{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.

{June 26, 2013}   I Am Blessed

Allow me to be weird and somewhat sappy for a minute.

It’s only Tuesday but it’s been a really long week already. I’ve been suffering an awful headache since last Thursday (this is day #5) and I’ve been right out straight. We had a twenty-two year old girl complete suicide last Thursday via hanging and it seemed to go South from there. I’ve been busting my ass cleaning houses to make some money and in return I’ve been aggravating my back, neck and shoulder injuries. We had a house struck by lighting, a woman fall asleep while driving and hit another vehicle, a boating accident, an elderly lady hallucinating and seeing spiders (my greatest fear, right up there with clowns) and I’ve been involved with a Police investigation (I didn’t do anything, I’m a witness). Between doctor appointments, work and life in general I’ve felt like I’ve been living in my own little hell. Poor, poor, pitiful me, right? Well, I reflect on all of my complaints and think to myself: what do I have to complain about?

I’m alive. My loved ones are alive and well. I can walk, can usually talk and I’m not facing anything life-threatening at the moment. I have a job, or two, when so many people can’t seem to find work with this economy. I have food in my refrigerator, a roof over my head and I don’t want for much. I’m lucky enough to have the “extras” in life: a swimming pool, a luxury car, friends and family who care about me… it really could be worse. I guess it’s a good day when I’m the medical provider and not the patient. That may just be my new favorite pick-me-up saying.

I’m realizing that I am blessed. It’s a good feeling to realize it, and I think I’m making good use of my blessings by helping people in crisis. Even on days when I’m feeling down and can’t help myself, I can help someone else. As we joke about in EMS- I’m one of the chosen few. 😀

{June 20, 2013}   Faith

Today has been a test for me. My doctor diagnosed me with A.D.D. and then I went off to work. Right off the bat we had two calls: a medical alarm activation, which turned out to be a fluke since there was no one home and as we cleared that call dispatch sent us to another. Echo-level cardiac arrest, hanging victim. She was a mere twenty-two years old. Her mother was, understandably, very upset. That call left me feeling empty and grateful at the same time.

It’ll be a little while, a week or two, before I will get the gruesome, heartbreaking image out of my head. What I’ve come to fully understand is this: there are some things that we will never be able to understand. That’s where Faith plays a roll.

Angels CriedWhat unfolded in Newtown, CT today is without a doubt a major tragedy. My heart goes out to the victims and their families, as well as the remaining family of the suspect. My prayers go out to all of the first responders- firefighters, police men & women, EMS crews and everyone else I may forget to mention. It’s horrific, unspeakable. First I tried to imagine how I’d feel if one of the victims was my own family, my six-year old niece, five-year old nephew or brothers, sisters or parents. It’s not something I can easily imagine, and I thank God I don’t have to experience that today. Then I tried to imagine how I would feel from the EMS side of things. Sure, I’d do great in the heat of the moment, just as the first responders did today. However it’s after everything calms down and there’s nothing left to do but think about what happened that would get to me. Seeing the hordes of parents who rushed to the school to try to find their children alive and well, or even just alive, would break me. Seeing the reactions of the families when they found out that their loved one’s life was taken so violently and so soon would tear me apart.

It’s becoming more and more frequently that these incidents are occurring and it seems the victims are younger each time. It’s heartbreaking. It truly is.

Tonight I’m praying for every soul that was involved in today’s massacre. Especially the young children who had to witness these terrible murders and will now live with that for the rest of their lives. God’s speed.

{November 8, 2012}   Making the Right Call

I was awakened by a page shortly before seven this morning. With this snow coming down and the roads being slippery I figured it was another car accident. Cars are sliding off of the road all over the place. Once I was dressed they put the second tone out and gave us our size-up. We were to stage for Police to clear the scene of a suicide. I chose not to go at this point. When the police say it’s a suicide and not a suicide attempt, we know we’re only going to verify that the patient is in fact dead. It’s a technicality. One that I didn’t feel up to this morning. I don’t know what method the person used to take their life, who this person was or anything about them. I think I made the right call, anyway. After all, I just wrote a post yesterday about how my ‘bad season’ is winter and I get very depressed this time of year. Apparently I’m not the only one.

I know I made the right call. This is such a small town where everybody knows everybody and I don’t want to be in the know about this last call. I just can’t handle it right now.

{November 1, 2012}   Sudden Shift

I woke up today panicking. I got my shit together and called my lawyer. My court hearing is in fourteen days. My lawyer did not help me feel any better about it, either. First of all, my hearing is eighty-five miles from where I live. My truck is dead and needs a starter ($120). I have no income. So how am I supposed to buy a starter and the gas to drive one hundred seventy-five miles round trip?

Then (& I know he’s only playing devil’s advocate) my lawyer went on a spiel about how I took that EMT course and joined the fire/rescue department. He said it looks bad. Well… it’s volunteer. I don’t do any lifting and I don’t go on many calls. I don’t have to do anything. I only go on calls when I feel up to it. That’s why it works for me. I’m not stuck at work for eight hours, I’m not forced to deal with people, I don’t have to try to do anything I can’t handle. I don’t even have to show up if I don’t want to. And I miss probably nine out of ten calls because I don’t feel able to deal with it. What am I supposed to do, rot at home? It’s been a year and a half of nothing for me. Nothing but pain, depression and disappointments. Am I not supposed to try and better myself?

Oh man. I’m just totally freaking out over the hearing. I’m angry and I feel defeated. I feel like I’m stuck. For so many reasons: I try and try, I seem to get nowhere but further behind. I can’t sleep. I lay in bed awake, tossing, turning and hurting til the early morning hours, finally fall asleep from mental & physical exhaustion, only to wake up a couple of hours later, hurting. I don’t do anything fun anymore, I don’t sketch or paint, I haven’t picked up my violin or played my piano in two years. I don’t have the patience to be around anyone, family, friends or even walking through a store.

I am so frustrated and… ‘down’. I’m ready to just say “fuck it” and give up.

{October 1, 2012}   Psych!… Emergencies

It’s incredibly sad and amazing how many psych calls we get in my town. Being on the rescue squad I have to go. I’d really rather not, especially when the patient is wielding a machete. These calls bother me especially and the only reason I can think of is something in each of my psych patients reminds me of me: thirteen year old boy, overdosed on anti-depressants and flipped out in anger. Fifty-nine year old man, lonely, tired of being disabled, overdosed on Oxycodone and pulled a machete when the cops showed up (that was this morning’s call). Forty-two year old female, “just tired”, overdosed on alcohol and Citalopram and turned the gas on in her residence so she could “take a nap and feel better”. Every one of these patients were reaching out for help, wanting someone to care, someone to be there for them. I’ve been there and I still revisit those old feelings from time to time. I understand them, and that scares me, for I know many people don’t and I have heard my own partners call them “crazy” at the end of the shift. They’re not crazy. They’re hurting, they feel defeated and they’re doing the only thing they can in their desperation to say “I need help”.

I console myself by knowing that I was the first one there when they needed the help, I held their hands and I listened to them. Just by being there and giving them my undivided attention I’ve showed them that they are not alone, that people do care about what happens to them. I’ve demonstrated to them that when they need someone, someone will be there for them. I wish I could get to them before they do something drastic and life-threatening, but that’s unrealistic in my profession. I just have to take comfort in knowing that I was there, I am here, and I will go running out the door every time they call, racing to their side to aide them, both physically and emotionally.

{September 16, 2012}   Her Battles

She fights the battles every day-  who she was, what she did, what was done to her. She was happy-go-lucky, naive, the world was hers. She hung around with all of the wrong people, drank alcohol to excess- a drunk and stoned fifteen year old on the fast track to self-destruction. A man took advantage of her innocence, her desire to try everything once. She was broken. She was exiled by her own family. She was lost.


Today she’s looking back at the memories and thinking about how far she’s come. Today she’s down-to-earth, but happy none the less. Today she knows the world is hers, but she knows how to use it, not let it use her. Today she makes it her life to save others lives. Today she lives for the moment, amongst those who truly care for her, and who she truly cares for.

Today she knows who she is. She knows where she belongs. She knows life was meant to live.

My hands are shaking and I can feel my heart pounding, thumping in my chest at an unusually fast pace. I’m pissed off and angry. I’m mad to the point where I could start crying any second. I don’t know why I’m mad. I’ve got nothing to be angry about. I hate everybody, too, though not everyone has done something to me. I feel like a time bomb, ready to explode any second. Maybe I’m not mad… maybe I’m just incredibly sad and pathetic? I’m not sure what I’m feeling. I can’t seem to put it into words. I have an overwhelming fog of mixed feelings: hate, anger, misery, pain, numbness, sadness, isolation, fear, loneliness, unworthiness, uselessness, hopelessness, worry, exhaustion… it’s really too much for me to handle and I’m… breaking.
I want to talk about it, but I don’t know how. How can I tell anyone when I can’t put it into words? It’s building up, a constant, unbearable pressure. I’m frustrated. With myself, with my thoughts and feelings, with my parents, my friends and strangers. I keep thinking, “Why can’t anyone understand?!?!”. but I can’t expect anyone to understand… I can’t even begin to understand it myself. I want to scream, yell, hit something, punch someone, cry, sit in a dark room alone, be with someone, stand up for myself, just give up and collapse. I’m breaking, crumbling under the pressure. I can’t do this anymore. I don’t even know who I am anymore. I feel like a nobody. Am I not good enough anymore? I just want the old me back, no matter how imperfect I was, because I was so much happier before. I just want to laugh without effort, smile without strain. I am completely falling apart… I need someone to hold me together. I feel alone, like there’s nobody in my corner, like if I try and reach out, I will be reaching on forever, without a caring hand to grasp mine. So, I should just save my energy. What’s the point?
My hands are no longer shaking, my heart rate has slowed to a more normal pace and I feel less angered, but still upset, as tears leave stains on my cheeks. Crying is not so bad, I’m not one for crying, but it does help to relieve some stress. Still, I don’t know which is worse… feeling the pain and sadness or the anger? The fog in my head is lifting to some relief and visibility is increasing slightly. I need to know I’m worth the time of day, someone cares and that I make a difference somewhere, anywhere. I need some reassurance that this is going to get better, I won’t always feel like this and the fog in my head isn’t terminal. I feel as though I’m teetering on the brink of a tall, steep slope and I’m losing grip rapidly. I’m afraid… afraid that if I fall, the slope is too slippery and steep to catch myself and I won’t have the energy to climb back up once I hit the rock bottom. I just want to curl up in an empty corner somewhere and sleep forever. I’m scared because this isn’t me, these aren’t my feelings and I feel as though I’m fighting a losing battle with myself. The new me versus the old me and the old me is being defeated quickly, too weak to fight back, facing an almost certain death. I don’t like the new me. I HATE the new me. I can’t BE the new me…
Maybe I should be alone, stay away from other people so my misery doesn’t rub off on them. But I’m tired of being alone. Not in the literal meaning of the word. I’m constantly surrounded by people- people I love, people I know, strangers… but I’m still alone. I need someone to tell me that I’m not alone and that I don’t have to do this on my own… because I don’t think I can. I need help. I need to feel.
I don’t know what’s going on with me and I’m freaking out. I’m scared. I have no control over my thoughts and feelings and it’s all so disorderly… I can’t stand it. I’m spiraling out of control fast. I’m at my wits end, my breaking point. Between the nonstop physical pain and the emotional roller coaster I’m dealing with day in and day out, life has become torturous for me. I’m a prisoner of my body and mind. I feel that I’m not the only one who carries the burden of blame, though.

No, I’m not pregnant. That would be impossible, trust me. However, for the last three or four days I’ve woken up sick to my stomach. I feel fine for the first five or ten minutes that I’m awake, but then severe nausea hits and I dry heave. Then I feel fine again (physically). I can only assume that it’s anxiety. I’ve been a little off lately and my session with my psychotherapist this morning proves that. I think I’ve only ever been anxious about seeing her the first two or three times I met with her. But this morning I was very anxious, I couldn’t stop shaking my leg and fiddling with my hands the entire session. I gave her the painting I did and she seemed like she really liked it… but why can’t I accept a compliment? I feel almost paranoid, like people give me compliments to build me up and then drop me hard. Maybe somewhere in my subconscious I’m thinking that if I don’t accept the compliments and allow myself to feel good about it, then I don’t risk being hurt? I’m not sure.

Back to how I’ve been a little “off” lately… I’m very irritable. The smallest thing like an old man driving ten miles per hour under the speed limit in front of me (when I’ve nowhere to go) pisses me off. The last two sessions of therapy found me to be bitchy, quiet and miserable. I don’t want to go anywhere or see anybody, but I don’t want to stay here. I want to sleep but I don’t want to have the dreams I’ve been having: people whispering about me while looking at me, getting text messages from my friends saying how selfish and miserable I am…

Today I feel hopeless, irreparable. I feel like no amount of medication or therapy will mend the broken, messed up person that I’ve become. Today… I don’t want to face today. I don’t want to be here.

et cetera