Revisiting Mental Health…. Again…. and Again…

I wrote about the Code Green Campaign back in 2016 in my post about calling a code on our mental health. I was talking about how some of my “ghosts” haunt me, revisit me, remind me of some of the worst calls I’ve ever been on. It happens to me frequently. At night. During the day. When my mind wanders. When I run into an old partner. When I run the same type of call. When I’m training a new hire and they ask a question that reminds me of a patient with the same type of symptoms. I guess since I’ve been “doing this” for 15+ years, I’ve run enough calls that I’ve got more than a few bad memories stacked up inside my head, and some of them bubble up to the surface occasionally. Sometimes I can just shake it off. Sometimes they stick around, and I sit with it for a while and think about how the call went. How it made me feel then, and how it makes me feel now. Sometimes I think about what lessons I still carry with me as a result of the call, because I try to never let a “bad” call be in vain. A very dear mentor friend of mine told me that every death in the field should be a gift in some way to a field provider, that we should still be able to learn from it, and grow stronger as providers and be able to better care for patients and their family members as a result of having gone on that call, even if we weren’t able to have a positive outcome for that particular patient. I also write things down in journals, so I can look back and reflect on them. I talk to friends and coworkers. I talk to my family, sometimes more than they would like, I think. Probably most importantly, I talk to a therapist. Not as often as I should, but I have built a trusting relationship with a clinically trained therapist who specializes in working with public safety employees, and I know that I can reach out to her when needed, and that’s a valuable tool in my mental health toolbox. So why am I revisiting this topic again, today?

Continue reading “Revisiting Mental Health…. Again…. and Again…”

The People Who Make Up My Life

My wife joined my life journey unexpectedly, and has remained a steadfast and constant source of compassion and comfort.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how people move in and out of my life. Quickly. Slowly. Suddenly and abruptly. Gradually or almost without noticing. The amount of time they spend in my life, in my physical presence seems completely unrelated to the amount of time they remain in my conscious and subconscious mind for days, weeks, and years after we part ways. Did they become a part of my life because I was born into a family they were already a key part of, as with my Gramma, and so I never knew a world without her as I grew up, forming every early memory and becoming the person I am today with so many of her fingerprints all over my way of thinking, of being, how I interact with people, how I think about the world around me? Or were they a coworker who became like a family member to me, a brother or sister, who I could trust with my life in a heartbeat, and who would trust me with theirs just the same? Were they a patient? Brought into my life by maybe the worst part of theirs, expecting me to solve their most dire problem at a moment’s notice, together for perhaps only minutes or an hour, and gone again just as fast.

Continue reading “The People Who Make Up My Life”

EMS Week 2020!

EMS_Week_2020_Final_CMYK-scaledIt’s EMS WEEK 2020! It sure doesn’t feel like it, though. Usually as we are approaching this week, we’re talking about crew breakfasts, the EMS week banquet, service recognition events, team-building, and other fun events. Instead, our discussions are focused on things like PPE utilization, COVID alert rates, disease spread, and community fatality rates. Much of the work that ACEP and NAEMT have done in preparing for EMS Week this year has basically been to support all of us in EMS in continuing to do the job that we love so much in the face of such a strange and challenging pandemic, rather than their traditional roles of cheer-leading and boosting morale during this week. Continue reading “EMS Week 2020!”

The Socially Awkward Medic

03ff4d26895997.5635dddabbf33I’m awkward. I’m introverted. I struggle sometimes with depression and anxiety. I’ve been, at one time or another, diagnosed with clinical depression, major depression, social anxiety, social phobia, and an anger disorder. You might be reading this paragraph and wondering aloud, “how the hell does he function as a paramedic?” – and you’re not alone. I wonder this sometimes myself.

There is a part of me that is unsure of myself, self-doubt abounds, especially when I’ve made a mistake, or think I’ve made a mistake. I try to always do right by my patients, to ease their pain, settle their mind, make them more comfortable. Some patients are unhappy no matter what I do. Some patients die no matter what I do. I’ve been in EMS for about 10 years now, and I’m starting to accept this reality, that dissatisfaction and death are a regular part of my job, and that there’s not always anything I can do about it except smile, do my best, and then move on to the next emergency. Continue reading “The Socially Awkward Medic”

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. Continue reading “End of Shift”

Code Green – Mental Health in EMS

codegreen

It’s time to call a code on our mental health.

Everyone in EMS experiences stress. Some of us work for rural, remote EMS services that make only a few runs a month. Some work for busy, urban services that make hundreds or thousands of runs a month. There are many ways in which such services differ, but no matter the size or type of service, we’ve all been stressed out by a call, by a patient, by a coworker, by home life – and at one point or another, you will have a hard time dealing with that stress. Continue reading “Code Green – Mental Health in EMS”