Poem: Spin


We cannot help

all we meet

yet we may try

Some may refuse

others deny

some simply carry on justified

Burdens carried may be real

heavy and piled high

it turns into all a person feels

Some troubles start small

and continue to grow

into things that

loom tall

casting shadows of doubt

upon their inside walls

making their lives

close in

until they are left

to spin

spin

spin

on the tip of pain

blurring all the faces

as the world goes by

A hand reaches out

to help and try

But their orbit

has spun off

madly

into the sky

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Poem: Which Light?


What started as hard

could be easy in the end

Life is a gamble

where not knowing is a friend

 

Looking back is simple

and seeing all the pain

but to only guess the future

and its crazy moving train

 

Hoping that it goes forward

towards fields of golden light

and the tracks that lay behind

are now distant out of sight

 

Yet still we step upon this ride

without a future sure

and surf the bumps and valleys

through tunnels insecure

 

Then to take this trip

and the curves that may befall

because the only other choice my friend

is to not be here at all…?

Turn Around


rainbow and old house

This is one of my most favorite pictures that I’ve ever taken. I’m not exactly sure why except for me it epitomizes a lot in my life: much of it has seemed kind of tattered and worn down. It has been beaten by the elements of time and I wear the scars to prove it. I’m rough around the edges, yet I’m still standing. I show many signs of age, but that’s because I’ve lived. To many, I look old and maybe not that beautiful, but I know inside I hold many secrets–only the ones really brave enough to enter will know. And although I’ve weathered many storms and darkness has followed me, there is always hope and beauty that seems to linger right near by. All I have to do is summon the courage, step away from the edge and turn around.

Poem: I Am Still Here


 

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Some days I am sinking

beneath the mist

drowning below my weary

loneliness

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Trapped

under the weight

of my icy fears

that no-one else can see

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I fly alone

you don’t hear me

you don’t see me

For I am the vision

of myself

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Small lights

in the encroaching darkness

Save me

I lift my weary eyes

and look ahead

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Another dawn approaches

dappled daylight crawls

I am still here

 

Replacing Sadness


With the news of Robin Williams I have been thinking a lot about overwhelming sadness and depression. Having been a medical examiner in the past, I have seen what deep depression can lead people to do, as it did Mr. Williams. Between my job as a medic and an ME, I’ve been on countless suicides, some so surprising looking from the outside. It makes one wonder: what makes someone so sad to drive them to do such a thing?

I’ve suffered from this kind of sadness–the kind where I’ve thought: it would simply be better if I just didn’t wake up. As they ask you in the hospital: no, I’ve never had a plan to do anything, so I suppose I wasn’t as bad as some. But there were days that were pretty dark in my book.

But I’ve seen darker in other people’s lives. The young woman leaving behind two beautiful young children-one and three-and her husband a doctor, beautiful home, a loving father and mother. But suffering from depression, so she took the gun anyway and walked off into the woods. The mother called me many years later to find out why? Why would she do such a thing? I had no real answers except to say when people get to that point where the pain is so great they feel there is nothing else. They don’t think of anyone else–it’s only the pain, emptiness or whatever they are feeling that drives them to suicide.

We, that are left behind, may never understand it. I heard about Robin Williams, having not paid much attention to his addictions (I haven’t owned a TV for many years) and thought: yikes–he had it all: money, talent, fame, family! But obviously something was missing for him. Something vital. At the point he decided to end his life, none of those things mattered.

So I wondered is if possible to replace this sadness, this crushing depression? Not just with drugs, but with something else that will take its place and push it out of a person’s head. I had some things that helped pull me off the brink.

It may sound crazy, but my dogs and pets were one thing. If I was to die, who would take care of them? Who would have known they were in the house, alone, hungry and needing to go out? Yes, this stopped me. At the time I didn’t think my kids cared enough or even my friends, but I knew my dogs did!

I also had my athletics to replace the addictive personality I could have had that might have made me a drug addict or alcoholic. It seems that these things often go hand in hand with suicide. So replacing substances with other things that make you ‘high’ in a positive way can be beneficial. I’ve tried to impress this on someone close to me who had a problem with drugs. She is currently playing rugby! Hard drugs, hard game!

Trying not to stay isolated. This can be so difficult when one is feeling awful and depressed. For me this was the time I wanted to be under a rock. So this is the time when friends and family must be diligent in watching for signs and helping the person. Keeping the person surrounded with love and attention, even if they don’t want it may save their life. And if the person can ask for help, whether it’s a hotline or reaching out to someone they know, then there is certainly hope.

There have been so many famous talents that were depressed, and some that went on to commit suicide. But if one can simply use art, whether it be writing, painting, sculpting, music or whatever, to go way deep into one’s psyche, then possibly the crisis can be averted. And in a sense, we are sharing the burden with others when we create and therefore releasing a bit of the pain, like a pressure cooker about the burst open.

I’m sure there are some that turn to their religion when there seems like no way out. This may be a comforting place to seek solace and advice. Your higher power, God, Goddess may help one to feel less isolated–that feeling that one is never alone.

You may have other thoughts or ideas or even things you’ve experienced through your depression or ones you know. But in the end, these things may not help everyone. Sadly there will still be those whose decision to die will be the only choice they see. And in the end, we can’t stop it as awful as it may make us feel as family, friends, fans or whatever. Somehow we may need to dig deep and understand it from their point of view. Sometimes mental pain can be just as excruciating as physical pain. And no-one should have to suffer that much.

Time Marches On


How many times have you thought time is just whipping by at lightening speed? The years are rushing by and you’re aging before your very eyes. As I look in the mirror now, sometimes I am horror-struck by the person that looks back at me! No longer the young woman I used to see, but rather someone with major wrinkles and salt and pepper hair.

Oh sure, there are moments in time that drag by: when the dentist is drilling a tooth and you were too tough to ask for Novocaine, or you’re new in love and the special person is away for the weekend or you’re running a race with a pebble in your running shoe. Yup, those are time that don’t seem to end, but for the most part, life is rushing forward like a conveyor belt on steroids.

It’s such a terrifying feeling some days. I think: my goodness, all the things I’ve yet to do! And all the dumb things I’ve done and can’t fix. I’m starting to feel all the aches and pains and see the real changes in my body. But when I think things like: I’m almost the age my grandmother was when I thought she was so darn old, that’s when I’m stopped cold.

This is when I have to take a deep breath and think, OK, just how many years might I have left? And how to slow down those years so they don’t feel as fast and furious as the first 60. It might be a magic trick I have to pull off, but in order to not go off the deep end and simply be depressed by it all–this is what I must do.

So I figure, since I’ve tried to maintain a fairly healthy lifestyle…maybe I’ll be lucky and have 20 or 30 more years. Realizing they won’t all be as chipper as the first half of my life, they may still be reasonable and quality years. Hopefully I’ll either have great kids (or grandkids) and not get stuck in a nursing home. Or maybe by then we will have wised up and have done away with them! (Fat chance).

Or maybe we’ll be even smarter and Dr. assisted suicide will be legal by then for those of us that believe no-one should suffer. We all should have the right to end our own lives when we know the time is right. So quality of life goes on until it’s not quality any longer.

I’m hoping that I actually have some time in my later years to relax and chill. To really just do some things that I want to do–or should I say, just not do anything I don’t want to do. Just do less and less, have less and less. Maybe it’s the stress that ages us, the worries we have and the financial burdens. I’m hoping some day to be lifted of some of these black clouds and just be.

But for now, as I see the person in the mirror looking back at me, I’m continually shocked. Where did all the time go? All the things I had hoped and dreamed to do? How did I get to be this old? When I see my daughter now, I see me. That’s who I’m suppose to be! There I am!

That’s what it’s all about I suppose…handing the baton to the next generation. As for us, well, we just end up entwined in their genes and hopefully their hearts and minds.

Don’t Be Silent


Recently I did something I’ve never done before. I listen to public radio, both the national one and our local public radio station. In fact, it’s basically the only radio I turn on. I spend lots of time in the car and alone at home, so it’s my constant friend. I love it. The other day, driving to work, I heard that a show that includes public interaction. This particular show was the Friday news roundup that includes pertinent stories from the previous week.

One story that had a deep effect on me was about a century bike ride where two women riders were killed by a young woman driver who plowed into them with a car. As the story unfolded, it became clear this woman had been stopped earlier in the day, was driving without a license, was impaired on a prescription medication and was ‘borrowing’ the car that hit the cyclist. Two others, the person that loaned her the car, and the person giving her the medication were also implicated.

Later in the week, I responded to a call for a young child who was struck by a driver while walking on a sidewalk with his mother. They had just stepped onto the sidewalk from his daycare. This driver was also impaired by a prescription medication. He, luckily, was fairly OK, although eventually was flown to a level one trauma facility to be observed for a head bleed. It was a miracle he wasn’t killed. The driver of the vehicle was on the way to pick up her own children from school.

It struck me as I was driving to swim, that I needed to address this issue of prescription drug abuse in this state and country given my experience as a paramedic. I see it constantly–much more than illicit drug overdoses. We all think of drug addicts as the punks on the street in the dark alleys waiting for their next fix. But in reality, it’s more often your neighbor who may have been hurt at work, then prescribed some narcotic and is now hooked. Or someone with depression or anxiety, who just can’t get out of the medication cycle because western doctors are too lazy or don’t have the time or knowledge to help them find healthier ways to get well. Sometimes sadly, they simply get kickbacks from the drug companies if they push their products.

So now we are a society of walking zombies. Real zombies that plow into innocent people riding their bikes or ripping children out of their parent’s hands! They might as well be zombies! They stand on the scene, deadpan in a trance-like state with no idea what havoc they have just created in this families life! And maybe, at the time, they don’t care because they are under the influence of the drug.

It’s all too easy. Too easy for kids to get ahold of these medications also. They have parties and dump a bunch in a pile and just take them, having no idea what will happen. And then end up in an emergency room after being driven there by their friends barely breathing. They don’t want to call an ambulance because they are too afraid. Believe me, I know. Someone very close to me almost died just like this from a Fentanyl overdose. They don’t have a clue how powerful these drugs can be. They think it’s a game.

The media talks about heroin, bath salts, crack, synthetic marijuana. And I’m not saying these aren’t bad too. But more attention needs to be paid on the stuff right in our medicine cabinets. Benadryl, oxycodone, Ativan, even all the cardiac drugs. Just a few days after my email was read we responded to a call for a 62-year-old female who overdosed on about four of her medications, including Atenolol. That’s just a blood pressure medication. But in fact, that was the most dangerous one as her blood pressure was plummeting because of taking too much.

Sixty two years old! This is not a kid. New onset depression brought her in to see a doctor and what does he do? Give her lots of anxiety and depression medications. What does she do? Overdoses on them and tries to commit suicide!

Something is drastically wrong with our system! We need to look at it and soon. Before more people kill themselves and others. At least that’s what I think. Here’s what I wrote and was read on the air:

Hi,

I’ve been an avid cyclist/triathlete, but more importantly I’m currently a full time paramedic in Fire Department. I was on a call recently for a young pedestrian hit by a car. The common factor in these two stories is that the drivers were impaired by prescription medications: Fentanyl in the case of the cyclists and Ativan in the case of the pedestrian.  While the media coverage seems to bring much attention to drugs like heroin, we in fact respond to more calls to prescription overdoses. I personally feel there should be more attention paid by primary care doctors to dispensing these medications, more education to our children and finally more media coverage to this abuse. It’s not just about blaming the addict, we as a society must take more responsibility. Thank you.

      Maybe someday Primary Care Doctors will take the time to do more than just give a pill. We are thinking, feeling, physical, soulful creatures. We need to attend to all parts of ourselves. Thank goodness when I went through many years of depression (never diagnosed), I never went to see anyone! Many pushed me to go. But I knew as long as I could workout I would probably be OK. I hit some very low spots, but somehow I made it–with a little help from my friends.
      I truly believe there are other ways out besides just a pill. At least be mindful when they are dispensed and have a system that tracks someone’s use. Hospitals talk to hospitals–doctors offices talk to each other too! Once hooked, these people are smart and will find their drugs and go looking from one doctor to another. We have to make it harder.  Lower the dosages, lower the pill amounts dispensed. Don’t give it out like candy.

Until then, we all must be diligent and help the people we know that may be over using medications. Help them to understand that it becomes as dangerous as heroin. Don’t stand back and be silent. You may end up saving their life–or someone else’s.