Sunday, April 6, 2014

Wear Your Seatbelt

    Yesterday, another quiet Saturday evening disrupted by the bleating of my pager. It was a motor vehicle accident. A pickup that had flipped and rolled, ending up on its side in a ditch. The lone occupant was partially ejected through the rear window. An excellent public service announcement for the need to always wear your seat belt. From the moment of my very first call I knew that it was not my place, nor my inclination to judge any of the victims, my patients, these people who may very well be having the worst day of their life. How they got to need our help is not what is important, but how kindly we treat them is. Once again, I found myself cradling, protecting, a bloody head. Talking calmly, quietly. Reassuring this once-stranger that we were doing everything and anything to get him out of the truck and onto a life flight helicopter. I am good at this. At least this one aspect of it. Staying calm and kind in the midst of a certain level of organized mayhem. Flashing lights, power tools, metal being wrenched apart by freakishly powerful cutting tools that make cutting metal as easy as slicing a piece of pie. I find that half of my brain shuts it all out and focuses strictly on the entity and life form in my care, while the other half of my brain keeps tabs on the comings and goings of my fellow First Responders. An interesting thing about motor vehicle accidents; the paramedics are not allowed to approach until the patient has been extricated. Only firefighters in the proper protective gear are allowed to be hands-on at the scene. We are fortunate to have a number of very qualified people in our organization. My station has several EMTs, and one paramedic, who happened to be first on scene. I was in the second vehicle on scene, oddly, in the officer's seat. I directed the guys in the back seat to set up traffic cones and then I was immediately put in charge of head and neck stabilization. Once you are in that particular job, you stay there until it is done. It is a critical, though narrow, duty. And one I take very seriously. It may not be as glamorous as attacking the vehicle with the Jaws of Life, or shearing through steel with power cutters, but it is what I am good at. Once the roof of the truck was removed, and we carefully rolled the patient (who was doing far better than one might have expected) onto a backboard, carried him to the waiting gurney, then and only then could I relinquish the job to the Life Flight paramedic. I stepped away. One of my cohorts gestured to me, suggesting I shed my turnout jacket. I looked down and realized I looked like a walking biohazard. Oddly, it didn't bother me as much as it might have. I was doing something I am good at, and if it was a bit messy, then so be it. I know a day will likely come when I walk into a scene that is far gorier, with a patient who is not doing so very well, and it will be shocking and disturbing. I will likely come face to face with death from a multitude of causes. All I can hope is that when this happens, I will still be able to speak calmly and kindly, reassuring my patient that we are doing everything and anything we can to make sure they get where they need to go as quickly as possible. I do love this job.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Life Is Funny

    Funny how events manage to make me take a good, long look at where I'm at, in all regards. I have really come to the conclusion, that despite some efforts to the contrary, I am in no way, shape, or form even remotely ready to allow myself to enter into anything resembling a "normal" relationship. I don't feel any bitterness or angst at this realization. Maybe a bit of gloomy resignation, though. I have waded into the waters of relationships, twice in the last year or so. And twice failed. I think I emit a "do not enter" vibe. Early this year I tested the waters with my toes, and was shocked at my own lack of interest. Truly, no interest. I felt nothing. It frightened me. Made me feel broken, damaged, unbalanced. I walked away and resolved to just let it all go. I do not need anyone to make me feel whole or complete. I actually feel more vibrant, intact, and vital than I have in... in... in I don't know how long. A decade? More? I finally feel like I am my very own person. Deep down to the core, I am Me. I am Mine. It is a giddy sensation, really. The funniest part, is that in my realization that the last thing on earth I need or want is a relationship, I have managed to find a kindred spirit in the morass of life. No, we don't want to go steady. We don't feel the need for daily texts, endless chit chat, date night, declaring our... our... whatever it is, on Facebook or other social media. Instead, we get together when we have some free time, which is a rare thing for both of us. There is no pressure to spend X amount of time together, or apologize for a busy life. It is unique, this thing I have found, it fills a need without being needy. It is the absolute least complicated situation I have ever found myself in. There are no lies, no broken promises, no failed expectations. It is open, honest, interesting, a bit deviant. There is nothing grown-up or adult about it, and yet it is a most mature and intelligent exchange. There is no pressure for me to give up one iota of my freedom, no requests for compromise, no passive-aggressive ploys for attention, no guilt tripping over my ridiculously full and fulfilling lifestyle. I am Me. I am Mine. And that is the way I like it.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thought Provoking

    I had my evening interrupted by my pager, a cry for help from a lonely, depressed man with art supplies scattered about his isolated home. There was quite a bit of blood, honestly more than I have seen before, although it was not a life threatening amount. I am touched deeply by situations such as these, knowing that he must have been in deep emotional pain to have inflicted so many wounds on his body. I've found that on scene I may not be the most knowledgeable, or even the most helpful, but one thing I am good at is being kind to patients. The compassion and empathy I feel for people in tough situations runs through me like my own blood, warm and vital. Helping a patient onto a gurney, careful to prevent further pain, cradling their head to prevent them hitting it on the railing, lowering it gently onto the pillow. Covering them to keep them warm, and to help protect their dignity. Even holding their hand while they vomit. Yes, I've done that, too. It is what makes me most useful at the scene, I think. Last night there was a deputy who asked me to ask the ambulance driver to hold up for a moment so he could find some clothing for the patient to take with him. He had been stripped down to what we call "trauma naked," in order to fully assess and appropriately treat his wounds, of which there were many. In passing, I told the deputy, "You are very kind," he thanked me, the other deputies had teased him a little, good naturedly, but teased him none the less. But to me it was a very compassionate act, one the deputy did not have to do. It is the little things I see in life that have the most impact sometimes. My life has certainly changed in the last 2 years. It is amazing what can happen when you decide to free yourself from the weight of others' inability to move forward, stop letting your life be tied down by what is instead of what could be, and go off in pursuit of your own dreams. Two years ago I never could have imagined I would be here and now.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Clean

    Cetalopram, Trazadone, Tramadol, melatonin, MSM, lysine, niacin, naproxim sodium, ibuprofin, pancreatic enzymes. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety, anti-insomnia, anti-inflammatory, antacids. Sleep aids, pain relief, relaxants, digestive aids. Prescriptions, over the counter, herbal, naturopathic. There was so much I needed to take to feel a semblance of balance, mentally and physically. Two years ago, life pushed me to the breaking point. I nearly broke, but did not. I bent. I bent low under the weight of all that that swirled around me, threatening to envelop me, suffocate me, beat me to a pulp. Two years ago I was willing to do whatever it took, whatever the doctor prescribed, whatever herbal remedy seemed to offer a glimmer of hope, in order to bring my mind in off the ledge, to pull myself out of an abyss that threatened to swallow me whole and regurgitate me as a pile of hair and bone. It has been a long two years, a remarkable journey. Tonight, I sit here sipping my mint and rosemary tea, after a dinner of green smoothie, reveling in the fact that I am no longer taking any form of readjustment. No prescriptions, no over the counter, no herbal remedies, no meds of any kind. None. It is mind boggling, actually. After decades of reliance on some form of pain relief, digestive aid, sleep aid, and antidepressant, I am free and clear. I have been "clean" for several months now, since before Yule. The funny thing, I can't say I feel any better than I did when I was juggling a pharmacopoeia balancing act, but I definitely don't feel any worse. I am sleeping decently, which for me means only waking up 4 or 5 times a night. My mood swings are moderate, especially compared to the unbridled mayhem of two years ago, though still possibly alarming if viewed in public. My chronic joint pain is exactly that, chronic, but NSAIDS certainly weren't helping all that much, as I know now. The chronic heartburn that plagued me for 20 years went away when I stopped consuming wheat. Yes, I do have a delicate digestive system, but I think that is related to hormones as much as anything, and the fact that our government allows food manufacturers to slowly poison us with chemicals and genetically modified Frankenfood.
    The long and short of it is that I am managing my mental and physical health through clean eating and manic exercise. I know that my quirky, slightly obsessive eating habits have made a world of difference in how my mind and body feel. I also know that two to three hours of rigorous physical activity nearly every day has a monumental effect on how well I sleep, how my body feels, and how my brain functions with fewer missteps. No, it is not easy. No it is not an exact science. Yes, it was far easier to medicate things down to a mellow grey and live my life in a bit of a fog, but I do not want to live in fog. It is a delicate balancing act, and I know I am always walking that fine line. I am more fragile without the help of doctor sanctioned little helpers, but that is a risk I am willing to take. Yes, I keep my guard up, work hard to protect myself, build high walls around the delicate garden of my soul. But, to be free of the shackles of one more little white pill, to not panic when I run low on sleep meds, or pain meds, or happy pills, is a freedom that I never imagined. I feel like it is one more step in regaining my power, rebuilding myself stronger and better than ever, reconnecting to a part of myself that I had thought gone for good. One more step down the path towards ultimate health and fitness of body, mind, and soul.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Too Fragile

    So much ricochets around inside my skull, seeking a way out, an escape into the sunlight. Too much. When I swim I manage to quiet my mind, mostly. Lap after lap, concentrating on stroke mechanics, hearing nothing bu the sounds of my hands dipping into the water and the bubbles of my own, rhythmic breathing. It is a good time for Brain to shut the hell up. Cycling is much the same, with my legs pumping in steady cadence, sweat pouring off my body, muscles pleasantly burning, mind quelled as I concentrate on smooth technique. There is always too much to think about, to analyze, dissect, flay, vivisect. I see the correlation between my drive for physical strength, and my inner fragility. I hate that I am fragile, delicate, sometimes brittle. I want to be strong, supple, powerful. I know I hide myself away, avoiding situations that might reveal my inner weaknesses. This has become reflexive, protective, self-preservation. I seem to have a talent for extending myself at the wrong moment, in the wrong place, maybe in the wrong way, and I bear the brunt of the backlash. It has made me reactive, over-reactive, flinchy, twitchy, gun-shy. Once burned, twice shy. Well, more than once burned, but who's counting? I have decided to truly listen to my inner voice, finally. Instead of rushing along, diving in too deep, leaping before I look, I have come to the the realization that I am just too damned fragile to risk that part of me that is most easily harmed. Instead I will continue on, making Body a sacred fortification to shelter the delicate Id, that part of me that is so susceptible to whim, desire, unthinking action. That part of me that takes me on dangerous trips where I lay my heart on the line. That inner voice that sings the Siren's song, luring me to take the plunge and likely drown in the cold, dark depths. Body is strong, powerful, protective, the rest of me is delicate, brittle, fragile. I will heed common sense that tells me to shelter the fragile Me, the delicate Id. For once, I will listen to that voice that tells me I am too easily broken to take risks. Once again, I build a protective shell, to keep myself whole and sane.

Monday, March 3, 2014

What Price Freedom?

    Freedom comes at a cost. Both financial and physical. Looking at my bank balance (which is quite ugly at the moment), and having spent part of my evening trying in vain to massage my own shoulders after many hours of arduous do-it-yourself home improvements, I can't help but think how nice it would be sometimes to have a partner. I see other couples sharing expenses, splitting chores (many hands make light work), being there in support at times of need, and giving the occasional shoulder rub, and I can't but help be a bit envious. True, I answer to no one. My body, heart, and soul are mine to do with what I will at any given moment without having to check in with anyone. I do the mental account balancing, pros and cons, pluses and minuses, checks and balances. Sometimes my accounts come up short, usually though, they are stable and solid. But I do pay the price, there is no doubt. I know that down the road, the older I get, the less likely it is that someone will enter my life as a reliable partner. Oh sure, I have a partner in crime, but that is a whole 'nother situation altogether. I really do think that I have mentally reached the realization that I will likely be alone, at least in the whole "life partner" kinda way, for the rest of my life. After my latest failure in this arena I have just come to the point that I almost don't care anymore. I mean really, what is the point? Do I want someone in my life demanding time and energy, likely leaving me in a deficit? Or would I rather be queen of my own little world, and to hell with reality? But I do pay the price. I struggle, I admit. Life is tough for anyone who is going it alone, unless they are fortunate enough to make a good living, which I do not, and they can afford to pay for services, which I can't. Instead, it is all on me, every bill, every cooked meal, every home improvement, every dish washed, all me. No wonder I have absolutely no spare time. That is the price I pay. A small price for freedom, really, but sometimes it hurts nonetheless.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Uncharted Territory

    Life has an interesting way of luring me down darkened side streets. Oh how I have strayed from the safe and narrow confines of the vanilla way of life. Freedom of heart and body, and the realization that love is not enough, nor what I seek, has allowed me the latitude to search for new pathways that lead to interesting, dark, forbidden areas. Always alluring, are the dark secrets that lurk deep within, hiding from the light, protected from the public eye, held tight, wishing for an opportunity to let them out into the light to play. Wish no more. My freedom has led me to realize that only I can make the choice to pursue these tantalizing daydreams, images held tight in my hand, clasped close to my chest. I have set aside fear of rejection, reproach, scandal, scorn, raised brows, and ostracism. I have chosen to explore the unknown with a willing partner in crime, though our antics will never see the light of day. Such things are best left to the shadows, or so I believe. None the less, to embark on such an odd odyssey, such unfamiliar, unsafe ground, is enough to have rekindled the fire that I had thought lost to me, doused one too many times, until only ash remained. Once again, I burn bright, a white-hot flame, a conflagration. No, this is not about love, because love is not enough. This is uncharted territory, new to me, the deep unknown, Here There Be Monsters.