This One Time, in an Ambulance

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Well,¬† I haven’t written anything longer than a “CYA” Patient Care document in quite some time. I wonder who reads them, other than the occasional once-over by my partner to make sure I haven’t missed any of the best parts of a story, and the occasional audit by management. Sometimes the doctor reads them, but if we don’t transport the patient, they are whisked off into the ether, logged away into some dusty server, printed out to make rodent bedding… who knows.

Some of those documents are epic. E P I C. And the worst thing? I can’t tell you a damn thing about any of them. Privacy laws in Canada, especially in health care are strict. For a reason. They prevent people like me, (terrible terrible people) from blabbing about the most sensitive, personal, private, need-to-know experiences of your life. Nevermind the fact that Your Life is presently also happening to ME. I’m there with you. I have to peel you off the ceiling of my ambulance when you’re Juggernaut High on meth. I have to hold your hand and lie to you and tell you “this won’t hurt”. And every once in awhile, whatever I do, it works. I can make you smile even though you’re afraid, even though it really, really hurts. You smile and chuckle and I declare “Aha! Sense of Humor Intact”.(Some people fail to recognize Sense of Humor as a very important Vital Sign. If I ever needed an ambulance (which I would rather use sticks to push the pedals and drive my own dismembered carcass to the ER), and by any other measurement I should be dead, and I could still crack a joke- I would still be alive. )

I try to make my job more fun to do. Having a good partner helps. Having good patients helps. Having solid support from our other emergency services helps. And even when I have none of those things going for me, I can look at my cranky partner, my horribly difficult patient, send the police or the fire crew away, and in the end, it’s just me in the back with my patient, while I pick away at what makes them tick. I once started out a trip with a patient in pain- debilitating, all consuming pain, and we arrived at the hospital and they were singing with me as we rolled in. (Probably Queen on the radio). I remember looking over and noticing they seemed surprised. Surprised to be having any kind of fun at all. Sometimes that’s all I can do for you. Take your mind away from your troubles. Like a bartender, but with a liter of saline and a warm blanket.

There are Facebook pages and blogs out there that dive head-first into tales of guts and glory and hilarious patient interactions. I follow many of them. Because it’s the same the world over, and they tell my story too.

I have the best job in the world. I have the worst job in the world. I have a job that “matters”. I have a mission to delay the inevitable. I can go from one call, flying high, making that critical difference in a person’s life, to the very next call where I will spend the next day or so wondering whether I could have done something more. It’s been about 2 years now, and I like to think I’ve made more difference than not- racing through the night, lights and sirens against Darwinism. And I can’t tell you a damn thing about any of it ūüėČ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Things they don’t teach you in (EMT) school

Well, I’m almost done my practicum… by almost, I mean I could do 4 more tours without having any patients I can use to sign off on my last 2 competencies- but I’m¬†almost finished.¬†

I think there’s something wrong with me. I actually asked one of my instructors; a self diagnosed adrenalin junkie, whether it was “normal” that I wasn’t getting all hyped up headed to calls. He insisted that there was absolutely nothing wrong with that and I had a lot of “maturity” (haha) and life experience to back me up, and staying calm is a good thing.¬†

Even on the few Holy Shit calls I’ve done- I’ve looked around and thought “Geez, how come I’m not flipping out right now! This is NUTS!”. (the reality is, and I’ve said so before, I’m just¬†not¬†the freaking out kind of gal). But I’ve learned that I’m even better at it than I thought.¬†

Anyway… I figure before it all falls out of my head, I should put out a list of Things You Will Learn out in the big bad world of practicum.

1. The definition of “Emergency” varies wildly depending on the person, the circumstances, and the time of day. For example- An elderly person living alone who has a nosebleed that won’t stop, might decide at 4am that this¬†is in fact an EMERGENCY.¬†The definition of “Emergency” as far as the dispatchers are concerned is all inclusive. The box to tick on the screen reads “Uncontrollable Hemorrhage”- Whether you have lopped off an arm, or you don’t have a spouse any more to tell you to stop picking your nose.¬†

2. Sick people¬†smell sick.¬†It’s true that “Not Sick” people may also be… odoriferous, but not in the same way as Sick people. There’s also a difference in the smell of blood depending on the degree of severity. Nosebleed blood smells like blood. But when there’s enough blood that you’re looking around wondering how many patients you really have, the blood smells like Sick People.¬†

3. A good sense of humor will take you a long way. In fact, it is the key to survival in EMS, and medicine in general. If you were to take every situation at face value and stopped to look at exactly what you dealt with on any given day, and¬†couldn’t¬†crack a joke… you’d lose your shit. Besides that, I have yet to find a patient that couldn’t appreciate being given a reason to smile. (ok, that’s not entirely true- I had one that was too busy not having a face). And you have to be able to get along with your crew. As a student, I have no choice but to expect a certain amount of shit and abuse (the good kind), and without the ability to see it for what it is, practicum would SUCK.¬†

4. You might see Dead People. After an entire month I actually had to go out of my way to find one. I’ve never seen a dead person before! So in the wee hours of the morning there was a death on the long term wing at the hospital and I volunteered to go help pack up the body. I wasn’t sure what to expect- all I know about dead people is what I’ve seen on TV, and from that I’ve learned to keep away from their mouths and hope they don’t try to get up. Alas, dead people are pretty boring. There’s nobody home in there, and their faces look a little melty because, well, there’s nobody home in there. I’m sure it might be different if it were a traumatic death, or they die in your care, but dead people aren’t that big a deal.¬†

5. Learn this phrase, and practice it in the mirror, and say it out loud to yourself a few times a day so you know how it sounds; “I was¬†wrong”.¬†This coming from the smartypants know-it-all girl who has spent her¬†entire life¬†preferring to be Right over Happy at every turn… Learn to be¬†WRONG.¬†I’m positive that there have been a few instances where my preceptor has pretended not to see me do something¬†just¬†so he could say “You did not ___insert task____”. And I would start to say “Uh, yes I di……you know what, you’re right, I did NOT do that, I was wrong”. Your preceptor isn’t (necessarily) an ass, but your place as a student is to do as you’re told, when you’re told, and absolutely not argue.¬†

6. Don’t Judge. Probably the hardest skill to master- I know, you’re doing it right now! And that’s ok, but you have to save it for¬†after the call is over.¬†Trust me, the patients can tell. Whether you’re taking care of the uncontrollable hemorrhage (nosebleed) at 4am or driving the drug seeking “back pain” all the way into the city half an hour before you’re due to be off shift, treat them like they’re any other Sick Person, do what you can for them and be nice. Your preceptor might Judge, but so does he have the experience, and is already employed- he can do and say as he likes. When you get all judgey, you don’t do your best work anyway, and then it’s a missed opportunity to practice your skills. So you make your patient comfortable, start that IV if it’s “indicated”, ask your ever growing list of history questions, and make them believe you care that they want morphine.¬†

7. Grow some balls. Yes, that’s actually a piece of advice I was given by another instructor. You have to not only delegate to your crew on scene and in the truck, but you are actually¬†in charge of the scene altogether!¬†When the police show up, they’re there to direct traffic and protect YOU. When the firetrucks show up, they’re there to make the scene safe, move stuff, lift stuff and help YOU! If you tell a firefighter to lay down in a muddy ditch and hold someone’s head for an hour while his crew lifts a car off of the patient, he will do exactly that. But when you get on scene and stand there with your mouth hanging open while everyone runs around- yes, someone will take over, but you will finish the call by saying “I was Wrong”. Get used to being assertive (and polite of course), and don’t be afraid to shout at firefighters- they cant hear you worth a shit with all their gear on, and YES, you get to boss the COPS around (heh heh)! (and for any of you cops and firefighters reading this- THANK YOU)

and last (for now) but not least, you will learn that everybody loves these cookies

No Bake Cocoa Haystacks

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups Sugar

1tsp vanilla

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Add butter, milk, cocoa and sugar to a tall sided pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. When it’s rolling, wait 2 minutes (keep stirring), then remove from heat, add vanilla, then oats and coconut and stir really well. Drop by rounded teaspoon onto wax paper. Allow to cool and package in a closeable container. Take to your station and watch the magic!

 

Well, I can’t speak for all of my classmates, but if I’ve learned nothing more important over the last month, it’s this- If you can’t picture doing what you do for free, for a potentially endless length of time, you’re in the wrong industry.¬†

 

 

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Sick/Not Sick

It’s 0530 and I’m just about finished my last hospital shift for practicum. The ER is… actually fun- if you’re not a patient. I’m the IV superstar student here- I will hit it the first time, every time- even if you’re a dried up old junkie and have no veins. I know where the warm blankets are, and I’m the nice lady that will scam you a snack from the galley when the nurses aren’t looking. I’m the hop-to girl for all the nurses- whether they need a repeat set of vitals or someone to walk the generic geriatric to the bathroom. I’m right there. And if I had ANY desire whatsoever to go into nursing, I would be totally in my element.

Alas, my dream is to be one of those IV superstars who do it upside down in a ditch left handed, or in the back of a speeding ambulance on a pot-holed Alberta back road. Though I’m much less “at home” on the ambulance at this stage. I’m more like a deer in the headlights. “Whaddya MEAN ‘what do I want you to do?!’ “. So we start with the basics- level of consciousness, Airway, Breathing, Circulation… Sick or Not Sick. Can we fix it? Which way to drive and how fast?

So, if you’re breathing and have a pulse, and your insides are still on the inside, have no fear! I’ve totally got this! And if otherwise, have no fear anyway! I’m under diligent supervision!

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Really Hard.

I remember back when I was pregnant and someone asked me “Oh, are you going to prenatal classes? Lamaze? Anything?” and I snorted and said “Don’t be ridiculous. Women have been pushing out babies for thousands of years, even before Lamaze was invented. I’m just going to go in, and push the baby out. End of story. I mean,¬†how hard can it be?”….

How hard indeed.

Fast forward to my much wiser, more grownup self, and see me sitting across the desk from the kind eyed Deputy Fire Chief at our local volunteer fire department.¬†A week before, I took the physical assessment as a prerequisite to volunteer as a new recruit. I walked in there, put on all the turnout gear, strapped on a 40lb tank and a helmet and told myself “Of course I can do this… How hard can it be?”

20 pushups…check. 20 situps, check. Drag the bundle of hose 40 feet with a rope. Grab the charged hose and sprint. Easy peasy.

Squat, pick up the 180 lb dummy, hold it to your chest and walk backward 40 feet. Wait… try that again? Ok, one more time. Alrighty… take a 30 second breather and try one. more. time.

….

And my arms were shaking- no-how could I reach far enough around in all my gear to get a solid grip, and the dummy legs were taped together making it harder to sit it up. I was sweating and cursing at myself and the guy running the PT was shouting encouragement and in one last desperate push I managed to get the damn thing up far enough to start dragging….about 5 feet.

On to the next station, I completed the extrication tool hold, and finally, dragged my ass up a 2 story ladder, touched the top of the building and climbed back down (all without peeing my pants or throwing up on the nice man holding the ladder).

I knew when I was called in tonight I would be facing rejection. I packed my uniform up (they had already issued one), took myself for a coffee before I had to be there and decided that I would be gracious and understanding.

I knew that they had minimum requirements for a reason, and in my own heart, I was sure I did really damn good for a girl (especially since there are no exceptions in the PT requirements for women). I also knew that I had made it as far as I did because the recruiting committee really liked me and wanted me to have a shot.

So I wouldn’t make a scene, I wouldn’t cry, and I wouldn’t make them feel bad about turning me down.¬†¬†How hard can it be to face rejection with grace?

Really hard. But I did it.

(And I’ll be back there in the fall to do it all over again! Now that I know exactly how hard ūüėČ )

 

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Out of the Frying Pan

I watched this Ted talk a while ago and I have to say, it’s done a lot to change my perspective on stress.

Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean I don’t have any (stress), it doesn’t mean I’m not up until the wee hours of the morning fretting and stewing about the future. In fact, whether my change in perspective has anything to do with it or not- it seems like recently, there’s just more and more and more stuff to worry about.

The classroom portion of my course is winding to a close. Final exams are coming in ….CRAP! 23 DAYS!! And we are collectively holding our breaths about practicum placements- which our school is holding out on giving our assignments to the very. last. possible. moment.

I’ve had to sorta-kind-of quit my hardware store job- I can’t give them any information about my availability until my placement is assigned and I have a schedule with my preceptor. My boss was as understanding as possible considering, but I’m pretty sure once I have a schedule, it won’t be meshing with what he needs me for.

Realistically, I should be up to my neck in power-points and textbooks and scenario practice- but instead I have a rare combination of Study Narcolepsy and Spring Fever. Every time I crack a book, there’s a stray sunbeam drifting into my line of sight and I either start to snore and drool like a cat or I’m itching to get up and go outside. (I should just take the damn books outside, I know)

Anyway… One of our particularly amazing instructors gave us all a bit of advice. “Take care of yourselves this month… You’re headed into final exams and about to be thrown into the fire on practicum. If you’ve been partying, stop. If you’re not getting enough sleep, start. Lay off the caffeine and the junk food and booze, get out and get some exercise and fresh air. Take care of yourselves.”

And so, instead of banging my head against the wall, I’ve decided to take his advice (fortunately, I don’t have any partying to give up on). And I made up a list of things to do instead of FREAK OUT about everything that’s coming down the chute.

1. Get out and walk. (this is one of my favorite things to do anyway. Winter seems to be over and sometimes when I’m at school I take off on lunch and go for a walk just because)

2. Get to bed before 1am. Before midnight. Ideally before 11 excluding the evenings I’m in school and don’t get home before 10:30 anyway.

3. Turn off the TV. I can lose HOURS to the tube- and always end up feeling guilty because I should have been doing something else… like studying.

4. Music. I like to pretend I can play guitar- but it’s been so long since I’ve picked mine up that all the callouses have disappeared from my fingers. But it’s relaxing and it makes me feel good.

and finally, 5. Make a plan. I’m working on that right now. There’s a shit-tonne of material to cover and I need to figure out a pace and make sure I’m working through it and covering any of my weak spots.

So, when life starts throwing crap at your head, DUCK! And take care of yourselves!

 

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D.I.E…..ting

Ah… You’ve been missing me have you?

Well, I could tell you all about the DRAMA going on in EMT school right now, and the rising levels of frustration…but I’ve been working on NOT wallowing in that mess so, no, I won’t tell you about that. Nor will I tell you about my windshield adventure, nearly getting mowed down by a five-ton truck, or accidentally sticking myself during IV practice in class last week. These are all minor adventures and while there is a fair amount of hilarity involved- not enough to fill a whole post in.

I’M GOING TO MAKE YOU ALL LISTEN TO ME GO ON ABOUT MY DIET!

Yesss.

So. 6 or so weeks ago my Darling Spouse tried to get me to watch some crazy internet video (read;advertisement) on “Why Yeast is Causing ALL THE THINGS wrong with you”…and “why if you just buy our factory direct super-potent probiotic supplement, you can carry on eating shit every day and get THIN and Healthy and Cure Baldness (and what-the-hell-ever). For only 69.95 a month with our special introductory offer”. *FACEPALM*

IMHO, there are only two magical cures for being fat.

1. You have a previously undiagnosed medical condition- say, hypothyroidism. You get that hormone replacement going and blammo- you will probably start losing some weight. (and don’t get all up in my face and start talking about “subclinical metabolic imbalances” etcetera, if you have it in you to badger the shit out of a doctor or three until they start treating you for something they don’t think you really have, you could also channel that energy into eating some broccoli and walking all the way to the mailbox once a day- and don’t be surprised if your prescription tastes a little like tic-tacs in a fancy bottle)

and 2. It comes in a fine white powder, goes up your nose, and costs you a fortune. Yeah, melt those pounds away, along with your bank account, brain cells and your happy life.

Aaaanyway…. I did my very best to explain to the man that “yes, probiotic supplements can be beneficial” but “NO, they WON’T save you from your shitty couch potato lifestyle and garbage processed food diet”.

He was mad.

But not as mad as the first day we brought home the “Yeast Buster to the Rescue” Candidiasis cleanse kit. (that’s a mouthful to say!) and started reading through the booklet.

Basically what happened is this- I said “Fine- if you want to blame yeast overgrowth for what’s wrong with you, we do the cleanse, and we do it right.” I’ve done the cleanse before- all by myself, with no support or encouragement (to get rid of a nasty skin problem), and while it was fairly miserable, it WORKED. And I lost some pounds.

The kit comes with a bottle of liquid bentonite clay, a bottle of capryllic acid in calendula oil, a bottle of psyllium husk powder, a bottle of probiotic capsules, a shaker cup, and a booklet that details “why yeast is making all the things wrong with you” (lol) and this is how you will suffer for your cause.

No Wheat. No Sugar. No Dairy. No Yeast. No Caffeine. No Fruit. No Vinegar. No Soy. No Soy Sauce. No Booze. No Mushrooms. No White Rice. No Potatos. No Deli Meat. (and that’s just the highlights)

And every morning, add the Bentonite, Capryllic Acid and psyllium husk powder to the shaker cup with 6oz of water and shake….and drink it… You can add 2 oz of unsweetened apple juice if you’re desperate to offset the taste of drinking brimstone.

The carb craving tantrums went on for days. DAYS. I have to admit, there were moments in that first week that I felt like I could roundhouse kick a baby to get me a bowl of cereal- but after we went and did some serious grocery shopping (and label reading and label reading and label reading) we finally had enough stuff in the house that was safe to eat and some meal planning going on and we (I) started suffering a little less.

Do you know there’s sugar in nearly everything you buy? Salad dressing- added sugar. Any kind of barbeque sauce, meat marinade, gravy, dairy products, deli meats… It took a little creativity to come up with alternatives to what we were used to pouring on or soaking our food with. Oh, and artificial sweeteners are not only NOT allowed, but they’re the Devil anyway.

Fast forward 3 weeks and 10 lbs (for me) and one measly pound for Husband- I genuinely don’t understand why he hasn’t lost weight. I wore my “not stretchy” jeans yesterday and felt like a million bucks. Husband is still feeling sorry for himself and lonely for potatos. I totally get that every individual body is different, but this is the FIRST TIME EVER that a “diet” of any kind has lost me any significant amount of weight. And I’ve been on a few of them over the years. The hard part is not doing the Smug Dance in front of my husband.

HA!

HA!

If I HAD to wonder why we’re having such wildly different results;
-I would speculate that it’s because I am marginally more active- When the weather is nice I walk with the neighbor mom to get the kids from school. And when I’m at school I walk around the building the long way once or twice a day (smoking) just for fresh air and to get away from the screaming pipes overhead in the hallway.
-I’m highly suspicious that I have a problem with wheat. I’ve had it twice in the last three weeks and both times I had bloating and gas start almost immediately and last into the next day. Husband insists he does not have the same issue. So removing wheat and gluten from MY diet made a pretty significant difference.
-Also, adding all the vegetables and taking away my 4-6 apple fritters a week probably helped…
-Any time you have a major shock to your diet, your body will react in one of two ways. It will freak out and you will poop more, or it will freak out and you will not poop at all (think about getting all bunged up when you travel). I’ve been graced with the former. Husband with the latter. You can’t expect the scale to move if your bowels aren’t also moving.

If you’re following the premise of the diet- you’re starving the overgrowth of Candida, cleaning it out of your digestive system and working to restore the balance of natural intestinal flora. In the meantime,you’re also trying to avoid¬†foods that break down very readily into sugars (Fruit, white rice, potatos, starchy vegetables) and the most common allergen inducing food proteins (dairy, wheat, corn).

At first glance, it’s a terribly restrictive diet, and almost guaranteed to be impossible to follow for an extended period- yet the book in the kit says that some people will need to stay on it for up to 8 weeks just to notice improvement! And¬†then¬†they talk about slowly discontinuing by reintroducing the “NO” foods one at a time to assess for tolerance. (when I did the diet way back I lived on broccoli and chicken breast for 3.5 weeks and when the skin thing went away, I stopped the diet. It really was almost impossible as I was the only person in the house at the time on the diet so most of the time I just didn’t eat)

But realistically speaking, if you consider what many people eat, it’s a majority of processed, packaged foods high in starch and added sugar. (the low fat revolution is killing us). I read the bottle of ranch dressing as I poured out some dip for my son and had a COW and wouldn’t let him eat it. So you take out the carbs and the starch and the chemicals and sugar and artificial sweeteners and amazingly enough, you’re left with REAL FOOD…minus the wheat and corn and potatos…for now…

It helps that both Husband and myself are decent cooks. We’ve discovered that organic tomato sauce (no added sugar), a splash of lemon juice and some judicious seasoning application works as well (if not better) than the barbecue sauce for marinating red meat. Plain yogurt and onions and garlic etc. does well for chicken and fish. Costco sells a huge variety of wild rice and ancient grain blends. And if you go look in the “bagged salad” section there are some super delicious dressings that don’t include sugar or vinegar (yogurt is dairy BUT it’s also probiotic so I consider it neutral).

We’re into the second kit now and I’m looking down the road and trying to decide what parts of the diet are sustainable- basically how to avoid going right back to the way we were eating and undoing any good we’ve accomplished. Husband misses potatos and gravy. Those are his Number One and Number One things…And Cheese is his other Number One.His love affair with food easily eclipses any joy he gets out of any other thing but Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movies. So how to add those things back in and keep some semblance of moderation…

I can’t say what exactly I feel deprived of. Now that we have a good grasp on what we can eat and how to make it tasty- I’m not suffering all that much. There are times of day when I feel like making really bad choices but believe it or not- the worst I do is count out FOUR chocolate chips and eat them one at a time over an hour or so while we’re watching TV. Sometimes I get up in the morning and realize I only ate 3. Yes, I miss apple fritters…. mmmm CARB RUSH! But after 3 weeks essentially gluten free and understanding what happens when I do eat wheat… well, I honestly don’t miss them THAT much. Bread doesn’t even register as food anymore. It sits on the counter and it’s just something the kid eats.

I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist- but I do know a little about how a body works and how it gets what it needs from food… and what happens if you give it things it doesn’t need or can’t work with. So I suppose it’s just a matter of sorting out how to get what I need and ditch the things I don’t (…apple fritters ūüė• ….)

Do I think “Candidiasis” is really what’s the matter with either of us? ….well if you mean “too much sugar and carbs and crap”, then YES. Wholeheartedly and sincerely YES. Do I think the Devil’s Piss and Brimstone drink is really helping?… mmmmaybe…. Even without all the hype and icky diet program, you can attribute a LOT of health problems to just too much sugar (without saying it’s YEAST). Eczema, psoriasis, blood sugar fluctuation, bad breath, stomach problems…. and even more to wheat and gluten (you don’t have to have celiac disease to have a problem with many grains). Bloating, gas, diarrhea, more skin issues… Dairy is the NUMBER ONE food intolerance in the world- if you don’t have trouble with dairy, good for you, dairy is AWESOME- but if you do, say hello to even more digestive, skin and other health issues.

So this diet removes ALL of those things and it’s not surprising that anyone who tries it might start feeling better after a few weeks. And as you gradually reintroduce these foods (if you’re doing it one thing at a time and not diving into a bowl of sugared wheat puffs with milk right away) many people will probably notice something sets off a reaction.

Would I recommend it? Ah… maybe. I don’t think it’s for everyone. Honestly. If you can cook, have time to cook, and can read labels, then you could just as easily try it without the *shudder* morning “drink”- here’s a link to the booklet¬†. Also, don’t be alarmed if you look at the Symptoms Checklist and Quiz. They’re all very vague and nonspecific and TOTALLY DESIGNED to make you score frighteningly high. Instead focus on the Yes, Reduce, and NO foods lists. It gives you an idea of what foods you might be eating too much of (regardless of the CandiDevil lurking in your gut).

Make sure you’re sitting down and eating something terrible while you read it (just for me).

Oh, and just to get you thinking- go lift up a gallon of milk- do it. Heavy right? That’s about 10 lbs ūüėÄ

 

 

 

 

 

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Go Big

You’re probably going to hear a lot about my EMT School Adventures over the next few months. Can’t help it. Other than seeing the Lego movie last week, I haven’t done a damn thing that wasn’t to do with school. So it’s what you get.

We covered my motivation a few posts ago, and so far, that’s carried me to where I am today. But what about tomorrow? Am I going to stay at the EMT level or should I go on to be a Paramedic. And then what?

I came across an article at one of my favorite EMS websites; written by an experienced practitioner, and talking about things no one will tell you about an EMS career– and specifically, “Prehospital medicine is not designed to be a long term career option”. I don’t find this to be particularly intimidating, but it’s something worth thinking about.

10 years ago, I was (ten years younger) just done with bringing forth new life. I wasn’t thinking about much else beyond getting through the day on 45 minutes of sleep and could I get away with one more day not showering (haha, career prep at it’s finest). Now, had I made some different decisions in the years previous to that, maybe I would already BE an EMT. Or maybe in all my youth and enthusiasm I would have broken on the rocks of Hard Truth and washed out of it already. It’s not a cushy job. I’ve already talked about the downsides, and the downsides on the other hand.

SO, looking at all the downsides to my particular choice of career, I’m left with how far to take it. I remember when I took my very first Red Cross Basic First Aid course. I was so excited and smug that I knew all the things. More than the Average Joe. And it suddenly occurred to me, that well, in comparison to the next level (in BC where I grew up that was the OFA), I knew nothing. They got to do way cooler stuff.

Fast forward to my EMR course. OMG SO EXCITING! I’m learning ALL THE THINGS! Ha Ha- stupid First Aiders! And I gloated for a while, then I looked around and saw that, no, EMR’s aren’t that much cooler than First Aiders… I was just a First Aider with a $400/year practice registration card, Oxygen and a SPO2 monitor. And in the job market, most companies hiring EMR’s didn’t even understand the difference between provinces for OFA-III and EMR (it’s a big one). So to cover their butts, they were slowly doing away with the EMR jobs and asking for EMT as a minimum. *sigh*

I anticipated that, and first chance I got, I was taking the entry exam for the EMT program. Here I am. And MORE COOL THINGS! Ooh ooh! All the things I can do to you¬†do to help people! But wait… two months into the program- most of our instructors are Paramedics, so we talk about the differences in scope on a regular basis… And I start to realize that EMT’s are still just First Aiders with expensive certification cards, Oxygen and a few cool airway tricks.

Alas, I had to change my point of view; The¬†advantage¬†to not knowing ALL THE THINGS and not having ALL THE SKILLS, is there’s a limit to the decisions you are faced with. At some point, you get on the phone with Medical Direction and they say STOP. Or “Do This”.¬†Or¬†“Advanced Life Support is on the way to save your sorry ass and your sorry patient- hang in there kiddo”. Now, there won’t always be ParaGods to come to the rescue, but you get the idea.

So, my dilemma, ultimately is where to get off the bus. At what point do I say I know enough Things, and be happy with where I am. And if I can’t do that, do I have what it takes to keep going. I’m not twentysomething anymore, and by the time I have my ducks in a row (they want at least 2 years in the field as an EMT before you apply for Paramedicine), I will be well into the thirtysomething game and looking at another 2 solid years of full time school.

I like to know All The Things. It’s what makes me tick. I suppose the only comfort I have at the moment is knowing I have time to decide.

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