I’m going to make an announcement:
I am not immune to the things that I thought I was immune to.
You see folks, I am human, and as a human I am fallible, faulty, and flawed… Just like everyone else. I have emotions, thoughts, feelings, vibes, good stuff, and bad stuff that I carry with me inside this noisy brain of mine. I am not immune to the events that affect my psyche, nor am I immune to carrying the baggage that I obtain or the sadness that splashes on to me in my daily travels.
Of course you know that, right? Because for the longest time, I sure didn’t seem to.
I’m a long-time full-time professional EMS person and as such, I thought I was immune to so much of the stuff that I see on the streets every day. I’ve always said that I will jump right in and work in whatever conditions the job and my life seems to throw at me. I just tried never to get any of it on me personally. Death, destruction, abuse, trauma, pain, sadness, loss, grief… all that stuff seems both very real and yet still surreal to me. I thought that I could bear witness to unfathomable human tragedy on a daily basis without any problem. For many years I still seemed to myself to be able to function normally. I thought I was ok with all of this.
And no… no I wasn’t that’s abundantly clear to me now.
You may have noticed that the blog’s been silent lately, and well… that’s for personal reasons. If you’ve been following me on Twitter and Facebook you probably know why I’ve been silent, but on the blog here I’m just going to say that I’ve had quite the personal upheaval. This, combined with a huge change at work has left me little time to sit and think about writing. It’s not that I didn’t want to write, because I truly love this blog and all of the fantastic people it has brought into my life. I just didn’t want to write crappy or say something I’d regret… so I remained largely silent on here.
I have, however, learned some things and have some things to say:
First of all, to my guys at the Rescue Squad: You are more than my coworkers, you are my brothers. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me. I wouldn’t have gotten through this without you. Family doesn’t begin to describe it. Thank you.
Second of all, to my local friends and Family: Ditto the above. I’ve gotten the chance recently to reintroduce myself to all of my old friends. I’ve missed you guys. Thanks for being you and thanks for being there for me.
And Third, to my blog followers, fans, and interweb friends:
I chanced to look at some of the facebook profiles of the people I’ve been talking to online lately. It’s amazing to me how many mutual friends I have with people I may have never met in person or have only met a few times. The names I see out there on the web are common names in my daily life. Since I started this little place on the interwebs the relationships I’ve been able to make with hundreds if not thousands of fantastic EMS people are amazing. You’ve all been there for me as well and I am literally so appreciative of it. You’ve rejuvenated my EMS career and shown me that there is indeed a future for us all in this business. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it… it’s amazing.
It’s too common for us EMS people to ignore the crap in our own lives and simply drive on towards the next call. We shake off whatever is going on in our personal lives, shake off the sadness and grief that splashes onto us from the streets, and drive on like nothing has happened. We are mission-focused and are confident in our abilities and our immunity. I sure was. I ignored the bad stuff in my own life and focused on my responsibilities. Just like I would have gone on to the next job after a tragic call, I ignored a lot of things and kept my eyes forward. All EMS people tend to do that… we probably have to. The thick shells we develop are most probably a defense mechanism. Personally, psychologically, and physically we ignore what we need and focus on meeting the needs others place upon us. The long hours, the hard calls, the low pay… they do take a toll on us and we have to do more for our own well being than simply paying it lip service. None of us are immune. All of us are human.
It is shocking to me when I look around me at my EMS friends and coworkers and see how much strain they place upon themselves and yet are still able to take the next call. Nobody I know in EMS takes care of themselves like they should. All of them ignore their own well-being. I did that too, and even when I say that I’m going to focus in on taking care of me for a while, I feel selfish.
Well take it from me, you’re not selfish for putting your own needs first every now and then. It will make you a better person, and a better provider. If I could do things over again, I would have met some of my own needs and I bet that things might have changed for me… but I didn’t, and I can’t… and that’s ok. We all have new beginnings in our lives and this is my opportunity to do just that.
To my EMS people out there: Evaluate yourselves right now. Refocus on what’s truly important… don’t play SuperMedic because you’re just as human as I am. I also am issuing a challenge to everyone out there: Just as my coworkers became my surrogate family after my issues and watched me to make sure that I was ok, you all have to do that for your coworkers and friends as well. We depend on you, you should depend on us too.
Stay safe out there.