I work in EMS but I came to it late in life. As such, I have a cadre of friends and a spouse who are, emphatically, NOT in EMS. This usually means I don’t talk about my day at work around the dinner table and, more commonly, I never answer truthfully when someone asks me, "What’s the worst call you’ve ever had?"
The other part about coming to this line of work later in my life is that I really know that this is what I want to do. This is what I LOVE to do. Day to day, my job is the best job for me. I’ve come to assume that I will always be a paramedic. I take it for granted that I will always be the "go-to guy" for anyone with an emergency.
My friend, Ambulance Junkie, shows me what a fool I am. He loves this job as much (if not more) than I do but, due to the fickle assault of fate, he’s been sidelined for almost a year. I met him in person at a conference and, even though he was waylaid by his physical limitation, he was (and still is) all fired up about what we do. He’s made me realize how much I’ve taken for granted the ubiquity of my work. A single colony of bacteria, careless driver, poorly designed house or, even, a meteor strike, could take away my physical ability to pursue one of the four cornerstones of my personal happiness: (Sail boats, Play Music, Good Lovin’, Be a Paramedic).
My favorite junkie is so very eloquent, though:
I know it may seem strange for anyone who isn’t head over heals[sic] about the career they are in. It might even be on the edge of clinically psychotic the excitement I feel about being back on the road one day. It is all the small things that most providers may take for granted which I am looking forward to the most. The patch report to the ER with my signature twang identifier or how my shyness vanishes and I can talk to a stranger asking the most private of questions when in uniform.
Yes, Junkie. We DO take it for granted. Some of the most poignant moments of my professional existence occur when I’m reminded of that. What I deal with as ordinary in my line of work is often the most extraordinary thing that each of my patients have experienced. We also have lovely moments in the mundane parts of our job:
I miss the way the lights bounce off the buildings and catching a glimpse of your flashing rig in the storefronts glass as you pass while driving through downtown. The absence of being involved with a patient is what aches the most for me.
We who do what we do, we paramedics, cops, firefighters, social workers, teachers; all of us who "get involved" would feel so very keenly that absence, were it taken from us.
My current employer is not doing a very good job of making me feel valued but, regardless of who pays me, the job is still the job. And I do love the work. This may be shine left over from Thanksgiving but I am grateful. I do something that makes me feel good, valued and worthy. I’m grateful for the chance to do it.