If Prince was a Drug Addict…So was I.

The Almighty Purple One left this world last week. Let’s all have a moment of silence for The Funky Purple One.

 

Prince

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry…couldn’t help it.

 

Prince was found unresponsive in the elevator in his home after not responding to phone calls. His friends arrived on scene to find him dead. EMS called him on scene at 1007. While the world continued to mourn, articles began popping up about how he died. Was it The Flu? Was it HIV/AIDS? Was it Prescription Drug Abuse?

 

The last one popped up into my Facebook Feed on April 29th and I immediately became angry. Here is the article that popped into my feed and made me so blindingly angry I couldn’t see straight. The first line of the article:

 

Prince had prescription painkillers on him when he died…

 

And your point? The article went on to highlight how he was possibly treated for a potential drug overdose just a few days before he died. It also talked about how investigators found prescription opioid painkillers in his home. Let us all stop for a moment and think of our Medicine holders. Whether it’s a cabinet, drawer, basket, bag, or whatever…just think about where you store your meds. How many of us can say there’s most likely a bottle of leftover Percocet from a Root Canal performed 5 years ago, a couple of Vicodin from a broken Hand, that bottle of cough syrup with Codine from the Bronchitis bout over the winter, or a leftover Tylenol #3 from the Flag Football game gone wrong from the summer? I know I always held onto the leftovers ‘Just in case’…I mean…I never knew when my pinky toe would try to make love to the coffee table at 0300 and get violently rejected and the throbbing from my foot would keep me from walking, let alone sleeping. A Vicodin from having a tooth pulled and a glass of…something…and I’d be back to dreamland.

 

If any of us died tomorrow (Please, Dear God, don’t take this as a challenge. 2016 has sucked.) none of us could positively say that an Investigator wouldn’t find some kind of Prescription Opioid Painkillers in our homes. Immediately, Prince began to be known as a Drug Addict. People began lambasting him in the media for doing prescription painkillers to get high. Why else would they be in his pocket at the time of his death if he wasn’t taking them just to get high?

 

I have a pretty…personal story about this and why it hit me so hard and I got so angry when simply being found to have Prescribed Painkillers on him lead him to be called an ‘addict’ and a ‘drug seeker’…that he was just getting high and his stupidity killed him.

 

Here’s a little story from my past. Before my Back Surgery when my Surgeon and PT thought it was a great idea to put the girl who couldn’t walk through an insane amount of PT…the ‘Pain Clinic’ just kept piling on the Pain Killers. At one point, this was what I was putting into my body every 4-6 hours:

Vicodin 10\325.
Neurontin 1000mg
Percocet ES
Fentanyl Patch 125mcg\hr\72
Nucynta 75mg
Morphine 10mg
Oxycontin 20mg
Motrin 800
Tizanidine 40mg
Robaxin 500mg
Ambien 40mg (At night to sleep)

This cocktail was given to me by a Physician. The one time I inquired if I might possibly be on too many Narcotics at once, they took ALL of my meds away that day. They refused to refill my prescription. Within 48 hours I was in full blown DTs, had a seizure, and nearly died…so they put me right back on the same pills, same doses, and said to just take them and suck it up or I’d only get non narcotics. Mind you, my L5 disk had wrapped around my Sciatic Nerve and was strangling it…so the pain was intense.

One night, I went to the movies with some friends and I wasn’t feeling well. I threw up multiple times and we left halfway through because I just felt like Hell. I kept dozing off and zoning out on the hour ride home. Once home, I made it to my bathroom…then woke up several hours later in the hospital.

I had nearly died of a drug overdose.

I have an insane tolerance to medication. My starting Propofol dose for surgery is 60mcg\kg\min and it can take up to 20 minutes before I’m out. Nothing like freaking out the Anesthesia Department because you are having a coherent conversation about Intubation Techniques after two ‘Happy Syringes’ and a crap ton of Propofol.

My body maintained that insane drug protocol for 18 months until it said screw it. Fortunately, my friends were all Paramedics and Nurses, so when they heard me choking on my own vomit they got me to an ER PDQ. Aspiration Pneumonia and a slow wean of my cocktail later, I had gotten off all that crap and resumed a normal life.

If my friends weren’t there…I’d be dead of a drug overdose. I would have looked like I had taken a fist full of drugs to ‘get high’ or to commit suicide and died.

In 18 months… I never ‘felt high’. Not once. No happy buzzing feeling from the Vicodin or Fentanyl…no dopey smile or stupid antics…I was depressed, in a considerable amount of pain, and extremely constipated. My life revolved around my ‘Bag o’ Meds’ and staving off the searing pain that would have me crying for hours if I didn’t stick to popping handfulls of pills every 4-6 hours.

So, for someone who had several Hip Surgeries who was on painkillers to ease the pain…of course they found Percocet in his possession. Of course his body finally couldn’t handle the Narcotic load and gave out. In my bathroom, I had 15 bottles of various Narcotics and a stack of Fentanyl Patches. In my purse I had an extra Fentanyl Patch in case mine fell off as they are want to do and my pills in case my 6 hours were up and I had to remedicate…but just like with Prince…it would have been chalked up to me doing it on purpose and that’s that. A Drug Overdose.

That I wanted to get high.

That I wanted to kill myself.

That I was a junkie…an addict who was out of control.

No. I was following Doctors Orders and trying my best to not be in excruciating pain…probably the same thing Prince was doing.

He was going to bed and his body gave out.

I was feeling sick and vomiting when my body gave out.

 

Chris Kaiser prompted me to make this a Blog Post. I could flesh it out more here than I could on Facebook, but the meat is still there. If I would have died in my bathroom, they would have found enough pills and patches to start my own Pharmacy. They would have found enough drugs in my Toxicology Report to sedate Seabiscuit. I would have been labeled a drug addict just like Prince is being labeled right now. Prince had a history of Orthopaedic Surgery on his Hips along with chronic Ankle and Knee problems. Prince was known for wearing 5″ or higher heels and platform shoes as well as having an energetic performance style on stage. His Purple Rain Tour had him jumping off of risers 4′ and taller…in heels. A year of that punishment on the joints is enough for anyone to eat Percocet like Pez.

 

As to his hovering around a Pharmacy the night prior to his death and how he passed up numerous Pharmacies to get to that one…and how that shows a clear pattern for Pharmacy Shopping…I’m here to tell you that it’s not that nefarious. The other Pharmacies probably didn’t have the amount of pills his prescription was for.

Until my Pain Clinic began to fill my scripts, I had to ‘Pharmacy Shop’ to find a place that would have oh…450 Extra Strength Vicodin and 350 Extra Strength Percocet.

I’m not kidding.

2 pills every four hours plus 2 pills for every 2 hours for breakthrough pain equals a fuckton of pills. So, yeah…I was registered at a ton of Pharmacies because Pharmacy A might have all the Vicodin, but no Perc, but Pharmacy B might have half the Perc…but Pharmacy C would have the other half. As long as I was staying in the same chain, I could piecemeal my script together between 6 pharmacies. Some days, I’d travel between 4-6 Pharmacies trying to get all of my medications together. It was a constant fear that the Pharmacy wasn’t going to have my medicine.

Constant.

In the end…His Royal Badness was probably no more of a Drug Addict than I am or was. We were both seeking to help soothe a physical pain. The only difference is, he’s being vilified for being found with pills in his pocket. I can only imagine what would have happened if I was found with my stash.

 

(All of the hyperlinks that are of Prince’s name/nicknames are my favorite songs. Listen away!)

 

 

I Ain’t Birthin’ No Babies!

“No, Ma’am, for the last time…I cannot just let you smoke near the Helipad. I’m sorry…”

The woman in my chair sighed deeply, crossing her arms over her chest. I shook my head slowly as I looked at her Cheif Complaint:

Chest Pain with Dyspnea.

“Why can’t you just let me smoke? I’ve been here for eight hours!” The leather clad Harpie slammed her fists down on my desk, her chest rattling Smoker’s Cough propelling small flecks of greenish phlegm onto my desk. I pushed away a bit, my upper lip curling up as I felt wet, sticky, and not mine land on the back of my hand.

Reaching for the industrial size bottle of hand sanitizer, I pumped out several judicious squirts into the palm of my hand, rubbing them together.

“Ma’am…we are very busy tonight. If you go outside, which you are more than welcome to do, and we call your name and you don’t answer, we’ll skip over you and move onto the next patient. So, go outside if you want. Also…you’ve been here for less than two hours.”

The woman got up and walked outside. I saw the small orange glow of her cherry bobbing across the parking lot towards the main Hospital entrance. I shrugged deeply and took a sip of my water; I did my best. As I sat at my triage desk, I made a few notes on several patients before I continued with the next one. As I stood up, my phone let out a long, low buzz and I looked at the screen.

Have a good night sweetie. xoxoxo

I grinned stupidly as I touched my phone lightly, then I looked at my list.

“Amanda!”

A very pregnant woman slowly waddled up to me and I smiled, “Are we here for, uh, foot pain?”

Her husband smiled and put his hands on her shoulders, kissing the top of her head. She reached up, holding his hand tightly, “No…I’m ready to have my baby!” I grinned widely as I grabbed a wheelchair. “Well, I’m gonna get you to desk number one and the lovely ladies upstairs will be coming to get you. Has your water broken? How far apart are your contractions?”

“Uhm…they are 5 minutes apart and no. It’s my first. I wasn’t even dilated and I went earlier to see the Doc.” I patted her shoulder, “Well, in any event…congrats!”

I walked back to my desk, picking up the in house cell phone. I habitually looked at the number on my cubicle wall and I dialed 5252 on the phone. “Hey there, it’s Shao in the Bowl. Hey, I have a lovely young lady here who is having contractions about five minutes apart and her water hasn’t broken. She’ll be waiting!” I smiled as Mary acknowledged what I said, then hung up the phone. I looked over my packed waiting room, looking to see if anyone was looking better or worse than when they came in. With my list cleared, I pulled out my Chemistry text and started reading. Within a few minutes, the phone rang.

“ER, this is Shao, how may I help you?”

“Hey, it’s Lewis. How’s everything out there?”

“We’re twenty-four deep, longest wait is two hours. What’s up?”

“We just got a call. A lady is on her way in and she’s having contractions less than two minutes apart, but her water hasn’t broken yet. Can you take her straight upstairs?”

“I can do that. I’ll be waiting for her…” I hung up and walked over to the windows, pulling my jacket on. The February night was getting colder by the minute and I wasn’t looking forward to going outside for anything. Standing quietly, I watched as the security guards started to move around and they started to block off the road leading up to the ER. I watched for a few minutes, hoping to catch sight of the Bird landing; even 13 years into the job and I still got excited when a Helicopter landed. After a while, I wandered back to my desk wondering where the pregnant patient was.

Maybe they pulled over and they called 911 or some unsuspecting Cop got to deliver. That would be a pick me up for the Officer…

Smiling, I got back to work as the gentle whomp whomp whomp of rotor blades filled the waiting room, going from a barely noticeable noise to a loud roar. A throng of kids had gathered by the windows and I gave them each a Lollipop while they stood in amazement over the helicopter landing, still watching eagerly for the patient I was expecting. Wandering back to my desk, I jotted down a few notes from my book when the Valet walked in and over to me.

“Hey…there’s some pregnant lady out front. I think she needs help…”

I got up and walked outside with a wheelchair as a frantic husband waved me down, “Please help me…My wife is going to have her baby!”

“Okay, Sir. Let’s get her out of the car and into the warm…”

“I…I can’t go in.” I cocked my head to the side as I moved around the car, “I have my other baby in the car…I can’t just leave her.” I smiled and nodded, “We’ll get her registered and upstairs, it’s not a big deal…” Parking the chair, I smiled at the young woman in the car. Her blonde hair was matted to her forehead and she let out a gasp, “My water just broke and I’m having a contraction!” I nodded and looked at my watch, “Did it just start?”

“Yeah!”

“Okay. Big deep breaths, just pant…no pushing. I ain’t birthin’ no babies!” We all giggled as she powered through the relatively short contraction. Taking a few sips of water, she collected herself and I smiled, “Let’s get you inside, okay?” She nodded and I helped her stand up. Standing there, she shook out her legs as she began to tell me about their trip.

“We’re out past the 43 interchange. We were trying to make it into town, but I didn’t think…Ooooh!” She grabbed her stomach and crotch, letting out a small yelp, “Oh, Shit!”

“WHAT?!” Her husband and I said in unison.

“He’s here! The baby is here!”

“No, no it’s not!” I helped her waddle towards the wheelchair, “Can you sit?”

“No! The baby is coming! I have to push!”

“No! No! Just pant! Don’t push! Please don’t push!”

The Valet walked up to me, his eyes wide. I pointed at him, “You! Go inside and get me help…NOW!” I turned around and pulled down her pants slightly, using the light from the lamppost to look…

I couldn’t tell if it was an ass or head. She let out another scream, “I NEED TO PUSH!” The Husband looked like he was going to faint. Taking a breath, I ripped off her pants and put my hand on the baby, feeling around; it was a head.

“Okay…okay…uhm…are you ready?” She nodded. I cringed. Dad leaned against the car panting.

“PUSH!” The head slid out, then slipped back in. I felt around and noticed the nose and mouth were still inside the vagina. Cringing harder, I made the little V shape and I slid my fingers in, giving the baby a bit of room.

“STOP! STOP! IT HURTS!”

“I know…but I really, really need you to push! PUSH!” With another push, the head popped out. I felt around quickly and didn’t feel the cord.

“You okay, Mom?” She nodded. “The head is out. One or two more pushes and he’ll be out!” She nodded again as she gripped the arms of the wheelchair, trying to catch her breath. I looked around; we were alone outside in front of the Helipad.

“I’m having a contraction!”

“PUSH!”

With one more push, the shoulders came out, barely giving me time to angle them before…

Before I was holding a brand new infant in my hands. Mom collapsed into the chair and I stayed knelt on the ground. I was covered in amniotic fluid and was frantically trying to wipe the waxy crap off the baby and stimulate it at the same time. It took forever; I frantically rubbed, flicked, and patted the baby.

“Come on…come on Little Dude…” I turned him over to face me and with a deep breath…he started screaming at the top of his lungs.

I’ve never EVER been so happy to hear a baby cry in my life. I cradled the new person who had just dramatically entered the world in my arms while he sobbed his little brains out and I held him to me, trying to keep him warm and rub all the slimy crap off of him. A car pulled up and a woman ran up to me, pulling her shirt off.

“I’m an EMT! Here’s my shirt!” I looked up to see a middle aged woman handing me the shirt off her back, her daughter throwing a coat over her mother’s bare shoulders. I took the shirt and wrapped the baby up, still trying desperately to keep the baby warm when I heard a voice behind me.

“Shao…is everything okay? You’ve been out here for a while.”

“I JUST DELIVERED A FUCKING BABY!” Gretchen, the Triage Nurse stood there, her jaw slack, then she turned around and ran inside. What seemed like ages later, the ENTIRE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT and OB Nurses were outside with blankets and towels. Dr. Sampson came around the car, a smile on his face.

“Hi, I’m Dr. Sampson…I’m just going to see how far along you are…”

“SHE DELIVERED THREE MINUTES AGO, DOC!!!!!” He looked down to see me cradling a baby that obviously wasn’t mine. OB came running around and they smiled at me, “We’ll finish up…”

“FINISH WHAT?! I HAVE THE BABY!” The message was never relayed that I was actively assisting on the delivery. Gretchen never relayed that I was holding a screaming baby. OB had no idea what was going on. No one had any idea what was going on. We hustled and got everyone inside. I duck walked next to the wheelchair holding the baby since trying to rest the Little Dude on Mom’s belly just wasn’t happening and as we got upstairs, I watched forlornly as they went through the doors, myself not crossing the little yellow line into the OB Unit. Slowly, I trugged downstairs, my phone ringing in my pocket.

“ER, this is Shao.”

“Hey, this is Registration…I have people waiting to get seen…”

“I get that. It’s gonna be a minute, I need to get changed.”

“But there’s a chest pain here…”

“Tell Charge or Triage, I need to get changed. I’m covered in Baby Butter…” The line went dead. I set my jaw and marched to Registration, a wicked smile on my face. The ladies backed up away from me, shocked looks on their face.

“So. I’m going to get changed. Call someone that isn’t me to get the patients seen.”

I stalked to the Locker Room, my hands shaking. I had never done that before. The Hospital just became an OB Hospital, so we had done some deliveries in the ER, but I was surrounded by Doctors and Nurses who knew what they were doing. I even pulled one off in an elevator…but I had Doctors and Nurses who knew what they were doing with me. I looked in the mirror; I was covered in all manners of fluid and goop, my hair was a mess, and I felt sticky. I had a whole world of ‘Wet, Sticky, and not mine’ all over me and it made me cringe. I quickly changed and went back to my desk.

A few hours went by and I felt a tap on my shoulder as I was deeply immersed in a book. I turned around and saw the new Father standing there, a huge smile on his face.

“Can I help you? Is everything okay?”

He nodded, then he grabbed me and hugged me.

“Thank you. Thank you for saving my baby.”

I smiled softly, digging my toe into the carpet. “It was nothing. Just what I was trained to do.”

“Well…thank you. You will always have a place in our hearts and in our family. Thank you.” With that, he walked away.

I watched him go, a smile on my face, then I set back to studying.

 

 

 

 

Hell Hath No Fury…

I just wanted to address something I posted on my Facebook Page.

 

I received an E-Mail on Sept. 11 that read, in part, You can see the level of discrimination in the FDNY due to the fact that no females died during Sept. 11 in the Line of Duty.

 

I was floored. So, here was my response in its entirety:

 

First of all, what I usually say in response to e-mails like yours after I read through your website is that, while I thank you kindly for thinking of me and asking me to support your group, I only support groups that are for helping women pass the already established guidelines for the professional department they are applying for. I’m sorry.  I’ve been a 5’3″ female for my entire career. At no point in time did I ever ask for the standard to change because I am a woman. I have adapted, improvised, and overcome all obstacles set before me so that I could be the best Fire Fighter, EMT, and Paramedic that I could be. At no point in time did I ever ask for things to be “easier” so that I could pass. Sure, there are just some things that will never come easy to me; this girl will never sling around a Bangor Ladder like I watched my Brothers and even another Sister do and I certainly look silly carrying a HighRise Pack with half the hose dragging behind me…but I work through them to accomplish the task at hand. 

 

Now, in regards to you e-mailing me on a day where I take time to reflect upon what happened on 9/11 and pray for those who lost loved ones, Civilian and Public Safety alike in an effort to further your political agenda….

 

How. Dare. You.

 

First of all, there were multiple Female First Responders on scene…Brenda Berkman, an FDNY Fire Fighter, Carol Paukner, an NYPD Officer, and Regina Wilson, another FDNY Fire Fighter just to name a few that a 1.4 second Google Search revealed. There’s even a book called Women at Ground Zero which tells the stories of over 30 different Female First Responders who were at Ground Zero. There was even a documentary that was produced and shown in 2011 called “Beyond Bravery: The Women of 9/11” that profiled many different women who were there, fighting the good fight along side their Brothers. As for those who suffered a Line of Duty Death on that day:

Capt. Kathy Mazza with Port Authority

Moira Ann Smith with NYPD

Yamel Merino, an EMT With Metrocare/Montefiore Medical Center

 

Also, take into account the women who were Responders who died Post 9/11 due to injuries/illnesses caused by that day. Their deaths are considered Line of Duty as well:

 

Officer Louise M. Johnston, NYPD

Sgt. Claire T. Hanrahan, NYPD

Det. Carmen M. Figueroa, NYPD

Officer Madeline Carlo, NYPD

Karen Barnes, NYPD

Detective Sandra Y. Adrian, NYPD

 

Sadly, every year that particular list is going to grow, Men and Women alike. There are tens of thousands of people who have been diagnosed with Illnesses stemming from that day and unfortunately more come forward every day, even 14 year later. All of their deaths, from what I have read, will be considered Line of Duty.

 

So, before you run your mouth, spouting off some serious Bullshit, check your facts first.

 

~MT

 

Before it’s asked, no, I will not be telling anyone which organization it was. Emails back and forth this weekend make it seem as if this were the work of one individual, not on behalf of the organization. I will always be the first person to stand up and stand beside someone who feels as if they were wronged as a support system. I’ve been there, it sucks. What I won’t support are people who want the standard to be dumbed down so that one group or another can have an easier time. I’ve put my heart and soul out there to do this job…I’ve bled for this job…I’ve cried for this job. I didn’t ask for it to be easier. I have worked my ass off for YEARS to be able to proudly stand next to my Brothers and Sisters, knowing I can do the same job, with the same responsibilities and standards they have. I wear my patches and scars proudly.

 

Adapt.

 

Improvise.

 

Overcome.

 

Have fun and be safe,

Shao.

 

Hurricane Irene

“I’m not ready yet!” I yelled to my crew mates. I huddled in the corner on my cell phone, the heavy winds and rain from Hurricane Irene buffeting the garage doors. A loud crack resonated through the garage as another tree snapped, succumbing to the almost 90mph winds caused by Hurricane Irene.

 

“Yeah, Mom…I can’t…you’re breaking up.” I heard a fuzzing noise, then the phone went dead. “Shit…” I shoved it back into my pocket and moved back into the crew room. “What’s the report?”

 

Matt handed me the station phone. I put it up to my ear, pulling out a pen and my notebook. “It’s Mike.  Hey…the other crew went out on a Cardiac arrest…can you make sure 134 is clear? The top of 134 to the hospital is open, but we don’t know if it is up to the boat launch. Can you guys go out and take a look?” A strong gust of wind rattled the windows, startling me. I felt my heart drop into my stomach, but I stiffened up. It was a quick, ten minute ride. What could possibly go wrong?

 

“We’re on it.”

 

I hung up. “Let’s go. We have to see if 134 is open up to the boat launch.” I pulled on my sweatshirt, then draped my raincoat over my arm. I walked to the Ambo Bay and realized I was walking alone. I went back to the door. “Come on…we have to go…” Nervous eyes looked at me from the crew room. I felt a bead of sweat roll down my neck and along my spine; I had no idea how to deal with a Hurricane, but everyone looked to me for direction.  “Whoever wants to come with me can, if not, you can stay here.” Slowly, Matt, Ashley, and Angie stood up and followed me to the garage. Everyone piled into the truck.  “Alright. Let’s just make a big loop. Go down Camp Hollow, turn onto 134, drive up past the boat launch, turn down Lighthouse, get onto Marion, and then get back on to 325 and then right back to the station. We shouldn’t be gone for longer than 20 minutes. Easy, peasy.” I smiled at everyone, trying to encourage them…but it was also to encourage myself.  I was feeling unsettled, but I figured it had to be because I had never experienced a Hurricane before. As we pulled out onto Camp Hollow, I felt the truck get buffeted by the wind. The truck swayed a bit to the same rhythm that the trees moved and the leaves flitted from their perch to the soggy road.  I looked through the rain spattered windshield, watching little rivulets of water move across the road.

 

We splashed through the puddles in relative silence. The roads were empty; a State of Emergency had been declared and while we weren’t under mandatory evacuations, we were encouraged to. I lived at the furthest end of the state, right up against the bay. My house and town were at sea level. My mind went to my sump pumps…if they didn’t kick on, I’d be extremely screwed when I got home. My mind was elsewhere and it wasn’t until Angie tapped my arm that I came back to reality.

 

“Do you think we can drive through that?” I looked to where she was pointing and I saw the boat launch had flooded across the road. There was a huge standing puddle…or more like a small river crossing 134. I hopped out of the truck and walked up to it. Slowly, I worked my way across…the water hit the tops of my boots and spilled inside them. Even still, it was less than a foot. I waved the truck through and I hopped back up inside, picking up the radio. “This is Medic 84 to Base and Medic 74, there’s a little less than a foot of water crossing 134. If you come through in the nest 10 minutes, you should be fine. Drive safe.” The radio crackled in response; I was using the talk around radio used to talk between the two stations and our ambulances. It wasn’t good that the talk around was going; we used the same towers that County Dispatch used. I picked up the Dispatch radio, trying to keep my voice steady. My nerves were starting to get to me again. “Medic 84 to dispatch. How do you read?”

 

“You’re breaking up, but we received your message.”

 

“10-4.” I looked at Angie, “Let’s just turn around and come back the way we came…how does that sound?” She nodded and began to turn the truck around. As we approached the launch, waving at the driver of Medic 74, we all leaned forward, looking at the water. I opened up the door to step out, but as my foot hit the running board, I heard a familiar groaning sound. I looked down the road and watched as a tree that had been buffeted by the wind for too long finally gave way with a heaving groan, then a bone chilling snap. We all watched as the tree fell in seemingly slow motion, making almost no noise except for when it crashed through the roof of the substation. Sparks flew everywhere, then with a deafening pop, all the lights on the road went out. I stood on the running board, my jaw slack. We couldn’t come back the way we came and conditions were deteriorating rapidly.

 

I slowly retreated into the truck, drops of water splashing from my hair onto my pants. I pulled my wet tresses back into a ponytail and I realized everyone was staring at me. I sat for a moment, then I pointed, “Let’s go down Lighthouse. I want to get back as soon as possible.” Angie nodded and we turned down Lighthouse and I leaned back in the seat as the valves of the diesel engine tapped away.

 

“Matt!” I turned around with a smile on my face, “You never told me…how did the Registry go?”

 

Matt perked up, leaning his head through the birth canal, “It went great! Hopefully I’ll have my EMT in the next week or two.” I gave him a high five; we had gone over the EMT practical for weeks after he failed the first go round and I knew he was solid. I pulled out my phone and an Aux cable from my go bag and I quickly put my ‘Code’ playlist on. Metallica came through the speakers and we jammed out on our way down the road, lightening the mood dramatically. We were giggling and laughing…life was okay…everything was going to be fine. I looked through the windows; it was now completely dark. The high beams glinted off the rain slicked road. I looked out my window and saw fallen trees along the side of the road. My Medic Sense started tingling and I looked back.

 

“Hey…buckle up back there. You know my rule.” I watched Matt and Ashley tuck into their seats and get secured again. I turned around and watched the road in front of me. As we went around a turn, the road ahead looked clear. Two left curves, three right curves, then a right turn. Three or four miles and we’re home safe. We were almost off the back country road and onto the main road that went through town. I sighed gently, taking off my wet sweatshirt.

 

“Almost home!” I leaned back, watching the road go by. Without warning, Angie slammed on the brakes.

 

“HOLD ON!” She screamed. I saw the tree across the road and I put my hands out against the dashboard. We skid to a stop, a few feet from the tree, all of us straining against our seat belts. I heard the metal clip board go clanging down from its holder and along the floor, the Jump Bag making a heavy thump as it slid from the bench seat onto the floor.

 

“Is everyone okay?” Everyone quietly acknowledged and I pulled out the map book to figure out what to do next. Lighthouse let out at the ends and the offshoot roads were dead ends.

 

“What if we go back down Lighthouse and then continue up 134? It might be clear to the hospital. We can take Marion to the top of 325 and go down that way. Worst case scenario, we can go to the hospital and wait it out there.” I looked at Angie and nodded, “Do it.” I looked at my watch; almost 90 minutes had passed since we left the station. I grabbed the Talk around radio,

 

“Medic 84 to Base. We’re stuck on Lighthouse just past Library. Downed tree. We should be back shortly.”

 

No response.

 

“Medic 84 to Base, can you read me?”

 

No response.

 

I picked up the county radio, “Medic 84 to County, can you read me?”

 

No response.

 

My heart began to throb in my chest and my mouth went dry. I looked at the mic in my hand, then I keyed it up.

 

“Medic 84 to County. Can you read me?”

 

No response.

 

I hung up the mic. “Turn around, lets go your way.” The truck lurched into reverse and I looked back to Matt and Ashley. They had crawled up to the birth canal and were looking at me with wide eyes. I put on my best smile for them while inside I was screaming.

 

“It’s going to be fine, honest.” I looked back to the windshield. So far, so good. I picked up my cell phone and I dialed Mike.

 

No service.

 

I typed out a quick text.

 

Can’t be sent. No signal.

 

I put my phone down and turned the music back on. The air in the truck was thick with tension and my mouth felt like it was full of cotton balls. I dug through my Go Bag and I pulled out a few bottles of water and Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip cookies. I held up the bag.

 

“Anyone hungry? I even have water if anyone wants it.” I passed the bag around and handed out the water. Silently, we ate. Ashley was the first to speak.

 

“What are we going to do if we can’t get back to the station?”

 

“Well…” I sighed, “We’ll just have to find a place to sit and wait.”

 

Rain splattered against the windshield once more. The wipers were humming along, moving as fast as they could to clear off the water. We rolled slowly over a small bridge that we could barely see; the creek it went across was now swollen into a tiny river, the water just tall enough to lap over the bridge. As we cleared it, I figured we were home safe. We could go up 134 all the way to the hospital or take Marion back down. The hospital seemed safer. We rolled on, once again in silence. As we neared the end of Lighthouse, our hopes were dashed. A tree. A stupid, fallen tree blocked our egress.

 

“Dammit!” I yelled, slamming my fists against the dash. “Son of a Bitch!” I put my head in my hands. Angie was staring at the tree, her eyes wide, her knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel. Ashley started to cry softly in back, her shoulders heaving with every quiet sob. Matt looked down at his feet like a beaten puppy.

 

Not good. Not good. This is not good.

 

“Go back.” I spoke quietly. “We are getting off this road come Hell or high water.”

 

“We already have the high water. Can you call this Hell?”

 

I smiled slightly at the joke. “Yup.”

 

Angie turned around once more. “What’s the plan?”

 

“I think the field back there was open. Take the truck through the grass around the tree.” I swallowed a swig of water, trying to clear up my throat.

 

This is bad. This is very bad. I don’t know what to do.

 

As we reached the far end of Lighthouse, we saw the field. It was full of Soybean plants. The edge of the road dipped slightly into the field. I grabbed the spotlight from behind the seat and looked for a clear path. I didn’t see any fences or anything that would impede our progress.

 

“Go for it.”

 

Slowly, Angie inched the truck off the road into the field. Immediately, the truck began to sink into the rain soaked field. I rubbed my nose, praying we didn’t get stuck. The wheels lost traction and began to slip, but we were still moving forward. Foot by foot, we made it around the tree and back onto the road. Up ahead, we could see cars driving down Marion. From here, it was only a few miles back to the station. The tension in the truck eased considerably as we turned onto Marion. Matt gave a sigh of relief.

 

“I need a drink.” I laughed at Matt. “I know the feeling. Tomorrow, when this is all over, y’all have to come back to the house and have a drink.” Everyone nodded in agreement. Up ahead, I could see the flashing amber lights of a utility vehicle. As we pulled closer, we could see why he stopped.

 

Another. Fucking. Tree.

 

I let out a scream of frustration. I was wet, I was tired, I was cold. I wanted my bed, I wanted a shower, I wanted a drink. I wanted to go back in time to stop myself for signing up for Hurricane duty. I wanted to be home in the warm and safe. Without me saying anything, Angie turned the truck around and started to head back up Marion. I thought about what was along the way. I knew the Electric company had a station there, as well as the State Troopers and another ambulance company. We could pull into any one of those. It had stopped raining and the eerie silence made my stomach turn. It went from deluge to nothing almost within an instant. I could hear my heart racing in my ears. Zipping along, we went several miles without seeing a downed tree. Relief was in sight.

 

I rubbed my neck, all of my muscles tense from the capitalistic day I was having. We passed Lighthouse and saw down trees, stacked up like kindling blocking the road. Turning a corner, I pointed at another set of amber lights, but they didn’t look right. They were lopsided. We pulled closer and saw a tree laying on top of a Utility vehicle, the cab crushed. Angie stopped and we all ran out and over to the truck. Inside was a man with a large gash across his forehead. I knocked on the glass and he looked at me with a look of genuine relief.

 

“Oh my God!” He screamed. “Are you here to rescue me?”

 

“No…well…yes…I mean…we were driving through and we saw your truck.”

 

“I can’t open the window or the door to get out!”

 

Matt stepped up, holding his shiny new window punch. I nodded quickly and within a few minutes, we had the gentleman out of his truck and into the back of ours. I dressed his forehead while Matt and Ashley took vitals. Angie stood just to the far side of the truck, smoking a cigarette.

 

“What’s your name, sir?”

 

“Andrew.”

 

“Pleasure to meet you, Andrew. I’m Shao, that’s Matt and Ashley. Your chauffeur for tonight is Angie.”

 

He smiled weakly. “Thank you. You guys are life savers.” I smiled and clasped his shoulder. Angie got back into the truck and we continued on our way. We drove for a few more minutes, making small talk amongst ourselves. I felt the truck slow to a stop. I walked up and looked at Angie.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

“There are lines down in the road. I don’t know if they are cable or electric.”

 

I shrugged. “Your guess is as good as mine.” Without warning, Angie threw the truck into reverse and backed up a few feet and a large tree fell across the road. If she hadn’t reversed, the cab would’ve been crushed. My throat dried up again and I began to dry heave. Angie began to cry.

 

“I can’t do this anymore!” She pounded on the steering wheel, the horn blasting out with each hit. “I just want to go home!” She sobbed.

 

I groaned, sitting on the floor of the truck. We were stuck. We couldn’t go anywhere. We couldn’t talk to anyone. Suddenly, the County radio crackled to life.

 

“County to Medic 84.”

 

I grabbed the mic.

 

“This is Medic 84.”

 

“County to Medic 84.”

 

I keyed up. “This is Medic 84. Can you hear me?”

 

“County to Medic 8….4.”

 

“This is Medic 84, County. Can you read me?”

 

“County Dispatch with…*static* message. Medic…missing. Repeat…*static* 84 missing.”

 

My hands trembled as I dropped the mic and picked up the Talk-around.

 

“Medic 84 to Base!”

 

No response.

 

I put my head down and as I did, I noticed my phone buzzing to life. Text messages were popping up. I started reading through them. They were all from various people, asking if we were okay. I replied back with our location…my own mini LUNAR report. The message stalled out. It wouldn’t send. I jumped out of the truck, holding my phone into the air, trying to get just the smallest bar of signal possible.

 

“Send…send!” I watched as the small, quarter bar waved back and forth, then it winked out, being replaced by a red X. I held the phone down at waist level, looking at the screen…looking at the X, the red X. As I stood there, the wind started whipping up, bringing hail and thunder with it. I stood in the wind, small pebbles of ice pelting me from above, then I turned slowly, my feet dragging as I walked back to the truck. I climbed into the cab and I put my forehead against the dash. I was done. I was spent. I was emotionally worn out and spent. Matt popped his head through the birth canal, his face illuminated by his phone.

 

“I think I know what County was trying to say.” He handed me his phone. A CAD page had come through during the minute of signal. I read it over and my jaw slackened. I handed it to Angie, she read it, then looked at me, her eyes wide. I looked at the message again, my breath catching in my throat.

 

Medic 84 is missing. Last known location: Lighthouse Rd.

 

I handed the phone back to Matt and I sat back, crossing my arms over my chest.

 

“Okay. They’re looking for us. That’s a good thing.” I glanced at my watch. “We’ve been gone for over five hours. Let’s just hang out here. We just got the message, but it looks like it was sent about an hour ago from the time stamp.” The hail continued to pelt the truck, but soon gave way to rain. I sat, contemplating about if it was wise to just sit here, but we had no choice. I looked in back; Matt and Ashley were huddled together on the bench seat. Andrew was sitting on the stretcher, reading a book he fished out of his backpack. Angie had her eyes closed, her head back against the seat. I fiddled with the AC…my clothes were in various stages of wet and the air blowing on me was causing me to shiver.

 

“Uhm…” I heard a small voice behind me. “Hey…I…have to go to the bathroom.”

 

We all looked at Ashley. She was biting her bottom lip, looking much younger than her 17 years. I wondered if I ever looked that young and diminutive when the shit hit the fan as a baby EMT…if I ever had the look of abject terror and fear that was written all over her face. Her mascara left charcoal marks along her cheeks from crying.

 

“Okay…”

 

“I…I have to pee.” She practically whispered at this point. I heard a snort come from the seat next to me. Angie had her face hidden in her hands, her shoulders heaving with laughter she was trying to stifle. I couldn’t help it. A smile broke across my face and I bit my lip, trying hard not to laugh. Matt started it. He couldn’t hold back any longer. He broke out into laughter, his head back, tears streaming down his face. Ashley looked around, then even she started to giggle. I put my head down, giggling hard. The entire truck was filled with laughter.

 

“After all of this…” I swept my hand around, “Everything we’ve been through over the last five hours and you have to pee.”

 

The giggling turned to hysterical laughter. We held ourselves, tears streaming down our faces. We probably laughed so hard due to the tension and stress…we were all shot emotionally, so it made sense it had to come out somehow…and the laughter was our release. After a few minutes, we all calmed down to small giggle fits that would take over when we looked at each other.

 

“Guys. I still have to pee.”

 

I pointed outside to the rain. “Have at it.”

 

“I can’t pee outside!” I looked up at the ceiling, then back at Ashley.

 

“Well..Oh!” I turned around and pointed. “There’s a bed pan under the bench seat. Put it on the Bio Bucket like a seat and…go for it.”

 

Matt and Ashley stood up and lifted up the seat. They moved the padded board splints and KED out of the way, followed by the Hare Traction splint and Triage Kit. She pulled out the pink bed pan and she held it up. I pushed the Bio Bucket towards her. She grabbed the bucket, the pan , and a blanket, then she stepped outside. After a few minutes, she came back in with a look of relief on her face.

 

“Better?”

 

She nodded. “Better.”

 

We settled back down, trying to get comfortable. I turned the music back on, this time some soft jazz. I wanted to keep the tension low, keep the stress down. I closed my eyes when Angie turned the truck off, leaving the battery on so the music kept playing. It was just after midnight. It wouldn’t be light until at least 0700 and depending on how bad it was, they may not make it to us until well after nine or ten PM. I couldn’t do another nine hours stuck out in the middle of nowhere. I gazed out the window, watching the rain streak down. Leaves fell from their branches, spinning like a Whirling Dervish in the wind. They flitted across the sky, being lifted or lowered depending on the whims of the gusts. I watched one leaf as it came off its branch being battered by the wind and rain. Somehow, it stayed aloft, whipping back and forth. I watched it, mesmerized. The noise in the truck faded away as I became focused on the leaf.

 

My mind drifted away to a different time, a different place. I thought about how I made dinner for the first EMS crew I ever worked with…Spaghetti and Meatballs. Laughing with Byron over something silly, probably one of his silly jokes that could always make me laugh no matter how bad my day was. How I stood amongst the falling leaves, walking with someone near and dear to me, kicking the leaves up, giggling and laughing. I saw my old station, the laughter ringing through the trailer, snow falling all around us as my partner came in through the back door, throwing snowballs at all of us. We ran out into the snow, rolling around, throwing it at each other…using Reeves and Backboards as sleds. I watched Hawkeye lob a snowball at me. I watched it sail lazily through the air in its arc…as it hit the peak, it came down towards me…slowly, languidly…

 

The snowball landed on my face with a deafening screech. People were screaming as I was snapped out of my daydream. I felt the truck lurch forward and rock violently. Ashley fell off the bench seat, onto the floor. I lurched forward, bracing myself against the dash. Angie rocked forward hard…she must have been asleep, barely keeping herself from slamming head first into the steering wheel. It felt like the noise and motion wasn’t going to stop. I heard a pop, then what sounded like pennies being thrown onto the floor. The truck lurched one more time and stopped.

 

Silence.

 

I gasped, putting my hand against my chest. Angie was panting, looking at me with wide eyes. I looked in the back; Ashley was picking herself up off the floor and Matt was brushing himself off. Andrew was sitting quietly on the stretcher, his shoulders heaving with each breath. We must have all dozed off.

 

“What the hell was that?” Angie screeched.

 

“I don’t know…” I shook my head to clear the cobwebs out. “You guys okay back there?”

 

All three of them nodded. I saw the back windows had broken, shattering glass all through the inside of the truck. I saw pieces of leaves mixed in with the glass in the back of the truck. Angie had climbed out of the truck and she was standing in the road, her hand on her mouth. I climbed out and looked where she was looking. A tree had fallen on the back of the truck. Somehow, the back step was still attached, but copious amounts of paint had been ripped off. Branches and leaves obscured the back of the truck. Red plastic laid on the ground from the tail light. I stood next to Angie, both of us staring ahead, unable to speak. Ashley and Matt climbed out of the truck to join us.

 

“How…”

 

I held up my hand.

 

“But…”

 

I shook my head, keeping my hand up.

 

Matt moved in front of me, screaming at me. “What are we going to do now?! We can’t go anywhere! What’s your plan now?” He walked off, running his hand through his hair. Ashley started to cry…again…and Angie looked at me.

 

“John…is going to kill me…”

 

I shook my head. “Alright! Hold on…” I paced around, trying to think.

 

What now, genius? How are you going to screw this up even more, dumb ass?

 

“Look. We are just going to sit here. It’s not like we can do anything else. There’s nothing we can do.”

 

I turned around and walked back to the truck. I got in and slammed the door, putting my head back in my hands. I watched as everyone else climbed back in, the mood somber. No one was talking. All we could hear was the rain. Angie looked at me, her voice soft.

 

“You’re religious, right?”

 

I nodded, “Yeah…”

 

“I’m not.” She looked back to the steering wheel. I looked at her in the silence. After a moment, she looked back up at me.

 

“Do…do you think you could pray?”

 

I looked at her for a long second, then nodded. “Yeah…yeah I can…if you want.”

 

She nodded, then bowed her head, reaching out for my hand. I took her hand gently in both of mine and bowed my head. I thought for a moment…a long moment. Her hand was cold and trembling in mine as she gripped my fingers.

 

“Ahh…” I haven’t done this out loud in years…

 

Silence.

 

What do I say?

 

I let out a sigh, licked my lips and started again. “Uh…Dear Heavenly Father…” I trailed off. “Thank you for keeping us safe. Please, keep us protected and get us through this safe and sound…and please protect anyone that may be out looking for us…” The words came easily now, “and our families. Please comfort them in this time, may they find strength through you. Thank you…Amen.”

 

“Amen.” I heard softly to my left and from behind. I looked up to see three sets of eyes looking at me through the birth canal. I didn’t say anything. I just sat there holding Angie’s hand. Suddenly, I heard a noise. It was familiar, yet not. I looked out the windshield and I saw lights flashing in the leaves of the fallen tree. We all looked closer. The branches of the tree began to fall away, then the top portion of the tree moved backwards. I leaned forward, trying to figure out what was going on when there was a knock on my window. I looked to my right and there was a man, wearing a green poncho and camo pants. I rolled down the window.

 

“Hey!” His voice was way too chipper. “Are you guys the missing ambulance?”

 

All I could do was nod.

 

“Great! I’m Jack with the National Guard. We’ve been looking for you all night! Is everyone okay?”

 

I nodded again. I finally found my voice. “Yeah…we have one minor injury, but we’re okay.”

 

He picked up his radio, “I found them!” From around the tree came a flood of people wearing camo or bunker gear. I started laughing, pointing at the crowd.

 

“They found us!”

 

High fives all around. We laughed with relief, looking at each other. The fire department came to the truck, swarming around it. We got out, giving everyone hugs and high fives. Angie grabbed me, wrapping me up in a hug, a smile on her face.

 

“I am SO going to church with you on Sunday!”

 

I laughed, “You and me both!”

 

Jack came up to me. “You aren’t far from the State Trooper base. We’ll escort you there.”

 

We all piled back into the truck and followed the man with the flashlight. He guided us around the tree and the road ahead looked clear. We drove along slowly, following the path of the Humvee in front of us while the Humvee followed the transport truck. Every once in a while, we’d stop as the National Guard poured out and made short work of a tree for us to get around. We moved slowly and we stopped at another tree. We watched as they poured out, but we began our own conversations between ourselves, not paying attention. After a few minutes, there was a knock on the window. Angie rolled the window down.

 

“Hey!” Jack waved and grinned at us. “There are wires tangled in the tree. We don’t want to cut it because we don’t know what they are and if their dead, but we should be able to drive through the grass and get around. Past that, we’re home free.

 

Angie nodded. “Show me.”

 

The transport truck slowly backed up, then moved around the tree, leaving huge, muddy divots in the grass, but it made it around. The Humvee did the same. The tire ruts got deeper. Angie edged up, then she looked at me. “I don’t think we’re going to make it.”

 

I shook my head, “Same here…we’re going to get stuck…”

 

Jack waved us forward and Angie waved her hands. He jogged over and Angie rolled down the window.

 

“We’re going to get stuck. We aren’t as heavy as you guys…” Jack shook his head, “You’ll be fine! Come on!”

 

Angie looked at me, worry flashing across her face. I shook my head. “This isn’t a good idea…we shouldn’t do this…” Angie nodded and kept the truck stopped. Jack continued to wave us through. Angie sat for another moment, then she slowly crept forward. “I’ll go around the tracks they made…”

 

I nodded and put my hand on the ‘Oh Shit’ bar. We moved forward, then I felt the truck go off the road and almost immediately sink into the soggy ground. We kept moving forward, but the ass end started to slip out…but we kept going. As Angie maneuvered around the ruts, we realized that the grass sloped down dramatically into the tree line. She tried to correct, but the back end was done. We felt the back of the truck sink, then slide. Angie hit the accelerator, but we dug in even further.

 

We were stuck.

 

“Shit!”

 

We jumped out into the rain, looking at the truck. The back end of the truck had slid down the small embankment and was stopped by a tree. We looked at each other, the rain pouring down. We were soaked to the bone. Slowly, we unloaded the truck of the important things and we put them in the back of the Humvee. We then trudged over to the transport truck and they helped us in. Hanging from wires strung across the back were glow sticks that shone brightly in the dark, giving everyone in the truck a greenish glow. As we piled in, we were given glow sticks and told to open them and string them up if we wanted to. As I stood up, I looked at my crew who looked sullen and defeated, then I looked at the glow stick in my hand. I looked back up; the entire crew looked like abused puppies.

 

Grabbing a hanging glow stick, I pulled it down and I started waving my arms around, dancing around in the small space.

 

“Hurricane Rave Party!” I started beat boxing as I danced around, waving the glow sticks. Everyone looked at me for a hard moment, then they broke out into laughter, waving their sticks around. I sat back down, moving my arms, making shapes in the air, laughing and giggling. The Guardsmen joined in and the back of the truck turned into a mini party. I glanced about, smiling at the mirth that filled the small space.

 

After a few minutes, the truck slowed to a stop and the back opened up. “Home sweet home you guys!” We jumped out of the truck and walked into the Base. Inside, we were met with coffee, donuts, and blankets. I felt like a Rock star; we were getting hugs and high fives, cheers and jubilation. I sat down in one of the chairs, using a towel to try and sponge some of the water from my head. I leaned my head back, closing my eyes. We were warm and safe.

 

I dozed off quickly, but rest didn’t last long. I felt someone shaking my shoulder and I jumped to my feet. The room was dark and all I heard was the bustle of people walking through the hall. Angie was standing next to me.

 

“We’re leaving.” I looked at her, not fully awake yet.

 

“Why?” I yawned and stretched. It was just enough down time to start stiffening up. My hip was killing me and I shook my leg out, trying to loosen up.

 

“They lost power. We’re going to the old dispatch office just down the road.” I nodded and slowly followed her out of the building. We piled into a squad car and joined the procession down the road, lights on. Huge trees laid scattered about; it looked like Hell in the dark, so I could only imagine how much worse it was going to look in the light.

 

We pulled into the old building and we piled out. Walking into the old office, you could see just how long it had been since anyone had been in there. A fine coating of dust covered all the surfaces, a magazine dated Aug. 1998 laying on a desk. One of the Sergeants walked up to us, pointing to the stairs.

 

“You guys can sleep down there. It’s quiet and we won’t bother you. You guys look like you need it.” I nodded and waved my thanks. We walked down the steps…well…I hobbled down the steps. The lights flickered, but they stayed on. None of us were talking…we looked like Zombies as we moved. Once we got down, we looked through the rooms and found a room that looked like an old break room. We collapsed into the couches and chairs, letting out huge sighs.

 

“My kingdom for a bed…” groaned Matt as he got comfortable on the couch. I moved around a bit, trying to put the blanket under me. My clothes were soaked and I didn’t want to ruin the couch, but exhaustion won out and I made myself comfortable. Angie closed the door and turned off the light. Within minutes, the light snores around the room started and even my own eyes closed and I drifted off to dream land. The storm raged on outside as we slept.

 

An hour or so later, I woke up, feeling something on my hand. I was laying face down on the couch, my arm over the side. I picked my hand up, using my phone as a flashlight; it was wet. I looked around and saw a few inches of standing water on the floor. I sat up and put my boots back on. They squished in the water as I went to the door and opened it. The entire floor held the standing water. Tears started streaming down my face. I just wanted to sleep and not be wet. I flicked the light back on.

 

“Wake up…” Everyone groaned and pulled their blankets over their heads.

 

“No, seriously…come on. It’s flooding down here.” Eyes popped open and looked at me, then looked to the floor. Slowly, everyone got back into their boots and we made the trip back up the stairs. Angie told the Sargent what was going on as we found a room to sleep in. We found a small office and we set up for the night on the floor. Within minutes, we were back asleep.

A knock at the door woke me up and I lifted my head up. The door opened and Mike was standing there, looking at us with sad eyes.

“Are you guys okay?”

I nodded and stood up. I gently woke everyone else up. “Yeah. The truck is stuck back on…”

“I’m aware. We’re towing it out now. I’m here to bring you home.” I smiled weakly at him and followed him out the door. On the way back to the station, the devastation was apparent. The amount of downed trees was amazing. Huge trees, ripped up with the root ball intact laid like firewood along the road. The rain had finally stopped. We drove in silence as Mike’s SUV pulled into the station. We slowly got out of the car and we were met by our coworkers. They ran up to us, giving us hugs. Families were reunited and I stood off to the side, smiling at the scene. Hawkeye showed up and he put an arm around my shoulders, hugging me to him.

“I thought something bad happened to you, kid.”

I chuckled, putting my arm around him. “You can’t kill me that easily. Can we go home now?”

Hawkeye smiled, then he grabbed my face, kissing my forehead, then he gave me a light smack on the ass. “Come on, let’s get you home.”

 

 

Twelve Years.

Sometimes life sets you up for something amazing, something incredible, something life changing that just takes your breath away. A chance post, thanking the EMTs and Paramedics who shaped me into who I am now led to a quick conversation with a Medic I haven’t seen or had a lengthy conversation with in over a decade…12 years to be exact.

 

I wrote about Byron as being the first Medic I ever ran an Arrest with. That was a life altering day for me. I remember the red, high wing back chair, her pink shirt, blue jeans…the weird brown shag carpet…I also remember the fear, the anxiety, the terror, and then finally elation after it was over.

 

I only worked with him for a year…a year to the day exactly…I know, odd memory. He went off to do bigger and better things, both inside and out of EMS. I stayed on my path and that was that.

 

Well, I got a rare Friday off and in a chance message to Byron, he said his band would be playing at a nearby bar. I kinda had a ‘why not’ moment; it seemed like a good idea, he was game for a reunion after 12 years…I got to go to a Guinness Bar and drink beer and listen to good music after a shitty week.

 

What I wasn’t expecting…it was a watershed moment. I wish I could write well enough to adequately describe what happened, but I can’t. I do wish someone would have caught the initial moment on film…I’m sure it was quite the sight. We talked, we laughed, we reminisced, we drank Guinness  (Told you) , I danced to amazing music with people I didn’t know, but I didn’t care. The moment was right and the moment was amazing.

 

I had three main Paramedics in my life that I could honestly say made an impact on the Paramedic I am now. They know who they are and how much I love, care for, and appreciate them for all I’m worth…which isn’t much. Byron taught me a whole crap ton of things I still do because, well, he did them and it worked, not unlike the things Lt. Dan and Buddha taught me. The other Medic is constantly there, kicking me into gear, reminding me that I am Shao. Fucking. Trommashere. I need that when I get lost in myself, get down on myself, whatever.

 

What I didn’t expect or really realize was how Byron had shaped my development as a Medic. It was weird…and scary…and fascinating when it sunk in.

 

So, a very random moment in my life turned into something amazing. I reconnected with an old friend who’s impact on my career I hadn’t truly noticed until tonight. I’m not really sure why I’m writing this other than to try to quantify what happened. In 48 hours, I’ve had my mentors, the Paramedics I aspire to be, kicking my ass over my doubts, reminding me of who I am and what I’m worth.  It’s been an emotional 48 hour Rollercoaster, but, strangely, it all came together tonight under a hazy dark sky while listening to a band play a song by Dropkick Murphys and drinking one of the most beautifully poured Guinness I’ve ever had.

 

Going tonight was my way of not missing my shot. I’ve swung and missed many times over 29 years, but one big thing Byron taught me was that, I’d miss every shot I didn’t take. Needless to say, I think it worked. I got to reconnect and laugh with someone I haven’t seen in 12 years.

 

Life is amazing.

Have fun and be safe,

~MT

 

Lessons Learned.

This is probably one of the hardest posts I’ll ever write, but my hope is that I can impart some wisdom on my fellow EMS providers in how to deal with family in regards to their family dying or already being dead.

 

On September 11, 2014, I get a phone call that changed my life forever. MamaTrommashere called me to tell me that PapaTrommashere had collapsed on a business trip and was in cardiac arrest. Here is my own personal story on how I ceased to be a provider and became The Family.

 

1) Family will never react normally to shitty news.

When my mother called me, the first words out of her mouth were, “Your dad collapsed and he’s dead…I think.” MamaTrommashere is absolutely not medical, but she went to school to be a therapist. I was asleep in bed and I really didn’t register what she said, so my response was, “O…okay. Call me later *click*.” She called me right back and she used her “Therapist voice” on me.

“Shao. Your dad’s heart stopped beating. They won’t tell me what’s going on since I’m not there.”

“Your point?”

“Shao…listen closely…your father is dying. ”

*deadpan* “Mom…I have to go to work.”

*therapy voice* “Honey…you need to call off of work and drive to Maryland, but don’t worry about getting on the road right away. I have to pick up Grandma. I’ll call you when we’re leaving.”

*Angrily* “Mom. I am NOT waiting around. He is my fucking father and I WILL NOT just wait. I’m packed and I’ll beat you there. What hospital?”

*sigh* Meritus in Hagerstown, MD.

“Fine.” *click*

 

The next thing I do is scream and cry for exactly 2 minutes, then I start acting like it was a normal day. I grabbed a bag and packed for an overnight. Why an overnight bag? I couldn’t deal with my Dad, so I slipped into denial mode and began to get my things together to go to the hospital, then I was coming home for the comedy show the next day. Seriously, my main focus was not getting to my critically ill Father, but how I had waited for months to go to this show and I wasn’t going to miss it. I called my friends I was going with and told them to expect me the next day, but I had to run out of town on an Emergency. Some asked what was wrong and I very calmly told them my Father was dying, but…and I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t been told this by several people…that I said, “It’s no big deal. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

I have never really had a normal response to death. One of my parents favorite stories involves me finding out my Grandfather and Great Grandmother died on the same day. Nana had been gorked with Dementia for years and Grandad died over a botched medical procedure. He lingered on life support for a week before they took him off. During the two weeks of funerals and spending time at the hospital, my only concern was a report I was doing on the medical advances during WWII. I never showed any frustration or anger towards the death of two of my close family members…I was just more pissed that I didn’t have access to the school library to do my report. So, needless to say, I’ve never had a normal response to death and dying, this just happened to be one of the times it was more pronounced.

On my way to Hagerstown, I decided to stop for Pierogies and a Beer. Once again…my Dad is dying at a hospital and I decide to stop for an hour and eat Pierogies and bullshit with a bartender. Looking back, I can only imagine what the Bartender was thinking when I told him, “I just wanted to grab some food…my Dad is dying.” in a calm, non emotional voice.

 

2) Information overload is a very real thing.

The voice of clarity broke through about 10 minutes into the whole incident and voice told me to call the hospital and find out what’s going on. I was transferred to a nurse and I very officially stated, “My name is Shao Trommashere, you have my Father Papa Trommashere in your emergency department. The nurse passed me off to the charge nurse and I calmly repeated the same phrase. She then transfers me to the Doctor in charge.

The Physician who spoke to me was extremely kind.  He ran down the list: He collapsed at a Sheetz, a Pepsi delivery guy who just happened to be an off-duty Montgomery Co. Fire Fighter started CPR, one of the employees at Sheetz brought out the AED, and Community Rescue Service was less than 10 minutes away. He was defibrillated seven times before he got pulses back en route to the hospital. All his chemistries came back normal, except for his Trop which was .85. His lactate and ABG came back within normal limits. Pupils were reactive….

I got all of this information and more within 20 minutes of finding out my Father tried to die. I remember the whole conversation, but I didn’t digest it. It was way too much information to process at one time. I understand that the Doctor was offering me a bit of professional courtesy by giving me the run down…but it was something I didn’t need at that time. If I could go back, I would’ve asked for the specifics and nothing more. I found myself focusing on one thing; his Troponin level. I became so hyperfocused on that one thing that I kind of zoned out on everything else. My next conversation with my mother consisted of me explaining the lab work and nothing else. She kept asking about how he was doing and I kept circling right back around to how his Troponin was high, but that was to be expected after prolonged CPR.

 

3) Tunnel Vision.

The drive to Hagerstown, after my stop for food, was uneventful. I’d call the CICU for updates and brief my mother, but past that, I just turned on the music and drove. I don’t really remember the drive, honestly. I just know I beat my mother to the hospital…even though she had a full 90 minute head start. I’m sure someone could’ve told me my hair was on fire and I probably wouldn’t have cared. I wasn’t feeling emotional, I didn’t cry, I wasn’t begging God for him to live…I just had a flat affect and all I could focus on was getting to Meritus.  My mother, on the other hand, knew my personal fallout was probably coming and it was going to be bad. She warned the CICU nurses that I’d most likely come in raising all sorts of Hell. To everyone’s surprise, I actually remained pretty calm and relaxed. Mary, one of the nurses, even made a comment about how she expected me to come in like Hellfire, yet I was so calm and professional that she was expecting another daughter to come in any minute.

 

I was in full Tunnel Vision mode. I knew I had to get to the CICU and see my Dad. Past that? Fuck it. I didn’t care how it was going to happen, I didn’t care what was going on around me, all I cared about was getting in that room.

 

4) The Aftermath.

 

My Dad made it just fine. He was sedated and they had him on the Hypothermic Protocol. It was 72 hours of just sitting in his room, fielding phone calls and e-mails, visitors, and whatever else. When he woke up, he asked who won the Steelers game…and Baltimore won. He rolled his eyes and went back to sleep. It was a full day before all the sedation wore off and he was complaining about the food, the coffee, and whatever else he could bitch about, but he was fine.

 

Here’s where it got really interesting for me. I dealt so much with my family and how they were doing that I forgot to worry about myself. I don’t like talking about myself or opening up to people, so I wasn’t ever going to ask someone to talk about how I was feeling, but I wanted so badly for someone to ask how I was doing. I wasn’t doing well at all.  Everyone was concerned for my parents and Grandmother, but I found it odd that no one asked me how I was doing. It seems selfish, but I really just wanted someone to talk to, someone to cry on. I’ve never told anyone how I was feeling until now, where I’m writing it for the world to see.

 

I felt so alone, so scared, so tired, and so depressed. I became wreckless, I made very poor decisions and even more questionable ones. I felt alone since I was dealing with my family, yet no one ever seemed to want to know how I was doing, what was going through my mind. I never really…and still haven’t dealt with it.  Seeing my Dad is a mix of happiness and sadness…a humbling experience that usually leaves me crying in my car as I pull away from my childhood home. I know one of the prevailing feelings is that I feel like my father could’ve died without seeing his oldest daughter amount to something. My sister is married with three kids to an awesome guy who’s in the Army…my brother just finished Army Basic Training and is being deployed in August, but me…well…it’s not hard to feel like you’ve amounted to nothing when everyone in your family is doing something awesome.

 

All I know now is that I need to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’ve learned a lot over the past several months…some of them are very good lessons, others…not so much. I know I’ve become a bit more reserved, a bit more closed off…but in time I’ll be back to myself.

 

Have fun, be safe, and tell everyone you know that you love them,

~MT.

 

 

“My Life Saver.”

So. I had one of the wildest experiences of my life today.

I went to Starbucks today to get a cup of coffee. I’ve gone to the same place several times a week for the last four years. One of my favorite Baristas was there; we always share a bit of conversation and she makes a fantastic Macchiato. There’s another reason why she’s one of my favorites…

I was hanging out at the Fire Department, helping to teach a bunch of Rookies when we got dispatched for a car accident. I secured my place on the Rescue Engine and we were off. The dispatch was for a two vehicle MVC, one patient entrapped.

On scene, I began normal rescue duties as the ambulance was already there. I chalked the vehicle, cut the battery, and was setting up the extrication tools when one of the supervisors came over to me. He asked me to help with the medical side of the extrication as the EMTs that were in the vehicle were brand new and had no clue what to do.

No biggie.

I walked over and the EMT nearly kissed my boots. Looking in the vehicle, there was a young woman screaming her head off; the steering wheel had collapsed down on her lap, pinning her in the vehicle. Her left foot was contorted at a funny angle and she was complaining of chest pain. I knelt down next to her and I put a hand on her shoulder.

“Ma’am. My name is Shao, I’m here to help.”

She looked over at me and started crying. She kept saying her chest and leg hurt. I directed the EMTs to put a collar on her and hold C Spine while I did a quick trauma assessment. Slipping a NRB over her face, I calmly told her that the Oxygen would help and that her ankle was broken.

I looked down and blood was pouring onto the floorboard. Her BP was low; 92/60 and her heart rate was sky high: 134. I looked at her, a gentle smile on my face.

“We’re going to get an IV started on you and I’m going to try to stop the bleeding from your ankle…”

I unzipped her boot and her entire boot was filled with blood. A decent sized section of her Tibia was sticking out of the wound and even applying direct pressure wasn’t stopping the bleeding. I tried wrapping her leg, but due to the buckles and snaps on the boot, I couldn’t get it wrapped properly. I pulled out my trusty pink shears and I looked up at her.

“Ma’am…I’m going to have to cut off your boot.”

“No!!!” She began grabbing my arm, “Please! I just bought them! Just take the boot off!!”

I shook my head as I held onto her hand. I went ahead and ducked under the blanket as they were about ready to pull the steering wheel up.

“Your ankle is so badly fractured, it’ll hurt more for me to pull off the boot than it will for me to cut it off. I have to stop the bleeding…”

She started crying, but she stopped hitting me. I made short work of the boot and had the bleeding stopped within moments. While I was working, all she kept saying was, “My boot…my boot!”

With a proper wrap, we quickly extricated her from the car. She held my hand all the way to the ambulance and I got the Holy Hazmaticus from my Line Officer to accompany her to the Landing Zone. In the ambulance, she quickly lapsed into unconsciousness. Her last words to me?

“Why did you cut my boot?”

About six months later, I saw her while I was out shopping. It’s not hard to recognize me; I’m a black chick with pink hair. She gave me a huge hug and thanked me for helping her. I then realized she worked at the local Starbucks and we’d always have a nice chat every time I’d go in. As I said up top, it also helped that she made a freaking good cup of coffee. We never really talked about the accident outside of when I asked her if she bought a new pair of boots. She said she e-mailed the company asking where she could find a similar pair as they were just out of style and they sent her a new pair when she explained what happened to the first pair.

Today, when I went to get my coffee, she was there. We had our normal conversation while she made my coffee. The place was busy, but not obscenely so. She handed me my cup and this is what I saw:

 

20140209_160925

 

 

 

 

 

 

She then says:

“You saved my life exactly three years ago, today. Thank you.”

I could barely get out a “You’re welcome.” I was stunned. I can honestly count the times I’ve gotten a Thank You from a patient or patients’ family and every time it happens, it leaves me speechless. I was just doing my job…the job I love and can’t get enough of, and she was so grateful for the less than thirty minutes I spent with her. I know she had taken time and had sent a very lovely fruit basket and card to both the Fire Department and EMS Department, but being singled out for a thank you was so unexpected it was overwhelming.

Have fun and Be safe.

Shao.

Insulin Pumps and You.

Insulin Pumps. We are starting to see them more and more, but do we know how to effectively treat a Diabetic who has one? Hawkeye has graciously allowed me to write a blog post about him, his battle with Diabetes, and his

Insulin Pump. To give you a background, Hawkeye’s Pancreas shut down when he was 21. He has no family history of Diabetes, but he rapidly began to lose weight (Went from 280lbs to 160 in less than six months), had Cataracts form in both eyes resulting in needing eye surgery to replace the lenses in his eyes…which need to be cleared of film and deposits every couple of years, and basically became very, very ill.  In August of 2002, he collapsed in his kitchen and was unresponsive. Once at the hospital, it was determined his blood sugar was over 800 mg/dL. His A1C was 16.2. His mother was told that he would not make it through the night and she needed to plan a funeral for her first born by the end of the week. Hawkeye remained intubated for several weeks, came down with double Lung Pneumonia, and had a severe UTI…think beef broth urine. He pulled through, obviously, and lives to tell the tale.  His Pancreas does not secrete any insulin and does not control his blood sugar at all. If he is without his Pump for longer than an hour, his blood sugar will begin to skyrocket out of control. He’s had an Insulin Pump since 2006 and he loves it. So, a bit about pumps. There are multiple pumps out there, but I will be discussing the Medtronic MiniMed pump and its assorted supplies. The insulin is contained in an internal reservoir that contains 300 units or 3mL of Insulin. The insulin is given over a period of time in what’s called a Basal Rate; a metered amount of constantly infused insulin. Right now, Hawkeye gets about eight units an hour, but it runs in like a drip through what’s called an Infusion Set. The infusion set looks like this:

 

 
Infusion set

Infusion set

There is a plastic catheter not unlike the catheter on an IV needle that rests in the Subcutaneous tissue and facilitates the delivery of insulin. The set can be placed in the Bicep, Abdomen, Thigh, or any place that you can deliver an Insulin injection. Every Diabetic has different settings for their pumps and each pump can maintain multiple Basal rates for a 24 hour period.  Most pumps enable you to set up six different basal rates for a 24 hour period.  The patient can take their blood sugar every two hours like a good Diabetic and enter the value into their pumps. If the number is normal, it doesn’t do anything. If the value is high, the pump will calculate out an amount of insulin to deliver to bring the BG down.

When an Insulin Pump user eats, they add up the amount of carbs in the food and they enter it into the pump. Depending on the user set parameters, the pump will administer an amount of insulin based upon the Carb to Insulin ratio. For Hawkeye, for every 3 grams of carbs, he will receive 1 unit of insulin. They are also asked to input a BG reading. This is where you get a lot of your Hypoglycemic episodes; a person over calculates their carbs along with having a borderline low blood sugar. In a few minutes, you’ll have someone unconscious in their Spaghetti. Humalog, which is what many Insulin Pump users use, is a very rapid acting Insulin. You can see a change in the Blood Glucose values in approximately 5-7 minutes, more or less depending on just how much Insulin they are getting in one shot. Someone doing regular injections, who are getting their whole 20 units at once will have a quicker change than someone who is using a Pump, but a pump user can still experience a dramatic low while eating, especially after eating if they do not stop the bolus if they stop eating before they’ve eaten the proper amount of carbs.

Now, the fun comes in when we as EMS Providers need to treat a Diabetic emergency when someone is wearing a pump. The newest version of the Insulin Pumps have Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) which takes a Glucose reading every fifteen minutes. The pump itself stores the information and can tell the person if the sugar is high, low, or even show if the BG is going to go high or low by predicting a trend. You can access the log by pressing the Esc button on the pump:

Medtronic-Revel-3-hour

 

 

 

Older style pumps will not stop delivering Insulin no matter the BG that’s input. The newest version with the CGM will do something called a Threshold Suspend. This is when the user has set a lower limit for the blood glucose and the pump will shut off and stop delivering insulin for a finite period of time, but will restart once the time period has passed and the BG is above the lower limit. The Threshold Suspend goes off the BG reading from the CGM. If there is a weak signal or the pump has lost communications with the sensor, the pump will not shut off.  There’s an alarm that sounds and a message pops up that says, I have Diabetes, Call for Emergency Assistance., but only if the pump and sensor are communicating.

WmSoqrZ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the biggest things a Paramedic needs to do is to Suspend the pump before trying to raise the blood sugar. Since Insulin is running into the body on a continual basis, you will be fighting an uphill battle against the machine. To suspend the pump, you can hit the Act button, press the down button to highlight Suspend, then hit Act again. You can do this on the newer pump if you are unsure if the pump has suspended or not. You can then treat Hypoglycemia accordingly.

Insulin Pump Menu.

Insulin Pump Menu.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just press Act.

Just press Act.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the pump is not suspended, then you can spend a very long time trying to raise the blood glucose depending on how low the value is. Hawkeye recently had a BG of 27. He was shockingly not unresponsive, but he was extremely altered. The pump had not suspended itself as the signal from the CGM to the Pump was weak, so it was still delivering his basal rate on schedule. After two amps of D50 and twenty minutes, his BG was only 32. Once the pump was shut off, it went from 32 up to 88 in about fifteen minutes. Now, mileage may vary on this as I’ve seen Diabetics who haven’t suspended their pumps have a normal increase in blood sugar in response to D50. I think a lot of it has to do with what caused the low; if it’s a Bolus mistake

In the end, your mileage may vary with this advice. Your Local Protocols may say that EMS are not allowed to mess with an Insulin pump, but you can always ask a friend or family member with the patient to operate the pump if it’s seeming like you are getting nowhere with raising the blood sugar. Many patients who have pumps are very good at keeping track of their blood sugar, but can experience very dramatic lows due to just how the insulin is delivered.

Have fun and Be safe!

 

 

Who’s Nelson Mandela?

I promise, I don’t plan on making this a waitress blog. I would hate to incur the wrath of Springs1…just…no.

Anywho, I will relate the more bizarre tales as I need some place to let them out. Tonight, it came over ESPN than Nelson Mendela had passed away. Very sad. I went to a table of adults…all were over the age of 40 to include military personnel. I looked at the table and made a remark about how sad it was that he passed. The person sitting next to me, a Captain in the US Navy, looked at me and said, “Who’s Nelson Mandela?”

I nearly dropped the beer I was holding. Who could not know who Nelson Mandela was?! I go over to the computer to enter in an order and one of the servers asked me what was wrong, as I was grumbling to myself. I looked at her and said, “This guy didn’t know who Nelson Mandela was!” She looked at me with a vapid expression and said, “Who are you talking about? I have no idea who that is.”

I have lost all faith in humanity today. I will now continue to assault my liver and kidneys with a few more glasses of Jameson… two fingers, neat.

Have fun and be safe.
MT.

What’s Ahead…

Hey everyone!

I just wanted to give everyone an update about my life and what’s going on with me.

In a few weeks, I’ll finally be done with all this back injury bullshit. I have to thank my lucky stars that it’s done. I’ve never been so frustrated in my life with this process, but it’s done.

What have I been doing? I’m currently working as a waitress at a sports bar. Do I like it? Meh. It’s kind of like being a Paramedic, actually. You have to be on your toes and things are constantly changing and I need to adapt at a moments’ notice. I don’t like what I’m doing because…well…I feel like a dancing monkey; I need to be this happy go lucky person basically making the person I’m serving feel like they are the best thing on the planet so they give me an extra dollar when tipping me when they are done. It’s not hard when the people are nice and they interact with you. I get the ones who snap their fingers and yell for me from across the bar. I also get the super needy ones who modify everything on the menu: “I’ll take the Grilled Steak Wrap, but sub the steak for chicken, no cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, or onions, but add the Pico de Gallo and Ranch dressing. Oh, and cut it into eight pieces, not four and box up four of the pieces.”

Speaking of ranch dressing. I now officially hate that stuff. I think customers drink it, honestly. We serve GALLONS of this stuff and no one can ever get enough of it. I served someone 18oz of Ranch; six 3oz cups for less than 10 wings. By the end of the night, this is what I was thinking of:

 http://www.metatube.com/en/videos/77110/Melissa-McCarthy-on-SNL/

So…what’s ahead for me and the blog:

I plan on going to EMS Instructor school so I can teach the new crop of students. I’m still teaching ACLS and PALS classes, which I’m having so much fun doing. I usually teach nurses and doctors, but when I get a few Medics in the group, I have way too much fun. The last class I taught, I met a Paramedic who moved from New York to BigCity. We spent several hours talking and we ended up going out to a bar for Happy Hour to grab a bite and a drink. Happy Hour turned into standing on the bar singing “Piano Man” and “Don’t Stop Believin'” with the entire bar. I also found myself drinking shots with great names such as a Flaming Orgasm, Statue of Liberty, and my favorite, the Blow Job. He will be joining me this year at EMS Today. Should be fun! Speaking of EMS Today, I will be there with Hawkeye and we will be trying to regain our status as Best EMS Chefs for the EMS Today cook-off. Our recipe is top secret, but it stands to be our best recipe yet. I have to give thanks to Papa Trommashere who kept me from making a major cooking faux paus when I had him glance over the recipe to make sure it looked edible.

I also plan on making a return to EMS in some capacity. I don’t know what that’ll be yet, but I plan on getting back into “Truck Work” at some point.

As for the blog…I’m going to try something a bit different. I spent the last few months helping a Paramedic student get through her class and National Registry. She did all the hard work and graduated, but I had a lot of the lessons written down. She was the one who gave me the inspiration to bring them here and share them with the world. So, mixed in with war stories from the truck and from the eatery, I’ll throw in a few lessons here and there to see what happens.

Other than that, it’s been an eventful year. The Stupid Puppy passed away last year, but I added a Foster Failure to the group. I now have The White Pup and The Crack Puppy. The Crack Puppy is just under a year old and she is a Pomeranian. I love her to pieces and she is making herself out to be a great addition.

Anywho, I’m going to finish off my beer (I <3 Flying Dog!) and I’m going to hit the sack.

Have fun and be safe!
MT