End of Shift

This post authored by Ventricular Escape Beats contributor siren911.

bootsI may be hanging up my boots. I was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2007 but was probably infected long before that , perhaps even before I was a Medic in 1996. It was diagnosed as Chronic Tertiary (or end stage) neurological Lyme disease because of the length of time that I had had it, that it was in my CSF and brain and that I was as far, stage wise as I could be. I honestly didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. After all, I got sick every 4 years and always recovered.

This last time I was in remission for 8 years and thought it was gone. In September 2015 I was diagnosed with Dystonia; a neuromuscular disease in the same family as Parkinson’s. I should mention I was diagnosed in 2006 with autonomic dysfunction that has increased dramatically, affecting my pulse and blood pressure mostly. I can be hypo or hypertensive at the drop of a hat, and same with being tachycardic or bradycardic. It also affects my body temperature, and I may have a type of autonomic dysfunction called Ehler Danlos which affects your connective tissue. I was given medicine for my dystonia and worked in a funk till February 29th when I was put on leave. 4 more months would have been 20 years for me.

I have now been home for 7 months and have something in the area of 70 diagnoses, the majority of which were caused by Lyme disease. I really didn’t take it too seriously – it was just Lyme disease, after all. Now, all systems down. You name it and it is affected. My Doctor says the only thing I cannot blame on Lyme is my enlarged liver, sludgedy gall bladder and cholesterol of 387, that is all heredity. (As my son would say “Damn your genes!”) I also cannot blame the Bilateral orbital frontal hypoperfusion and autoimmune cerebritis (AKA brain damage) on Lyme disease. We are looking for the cause now.

I have, I believe, tended to my last patient, responded to my last call, and ended my last shift. I have a wealth of war stories, and a boatload of good, great, excellent and not so good memories to last me for a bit but when I see an ambulance pass running lights and sirens I am torn between running after and hoping on to help or just collapsing into tears where I stand. I have had an awesome career! I got to be a Paramedic when we ran chase cars and no one else had ALS – we were it! I remember responding to Boone county from Campbell county for a call at 3 am. The famous “head south no farther than BB’s in Butler.” I was in the last Paramedic class that NKEMS ever hosted. I was a part of Transcare which was THE service to work for in Northern Kentucky. I loved it all and loved all the dedicated EMTs and Medics I worked with.

I fully intended to do this till I fell over dead. I won’t stop watching fire trucks with all their lights and sirens on like a 5 year old kid in awe. I will always stop for accidents to lend a hand , needed or not. I will always be at all of your shoulders as you work to save a life wishing I could lend a hand. I will always be part of the crowd watching the proud members in their trucks and ambulances slowly driving down the street. I will always understand the pride you feel putting on your uniform to serve your citizens. But most of all, I hope you will never forget me, I was one of you for a very long time and my heart breaks to not be able to continue.

If I am to recover, you bet your boots I will be back. If not, I had a wonderful career and will miss it like no one outside the service would understand.

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