Poem: The Demented


I move you

as you watch

through eyes reaching back

to dance floors hung with

cigarette smoke swirls

Your double-breasted jacket

brushing cozily against a firmly guarded chest

Slowly moving together

feeling forever young

until

the music fades away

And then you turn

to see me sitting next to you

Are you searching among

reminiscence and room?

The pirouette now is sedate and stiff

partnered hands upon cold metal rails

that follow your lead

It is not love that holds us up in the end

But the lonely grip

of the metallic burn

the flickering memories that dart

with us

in and out

as our dance partners

once did

 

 

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Expired 


Yesterday was my last day as a licensed paramedic. It’s with great melancholy that I let it lapse. But all things need to come to their logical end, and so it was time for me to step off the bus.

For all my ups and downs, it really was a great run. I had the great honor to be with people at some of the worst times in their lives and with them as they took their last breath. They invited me into their homes, even when they may have felt ashamed, because they knew I came only carrying oxygen, not judgement. There were many neighbors I helped, and some I couldn’t, but I cared about them all. It didn’t matter who you were, why you called me, how much you had to drink, how many times you called that week, if you woke me up in the middle of the night or I had to come in a raging blizzard, I came because I really did like being a paramedic. Sure, maybe we complained a bit about the hours or the pay, but really, there wasn’t any better job than that one.

Where else do you get someone say to you: thanks for saving my wife’s life? Or making a kid with a broken arm feel less pain…or even being with someone when they take they stop breathing  knowing that you helped make their journey easier. 

So, I have no regrets except maybe I didn’t find it when I was younger. I’m gratful for the lives that I helped save, but even more grateful that I never made any mistakes that hurt anyone. 

Thanks to all those emergency workers out there still busting their butts for us all–stay safe and we are truly lucky to have you. 

Doctor Doctor


With all the medical stuff going on in my life and in my Mom’s, I decided to make a quantum leap and step out of the norm and change Doctors. This is always an interesting decision to make, and sometimes hard, but in this case it was a piece of cake.

Since I have moved to this part of the country I have been even less impressed than usual with the health system. I’ve never been that impressed to begin with, but here and there one can find a decent provider. My doctor from where I moved had a relationship with me for 18 years or so, and while it wasn’t perfect, I did like her. She still was very traditional, but she did seem to care and listened…for the most part. But she had her great limitations based on the Western tradition of medicine.

Leaning toward a different way of life than most, and being an outside the box person, sometimes I test the patience of Doctors (and many people I meet). This is something I am not ashamed of, actually I’m quite proud of it, although I’ve come by this with some tough moments in life.

Being the odd woman out is not always easy and often leaves one feeling alone or odd, but I’ve come to embrace my differences and see them as good. And those that embrace me for them, I consider special and wonderful friends. And those special Doctors who understand that I don’t fit the mold of a ‘normal’ patient (and I don’t mean in this case that I have mental illness–although some may think I do)–I simply mean that I don’t embrace the typical style of medicine we see now…especially these days.

The more I am around Doctors, hospitals, providers and caregivers–the more I see folks that don’t much care about an individual, I see youth and immaturity, often rude and harsh behaviors, cut corners and people without true listening skills or compassion. Not always, but generally. It’s very, very disheartening. And when this happens with patients that can’t advocate for themselves, or don’t really know what to expect–it spells disaster.

Patients forget they are the customer and deserve the attention and care their money is buying. They feel that anything a Doctor says must be true because they went to school for so long and paid so much for their educations. But sadly, this isn’t always the case. We all have the right to question something if we feel, in our guts, that it isn’t right for us–even if a Doctor says it is–or even just to ask a question. It should be team-work, not a dictatorship. And there should always be a sense the Doctor truly cares.

So in this vein, I decided to find a new, more holistic approach to my health care. No more typical Western approach: sterile waiting areas, answering systems where no humans answer the phone, lost faxes and Doctors looking at computers instead of you. I’ve had it with this type of care! I remember the days when a Doc came to my home to see me. This is a far cry from those days…

A quick search found me a holistic Doctor right near my home. I called the office, left an easy message (there were no thousands of mailboxes I had to press 1 or 2). My message was answered the next day promptly, and I had a lovely conversation with the office person Carol the next day–we spoke for maybe 15 or so minutes about our respective lives! It was refreshing. And appointment was made.

When I came for the appointment, the office smelled wonderful: of incense and herbs. The office was lovely with beautiful music (not Muzak). My visit was one hour-long (a couple of times the Doc went out to see others) and we spoke about what the plan was for me and what I hoped to get from our relationship together.

I’m going to do acupuncture, herbal remedies and maybe some other modalities to help fix some chronic issues. Honestly, I’m really very healthy most the time, so I may not even see her that much. She respects that I may need to see some Western Docs for certain things, she’s cool with that for sure. And if I have a bone sticking out of me someday (hopefully not) that I have to go to any emergency room anyway. Of course! But she said she helps her patients getting ready for surgeries with special things so they heal faster and without scars.

I came away feeling very positive. Hey, 1000 years of Chinese medicine can’t be all wrong. And certainly I have not felt right about what’s been going on with my treatment thus far, so why not? Anything is worth a try. She seemed caring and positive and very attentive. I felt comfortable and peaceful.

And best of all: she spoke to me directly and not into a computer!

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Out The Door!


From a really bad thing came a really good thing. Today my Mom and I decided I should quit my job. As many of my long time followers know, I was really unhappy in that job anyway. From the beginning that position has been hard for me with difficult co-workers, rude doctors, unreasonable managers and unkind people in general. Not what I wanted in a new position.

I felt that when I moved here, that one priority was to be relaxed and enjoy my place of employment. Stress from years of working in the Emergency Medical field had taken its toll and I was ready for a big break. But admittedly I took the wrong position offered to me from a couple of offers. Figuring this was somewhat within my field and giving me the opportunity to meet more people and slightly more money–I jumped at this one.

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How wrong I was! Money should never, ever guide us, and I should have known better. And while I did meet some very wonderful friends that I hope to keep, the bulk of the folks there were more of the same uncaring healthcare ‘professionals’ that would sooner spit on you than help you.

So when the opportunity arose to help my Mom get well, you didn’t have to ask me twice to walk out the door. I didn’t even give two weeks, which is not my style at all. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that in my life! But with her health, their attitudes and my degree of frustration, I was out.

To my great surprise and gratitude, my boss was very kind and understanding about it all and even said if there was anything he could do he would. If there were more words like this, maybe there would be more retention there, but sadly he is not the one to talk to most people. It happens I go to him because he’s nicer.

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Sadly it’s the loud mouths that run the place who either pretend to be nice or just plain aren’t nice or have their favorites. Of which I was not one. And I am proud not to be! I’m always glad not to be part of the crowd that played games or is too afraid to say what I feel for fear of pissing them off. Bah!

Because I know in my heart what is really important, and it’s certainly not any of those silly folks who can’t walk their talk. It’s about family, real connections and honesty. And hopefully when Mom gets better, it will be time to find a new career. But this time it will be nothing to do with human healthcare!!

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So How Do You Like Me Now?


As many of my readers know, I’ve been a paramedic for over 13 years. I’ve had my ups and downs with my career. Some days I couldn’t be more proud to say I’m a medic and totally love going to my job. But more and more it has become a grind. Many feel it’s a burn out job due to the high stress of the ‘blood and guts’, but they are very wrong about that being the reason.

It has recently hit the local news that a nearby Fire Station had one of their ‘premiere’ paramedics caught diverting narcotics for his own use. This actually isn’t very hard to do and sadly, in our business, happens more than it should. This particular medic was the lead guy, so had even more control than most, so got away with it for a long time.

Since EMS (emergency medical services) in my state is such a small community, many of us knew what was going on long before he got arrested and it showed up on the news. I worked at that fire station years ago, and in fact, was their first paramedic. I parted ways with them because they didn’t feel I complied with their rules well enough when I wouldn’t remove a tiny nose ring that I had worn previously for five years. This was after a long list of harassing things they had done to chase me away because I wasn’t a ‘yes’ person.

This particular department moved on to medics they deemed bigger and better. To them that meant slicker, smarter, fancier talking. The guy that was arrested was just the guy they were looking for to put in place a program to bring them lots of new money with a non-emergent transfer program. What they didn’t see at the time was that it also positioned him in the perfect place to support his habit.

But sadly in this business in these small towns, they look no farther than either the all mighty dollar or the big city talk. They look no further than surface. But sometimes karma gets them in the end! And so it did with this department.

When I was there, I put in countless hours on calls that weren’t only paramedic calls because no-one else would go. I had close to 600 calls under my belt. While I always do the skills I need to do, my style has always been more about being kind. Holding a hand if I need to, or talking to someone, hugging someone or giving a kiss! I have even given someone money for taking a taxi home from the hospital. But somehow many places I’ve worked never could see these as positive attributes because they aren’t financially measurable. It would take a special manager to see their worth! And most ‘Chiefs’ aren’t much for real managers.

It is so tempting to march into that ambulance service now and say: that’s right dudes, I work with a nose ring, and I wouldn’t kiss your butts all the time! Those things are true for sure! But I never stole narcotics or smeared your name in the news and I’ve always been kind to my patients. So how do you like me now?