Saturday, October 30, 2010


I did something yesterday that I've never done before.

I walked into my supervisor's office and told him I was having a hard time dealing with a recent call. That I've started having nightmares about Josh--that I walk out of the living room and come back and find he's crawled into the middle of the road. That he rolls out of bed again and gets hurt. That I put him in bed with me and accidentally suffocate him, or that I'm not watching and he chokes on a raisin.(Note: I do not allow my five-month-old to eat raisins. However, he puts everything he finds into his mouth.)

I think all moms have these fears.
I think paramedic moms have these fears with accompanying memories. Not only do we worry about our child running into the road, we see the face of a little child hit by a car. Not only do we worry about our child choking, we see the face of the little girl and how we tried to protect her airway, and couldn't. We still worry about the neighbor's pool, but we also close our eyes and remember the still, cold feel of a two year old underneath our hands as we tried, unsuccesfully, to force life back into her wet body.

So I followed my husband's request and went and talked to my supervisor. It helped. A lot.
Sometimes, especially as people who do things like run into burning buildings and deal with the messiest, grossest parts of humanity in the back of our ambulance, I think we start believing that we're different. That it doesn't affect us the way it does normal people. That all those calls just fade into the distance, all the hands we've held, all the things we've done to people's bodies in futile attempts to save their lives. But I don't think it does. I think we learn something from each patient, even(especially?) the ones we lose. I think that each time we have a call, it is just a culmination of all the calls I've had before. Everytime I walk away from a call, no matter how BS or serious, I take something of that patient with me--some small lesson I've learned.

And sometimes you hit upon that culmination and can't move past it. That's when it's okay to hold out your own hand and grasp someone else's. It's okay to ask for help to get up over that mountain so you can move on.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Overwhelming stuff....

Josh is sleeping, Rob is on a fire call, and I'm sitting here working on my paramedic refresher. Every three years, we have to go back to class and re-pass a refresher in order to keep our certifications. Fortunately, I got into a little different program that New York state is trying out, and I earn continuing education credits during those three years and then do a core class online. It's working out well; instead of spending Saturdays away from my family, Josh and I lay on the floor and watch the videos and do the quizzes and reading material. Okay, I do that, and Josh plays with his toys and drools on the keyboard. But he thinks it's great, and laughed all the way through the training on snowmobile accidents.

That's my kid.

This refresher is going to take a great deal of time. I'm trying to devote two hours a day to it, in case I go get my critical care paramedic certification this spring, or decide to take a class or two towards my master's. And, mostly, I just want to get it done and over with long before my paramedic certification expires.

But it's just one more thing to add to an ever growing list. I can't seem to keep my house clean with only two walking people living here. I find that I just want to get rid of stuff. And I'm starting to go crazy waiting for the money for the upstairs carpet, because we're trying to cram a 2300 square foot house into just the downstairs, and the boxes are starting to pile up.
Mostly, I want to move into a house that has a better design, and closets, and STORAGE, but that's going to be several years down the road.
And I am trying to sell a bunch of stuff on Ebay to save up for carpets, and I sold quite a bit, but then I found a whole lot of stuff that I wanted to buy and...oops. Spent more money than I had planned, and now I still have a lot of clothing and things I want to sell.
Plus the regular cleaning and baby playing and dirty diapers and cooking and organizing.

Sometimes, it's just all completely overwhelming.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


It has been such a long couple of weeks. My great-grandmother suffered a stroke on Thursday and passed away on Friday. She was 98, but in good health, so it wasn't really an expected death. I had been meaning to get down to see her for weeks, never seemed to happen.
Then after we decided that I needed to dramatically scale back at work, we got slammed again--nobody is working overtime anymore, so that's around eight grand we're losing, plus we got notified that there aren't going to be hours at our per diem job where Rob has been working at least a 24 hour shift for over a year. This is a drastic pay cut for us, and I can't quite figure out what we're going to do. I won't put on here what we were making together with the overtime and per diem job, but we were quite comfortable. So now I'm struggling, trying to figure out what to do.
And then.
Driving home today with Josh in the backseat, just a few miles back into my county, a vehicle in front of me hit a little four-year-old boy.
What am I to do? I'm a paramedic. I pulled over.
But I had nothing with me, not even a pair of gloves.
I asked a friendly looking bystander to please go check on my son, sleeping in his car seat in the back of the car. I attempted what stabilization I could, and prayed that the ambulance would get there soon. I borrowed a firefighter's radio and tried to contact my crew coming in what we had and how bad it was. I tried to keep my voice from shaking on the radio, tried to keep the thought that could be my son out of my head.
And when the helicopter lifted off, after I did everything I could do, and so did the firefighters and the ambulance crew and the helicopter nurse and paramedic, I pulled my son out of his car seat and held him close. The wind from the helicopter blew his hair, and he smiled his big gummy smile, and kissed me on the cheek.
Mommy, he said in his four-month-old talking way, I know that you are my mommy, and I love you.
And I kissed my beautiful little boy back, and looked over at the other mother standing there, watching her little boy, now very badly injured, lift off into the sky to get to a hospital where they could help him.
Oh, my precious little boy. Everythign else faded away in that moment--worrying about the money and the hours and the time and all of that. I get to wake up tomorrow morning to a happy, beautiful, whole baby son crawling onto my chest and kissing me till I wake up and smile at him.
There is nothing in the world that is worth giving that up for.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Another one of those days.
I was sick, Rob was at working overnight, so of course Josh chose now to lurch into a growth spurt and need to start night feedings again, after three and a half months of not needing them. Between coughing and generally icky all night, and being alone, and taking care of Josh, I got about three hours of sleep.

And then I let Josh sleep in the bed because then he would actually sleep, and I was so exhausted I fell asleep in the living room in the recliner, and got woken up by a loud thud and Josh screaming. Yep, he'd fallen out of bed. So I scooped up Josh, did the full paramedic-head-to-toe thing, decided he was okay, and then snuggled him until he put his thumb in his mouth and fell back asleep. By then I was wide awake and never did get back to nap today.

So I filled the day doing mundane things, like laundry and vacuuming and dishes, and lots and lots of playing with Josh, who had no interest in naps today. And then Rob came home, and my sister( and her two kids came over, and we had to get all three kids washed and dressed and ourselves re-dressed and run out to a Very Important Chamber of Commerce meet and greet at work, since my mom was unexpectedly out of town and we had no babysitters, so we took the kids to this very adult event.
Yes, that was fun. Fortunately we have adorable and well behaved children, so it was okay. We kept feeding the two-year-old fruit and crackers, and the babies kept everyone enertained with smiles and giggles, and they were probably the highlight of the event.

And then we came home and I looked up tables for FLN's Christmas dinner concert and found two still available, so if you want to come sit with us, buy yourselves tickets for table 1 and 2, and I don't have to eat with strangers.

So this is my life. I never claimed it was exciting, but, somehow, it is definately exhausting.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I'm having one of those weeks.

One of those weeks where I check my college's alumni boards to see what the people I graduated with are doing with their lives, six years out of college. This never fails to depress me, because the college I went to is an academically rigorous, pre-graduate/professional school prep college. Thus the fact that over 70% of their alumni go on to earn advanced graduate degrees, write books, become attorneys and doctors and professors and engineers, and other such impressive feats, should be no surprise.

Note: I have not done any of this. I started, but did not finish, an M.Ed. I may finish in the next year, I may not, I don't know.

Or maybe it isn't reading my peers' impressive accomplishments. I know I've come down with pneumonia, but have been trying to put off going to the doctor because antibiotics really screw with my blood sugar, and I walk around a hypoglycemic zombie. But nothing else I've done is working, and Rob told me that I need to go tomorrow.

Or maybe because I've been sick, we've been eating so bad, and that always depresses me too, when I'm stuck relying on take out, canned soup and boxed macaroni and cheese. What we put it our bodies affects so much more than just weight(oh, there's another depressing topic, but, hey, I had a baby four and a half months ago)---and the overload of salt, sugar, and other preservatives never fails to mess with me.

But Rob is done at work up at SSA tomorrow afternoon for the week, and I will go to primary care and get the Z-pack and hope it's not bad enough that I wind up admitted, and next week is another week. So tonight I'm going to bed and hopefully sleeping well for the first time in days, and then tomorrow just take it easy and hang out with Josh.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


It's been a hard week.

I've been hurt.

Deeply. And felt trampled on. Someone who I thought was a close friend has turned out not to be. Someone who I thought had my back turned out to be trashing me, up and down, behind my back.

And it hurts.

I don't have a lot of friends. I work in a male-dominated profession, and we're still trying to find a church we're comfortable with, and even though my husband keeps telling me to go do activities, I can't explain to him that I can't find anything profitable. I've found that moms groups and things of that nature seem to be turn into nothing more than husband bashing sessions. I adore my husband, and I don't have much to criticize him for. And, honestly, I have too much respect for Rob to sit around and publicly talk about the ways he fails(and he respects me enough to not air all the ways I fail, either). I don't like them.

But it leaves me with no one to really talk to about this. To say that I'm hurt and wounded. To try to sort out what I did wrong(and, honestly, it was probably nothing; this person thinks that by trashing me it makes him look good, and it isn't only me he's suddenly turned against). Sometimes we all just need a shoulder to cry on, but right now, I wish so much that I had a really good friend to just go out to lunch with, and play with the baby, or sit on my futon and watch a movie and have a cup of hot chocolate.

But it will be okay. I suspect I'm no different than most young moms who struggle with changing roles and ideas and opinions. And I have a beautiful, beautiful baby boy, and a husband who adores me and wants nothing but the best for me. There is so much love in my home, and I am so glad that I have this to come back to when the rest of the world seemes against me.

Friday, October 8, 2010


It was one of those calls that sends chills down a mother's spine.

Little girl, lost in forest, going on 6 hours now. Two counties are there, the police and fire departments and command trailer and now they are calling in a dive team to search the pond in the forest and now they are calling in an ambulance--my ambulance--to stand by for whatever they find.

I find a babysitter, go downtown. We've sent a crew, I'm covering the county.
I miss my son.

The parents are on scene, no, now they've gone to get their dog in case he can help trace her scent. It was a school trip, playing some sort of hide and seek game in the forest with middle schoolers(which just makes it reason #3,219 why I'm homeschooling). It's getting dark. It's getting cold. She's 11, and not dressed for the weather. Cut off shorts and a t-shirt, and the sun has set and the October night air has rolled in. It's cold even for the rescuers.

We're busy downtown; high fevers, cuts, drunks, the usual. We're thinking about the crews up at the search scene, preparing for all night. I call my mom and tell her she may have the baby all night, because if the search continues through I will be sent up there, and my husband won't be home from work until 3 am. It's getting darker, and colder. I think about the parents, about my son, about how I would be. I would be needed sedation, to be honest. I think about looking at a member of the dive team, knowing he was going down in the pond, looking for my child's body.
This makes me sick, and I can't think about it anymore.

My pager vibrates while we're on the way back. They're calling for mutual aid from my fire department, requesting 4 personnel and our 6x6. They request that they all wear yellow or orange coats or vests to stay reflective. I think of my golden retriever at home, and remember that we need to train him to search for my son by scent. It's on our to do list, but my four month old isn't particularly mobile yet, so I don't think about it too often.

And then everyone is turned back. She's been found, 7 hours missing, in some of the heaviest brush in the forest. She walked for hours once she realized she was lost, hours and hours, kept walking in circles. Finally she sat down and waited, curled up into a ball to stay warm. I remember that I should teach Josh what to do in case he is lost(stay where you are. Sit down, and wait. Yell so we can hear you. If you get cold, here is how to create a shelter. Mommy and Daddy will find you, just stay where you are. Don't be afraid if someone comes that you don't know, this time you can go with them. They will tell you that they've been looking for you, and what fire department they are with. Mommy will be waiting for you back at the command trailer, because they will probably not let Mommy search for you. And if you are hurt, Mommy will be in the back of the ambulance with you, and will probably tell the paramedic what to do).

I think of all the things that I need to teach Josh, and I wonder how I will ever remember them all. And I think about that other mother, and, about midnight when the other paramedic comes back to cover the county, I slip out of work and head to my mom's. Usually I let Josh sleep there overnight when we both get out late, but tonight...tonight I need to hold my son in my arms. I need to feel his soft baby hair, and kiss his tiny baby lips.
I need my son with me this night. To memorize his little features, to kiss them all one by one, and to whisper I love you.