Poem: The Unexpected


Walk slowly into the day

feet firmly planted

on the solid ground

one

ahead

of the other

Before the earth

tilts

and everything begins

rushing

at warp speed

into a completely

unrecognizable

world

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Poem: In Session


Life is in session

she said to me

while her husband is laboring

to breathe

in some ICU

None of get out of this alive

Our neighbor upstairs

sure didn’t

He is gone

missing

just like the person who hit him

when he crossed the street

The movers made more noise

than he did

when they hauled his

stuff away

And blew smoke

in my windows

reminding me

Life is in session

 

Poem : Unexpected 


Yesterday you were something 

 Strong and juicy 

Walking tall with strutting shoes

And clicking mind

Then life is sliced

Unexpectedly 

The switch is flipped 

And it’s not the same 

You are gone 

Somebody new has come 

Are they visiting 

Or come for good ?

Looking at them 

It seems like you

But new

Different 

And only time 

Will intertwine the two 

Wounds 


The wounds we suffer from an unexpected illness or traumatic accident or incident can go layers deeper beyond our physical being. The bruises, broken bones, scars, lumps or changes going on under our skin may be seen under a microscope or with an X-ray, but no one has a clue what is churning within  our psyche—sometimes not even us.

Certainly if an injury involves the brain at all, then it’s impossible to understand how we feel. Even a concussion can cause memory loss, depression and a host of other feelings the individual may not be aware are related to the injury.

We are such complex machines. We include part computer, pipes, motor, lenses and this crazy soul. If any one of these parts isn’t functioning, the rest limps along poorly. 

The odd part is that we may not even be aware something is wrong or unable to articulate what it is….

So in a system of health care providers that don’t care or are too busy to really pay attention, we are left with lots of people who aren’t being treated properly. If a patient is elderly or simply just too hurt or ill to understand what is going on, they will slip through the cracks and get poor care . 


So what do we do? 

I was one of these people a number of years ago after a horrific car accident. I had no clue just how brain injured I truly was at the time. I was a mess. Yes my physical injuries were bad, but the hidden mental, spiritual and emotional injuries lasted much longer.

Luckily I had friends nearby to help talk me off the ledge. My depression became cavernous. It snuck up on me. My memory was shattered for a while too. And the pain was like a lover that wouldn’t leave my side. It was dark times.


If we are lucky we will have an advocate  or at least someone who cares a lot and who still is in touch with reality when we are not. It’s hard to listen when our lives have been shaken and our bodies rattled. A part of us believes nothing will be right again.

But actually I believe these things actually do change us for the better. It’s like nature’s way of doing a rapid mutation, sometimes only lasting seconds, as in the case of my accident, but with everlasting positive effects.

 

Only Silence


Once upon a time, many, many years ago–a little girl made a make-a-wish to go to Disney. It seemed like a pretty boring wish for her Mama, but she had her heart set on it (even though Mom tried to talk her into a more interesting wish), so the whole family was escorted to the ‘magical’ (plastic) world of Disneyland.

mickey

It was an odd trip for me (yes I was the Mama) and my other two daughters, going on a trip planned around a kid who wasn’t considered healthy. While my HIV positive daughter reveled in the attention, the rest of us noticed the “Alice In Wonderland” qualities of everything encountered. Sort of like a bad drug trip….

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But she wouldn’t hear of doing anything different. It was Mickey or nothing! So there I was: trapped in the surreal world of Americana, with no vegetarian food in sight and our nights spent in a ‘special’ place designed for all the make-a-wish kids. It was like being in the ward of pediatric hospital gone carnival. Spooky to say the least. My oldest daughter hated it. Well, so did I…

Today, that daughter is alive and well and 25 years old. Her disease is under control. HIV is more like diabetes now a days really. It’s quite amazing. No real cure, but manageable.

Unfortunately, she still refuses to listen to me–like most kids of course, but for her, this can be a slippery slope. She’s pregnant and it’s not a great situation. Her life is no Disneyland. She did not find Prince Charming and she lives more like Cinderella still. It’s a very sad, and often scary situation.

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She called today to say she had a car accident. Her fault, rear ending the person in front because of something careless on her part. I’ve been trying to coach her about straightening her life out to get ready for this new addition. But I’m more like the Cruella Deville than Mom…I get nowhere. So now she has no car along with the rest of her sad life.

Some things never change really….They do what they want when they are 5 or 25 but the choices they make at 25 can be much more damaging. Because now they are making choices for someone else.What if that baby was already in the car? Or what if she hit a child instead of another car? I get no replies when I ask these questions….

Only silence…..

Stones

Two Thoughts For The Year


There have been two phrases ringing in my head recently that I feel especially appropriate for this new year and job. I’ve mentioned them before in my blog, but now seems a good time to bring them up again as they’ve been floating around in my brain. They must want to come out, so what better way than to share them with my blogging buddies.
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The first one is ‘we create our own realities’. This is a motto I’ve had for years. While there have been tough times in my life where I certainly didn’t remember it and therefore created some pretty bleak realities for myself, I truly believe that it’s true.

What we believe, think, say and gather around ourselves will become us. It’s a bit like magic. I’m sure we’ve all had those days where we ‘get up on the wrong side of the bed’–the alarm didn’t go off, our coffee spilled, we wore two different colored socks, the car didn’t start etc. From the get go, the day went down hill and didn’t stop.

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But if instead of freaking out about the alarm clock and believing the day was going to spiral down from there, we actually took an extra minute to re-coop and gather ourselves and restart. Would things would get back on track? Yes it is honestly true.

As a medic, I can say that most accidents occurred because of people not paying attention, rushing, stress, not taking time to learn something, anger and other negative things. And it’s been proven that disease can also be caused by stress and negative thinking and healed by the opposite. Even if you don’t believe this, what’s the harm in trying to be different? It can only make your life better. Even the word disease, when you break it down becomes dis-ease. 

Many spiritual practices use the idea of prayer to change things–like prayer circles. What more are these than creating realities? Believing in something to change it–many people together in fact….
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So, we can all do this on small scales for sure, but also believing in world peace and enough food. Why not? Just like Tinkerbells says: Believe!

The other quote I heard last year that I just read again in my journal and felt was so profound was ‘language informs behaviors‘. It’s similar in some ways to the above, but more specific. Words are very powerful tools, as all we bloggers know! That’s why most of us do what we do! They can help or harm. Words can change the path of someone’s life, for good or ill.

What this particular woman was saying though, if you speak prejudice words, then it will shape your behaviors. She was speaking about our politicians. What people say often will show what they will do (or not do). This is important to keep in mind when choosing our officials, friends, partners and anyone we keep near.

Listen with both ears wide open, check for clues! Some people may be subtle in their language, although many aren’t. Our language, whether spoken or written, is what makes us human. We must all try to think before we speak–a lesson that’s been hard-earned for me and one I’m still learning.

So with these two thoughts in mind, I face my year. The goal is to make my reality as positive as possible and make sure my language matches my behaviors. And ultimately that others may find me a decent person.

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Healing


Sometimes in my job as a paramedic we have very tragic moments. But sometimes these tragic moments also have attached to them rays of hope and resilience.

As some of you may have read, last week I responded with my crew to a very bad call that ended with the fatality of a driver of a motor vehicle. She was a young mother. Her teenage daughter was also in the car and we transported her with serious injuries.

Today that young girl walked into our fire station–halo attached to her head and all! She was supposed to be in a wheel chair, but she opted out (still being a teenager afterall!). She went to school for the first time today, for part of the day, and was apparently met with a huge reception! I can just imagine.

I, too, saw her with joy filled in my heart and soul. The last time I saw her she looked nothing like the normal (well fairly normal) kid I saw standing before me today. Oh sure, she was minus some hair and had a huge scar on the top of her head, plus a crazy contraption screwed in also, but that wasn’t stopping her at all. Because it was her light and smile that showed me she will be OK.

We talked about the accident a little and about her mother. It amazed me that she could! But I realized just as we on the call need to talk and heal, so does she. Talking about her mom those moments before we got there were important to her. She needed to share those minutes with us. And I needed to hear them. It’s part of the healing process for us all. I believe she needed to know about what happened in the ambulance to help piece together the blank moments she doesn’t recall.

This dark time in her life will be heavy in her heart always, but shedding some light on it can only help her to move forward. And sharing it with the people who were caring for her during the time of the crisis is critical to healing. At least in the early part of the healing process. We as providers ease our pain also, instead of letting it build up, when a patient like this comes back to us after the call.

The whole town in which the family lives has poured their love onto this family. Gifts, money, offers of baby-sitting. I said to this young girl that now she has taken the role of mother in her family with her two younger siblings. She said she already has done just that. She told me she was very close to her mother, so I know this job will be one in which she will excel. She is now channeling her mom.

We can’t change what happened. But I know any mother out there, if fate had it that one was to die, would want their child to live. And live she does: with strength, happiness, resilience, love, memories and faith. We could all take a lesson.

No Tomorrow


Today, one day before “Thanksgiving” I was on a fatal car accident at work. Being the paramedic, I went into the significantly damaged vehicle with the driver to see what the injuries were and if there was anything that could be done. The minute I saw her, I knew her injuries would not sustain life. She was showing the last ‘expirations’ of breath that we call agonal respirations.

I discovered upon leaving the vehicle that her sixteen year old daughter was a passenger and needed medical aid also. So I immediately moved to attend to her. She was transported with serious, but non-life threatening injuries. She asked a few times how her mother was during the transport. My partner gave her an honest, but allusive answer. It was not our place to tell her about her mother’s death.

Even though I knew her mother was dead or transitioning toward death when I entered the car, it was my choice not to leave her in there by herself. There was nothing medically I could do for her at that point, but I personally feel that no person should have to die like that alone. Whatever religion or whomever she may believe in, either in an after life or deity, her spirit was leaving her earthly form as her last breath left her.

She was not conscious and I do not delude myself that she knew I was there. But in my heart I hoped that I helped her pass over to wherever. I quietly told her it was OK, that she wasn’t alone. I was a medical examiner for some years and am comfortable with death. Traumatic death is especially hard for the living, and probably for the dying too.

I know when I had my car accident and I thought I was going to die, it was scary, dark and so lonely. She probably did think about her children as I did and what would become of everyone. Hopefully my presence was somehow felt.

It reminded me again of reverence of life, the brevity of our time here, the need for gratitude, how every day needs to be  for thanksgiving, to remember what’s important and laugh, love and don’t bother with anger.

Any moment, around any corner, any artery, any loaded gun in one second can knowingly or unknowingly topple your life and dreams. And then your loved ones will be left behind to question: did we love enough? Did we do all the things we wanted? Did we have enough fun together? Why did we fight so much?

So the next time you go to bed angry at someone you love, or you’re driving too fast because you’re late to work, or you yell at someone, or you stop talking to an old friend for a dumb reason, or you don’t do something fun because it cost just a little too much–think about it again and remember: there may be no tomorrow to try again.

 

Home Again


Any of you friends that have been following my saga know that I had been suffering from headaches and also had a ‘dog dilemma’. The headaches, I had finally come to realize after many consults with various gurus from various medical backgrounds (traditional and non), were most likely from my horrendous car accident in September. And my dog issue is because I work five days a week as a paramedic and I have three dogs that I feel very badly about keeping in for long periods of time. These two issues in my life were pretty much keeping me a wreck.

So I was pretty much at the end of my proverbial rope, getting depressed with daily headaches and ready to find homes for my dogs. I just didn’t feel it was fair to have them, even though my middle daughter was coming over to let them out.  But while she does drive, she does have some handicaps and was using my old car. My worry was overwhelming every time there was a storm–and with this endless winter we’ve had, the storms looked like they will go into April.

I’ve contemplated every: considered selling my house and moving closer to where I work, but the agent told me good luck with that–it isn’t worth anything. I’ve asked my friends if they knew of anyone looking for a place to live, but no-one did. And still the headaches throbbed on….

But a little over a week ago I just put it out the Universe that I really needed a break. Sitting in my bed one night I asked for some signs that things would get better. Seriously I just couldn’t take it anymore. I started to stretch my neck around in circles and from side to side also. Man, did it hurt. And I heard some crunching noises too! After my accident, no-one had ever recommended PT or rehab. I never even had an X-ray of my neck or spine. But I gently did this and started doing this regularly.

Within a day or two the headaches were gone! After months and months…just like that: bam! They had disappeared. It was truly a miracle. My life had been so clouded from being in pain all the time. A doctor had given me scripts for all sorts of pills, but I never took them. And the other things I had tried didn’t work. The massages may have helped, and maybe cumulatively things did add up in the end? But I wonder if the slow working of my neck just popped something back and released something? I have no idea, but it was sign I was looking for indeed.

So then a week later I was talking to police officer I know about a potential room-mate situation. Asking about how much information you can get from someone and the best place to advertise. Because this seemed my only solution for my dogs short of giving them away. And that would break my heart. They are my only companions. As he and I chatted, I asked him if he ever came across anyone that needed housing. He said yes now and again and suggested I speak with someone in my town that ran the homeless shelter. We happen to have one and they had just sent me a flyer.

I rang the place up and spoke with the director at length and explained my situation. She said they didn’t often put their clients up in private homes but it was something they could explore. They usually did families, but got phone calls from single people too. They do some background checks but I didn’t really know what kind of money these people had, not much, but they would be helping. Some would have some difficult situations for sure though. She said she would get back to me and that would be after the weekend.

The night I spoke to her I didn’t sleep well though. I wondered if this was the best situation for me? To bring a stranger into my home? And suddenly it dawned on me! Something I really had been thinking about for a long time, but couldn’t quite wrap my head around yet. My daughter that takes care of my dogs already and her boyfriend live with his parents. It’s a very bad situation. They are both developmentally delayed and are not happy with the living situation they are in. It’s a small house and his sister and her crazy boyfriend live there too. Their things get stolen all the time and they fight constantly with his family. My daughter is adopted and I’ve tried hard to care for her. She left my ex’s house a few years ago to go be with her boyfriend. Little did she know then what she was in for and how it would all turn out. She was only a teenager then and wouldn’t listen to reason.

But now they are ready to leave. They both want something different and would be happy to help me out with my situation too. At first I was being less than kind with her boyfriend because he can be hard to deal with because of his challenges. She is my daughter so I know her…therefore it’s easier. But I wasn’t being fair to him. It’s all a matter of deciding that something is going to work! He really is a good kid and they adore each other. They are very good for each other and in a very committed relationship.

Now we are all really excited about this move. We are worried his family may give him a hard time. I spent all weekend making their room ready. I’ve always been envious of families that have their kids there with them. It will be a challenge for us all, but we all want it to work. I spend many hours away at my job, so I can be patient while I’m home. We all just must try to communicate the best we can. I told them no screaming like they do at his house. Just lots of love.

So I feel like what I asked for was given to me and I am so grateful! And I will pay it forward. I feel very lucky to be able to do this for my kids. It would have been nice to help someone else, but I need to help my own kids too. They are just as in need. And it was very cool picturing in my mind maybe little grandkids running around someday! Hey, you never know….

Photo : Calm


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So yes folks, this lovely picture was taken today as I slid down my mountain after my swim on my way to work. Peaceful, eh? It’s what we would like to believe just a couple of days before the official beginning of spring. Well, I sit here now typing with yet another impending snow storm headed our way! And believe me, I am not too happy.  I had really begun to think that maybe we had turned a corner as I began to see earth appear on my lawn. Of course there is still a foot of snow in spots, but I figured it was a good sign that the sun had melted it here and there. I was even brave enough to order special milkweed seeds to attract monarch butterflies to my yard this year! A lovely new project….but I’m beginning to fear we may be in an endless winter and they will never come. Maybe I should have ordered something to attract penguins instead?

But there is an interesting positive note that I discovered today I would like to share with all my blogging buddies and readers out there. When I left the house this morn, I was very verklempt (upset) that I would have to tell my fire Chief that I might not make it in tomorrow because of the storm. This was very difficult for me as I have always been a do or die sort of employee. I have great guilts about missing a day for any reason. Even after my accident I didn’t miss a day and now realize that was a stupid mistake. So during my swim I fretted about how I would tell him and in the end just decided to tell him the truth: I can’t leave my dogs for fear I would get stuck there. Plus I can’t ask my daughter to drive in that bad weather to take care of the dogs.

I checked the weather when I got in and the predictions continued to be bleak. So I marched in and told him my plan to stay in if it continued to look grim. What I did do though, was get coverage in case. He was a bit bothered, but not too bad and by the end of the day accepted it pretty well. But I still felt guilty.

Driving home I racked my brain about how I could make it work: could I go back and make my daughter sleep over? Could I find someone else? Could my other daughter stay if she didn’t go to work? And then I got home. My three dogs greeted me at the door and were so happy to see me. And suddenly I realized: why am I so worried? What is really important in my life? If I went to work and drove off the road and got hurt or worse, who would take care of them forever? Yes, I have an important job as a paramedic, but my life and the pets and people in it are important too. And for the first time in my life/career I let it all go and said: it’s OK to be home and I’m not going to feel badly about it AT ALL. I come first.

It’s funny how long we may come to these realizations. Or that it might take a little puggle looking up at you to make you realize it.  It’s all cumulative I suppose. Everything in our lives brings us to the points of realization and our AHA moments. At least we get there at some point even it takes a long time.

So if I wake up in the morning to 8 inches of snow and it’s still falling, then I will take the dogs out and go back to bed. Or if they are wrong, and it’s nothing I will go off to work and rejoice!