Getting Through the Day, One Cup at a Time.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thus Far.

I think as you get older time takes on a different quality. It used to be blocked for us by school and summer, now we work, we have kids, we have a significant other, and perhaps we are still going to school. So time just blends together and morphs into this continuous progression of days. Then you look back and half the year is gone, yet you don't even remember what you did for New Year's Eve. Where to start then?
Maybe the past year isn't worth thinking about though. Nothing good really happened. I'd say a month of last year was good. The rest is meh. I'm trying to do a highlight reel in my head, unfortunately my memory has never been the best.
The part that really stands out is California and Kerry. Now that was fun. I'd even go as far to say the best vacation I ever had. Even after waking up sick the day before take-off, then missing my flight, then feeling gross and tired after flying...seeing him again made me not care one bit about what it took to get out there. Meeting Marge and Trista was such a treat, they are fabulous women for sure. Hopefully on the next trip I can see them again. Once this degree is accomplished there will be some serious moving considerations going on as well. You'd think I'd get sick of Cali after 4 trips in a couple years, but the opposite happens. I love it more and more each time. We shall see.
Let's not forget the opposite coast. My Tracey and Sam...and New York! What a town. Miles of sprawling city, a lit up grid of history. I don't think I've ever used so many means of transport in one week. Plane, cab, subway, bus, walking... and the food! I'll never eat lamb shank again, nothing can beat that birthday meal. It doesn't hurt that I had fabulous hosts. The most warm and friendly couple on the planet. Yet another place I cannot wait to venture back to.
This certainly has been the year to meet people. And who would I love to party with again? Chrissa. That girl is frickin awesome in every way. Not only did I get to meet Here We Go Magic because of her, but I also got to have breakfast with them (and makeout with the guitarist). Shhh! I see summer trips to Michigan in my future.

School. Hmmmm.
The summer session starts next Monday, smack dab on my 27th birthday. Three nights a week, four hours a pop, for ten weeks. At then end of it, I hope to hold my EMT certification high in the air for all to see. I won't lie, I'm nervous as hell. Shakin in my boots even. Not only do I have to learn how to keep people alive to the best of my skills and ability every time I go out on a run, I have to learn how to mentally take care of them. How to hold my compassion tight to my chest and not let the burnout slip in. Because it would be a monstrous shame to go to school for 4 years only to throw in the towel after the next 4. It happens though. You see enough death and abuse, hear enough lies and whining, it'll get to you. Eat at your soul until you don't see a patient, you see a chore. Then you're done until you can get your mind right. Or you move on.
Lately I think about what I'm up against more and more. I look at myself, wondering how in the heck I've not ended up in an ambulance yet with all the moronic decisions that have been made in the past. Will I end up somewhere busy? Scary? Boring? Will my coworkers be friendly? Will they be good mentors? I think my ultimate fear is being presented that golden moment where my actions can save or kill someone...and doing the wrong thing. Coping is part of the job to be sure. How do you cope with killing someone, albeit on accident?
Next week I start volunteering for Harbor Light Hospice. I think it will be a good way to development my patient care skills and get used to initiating a rapport with someone who is sick or injured. Plus, hospice is a wonderful service. End of life care is severely underrated and managed in this country. We do so much to extend life as far as possible, but there are points where you have to say enough and let nature take course. My grandfather, rest his soul, was dying of colon cancer and entered hospice when I was 18. Though his stay was brief, it truly helped my family get through that time and cope the best we could. Perhaps this is a way for me to give back a little.

So the future, what will it hold? Who knows, but I do know that right now, life is good. Every day that I wake up is good. Every single breath I take is good. I pity those who cannot appreciate it. It took me a long while to realize that life is short, that I'm not immortal. Once you come to grips with the fact you will die someday everything tastes a little sweeter, no?


  1. You could not have summed up the fear of being an EMT more. I can't tell you how nervous I was the first time I heard the squad bell ring and I was told it was time to go. All throughout class I was one of the top students. I knew what I was doing and had the drive to be the best. When that siren went off I lost it all. I was a scared little kid (I was only 18) and if it wasn't for my captain I would have freaked out and not been able to do anything. He saw the look of fear in my eye and told me that it would be ok. I can remember his words even almost 20 years later

    "It's ok to be nervous your first time. Remember it because someday you will be sitting where I am telling someone the exact same thing I am going to tell you right now. There is a power that calls us to this. I don't know what it is but there is something special in us that will guide our hand and keep our mind focused when all hell is breaking lose."

    The first call I went on happened to be a cardiac arrest. I walked up on site and found a family crying. A teenager in the grass on her knees. Neighbors standing around whispering to each other. All of these things I can still close my eyes and see. I wanted to run. I swore I couldn't do this. Then all of a sudden I found calm. I knew what I was doing and I wouldn't fail.

    Sadly enough he did not make it. He was pronounced there on scene. I felt like a failure. I thought I was superman and I could save everyone. My confidence was shaken. It wasn't supposed to work out this way.

    On the way back to the station my captain again sat with me. He saw the tears I was fighting back. He told me that it was ok. I had to let it out. He said if I didn't it would eat away at my soul until I no longer felt sorrow. That night when I got home I couldn't sleep. I could only picture a man lying on his back. People doing CPR. I cried. I let it all out. I couldn't hold it back.

    Fast forward two weeks and I was walking through school (I was a senior in high school when this happened) when all of a sudden I saw the girl that was on the front yard crying. I quickly wondered if it was an illusion. Everything was ok until she looked up and saw me. She must have seen me that night because she dropped her books and started to cry. I couldn't help it but I walked up to her and put my arms out. She walked right in to my arms and I hugged her. I told her I was sorry. She told me that I didn't have to be sorry. Her father had been in pain for a long time and he was in a better place now. She then told me that I was an angel for what I did. There I stood in the hallway hugging a girl I didn't know and yet all I could feel was something deep inside of me that I didn't understand.

    Years later I realized that it was my soul that I felt. I felt some kind of awakening of a part of me that I will never forget. I can't tell you what it felt like. I can only hope that you too find it and then you will know for certain that this is what you were meant to do.

    Ok that was only supposed to be a "Great blog Amanda" but my fingers and mind just couldn't stop.


  2. I appreciate the input Joe. Every time you relate stories and experiences to me about being an EMT it really helps me prepare for what I'm going to face.
    Its quite a way to start your EMS career as well, amazing story. Thank you for telling me.

  3. @Joe - I did not realize you were an EMT. It is wonderful that Amanda has someone to give perspective to the heights and pitfalls of the profession. I guess the one thing you have to overcome is guilt if you loose someone and that saying you tried your best seems like a hollow and contrite thing to say. We shouldn't keep score I suppose, but keep moving ahead and remember why you are doing this... to help people.

    @Amanda - Travelling as much as you have, I am gladden to know you live a full life of making connections with people. Talking to a comic writer today, we discussed the real importance of life, the relationships we make with people, not the things we can buy.

    My admiration for you grows as you work through the doubts about your chosen profession and with Joe's help, maybe navigate them. For all the things that have happened to you in life, still you find a way for giving back and not becoming bitter. Amanda, simply put, you care. You choose to care. Hold on to that. And that in my book, makes you a great person. :-)


  4. It all tastes a little sweeter and comes with a greater sense of obligation, I think. Like, if I am going to do something with my life I had bettter get it done because the clock IS ticking away....
    You are doing an incredible thing, cheers to you!

  5. I'm just waiting for my day it will happen!

    AND....I have a feeling that you'll be an awesome EMT...on all fronts, that's just my gut feeling.....

  6. Joseph I can't tell you the number of people I held as they were dying. The number that were already dead when I got there. What I can tell you is that I was there when two babies were born. I remember them like it was yesterday. One boy who I later found out was named Robert and a girl who was....ready for this...Amanda.

    Go figure those names will always be dear to me.

  7. @Joe - Wow... I wonder how you deal with the emotional roller coaster. Some people, like me might employ a mental compartmentalization in order to seal off memories too unpleasant to contemplate.

    Joe, babies are just the most embodiment of potential and fresh starts. I guess that is why they are so special. And yes, Robert and Amanda are good names. Not trendy, but good names. And what are the odds that one of them is a namesake here? :-)