Sunday, March 28, 2010


In the past I have professed my love for the oldies. People that is, geriatrics. I like to call them blue hairs, or "Geri's." They bring their own set of challenges for the medical world. Illness, thin skin, fraile bones, crazy vital signs, and with that comes a history. Not a medical history, but rather a history of amazing lives, service, and hard work. I love nothing more, than to take care of these patients in the back of my ambulance. Boy do they pack a punch... not physically, but verbally.  I'll never forget, a lot of the sayings, comments, complaints and swear words I gather from them.  Some would be astonished at the way they behaved in my care. Trust me, I do not judge them. They bring with them a legacy. I try to never forget that. Without them, where would our country, our communities be? My heart aches when I see them truly suffer. It is bitter sweet, when they pass on. I know they are relieved of any pain, and suffering, but what stories and that of their legacy is lost... Some of my favorite patients, were the meanest ones to me, and I giggled constantly under my breath at them! In fact, I'll share with you, a couple of my favorite "geri" quips...

we travel in six, four on an engine, two on an ambulance, this way we are always prepeared. This gentleman thout it was too many...."How many of you does it take to screw in the lightbulb??" to which my partner Brian answered, "Depends on the lighbulb..."

different call...Me, "How's your pain now sir?" his response... "It'd be fine if it weren't for these GOD-DAMMNED BUMPS!!" I apologized for the roads...

sweetest, little old lady looks at me, and says "will you wipe my crack?"

the common favorite, "I need my TEETH!" so I find the teeth...

"get my wallet!"  ma'am, I have it.. "no you don't, you don't know where it is!" ma'am, I have it, "No you don't! its in the kitchen," ma'am I have it, "no you don't!" ma'am, I've got it! "well I need to show you my medications!" ma'am, I saw them, "No you didn't!" ma'am, I did. "NO! you didn't!" ma'am, I did, and I noticed you took them this evening, by your empty day-of the-week case..."Oh."

another common favorite, "Leave me ALONE!" well, you called us to come help you, "well don't touch me!" ok, do you need to go to the hospital? "NO!" ok, why did you call 911 then? "because I needed help!" ok, well let us help you then, "LEAVE ME ALONE!"

I have to giggle in the most professional of ways, but I can't help myself, bless them. I can't remember how many homes I've been to, that the walls are covered in photos of children and grandchildren.  Or the veteran, whom has scores of military photos and medals across the wall. I love to hold their fraile and bony hands, some of them not knowing where or who they are, to just give them a sense of comfort. More often than not, their hands are freezing, from poor circulation. As upset as they are, and as rude as they can be, I always think of their loved ones, and the history they carry with them. I try to always remember I'll be in their place someday, and hope someone will treat me kindly and with dignity. In a lot of cases, it's hard for them to feel of importance anymore. I try to make sure the 15 minutes they spend with me, I learn from them. Too many times I've visited homes where it seems they are forgotton. They just need assisitance getting back into bed, and want to talk to you all day long. I'll never forget, a sweet older gentleman I was called to transport back to his care facility. As I got him settled into his room, he began to point out pictures of his horses, and the various things he had hung on his wall. I sat down and let him show me. He showed me picture after picture, and my partner had to come find me. I told the man I had to leave, thanked him for showing me everything and hoped he take care. As I left, I noticed a picture. Then, the name on his room door. It hit me, that I knew who he was. His son had worked with my father on the ambulance, and was a firefighter for another city. While he'll never know that I had spent time with his father, it struck a chord that I need to respect my elders, for he had taught his children well.  I had heard of stories where his son had been a great friend and partner, to my dad, I'm thankful for that.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The "I can't" syndrome...

Yes. I did. I signed myself up. My fire dept. runs the marathon as a group, and I wanted to be a part of it. What am I thinking? Seriously. I'm told time after time, how it's nothing, and you can walk that in 30 minutes (not really, but you get the point) and I believed all the lies. I used to be an avid runner, I dunno what happened. I do have the height thing waaay against me on this one. I'm slowly but surely trying to train, but what gets me is the "you can't" I hear over and over in my head. Now I'm all about, positive thinking and accomplishment for everyone, even my worst enemy, but for the life of me, I can't do it for myself. When I made it through fire school, twice I might add, I had never been happier. Mostly because I told myself I couldn't do it through the entire process. Not to mention, plenty of people against me in the class. But I'll never forget the people who pushed for me along the way. More importantly, I'll never forget, a special moment I shared, with a now deceased firefighter in my first run through fire school. Mario. He worked for a fire department to the south of me, and also one to the north of me. He worked as a flight medic on a helicopter in the area as well. That day, he was working at a fire dept...I tested for my fire skills there, and as I walked out, he stopped me and asked how I did. I told him, "I think I did ok to my surprise!" I wil never, ever forget his face lighting up, his true and genuine excitement that I had done well. He lifted his fist in an "alright!!" and I don't think I could have ever known, how powerful that really was going to be. At the time, it was incredibly huge, that a career firefighter, and a male, was so supportive of little old me. I think I beamed for months after that. I bumped into him a few more times when dropping of patients at hospitals, and was always reminded of his true, genuine attitude towards me, and I'd beam for months again. Tragically, he was killed a few years later. I'll never bump into him again. But what I do have, is that memory, some 10 years ago now, of him being so proud of me, and excited for my accomplishment despite knowing me personally. I was so insecure of my size and being female, and still am. He made my career, with about 30 seconds of his time. With that said, you never know how much a small thing can impact someone. I'll train, and run in the marathon with my fire brothers, and at the end, I'll be reminded of Marios face, after my fire testing, his approval and his pat on my back, will always be a constant reminder to me that "I can."

Sunday, March 7, 2010

KB wins

While I've always been a fan of the Oscars, the dresses, the hair, the jewelry, I have always shouted the disclaimer, that teachers, police, fire, EMS, should recieve such publicized honors as much as actors do.  I spent the evening with my close friends, one of which I have known throughout my fire/EMS career, Cody, who is now a captain where I work. We had a fun night, and myself and my best friend Julia, were cheering on Kathryn Bigelow in hopes she'd be the first female to win as a director.  She won. We screamed and hollered and were SO excited for the huge step she made for all women. After, her film The Hurt Locker won for best picture as well!! We screamed again, and neither of us have seen the movie. After the other two men gave their acceptance speech, one pulled her to the microphone. She dedicated her previous Oscar win, to the men and women serving in the military, and rightly so.  This time, she dedicated it to the men and women in uniform everyday, Fire, EMS police, etc. My jaw dropped.... I went silent for a second then completely tried to hold it together (especially in front of my fire captain...) that not only we were recognized at the biggest event for all of film, but that it was by the first female winner. Major props, Kathryn Bigelow. Thank you, for the recognition...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Little Feet.

My poor duty boots have had it. They are barely holding it together. The zipper has gone out, they wont stay on, they are officially ready to retire as fire boots. I thank them, for the many calls they supported me on. However, a problem has emerged. My feet are so blasted small, I can't find small enough boots. This is a classic tale, and small boots are hard to come by in the fire service, as your typical firefighter is rough and tough and bulky and manly, not short, chubby, petite, and clumsy. I went to our supplier today, and "oooh'ed" and "aaaah'ed" over many a pair, to which I was SHOT DOWN with each request, as they only came in mens, and not even close to my size in mens or womens. Now, being the shoe freak that I am, I have NEVER been shot down for shoes. I have an entire closet dedicated to my shoes, and buy a lot at a time, so this was new to me.  I am typically lucky, as my shoes are sometimes on sale since the lot has been picked over and the smallest and largest are all that is left. The salesman took me over to a catalog, to which he thumbed through for any of the monstrous black superhero lookers I wanted, to no avail. I was excited that they could possibly be ordered in, but that was also shot down. I told him thank you, bowed my head and turned around towards the exit. As I left, it was pouring rain, just as I felt. The search for boots is on. In the meantime, so is the search for the munchkin fire department in OZ, where I belong!