Love Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things,ENDURES ALL Things...

Murphy's Law...

I never had a slice of bread,Particularly large and wide,That did not fall upon the floor,And always on the buttered side.[1]

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Decide Where to Go.

I will never understand why I wanted it so bad.

I purchased a study guide by John Purryear and the day that it arrived in the mail I listened to it.  16 hours of review on Emergency Medicine Technician Paramedic skills.  He said:  Don't worry about passing the test.  You're going to pass.  You're going to pass because no one chooses this profession.  This profession is a calling.  The things we see.  The choices we are forced to make.  The hours.  No one chooses this career.  This career chooses you.

Looking back now, during the calm, I can see that.

Just over two years ago I chose to leave a very unhealthy marriage and I was terrified at where I might land.  I had friends tell me that I wasn't praying enough...  and then I had friends disappear.  I was in a foreign state, no family, no degree, just me and my babies and this ridiculous calling.

I sometimes think about what that "friend" said, about how I don't pray enough.  How does one know how much prayer is enough... or not enough?  Do people really think God punishes us for not being formal in our conversations with Him?  I think about that when I look at a patient's loved ones forced to face the fact that there is nothing more we can do to help them, or those who have suffered tremendous abuse.  I look at them and not one time do I think that they didn't pray enough, I just think..  what can I do to help.

It's not only my job to help...  It's my duty.  My human duty.

I graduated this ridiculous course, took my skills test this past week, and then I scheduled my registry.  Scared out of my mind, Saturday morning at 8 am,  I took it... and you can bet your ass I prayed.  I don't know if it was enough, but it was certainly prayer.

I walked out of there, called Dale CariAnn, and my mother, and I informed them that I had just failed my Paramedic Registry.  That was the most challenging thing I have ever done.  Two years of my life wasted.  What would I tell my kids?!

Everyone reminded me that this test was designed to be hard.  To test you above your skill level and that the better you did the harder it was and that I should Calm down until receiving the official results Monday morning.  I had to sit with this doom of being a complete failure, of forcing my kids to sacrifice so much for nothing, for two full days.  And I had to work.

Monday morning came...  and at 7:45 am  I read the following:

Congratulations on successfully passing your NREMT Paramedic Registry.

There it was.  I passed.

This has been, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the most difficult year of my life and this week I will get to lay it to rest.

By the grace of God, I am finally a paramedic.

It was so long.  I wanted to quit so many times.  Heck, I was told to quit.  My kids begged me to quit.  I was so beyond tired that I couldn't hold my head up in class at times.

I have been told time and time again how strong I am.  So many people have said "I don't know how you do it", but the thing is...  I didn't have a choice.  It's always meant as a kindness.  As a gentle reminder of how highly that individual thinks of me and possibly the amount of Grace they believe that I carry.  It's almost always a compliment, but it never feels like it, because the fact is...  I don't get a choice in the matter.  I don't get to be weak.  I don't get to have a melt down.  I can't afford to break.  I'm strong because of the road that was set before me.

Climbing mountains builds endurance, character, and strength.  Occasionally it'd be nice if those mountains leveled off just a bit.

I had one shot at this.  I had no idea if I was going to have a soft place to land or come crashing down, but there is one thing I was certain of:  I had to find out.

During the refresher, John Purryear says:  "I'm going to kill someone if I pass this test,"

I'm sure that thought has crossed all of our minds.

I don't know why I was called to this profession, but it is my hope that God will continue to guide me.  I can't think of a greater responsibility than to have the fate of that of another human being in your hands.

Yes, I passed registry, but I'm certainly no Doctor.  That being said:  I can do a damn fine job of quoting one.  For as Dr. Suess says:

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

My Favorite Part.

I was going to update the blog two days ago.  I haven't wanted to write in so long.  Then, out of nowhere, I had this sudden urge to write again.  It wasn't fleeting, time just never really permitted.  If I was going to update the blog, I needed to update it before I failed my exit exam at school.  I needed to so that people could understand my position on passing versus failing, because if I were to update it after I failed, no one would believe me.  They would merely pity me and pity is something I don't deal with well.

Just a couple of weeks ago my instructor pulled me aside to tell me his thoughts on where I stood with the class and with the program.  He sat me down and explained that it was his opinion that I should drop.  He sincerely hoped I would come back to finish up the last class the following semester, but it was his opinion that I just was simply not ready. 
In his defense, as if he needed any, I had just completely and totally embarrassed him and myself by thoroughly bombing my oral check-off with the doctor.  I mean, if it could go wrong it did.  If there was a drug you shouldn't push, I mentioned it.  If there was a treatment necessary to prevent cardiac arrest, well don't look at me, I'm not doing it.  Only problem is...  I was doing it.  I was shocking, I was pushing meds, I was titrating fluids...  I was saving this make believe scenario patient's ass...  except nobody knew it, because I wasn't communicating it.

The details as to how I got to be in that chair, looking that man in the face, kept circling in my mind.
  Here I was...  in this chair nearly two years after the first time I sat in that same chair.  Both just as life altering.  I knew he likely didn't remember registering me for the program, but I did.  I remember sitting there, newly separated with 4 kids, no career, no job, no degree, absolutely nothing to my name.  The only thing I actually owned was this vision and I have no idea how this vision even got there, but it did and I remember his words to me, they were:  Good luck.  This profession isn't for everyone.  It's unrewarding and the pay is terrible, but for some reason, those of us who do it,we love it. 

Those words made no sense to me.  I remember the paramedics that loaded my sweet George into the back of the ambulance.  I remember them pushing valium.  I remember them bagging my son.  I remember the gratitude in my heart the exact moment I saw them.  The relief that thank GOD, the outcome as to whether or not my son was going to live was not going to be in whether or not I could save him, it was now in whether or not they could and I knew that if they couldn't, then no one could.  The moment I saw them I felt that relief and I don't even remember what they looked like.  I don't even know if they knew how grateful
I was to them.  How grateful I am to them to this day.  How very much they mean to me.  He couldn't be right then, so he couldn't be right now.  Except...  he was right.  This profession is likely the most thankless on the planet.  Here I was spending countless hours working, clinicalling, studying emergency medicine and the amount of thank yous I have ever actually received could be counted on one hand.  The people whose lives I actually helped to save would never even know my name and the ones that were lost...  I was the last person they saw.  I mean, c'mon...  we all know these people didn't live their lives hoping to stare down some girl's Jew nose prior to their last final agonal breath.  He was right, and in that moment, I was terrified that he was right about my need to drop.  He could tell, I'm sure of it, because he then asked:  If you drop, will you come back next semester? My response was:  no.  He looked at me and said:  That is very sad.

This journey has been terribly long.  Terribly.  I was room
mom, tuck in at night and read bed time stories mom.  I changed diapers and wiped tears.  I rocked my babies to sleep and baked them cookies after school.  I helped them with their homework and took them to church and choir, track and soccer.  I was only ever a mom and now, here I was...  a failure.  I haven't tucked my babies in since this journey began.  Chloe hasn't ran consistently and the boys haven't even heard the word soccer since this began.  I divorced, moved, started a new job in a new career, I went to school full time and when I had the energy, I did my best to maintain my fitness.  I had no one. I lost the majority of my friends and I hadn't slept since I graduated EMT.  My daughter suffered greatly, battling issues of her own...  and I was there for her in every single way that I could be, knowing that it wasn't enough.  I promised them, PROMISED them that this summer when they came back from Grandmas that mommy would be done with school.  Completely finished.  I meant that.  I didn't have an option.  Next semester wasn't going to happen for me and I had to face that fact.  I had to be okay with it.  I had to come to terms with the fact that this last year may have all been for nothing.  I may never actually finish this program and I may never actually be a paramedic.

Ironically, I wanted to quit.  I wanted to quit so many times it wasn't funny.  There were days I could barely keep my eyes open and there were days I didn't even know how the hell I ended up in Montgomery Alabama.  There were days I couldn't even answer myself as to why I was there, in that program, in that profession.  It was so hard, juggling so much, and it became very clear, long before he ever sat me down, that my inability to juggle was causing things around me to come crashing down.

I went home and did the only thing I knew to do... drink.

I poured myself a glass of wine, formulated a game plan, and prepared myself for failure.

I re-did my checkoff.  I passed it.  My English teacher posted my grade.  I got a 92 on my essay and a 96 on my midterm.

I told my instructor that I was going to finish and hopefully pass the course.  I didn't drop.  I spent the next week with my nose in the books and then, two days ago I walked into that classroom for my final class and exit exam...  and two and a half hours later I walked out...  with a passing score.

I wish I could say I was relieved.  Truth is, I'm still not even sure that I believe it.  Not only that, but I still have to pass registry and that's a toss up.

So I'll write what I had planned to write prior to my test.  I'll tell you what I told myself after two weeks of reflection.  Two weeks of asking myself if I believed my instructor.  After two weeks of flashing  back to every single teacher I've ever had.

It's ok if I fail.  It's ok if the course I chose doesn't choose me.  I have told every single one of my children that they can be absolutely anything they want to be they simply have to be prepared to work for it.  I teach them to put their heads down, not in shame, but rather, so they are able to push forward and if they come up short, it's ok, because they showed up.  Showing up isn't easy.  Showing up is the hard part.

Occasionally I fall short.  We all do.  Occasionally I allow other people's opinions of me to become my own and more often than not, I fail to listen to the words I speak to my children.  I sometime forget that God doesn't have favorites.  I sometimes forget that I too am capable.  I sometimes forget that I know me better than anyone and that's a valuable tool.

My kids came home that night and I immediately felt complete.  Here I was, two years after I started this journey and it was finally over.  I did it.  I completed the course and we all survived.

It wasn't all bad.  My kids started a new school where Abby is flourishing.  Chloe found a new friend through a YMCA program that she couldn't possible imagine life without.  My boys are excelling in their new school and I found Dale (a blog all his own).

I don't know if I'll pass registry.  I'll study and I'll do my best and I'll repeat the following as I did in every single marathon I ever ran (and it will be enough):

"The Quitter"
When you're lost on the trail with the speed of a snail And defeat looks you straight in the eye
and you're needing to sit, your whole being says quit You're certain it's your time to die. But the code
of the trail is "move forward don't fail" Though your knees and ego are scarred. All the swelling and
pain is just part of the game In the long run it's quitting that's hard! "I'm sick of the pain!" Well, now,
that's a shame But you're strong, you're healthy, and bright. So you've had a bad stretch and you're
ready to retch, Shoulders back, move forward, and fight. It's the plugging away that will win you the day,
Now don't be a loser my friend! So the goal isn't near, why advance to the rear. All struggles eventually end.

It's simple to cry that you?re finished; and die. It's easy to whimper and whine. Move forward and fight, though there's no help in sight You'll soon cross the lost finish line. You'll come out of the black, with the
wind at your back, As the clouds start to part; there's the sun. Then you'll know in your heart, as you did
at the start. You're not a quitter. You've Won!!    - Gene Thibeault

Lord knows I'd rather fail than quit.  To anyone else school may have been a breeze, or doable, or a nuisance.  For me it was a challenge.  It happened at a time in my life when so many other life altering things were happening.  My passing may have actually been a miracle.  Regardless...  I kept my promise to my kids.  After all that we have been through...  that's my favorite part.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Lifetime of Knowing you Have

My English midterm was due today.  It was actually due last week, but I was busy failing an important checkoff for my Paramedics course, so today was the soonest I could schedule to meet up with my teacher to complete my midterm.  It was a brief on an essay we had to write.  A how to essay.  I could have written it on several items.  How to avoid poor choices.  How to get divorced.  How to lose friends.  How to control chaos.  How to enroll in college as a Senior (and by senior, I mean of the mature age group, not of the upper classmen type), but all of these seemed far too cynical in nature and quite frankly...  I'm pretty sure no one but me would see the humor in it.  So I opted for a far more socially acceptable topic.

I wrote mine on How to run a Marathon.

It's an extremely basic concept really.  You put one foot in front of the other for an extremely absurd amount of time, until you cross a little white line that reads finish.  You'll know you're there, even if no one else is next to you and you are unable to read the word "finish" due to going in and out of consciousness from extreme overexertion, because somebody, that's been sitting down for 6 hours waiting for you to finally come crawling across that line, will throw aluminum foil over your shoulders and a medal around your neck...  and that medal will mean as much to you as if you had just given birth to it.

I, of course, didn't write that.  I wrote about the math and science behind the marathon and once I was finished with my oral presentation, I was forced to answer any questions anyone might have.  She asked how many I had ran.  Why...  when...  where...

It was in answering her questions I was forced to answer my own.  How the hell did I get here?!  And it was in reading my essay that I realized how profound it was to be reading to myself...  "How to run a Marathon"  written by me.

I'm in the final semester of Paramedic school and while I am no where close to failing and currently maintaining a great GPA, it has been made very clear that I may not pass.  If I do pass the course...  I may never pass registry...  the oral or written tests.

I have wanted to quit more times than I can count.  I have never been more exhausted in my life.  I'm so close to 40 that I'm surprised my bladder still even works.  My kids spend more time on computers and social media than they do on pirate puzzles and the wiggles.  I'm not twenty anymore.  Hell...  I'm not thirty anymore.

I'm raising 4 kids, going to school full time, and holding a full time job.  I've managed, for the first time, to get a place of my very own...  get divorced...  and done my best to help my children to cope with their ever changing special needs.  I've done my best to maintain rest, my health, xfit, and my sanity.  The cup has spilled over more than once.

Kathryn Switzer was once quoted, when speaking about how brutal the marathon distance was, "Triumph over adversity.  That's what the marathon is all about, therefore you know there isn't anything in life you can't triumph over after that."

I have two weeks left of school.  That's it...  and it may not be enough, but I gave everything I had to give and if it wasn't enough, I will just do as I have always done...  take a little longer than the rest of the crowd. I may finish last.

I told my teacher my marathon times.  I told her that I have always had to give myself a little pep talk about finishing in the back of the pack.  I said:  it's an endurance sport...  and I endured longer than anyone else, so really...  I was the winner.  I endured more...  and I survived.

I left my midterm and went by the toy store to buy my kids some welcome home gifts.  The corner down the street from where I work sits this GIGANTIC teddy bear.  I think of my boy every time I see it, so I stopped by to get it.  I've missed them and I'm well aware that I've not been made to endure alone.  They've been enduring with me.

When I walked in, the woman who worked there approached me and asked me why the giant bear, so I told her about my boy.  About both of my boys.  About my girls.  I told this beautifully put together woman about them, their stay in Kentucky, their struggles.  Mine.  Our Journey.  My marathon.  She then spoke of hers.

I would have never, not in a million years, guessed hers to be so similar to mine.

She smiled and said:  It sounds like a sad story, but you are extremely happy.  I can see it in your eyes.  You have beautifully happy eyes.  You wear your story well.

If you asked me to describe my eyes to you, I'd tell you they were tired, they were old, they were filled with unwanted sights, and blurry vision.  I'd tell you they failed me every single time I tried to study and closed every single time I needed them to open.  I would never describe them to you the way she did me.

I've argued my whole life the logic behind not seeing people's souls in their eyes.  People give me a feeling.  I don't read them well, but I can absolutely get a feeling from their energy, then today, today...  one woman at a toy store that I never knew existed, proved her point without any logic at all, rather one simple sentence...  "It was a pleasure to be near you today, you have beautifully happy eyes."

I haven't physically run a marathon in 3 years, but I'm still trying to complete the one I started two years ago.  The last two miles are ALWAYS the toughest.  ALWAYS.  I'd forgotten that.

I wanted to quit a long time ago, but I didn't.  I've been told I should quit and try again later, but I won't.  I'll finish.  I may not finish with everyone else, but I'll finish, because we are all designed for this.  We are designed to endure.

I'm not sure who said it, but they did...  and they said it well:

"There will be days you don't think you can run a marathon.  There will be a lifetime of knowing you have."  -Unkown

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Lives of Others.

I miss him.  It's not like I saw him very often, so there are moments where it doesn't seem like anything has even changed.

I remember getting the phone call.  It's not like his death was unexpected.  He spent years suffering.  Drowning.  Dying.

I've never had the luxury of needing anyone.  My mother never had the luxury of raising a dependent woman.  She herself never had the luxury of being one.

Maybe if I had needed him more, I would have visited more.  But I believe, and I could be completely wrong... and totally off base, but maybe had I needed him more, maybe, he would have respected me just a little less.

I don't get the opportunity to write much anymore.  I spend my days on a truck, I spend my evenings in class, and when I get a moment free...  I spend my time at the gym.

Life hasn't slowed down one bit since his passing.  

My kids are getting older.  I'm getting older. Things are more complicated.

I'm employed full time as an EMT and in school full time for my paramedic.  I'm now raising 4 children.  One so very much like me, that in those moments of complete and total frustration, I'm forced to flash back to his face...  and it must have looked identical to the one I'm sporting in that moment.

He didn't get to see how things turn out.  I'm still not certain what the finish line even looks like, but regardless...  he won't see mine. 

I guess that's the design of this whole flawed system though.  It's like a story game you play in grade school where you write a paragraph and someone else gets to finish your story.  You have no guarantee how the whole thing is going to turn out.  It could be total crap for all you know, but you do your best to guide them with your words and actions.  You're honest about your expectations and lay out the consequences for a total crap ending, but when all is said and done...  you only get one chapter...  all the other chapters are to be written by someone else.

I'm doing my best to write a chapter worth reading.  For as Pericles says:

"What you leave behind is not what
is engraved in stone monuments,
but what is woven into the lives of others."