Today it will have been an entire year since I’ve posted. A year. 365 days.
It’s mind boggling to me. This used to be my safe place. I’ve shared so much of my life on here. I have to wonder what happened to shut me down. There’s been so much I’ve wanted to share, and yet… I feel that nothing that I’m going to write is going to be worth reading. When I think about this blog, this creation of mine, and how I felt when I first started to write… I wasn’t writing for anyone other than myself.
I’ve come so far, but as far as I’ve come, it seems as if I’ve taken just as many steps back. I think I need to break that. Right now.
It’s been almost three years since you wrote these words:
And I can’t sleep.
The one goal I’ve had in the last five plus years is to be a Paramedic.
Yeah, for some of you out there, I know that doesn’t sound like much. Some of you have been working as Medics for longer than I’ve been in EMS. In some cases it’s five times as long as I’ve been a Basic. Some of you have forgotten what this feels like. Some of you have never felt this way. This is just me being very real.
This is not just some job to me. It’s the only thing (other than my little ones) that means anything to me. And I’m *THIS CLOSE*….
And I’m terrified.
I’m no longer worried that I’ll finish. I’m worried about being set loose with a P card.
I don’t want to be half assed at this.
I don’t want to be merely adequate.
I’m not cool with just meeting the minimum standards. I believe the standards should be set HIGHER. And at the same time, I want to exceed those standards.
I know I’m rambling… This is what happens when I have enough time to step back from my situation and take everything in.
I have three weeks left before my final.
First of all, congratulations, girly… You did it. You’re going to come close to losing your mind the day before you sit for the National Registry exam, but you’ll show up bright and early, and you’ll knock it out of the park. You’ll instantly believe that there is no mountain you can’t climb. You’ll believe that there is nothing that you can’t accomplish. And that is something you need to hold on to, particularly as a new Paramedic, because the journey ahead of you is not going to be sunshine and roses.
The day after you receive your state card, you will be set loose with a 10-year-old ambulance that leaks every imaginable fluid, half of a drug box and a monitor older than your partner. Oh, and your partner is a brand new EMT-B.
Okay, to be fair, it wont be older than your partner, but you’ll joke that it is. And despite the shocking condition of your drug box you’ll still do your job and do it well. You will begin to calm down. You’ll notice over time that your hands don’t shake nearly as much. I promise. It just takes time. You really need to learn to go easier on yourself.
You will eventually leave the service that believed that ALS wasn’t needed to go work for “That Service that shall not be named”. And you will again start to question yourself. That sparkly superhero cape that you started to believe would accompany you on every shift will slowly disappear. This will be your first experience on a primary truck doing true 911 runs. I wish I could just hug you and tell you to believe in yourself, because you will have some truly amazing moments while you work there. You will see things that you can’t wrap your head around. You will watch as someone you were doing compressions on just a month before walks into the ambulance bay to thank you. You will deliver a healthy baby girl. Two weeks later you’ll do an umbilical line on a dying neonate. You’ll do your first intubation in the field.
And then you’ll start wondering about what was drilled into your head while in school. That sentence that was written on the wall in your classroom for months. “Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.” You’ll miss several IV’s in a row and start to torture yourself over why you missed them. You’ll trudge through a series of runs that were hopeless causes. A psych patient will come close to breaking your nose. You’ll make more phone calls to your people, the ones who dragged you through school than you can imagine.
Did I do the right thing? What if I would have… Should I have… Why didn’t I…
Those people, the ones you’re closest to, the ones who have forgotten more than you know at that point… They’ll tell you that you did everything right. You won’t believe them. I wish I could get you to just exhale and believe your people… You start to think that this isn’t something you can handle, and that you are failing your patients. You’ll start to think that you don’t want all of this responsibility. You will constantly dream about that young father and that little boy. You’ll wake up in a cold sweat still hearing the echoes of their family member’s sobs.
What I wish I could drill into your head, particularly at this point, is that YOU ARE NOT GOD. You didn’t funnel alcohol down anyone’s throat that night that that father ran his charger into that ditch, and you didn’t start the fire that killed that little angel. I wish I could convince you of that. Nothing that I could say to you will ever convince you, because you are who you are. You have to go through it. You will survive it, and it will make you stronger.
And then you’ll find something that lights you on fire. You’ll get the opportunity to work with students.
And you will fall in love with the education side of this job. Because you’ve been where they were. You can spot a nervous student from a mile away, and you can calm them down. You can also recognize when someone is bored and needs to be challenged. You will sit in a room and watch while students you worked with receive their certificates stating that they did it. They passed. You’ll start to tell them that the real journey is ahead of them. Because you know that it’s true.
You will stop questioning yourself so much. The little ones, the babies, they will still shake you up a little bit, but the stuff that scared the hell out of you… It’s not so scary anymore. Your confidence will start to build again. There will some setbacks along the way, but they will not be related to the care that you provided on the job. You’ll truly start to get it. You’ll find that you don’t have to call a friend after every tough run.
A year ago you were grading Basic students sitting for their National Registry practicals. Today you did the same thing. And you’ll be just as proud of them then as you are now.
You will realize what a gift this career is, and how lucky you are to be able to do it. Despite the horrible pay. Despite the BS that you will ALWAYS get from dispatch, and despite the workplace drama that will always be there. And despite how tired you always seem to be.
You made it. You’re doing what you set out to do. And you’re doing it well.
And now you have a new partner. A firefighter who had sworn off EMS and then forced himself into it. And he’ll decide almost immediately that this was what he needed to do. Someone who believes that what we do is a privilege. A partner who is exactly where you were when you started your journey. Someone who will look up to you, someone who will pick your brain almost constantly. And your love for the job will grow even more because of him. You’ll watch him form relationships with our patients effortlessly.
And then he’ll mention that he’s interested in becoming a paramedic.
And you won’t be able to contain your smile.
Today is the one day this year that is specifically set aside to honor you. Every day I honor you, actually. You’ve been the single constant in my life. You fought like hell when Brent and I were little ones with no help to keep us under a dry roof, in a good school, and safe. I can’t imagine what that was like. Yesterday was the day our family chose to celebrate this holiday. Yesterday was our Mother’s Day.
And where was I?
I was grading EMT students sitting for the practical portion of their NR EMT-B card. (And I followed that up by doing the same today, on your day officially.)
I sent some gorgeous flowers and a card. I called. Twice, actually. Nick and Abby were there, showering you with enough love for all of us. I know how much you loved that.
But once again, I wasn’t there. And I was prepared for you to not be all that happy about it.
Your distaste for your baby girl working in EMS has ranged from wanting to disown me, to sending me job postings for banking positions, to offering to pay for me to go to school to persue “anything other than what you do now.” Initially, it was because EMS was so foreign to you. You worried. You worried about the pay, about the stress that I’d be under dealing with what we deal with, the long hours, the possibility of getting injured… You told me about a year ago that when your phone rings after midnight that you automatically worry about me because of what I do. And I know that you still worry. It’s what a Mother does. It’s instinct. I do it to the point of distraction with my little ones. Over the course of 7 years you’ve become okay (more or less) with what I do. You’ve at least learned to tolerate it. I hoped to one day have you proudly tell someone that your daughter is a Paramedic.
That day came yesterday.
On YOUR day.
One of our family members was complaining that I wasn’t at the party. Loudly complaining. Bitching, possibly. (If this family member ever reads this post I’m going to be in a world of hurt.)
You came to my defense instantly, I was told. “She’s doing what she loves to do. She’s working. Let it go.” You actually said that. It still blows my mind. And when I called you later on last night, apologizing for not being there, your response was “April, who should you be impressing today?”
My answer was, “Just you, Mom.”
“Well, you do. I’m very proud of you. How did your students do?”
I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. My jaw was on the floor. It was a simple statement that changed so much for me.
I love you, Mom. Happy Mothers Day. I know you’ve made mine.
The local news is running a story on where the general public can dispose of their unused medications.
What I’d like to know is where the ambulance service I work for can get morphine. And a few other important meds that we typically carry.
Anyone else suffering along with me?
I can remember the exact moment that I knew I needed to work in EMS. The precise moment. The moment that my son was choking in front of me. The moment that I realized I had no idea how to help him. The fire fighters that came to Nick’s rescue inspired me with their professional nature, their ability to treat him and calm both of us down… I wanted to be the calm in the proverbial storm. I didn’t want to ever experience the feeling of terror and helplessness that I felt that night when I couldn’t help my own son clear his airway.
Fast forward a few years later – I was working as an EMT. I loved everything about it, and I did my job well. But I knew that there was still more that I could do to better serve my patients. I was never going to be satisfied working as an EMT when there were higher levels of certification in EMS. It’s just not how I function.
Seven years later and I’m now working as a paramedic. I’ve experienced more in the last two years than I have in the five years prior. I still battle nerves on occasion, and there are runs that have reduced me to tears afterwards, but I think for the most part I’m a pretty collected provider. I work with EMS students at the Basic, Intermediate and Paramedic level at the local university in a lab setting, which I enjoy to the point of distraction. They’re an amazing bunch, and I’m honored that I’m allowed to be a part of their education. I read EMS articles on current treatments and upcoming changes. I read medical studies, hell, I still go back from time to time and skim through my text books. I attend CE’s locally and at the national level at the different conferences. It can only make me a better provider, right?
I’ve come a long way. Those who know me best will vouch for that. But I’m still learning, and I probably will never stop learning. There are those you can help. There are those that you want to help, but can’t.
I don’t remember what I was doing when I first heard that Little Red was in trouble. Probably playing some silly Facebook game or watching Grey’s Anatomy or some other mindless activity. I heard from family that she had been hospitalized for threatening to kill herself. They were adjusting her meds and she’d be fine, I was told. I was confident that the medical team working with her would do everything that they could to keep her safe and get her mind back to where it was supposed to be. They’d fix what was wrong, because that’s what we do.
It seemed like she was back to her old self. She went back to school to be a Pharmacist. She continued working towards her black belt. She worked at an arts and crafts store. She had a boyfriend and friends. My kids bought her a Hello Kitty from Build-a-Bear for Christmas. She loved it, and slept with it every night, she told them. She would talk to Nick on Facebook about video games and she’d ask about how he was doing in school. Little Red (she had long curly ginger hair) was the coolest Aunt to them, showering them with attention and love during the brief time she would be able to visit with them every year.
I really thought things were improving for her. Until I realized they weren’t.
I found myself talking to her one night and realizing that she was alone in a house and intending to kill herself. It was one of the most terrifying conversations I’ve ever had, bar none, trying to convince someone I adore to go to the hospital from 1200 miles away. It might as well been 12,000 miles. I talk people into going to the hospital all the time when they don’t want to go (but need to). I didn’t think for a second that I couldn’t do the same with her. When simply stating the obvious didn’t work, I began to beg. I begged her to think of everything that she had to live for. She had everything going for her, she was so smart, so close to finishing her degree, so close to getting her black belt. She lived in a beautiful area, in a nice home… She was active in her church. She had so many people who loved her!
I tried logic. I told her that her system was screwed up because of the meds she was on and that if we could just get her to hold it together and get to the hospital that they could fix it. She was studying medicine, she’d get it, I thought. They would fix it. They would balance things out. They would make her better. They would help her feel like herself as opposed to someone without the will to live, barely getting by.
I tried guilt. I begged her to think of her family. Her mother and father, her grandparents, her extended family. Think of her older brother who was standing next to me crying so hard that he could barely breathe. I’ve known that man for 13 years and he’s one of the strongest men I know. I’ve never seen him reduced to hysterical sobbing. I begged her to think of her niece and nephew who were upstairs sleeping. What would they do? How would they react? They adored her, she’d break their hearts. I was pulling out everything I could think of, I was desperate.
I offered bribes. I begged, I cried with her, I let her talk. We cried some more. I listened some more. She talked to me until her parents could get to the house and take her to the hospital.
I don’t think I was wake for five more minutes after I knew she was safe. I passed out that night from sheer exhaustion. The next day, my eyes were swollen from the amount of crying I had done. I was confident that she would be okay. She was in safe hands.
A month later I received a phone call from Red’s mom. There was no cry for help this time. No begging. No facebook threats. Nothing. She had ingested something. The ER wasn’t sure what it was, possibly antifreeze. Whatever it was, she took enough of it do some serious damage.
“What are they telling you,” I asked.
“Not much. She’s on dialysis. She’s intubated. Sedated. What do you think?”
Her kidneys are shutting down, if they can reverse it with dialysis, which I doubt, she’ll still have to deal with a lengthy hospital stay, weaning off of the ventilator, possible pneumonia, possible MRSA or some other lovely infection, and God knows what permanent damage was done…
I didn’t say any of that. I just couldn’t.
“Red’s in a good hospital with an excellent staff. It sounds like they’re doing everything that they can for her. She has a rough road ahead of her, but she’s young and strong. You call me if there’s anything I can do, anything. Okay? I don’t care what time it is. Call me.” I hadn’t ended that phone call thirty seconds before I started calling my EMS friends to find out if there was something out there that people were taking that reacted like antifreeze. I was so freaking clueless. Gutless. I knew what was coming. I was just reaching for anything that could give me some hope for her.
Red’s mom promised that she would call if she needed to, and she did. She called a few more times to ask for clarification on a few things that were going on. For a day or two it looked like Little Red was improving. The hospital tried to extubate her and for a brief time she was able to communicate with her parents.
For the first time in four days I had hope. I even told my little ones that she was improving. All they knew was that their aunt was very sick and in the hospital and that both mom and dad had cried quite a bit that week. I just didn’t think that they were ready at the ages of 6 and 11 to deal with suicide. I’m 35 years old, and I know I wasn’t ready to deal with it. Not even with the field I work in. Not when it’s someone you love. Nothing prepares you for this.
Red’s Mother would call one more time on day five. This time she wasn’t able to talk. The only sound that came from my phone was a cry, a shriek… A guttural moan that I’ve heard so many times but still kicks me in the stomach every time. That cry that a parent does when they realize that their child is dead. The cry that just twists you up from the inside and sucks the air out of you. I knew instantly that Red, the little girl who I tried so desperately to impress when I was dating her brother was gone. The teenager who was so excited to show me her high school ring. The first sister I ever claimed. The girl from the sticks who was almost a foot shorter than I but who could still kick my ass. The girl who I had so much respect for, who I had admired so much… The tiny girl who impacted so may lives. I’m not even sure she ever realized who infectious her smile was or how much people just loved to be around her. She wasn’t here. I fight with my religious beliefs on a daily basis, but that day more than any other that I can remember, I truly hoped that there was a heaven, and that she was there, finally at peace.
The loss. The loss was just… There were no words. I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, but I’ve seen the video, and it was heart wrenching. I watched, sitting at my computer as her Sensei sobbed while presenting Red’s black belt to her parents. I watched as those from her Tai Kwon Do classes bowed before her remains and performed every move that she was taught in her training, from the beginning until the end. Even after the accident that almost took her life a little over a year ago. She worked harder than most of us to attain to what so many of us take for granted. Just being healthy.
Dawn, we miss you. We will never forget you. You were one of the toughest chicks that I had the honor of knowing. You’ve taught me more than you know, and I know that you’ve made me a better person, a better friend, a better paramedic. And I thank you for that. I’m better for knowing you and having you in my life.
Your big sister from Ohio
One of my favorite EMS blogs on the internet belongs to Lt. Michael Morse of Providence, RI Fire Department. From the very beginning and to this day whenever I read one of his posts I feel like I could have been a third partner on the scene, right there with him. You start to believe that you’re feeling the emotions that he felt, the highs and the lows and everything inbetween. His writing appeals to providers of all levels, from the saltiest verteran to the greenest probie. It’s just that good.
It’s not just good. It’s excellent reading.
Lt. Morse has a new book out that follows him over the course of a busy shift. If you or someone you love is passionate about EMS, I couldn’t recommend this book enough. You can purchase your very own copy of Responding here. Lt. Morse’s blog, Rescuing Providence can be found here.
There’s a boy in that picture. Well, there’s a few of them, actually, but the one I’m talking about is wearing a green shirt that looks like it doesn’t quite fit him. He looks like he might be either a few steps ahead, or a few steps behind the other kids on stage. He looks like he’s damn near 6 feet tall. The one standing aside the others because of an unfortunate background malfunction that only a few people caught.
He’s on the far right.
Yep. That kid.
That’s my baby boy. And I’m damn proud of him.
He’s had a tough road. He was bullied to the point where he was coming home with bloody noses, and was a sicker shade of pale than I am most days. We had to pull him out of the only school he knew about 18 months ago because of the bullying. He’s eleven years old now, and a full foot taller than his 6th grade teacher, and only an inch or two shorter than his Momma. His voice has dropped a few octaves recently, he’s starting to grow facial hair (oh my JESUS the horror) and he’s still fighting a speech issue that made him damn near unintelligible up until the second grade. He’s a little awkward, and he still wants everyone to like him. The big difference now is that he doesn’t care as much when others may not be as fond of him as I am.
That boy… He rocked it tonight.
He even had a solo.
There are no words to describe how proud I am of you, Nicholas.
“What’s up, Little One?”
“Mom…*pant* There’s an ammalance… *pant* Outside!” She never gets tired of seeing the trucks. She and her brother would visit once a shift when I worked at the little Mom and Pop place that had a station less than a mile away from the house. She probably didn’t realize that the
ammalance ambulance that she was drooling over was one that I worked out of for almost two years. One that she’s explored more than once. It didn’t matter to her… She’s attracted to the lights. Kinda like her mom.
What she (and my son) did notice was that the ambulance was sitting in the driveway of our elderly neighbor who we happen to be very friendly with. When Jon and I had visited the house while it was for sale some six years ago the young couple who had it listed sold us quite literally because of the neighborhood and the people who lived there. I remember meeting Gigi that same day. She and her husband had greeted us with hand shakes. By the time we climbed back into the car some 45 minutes later, we had already exchanged phone numbers. We knew they were good people. When we would leave the house for any period of time we felt safe knowing that Gigi and Ted would be watching, they always watched out for us. Always. With time they became surrogate grandparents. They both offered advice on everything from how to replace a toilet rendered useless by a simple toy phone to why we REALLY needed to watch our garage to how to install a hot water spigot on the side of the house.
Ted passed just under six months ago. I did my best to keep my kiddos from knowing about it, and honestly, I’m not sure why that is. I guess I was stuck in the “shield-them-from-the-bad-stuff” mode. But Gigi had been in fantastic health considering her age. The woman worked out more than I did for Christ’s sake and she was at least 70. (My apologies, she was 74. Found that out tonight. I started writing this over a week ago.)
I was watching the crew climb out when I realized that I knew one of them. A medic I’ve known for a few years, but who has been working in the area as long or longer than just about anyone else I know. One of the good ones. One that I would trust with my kids. That seems to be how we judge each other in EMS. “Would you trust them with your kids or family?” If the answer is yes, you know they’re one of the good ones.
I hoped Gigi was going in for PT or to see an ortho doc, or for a podiatrist appointment, or for something… I don’t know, benign. I had only once seen an ambulance in front of that house (another post for another time), and it wasn’t even for her. I knew she had a few setbacks in the last couple of years, two falls actually, but nothing that would imagine that leave her in the care of… Them. And I don’t mean that in a bad way.
“They” do the hospice runs. Say what you will about them, but “they” are an amazing group of people. They have a tough job. They may not be doing emergency runs on every shift, but it’s still an emotionally trying job when you primarily transport those who are within sometimes minutes of dying and most of the time are within mere days of leaving us. We’re trained on how to help folks. There’s very little training on how to allow someone to die with dignity and as pain free as possible.
Terminal illnesses… They’re a bitch.
I didn’t know she had one. Had no idea. I’m embarrassed as hell to admit that.
Two months ago she and I had a 45 minute conversation in her front yard about her garden, for crying out loud. In the back of my head, I just… I don’t know. I’m pissed at myself for not paying closer attention. How did I not know?
Had I watched I would have noticed the weight loss. I would have noticed the home health care nurses showing up. I would have realized that she just wasn’t outside as much. She wasn’t in her front yard clipping flowers and fretting over whether or not she had watered enough. I would have known. I’m sure of it. I couldn’t have done a damn thing about it, but I would have been aware. I could have helped her family. I would have been more than just someone who lived on her street. Hindsight, I guess.
I watched through the window as the crew loaded her up, and only walked across the street when I saw her son struggling with the lock on front door. He wasn’t himself, he was a big guy who was the epitamy of strength and composure. Today he was shaky. I was nervous to approach him, I know the way that I feel as a provider when the neighbors come out and become involved while we’re on a run, but I did it anyway. I ran barefoot across the street skipping over the puddles that three days of rain had left and whispered in his ear.
”Brett,hey… I know these folks. They’re good people. They’ll take good care of her. I promise. ”
“I can’t remember how to lock the damn door!” His voice was trembling and there were tears running down his cheeks. He looked like he had been crying for quite awhile. His eyes were blood shot and tired.
Immediately I realized that Gigi wasn’t going to a podiatrist appointment. My heart sank.
“Breathe. Okay? It’s okay. She’s in good hands. Where are they taking her?”
I mentally crossed my fingers. Please don’t say Hospice. Please don’t say Hospice. Please don’t say Ho–”
“Hospice. Just for a night. She’ll be back tomorrow.”
I told him what I could without sugar coating it. “Brett, those people are angels, she’ll be taken care of and treated like the queen she is. If you need anything, you know where to find me.”
He swallowed hard, nodded, and climbed in the back of the squad.
The doors closed and I retreated back to the house. I haven’t seen him since. (I’ve seen the son a few times… Mowing the lawn and taking care of Gigi’s flowers.)
I haven’t seen Gigi.
My little ones had questions, and I answered them as honestly as I could.
“People get sick. People die. Sometimes they’re young, sometimes they’re older. It just… It happens. And there’s not a thing we can do about that. We can be sad about that, of course we should be a little sad! Of course we miss them! But we shouldn’t be sad for too long.
Gigi is going to die. And I don’t know if it’s going to be next week or a year from now, but she is going to die. We’re all going to die some day. Don’t be afraid for her, she’s done everything she’s wanted to do. She has beautiful babies, just like I do… And those babies have babies. She has so many people who love her.
But her body is sick. Think about how you feel when you’re really sick. Can you imagine being so sick for so long that every part of your body hurt really badly? Every second of every single day? And nothing could make it better?”
My daughter was on the verge of tears. “Mom, can’t you take care of her? That’s your job!”
I was fighting back tears myself, I knew I was going to be losing a friend, one of my people, soon. “Baby, I wish I could. I can help fix a few things, but no one can make her better now. We can just make her feel better. We can try to take her pain away. I promise you that she isn’t scared, so there’s no reason for you to be afraid for her. Do you understand?”
“I just don’t want her to hurt. They’re going to fix her hurts, right?”
“Yes, baby, they’re going to fix her hurts. They’re going to let her get some sleep.”
The boy wanted to an excuse to go play on the computer. He’s eleven. I can’t fault him for wanting to find the nearest exit at this point.
SWR and I talked a bit longer, we shed a few more tears, but in the end I think she gets it. Well, she may not get it, but she’s okay with it. She’s okay with at the age of six, that which I could not grasp until I was 34. (In the interest of being completely honest, I was 34plus 3-ish months. As in… Not that long ago.)
She’s dead… Gone. Passed on. It was a several days later when a neighbor came over to tell me. I knew it was coming, well, for a week and a few days, give or take, but it doesn’t make it sting anyless. I went to the showing. I talked to their kids. I met their grandchildren. I looked at pictures of them both, together, happy. Ted in is Army uniform, and Gigi looking as beautiful as ever. That picture had to be at least 50 years old.
And I smiled.
They’re together. At last. I can be happy with that.
But Christ almighty, do I hate cancer.
Today I walked in celebration of my amazing Aunt, who has kicked breast cancer’s backside, not just once, but twice. (She’s also whooped on skin cancer, but who’s keeping score when one is clearly that badass?)
I held my daughter’s hand and walked through a sea of pink.
That’s my Aunt with her pink survivors flag. She carried it for the entire walk.
I was happy to take part. We all were. But there was this nagging feeling in my stomach the entire time I was there.
In 2010 there were roughly 210,000 deaths from breast cancer.
There were 218,000 deaths from prostate cancer. And another 8,000 from testicular cancer.
I’m all for walking for the girls and wearing pink, but there’s not much out there for the guys. Who’s raising awareness for them? Who is walking for them and sharing THEIR stories? Why aren’t we doing this? I have a friend who’s at war with testicular cancer right now. He has a story, but there isn’t an event to honor, celebrate and raise awareness for that… No one talks about it. We’re not wearing “Save the Balls” or “Save the Booty” Tshirts. Where’s the cool cape my daughter can wear while she’s walking a 5K in honor and in celebration of these folks?
More has to be done.
Please consider checking out http://www.kiltedtokickcancer.
And if you can give, please do. Check out Ambulance Driver’s website for details. And since they’re running a nice side bet and I can be swayed by someone willing to proof read a post, I’m leaning towards the Dive Medic’s effort.
Be safe out there.
Two of my very best friends are male. We know we can call one another at any time of day for any reason at all.
I have one son and one brother who I love more than life itself and would walk through fire for. I’d give my life for them.
I have a step-dad who has taken care of me and mine like we were his own, even though he didn’t have to. I have three uncles who have teased me (and have provided me with infinite giggles) incessantly since birth. I have double the amount of male cousins than female cousins and growing up with them MADE my childhood.
Countless male coworkers, former partners and good friends who make the long shifts shorter, the the laughs even louder, and the times spent not working… Well, stress (and often EMS) free.
Men who have inspired me. Who have instructed me. Who have guided me through the good times and the bad. I am quite literally surrounded by guys. Working in EMS and coming from a family dominated by the XY chromosome… Well, it was bound to happen, yeah?
Why in the hell is she writing about loving guys? What kind of blog has this turned into? I’m going somewhere with this. Trust me, and read on, please?
There aren’t many guys out there who want to talk about prostate and testicular cancer. Hell, there aren’t many girls out there who want to talk about it either.
Repeat after me: ONE IN SIX. ONE IN SIX. ONE IN SIX. ONE IN SIX.
Say it with me, ya’ll. ONE IN SIX MEN WILL GET A MALE SPECIFIC CANCER.
But Epi! Do you realize how they test for that stuff? Yep. I sure do. Us chicks have the delightful pap smear to contend with once a year, and of course the ever exciting mammogram.
Men, we feel your pain!
Here’s what I have to say. We all feel invincible from time to time, but this is out there, and there’s a very good chance you or someone you know will have a target on their back at some point in their lifetime. That should be enough to scare the hell out of you. MAN THE HELL UP AND PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR JUNK. (And as NJDiveMedic pointed out via text, “The junk AND your trunk.”)
Let me tell you about a friend of mine. He uses the blogging name Hybrid Medic . I don’t consider myself “old” (most days… That’s another post for another time) at 35, but he is definitely younger than I am. He’s from my neck of the woods, hell, we have a mutual work partner in common. He has a young family, a wife and a beautiful little boy. I came to know him through Twitter, and was happy to meet him at EMS Expo last year and again at EMS Today this year.
He’s one of the good ones out there. I’m proud to call him one of my people. The first real save I got as a paramedic… I remember calling him and saying… ”I LOVE this job.”
He’s young, he’s healthy and in good shape. He’s a firefighter and a paramedic in Memphis. Not someone you’d expect to end up with testicular cancer.
He did. I’ll never forget the day I got the text message from him and the lump in my throat and sick feeling when he confirmed that he now had cancer. He went to war with it, and it looks like he’s come out on top, but it was a hell of a battle. That’s understating it. And the scary thing is that he had it (relatively) easy.
It was caught early. Guys, you need to be aware.
A few symptoms to watch out for:
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine.
- Frequent urination (especially at night).
- Trouble urinating.
- Pain or burning during urination.
- Blood in the urine or semen.
- A pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that just won’t go away.
- Painful ejaculation.
The above symptoms could point to prostate cancer (or another condition.) See a doctor!
A few more symptoms:
- Pain in the testicles.
- Lumps / masses in the testicles (with or without pain).
- Swelling in the testicles.
- Persistant lower back or stomach pain.
- Loss of sexual desire.
- Increased breast size.
These symptoms could point to testicular cancer (or another condition.) See a doctor!
Have you heard of Kilted To Kick Cancer? Maybe you’ve seen some posts about it on the various EMS blogs. A few of my favorite guys are taking part by wearing kilts for the entire month of September. That’s right, the entire month. When they aren’t working, they’re kilted. Folks tend to ask questions when they see a guy in a kilt. They ask a lot of questions when they see a group of guys in kilts.
“Hey fellas… What’s under the kilt?”
That’s it. That’s all I have. Be aware.
If you want to contribute to the cause (with the donations going to research), let me point you towards these folks:
My Blogfather, Ambulance Driver
Medic Matthew from New Life Changes (GO GET ‘EM MATT!!!!)
Or really, anyone from this post. The guys may have a friendly wager going on, but in all honesty, it’s not about bragging rights, it’s about doing the right thing. Many of them have stories about why they’re participating… If you have five bucks, consider donating it. Hell, I even have five bucks, and I’m a broke paramedic.
Next year, I’ll be kilted. I guarantee it.
Be safe out there.