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 😉