I had a FANTASTICALLY craptastic night at work. Like…I wanted to pull my hair out shitty night at work. I’m not going to go into it…it was that type of bad.
I think I helped to make a difference Tuesday night. Through the crap, I actually helped someone. No needles or ALS skills involved. None. I didn’t do a single thing they taught me in Medic School.
I became a Paramedic for the end result; taking someone’s WORST day and turning it into a Good Day. I wanted to help stop the pain, heal the hurt, and bring just the smallest ray of sunshine into the horrible storm. As a kid, I would see Paramedics and EMTs helping people. They always seemed to know exactly what to say and exactly what to do to make the whole situation better. I wanted to do that. I naively believed that the drugs and skills were what built the confidence to allow me to say whatever I wanted and that the patient would just feel better. The Nine Red Letters seemed like they were what made the person; it was a costume, it was a banner. The Nine Red Letters gave me the ability to be that person to help with just a smile…but I couldn’t help with my smile or a kind word unless I could poke things with needles or give drugs.
That’s what the Nine Red Letters meant to me. They didn’t mean being there for someone by just being present, they meant that I could give a medication and the medication would make everything better. I could read a LifePak12 and everything would be better. In my mind it was the skills that I could do that would make things better, not just me being there for someone.
Slowly, through working, I discovered that it wasn’t the drugs, it wasn’t the skills. The patient could give a damn if I could start an IV in the ditch, in the dark, at 0200, while blindfolded on two hours of sleep. All the patient cared about was if I could help them. All they cared about was if I was able to calm their fears, fight the terror and the pain by their side. All they cared about was me being there and making it okay.
I did that. I helped to make it okay and I did nothing but talk.
I felt so unfulfilled in my ER job because I couldn’t. I thought the only way to help was by shining my Red Letters. I’d get so angry because “all” I could do was just take blood and do IVs. I couldn’t give meds, I wasn’t ‘treating’ people, I wasn’t making Differential Diagnoses…I was just a Vampire that knew all these big important Paramedic things, but I forgot that the most important thing of all was the one thing I wished they taught in Medic School; Morphine is not the only thing to take away the pain. A kind heart, a gentle word, and injecting a few MG’s of compassion with a bolus of understanding can do more than ten of Morphine will ever do.
So, don’t ever be afraid to take the gloves off and hold someone’s hand. Don’t be afraid to connect with your patient. They are scared, they are worried, they are frightened. Hold their hand, laugh with them, give them a hug…do something more than just pass out medication and needles. Do more than just give a ride and drop them off at the hospital. Do whatever you can to show the patient that someone does care about them in their time of need.
Be someone’s light.
Be the dawn.
Have Fun and Be Safe.