a pulse, there was no CPR in progress and the body was cold, we were to continue with traffic. Unfortunately, this happens in my town quite often because we have a lot of elderly folks. I think I could get used to dealing with “bodies” instead of patients. We have a saying in EMS: “They’re already dead, anything you do to help them cannot hurt them”. So deceased patients are our safest patients for legal purposes. Anyways… the part I think I’ll always have a hard time with is dealing with the families. They’re distraught whether it was an unexpected death or not. You just can’t help but feel for them because everyone has endured the death of a loved one, we all know how it feels to lose someone.

So my conclusion is: it’s not the bodies that will creep into my nightmares, it’s the people left behind to cope with the loss. It’s the families that will haunt me. How do you cope with that when you have to deal with it all of the time? Can you really become detached from the situation? Can you ever really get used to it?



et cetera