My Blog…And I Need To Get It Out.

11 Dec

I’m sitting here in my cozy house, protected from the outside elements, and I finished a book that made me think.  And made me panic.

It’s a book about a paramedic’s experiences.  As medics, we all have stories that we think would make good books.  We see the absolute best in people, and we also see the absolute worst.  So bad, other people can’t imagine.  And what do we get for our dedication and sacrifices?  We get punched, vomited on, kicked, scratched, cussed at, and God only knows what else.  I’ve been called a cunt, a whore, a fucking bitch.  My kids lives have been threatened.  I’ve been caught in the middle of gang cross-fire.  I’ve almost been tased.  I’ve missed out on holiday celebrations, school meetings, and first goals.  And I loved almost every minute of it.

Almost.

There are those calls that haunt my memory.  And I know I have mentioned them before.  But that is what they do…they haunt me.  I will forget for a long time, and then I will be assaulted by memories.  Memories that can knock the breath out of me.  Visions that can bring me to my knees.  The smells, the screams, the terror on patients faces.  It all comes back.

While certain visions will never fade…the details do.  And that makes me panic.

I will never forget the brain matter oozing out of the fracture in the skull.  Or the two shoes laying on the pavement over 50 feet away.  The way the neck swelled, inhibiting any chance I have of getting a viable airway.  The arm that was shattered.  The femur fracture.  The slight movement of the head when the brain stem said it was time to try to breathe.  The rhythm on the monitor that told me this poor patient was still alive, still feeling, still fighting to live.  The absolute despair I felt knowing the patient was dying a very slow, very painful death.

And there wasn’t shit I could do about it, but remember his/her name.  Remember he/she was a person that may have had a great life.  To remember him/her so I could remember I did everything I could.

And I was forgetting his/her damn name!

I had to remember…if the name went completely into the recesses of my brain, I would never get it back.  And I need to think of him/her every once in a while.  Because maybe no one else does.  I was the last person my patient saw.  Maybe he/she looked at me as his/her last hope in the world, and I let him/her down.

I was frantic…I pulled out old newspaper clippings and subpoenas.  I was rocking back and forth in my office, muttering to myself.  I sounded, and looked, crazy.  But I had to find it.  I had to remember.  Someone needs to remember this person.

I found it, and I sighed with relief.  I stared at the name for a long time, going over every second of the call that was slipping from my memory.  I remembered some things I had forgotten about, and it honestly made me feel better.  I did do everything I could.  I pulled out all the stops, threw every ounce of ammunition I had at my disposal.  The patient was never going to make it, and I knew it from the second I arrived on scene.  So why did this one haunt me?  I’ve seen hundreds of deaths, of people dying.  If it can happen, there is a good chance I have seen it.  So why this one?

Because before the eyes closed one last time, the patient looked at me.  No, not even at me, but into me.  And all I could do was look back.

Those are the times I get haunted.  When I am the last thing anyone sees in this world.  I have to believe that we cross over, that our souls go somewhere else.  It is not an option for me to believe once we leave here, that’s it.  Something else needs to be waiting for them, and for us.

I know someday, I will forget the name altogether.  And maybe then, it won’t matter if I do.  But right now, it matters greatly.  Because there are so many times I am left with just the visions, and it sucks.  I hate not being able to complete the whole memory.  So many times I never got a name.

An 18-month old whose parents poisoned him, and all I can do is hold him as he seized for his last few minutes on earth.  The mother whose screams grew louder the closer I walked to her, because she knew I was going to tell her that her adult child had committed suicide.  The desperation on a patient’s face whose husband has beat her.  The terror that was visible on a 12 year-old face when she saw my male partner walk into the room.  The way a three year-old ran up to me and held on for dear life, and would not let go.  The fear in my partner’s face when we were held at gun point.  The look on an addict’s face when they take too much and they overdose.  The reactions of new parents when their baby isn’t breathing.  The reaction of my partner when a baby isn’t breathing.  The grinding of bone when a two-year old hit by a car gets thrown in my arms, and I caught him by his fractured femur.

I have good visions, too.

A mother’s face when I hand her a new baby.  The relief when I yell out ‘I have a rhythm!’.  The joy when people realize their loved one is OK.

The bad far outweighs the good.

And we deal with it.  We are not trained, for it, but we deal with it.  And sometimes, we deal with it very, very crassly.

I laugh at things I should never laugh at.  I joke about things that should never be joked about.  And every single person does it in my position.  If you are ever privy to this side of me, don’t judge.  I do it so I can continue to help everyone else.

But I also remember everything I can.  Because everyone deserves to have someone remember them.

Love, Esme

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6 Responses to “My Blog…And I Need To Get It Out.”

  1. Theresa December 11, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    Thank you for sharing and thank you for doing a job that only certain people could ever do.

    • Esme December 11, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

      Thank you, T. It’s a calling, and I truly love it.

  2. thoughtsappear December 13, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    This post really spoke to me. I just returned from a Special Operations conference. Medic after medic told stories of how they couldn’t save fellow Soldiers or didn’t save as many as they wanted to. The bad does outweigh the good, but you’re still helping. All you have to do is save one. You’re amazing.

  3. Nikki B December 13, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    I don’t really have any words, Esme. This is a really powerful post.

    To remind you of the better side, a couple years ago I really underestimated a surgery. A couple friends showed up to check on me, and I passed out, had a seizure, and threw up. Thank god one of my friends was an EMT, he made sure I was safe, and rolled me on my side so I didn’t choke on my vomit. His GF was on the phone to 911 immediately and didn’t panic.

    When the EMTs got here, I was conscious. But I had vomit in my hair and one eye (I had surgery on a ruptured retina). I wouldn’t stop apologizing for the vomit. Your post makes me realize, I might have been one of the lighter calls they’ve received.

  4. Sarah March 6, 2012 at 5:08 am #

    This honestly made me cry. You have a wonderful way of expressing yourself, I admire your strength to continue.
    Absolutely beautiful piece of writing.

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  1. Write a Letter of Appreciation Week « Thoughts Appear's Blog - March 7, 2012

    […] not just military medics that do that, people in the civilian world (like fellow blogger Esme) do their best to save lives every […]

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