Throughout my EMS career, I’ve often wondered why a certain subset of people call 911 so often. Seemingly minor concerns are blown way out of proportion, and, throwing logic and reason to the wind, they demand that the patient be taken to a specialty ER for examination by a specially trained physician.
Who are these people? What subset of the patient population could I be referring to?
Yes, I owe you all an apology. I never said it out loud, but some of you may have read it in my facial expressions, that I was unsure why you called me in the middle of the night for your baby’s cough, or why you thought your infant needed to go to a pediatric ER just because they bumped their head.
I’m sorry. For serious.
This little guy has turned my world upside down, in some pretty amazing, heart-warming, emotional ways. Our son, Trevor, was born January 3rd, 2018. He is a happy, sweet, loving bundle of amazing energy and learning and curiosity. He just turned three months old. Oh, and we have not had a full night of sleep since 2017. See, Trevor is also confusing, and frustrating, and sometimes, he’s scary. I thought I would have this whole calm, cool, collected parent thing down, because, fuck it, I’m a paramedic, right? I’ve seen some shit. I know what’s a real emergency and what isn’t. There isn’t anything my son could do that would scare me enough to panic and…. wait…. did he just wheeze? Was that a wheeze? Or was he just making a happy noise? I can’t tell. Now he won’t do it again. Is he still breathing? Has his respiratory rate slowed? Now I’ve got my hand on his chest, trying to count breaths, only I’m starting to panic a little and I’ve lost count. Ok, he’s still breathing, and I don’t hear any wheezing. Where was I?
Oh yeah. I didn’t think I would panic. Like those other parents. Those other, fear-stricken, worry-wart, know-nothing parents who were so ill-prepared to have a child that they seemingly are depending on me as a paramedic to assure them that little Johnny’s sneeze isn’t a death-knell, foretelling his future passing from some obscure case of ebola or something like that.
So, I’ve never been so scared of anything in my life as I am that I will screw up my kid. I want him to be the happiest, healthiest little bugger this world has ever seen. I once heard on TV that there is no end to the amount of money that a new parent will spend to make their child happy. At the time, I snorked to myself and thought “those sheeple and their disposable income…. look at them wasting all that money on a kid who literally doesn’t know the difference between their farts and the wind.” Fast forward a bit, and I’ve spent probably $50 or so on finding just the right kind of pacifier for Trevor so that we can try and soothe him 3.2 seconds faster than we could with the old kind. Turns out, he really doesn’t give two shits what kind of pacifier we use, or what color his sleep sack is, or what kind of music we put on to help him fall asleep (we use the super awesome grammy-award-winning children’s lulaby CD I got on Amazon because it had the highest ratings from other satisfied parents like me, by the way), but I still do it. I still obsess over how to make him happier, more comfortable, healthier, sleepier, fuller, smilier, everything-er I can think of – I want it for him.
I owe y’all an apology. I’m one of you, now. I’ve got this kid, who I’m responsible for raising, molding, teaching, loving, growing, protecting, shaping into a grownup. Not sure who thought that was the right idea, trusting this tiny human who laughs at fart noises in the care of a much bigger human who also laughs at fart noises, but here we are.
I will admit, my medical training has come in handy. (Don’t dump water on your kid’s head in the bath, he might try to breathe it in and then you have to get him to cough it back up before he drowns in your tiny infant bathtub in the sink in your kitchen. Just FYI.) But it’s also been a hindrance for me. All of that “shit” I’ve seen? Yeah, now I’m worried every possible thing that can go wrong, that I’ve SEEN go wrong, will now be going wrong for Trevor, or my wife, or for me. I am CONSTANTLY checking to make sure that every possible fire and safety hazard in our house is mitigated, locked up, shut down, protected from danger. I didn’t think it was possible for me to be such a worry-wart with all of my professional fire and EMS training and my years of experience in the field, mitigating other people’s disasters, but here I am. Just last night, I found myself worrying that his humidifier could run out of water, run dry, short out, and start a fire in his room. Who thinks about that? Me, I guess.
So, he’s here. He’s growing. He’s amazing. I love him so much. I’m so proud of every tiny little accomplishment of his. I can’t stop looking at him, even when I’m on shift, we video chat, or I scroll though our thousands (no joke) of pictures of him. And I am scared shitless that I will fuck this up somehow and wish that I could just call somebody to come over and give me some peace of mind that I’m doing the right thing and that I haven’t somehow injured him or set him up to be disabled or dead or something, some kind of medical professional on call who could provide that reassurance for me and……. crap. I’m describing calling paramedics to my house to reassure me that I haven’t screwed up my kid.
Like I said….. I’m one of y’all now. Sorry about that.