Thursday, November 29, 2007


Last night my friend Wyville (her name is Melissa so we do last name only) and I went to the live tour of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woohoo! Weezer: you should be jealous. I almost fainted eleventeen times.
WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!! The show was three full hours with a 10 minute intermission and my picture will be on facebook (not my profile--a really wild, funny, gay guy took my picture for his facebook page) as a very excited audience member. We were ON THE FLOOR! Not close enough to get sweat on, but close enough to be exciting. These performances were AMAZING!! This show has taken dance and catapaulted it into pop culture in a miraculous way: all of a sudden dance is not just a fringe art form , and not just dancers are interested in watching dance any longer. WOWZERS! Some of the art these amazing dancers come up with is spectacular, and the calibre of the dancers blew me away. Every performance was more powerful live, and they performed my favourite of all the dances this season, "The Hummingbird and the Flower," and I almost cried (I think I did cry when I watched it on TV the first time) because it was so beautiful. AND they performed quite a few dances that were choreographed solely for the tour, and not televised. I only wish SYTYCD was around when I was dancing. I would have auditioned FOR SURE (and been cut, but it would have been an experience to remember). Wow, was there ever some talent on that stage.
Wyville and I got back from Everett, Washington, around 1:30 a.m. and I fell asleep around 2. Ayden requested that since I would be back after he fell asleep for the night, that I wake him to say goodnight when I got back. I shook him awake, he sat up, looked at me, requested a cuddle, and we spent a good 10 minutes snuggling in his bed before I left his room. Then I passed out and prayed the boys would let me sleep until 10 to 8 (we have to leave for preschool at 8).
Directly at 7 a.m. Ayden woke the entire house (Wyville slept over) screaming that I had not remembered to wake him up when I came home the night before. He barrelled into my room and yelled at me so loudly that my ears rang. For the life of me I couldn't convince him that I HAD woken him up, and he'd simply fallen back asleep right away and forgotten. His response? "YOU ARE MAKING UP FAIRY TALES!!!" I finally took his flailing, raging little person and put him in the hallway outside my bedroom and locked my door. My ears were hurting!
After 1/2 hour (I didn't leave the door locked for 1/2 hour, just a minute or two) he calmed down, but even mid afternoon he would get purple in the face and rage at me if I tried to explain how one can be woken up and forget that it happened in the morning.
What a way to start the day.
So then, I turned around and snapped at Matthew, like the proverbial henhouse with its pecking order, and then felt aweful.
Driving home from dropping Ayden off at preschool, after only 5 hours of sleep and such an awakening, I was in a funk.
To remedy the funk, I decided to take Matthew in the jogging stroller and RUN in the SUNSHINE! Now, I have not actually exercised since I was in Regina (4 weeks ago) so I decided to start slow. Plus, the sidewalks were icy. I ran 5 minutes, walked 2, for 32 minutes. So I only ran for 20 minutes total, with breaks. Good grief, was I ever winded! A year ago I ran 2 hours 38 minutes for my half marathon in Kelowna, without a break. My goal was to run the whole 21 kilometres without walking, and I did. Now 5 minutes is killing me? Walking up the stairwell at work winds me, too, I've noticed.
It is a miracle any single parent exercises at all until their children are old enough to be left on their own. When do I go? My only viable options for exercise are to run while Ayden is at school because my jogging stroller only fits one (problematic: when it is raining this is not a fun outing for Matthew, and this time is when I also like to grocery shop, as shopping with one is infinitely more possible than shopping with two), and to work out to DVDs in my house (if the kids are awake they interrupt all the time or get in scratching/biting matches so I'm forced to pause my workout, and if they are asleep I'm too bone tired). Hence, I'm in the worst shape I have been in in years.
Well, a run was what I needed, wimpy and short or not, and I started the day fresh after that and was much easier to live with. And it was SUNNY!!!!!!!!!!!!! Halleluah!
Plus, it seemed Ayden forgave me by lunch. So nice to be forgiven for something that one did not do in the first place.

This week has been tough. I'm sad, the kids are sad, it was gloomy and wet most days, and January 28th seems so, so far away to us. Christmas seems like a tease. I know that as the mom I set the emotional tone for my family but I didn't have the energy to modify the tone from gloomy and sad.

I'm also tired of my job (!!) and wishing I could quit. It's not the patients, the calls, the hospital, or even the assholes at work: it is the politics. It is going to work and being paid $10 an hour or $2 an hour while your 'full time' coworkers get $30+. It is being criticized by union delegates for not taking our union more seriously. It is being lied to by managers (or bullied, as per last January/February). It is the endless string of hoops one is expected to jump through to 'get anywhere' in my job. As stressful and as service oriented as my profession is, I shouldn't then have to fight for the right to be paid when I'm away from my family and unable to work anywhere else, or fight for callouts, or fight for benefits, or fight for etc. We will actually drive around town in order to be "on the air" for code 3 calls just so we have a better chance of getting paid our full wage for a few hours...and it works because dispatch can send us and get us to the call faster than the 90-120 second chute time of paging out a car that is at the station with the crew upstairs...we also 'scoop' calls; start out on code 3s and say "whoops, too late; you paged the other car? We're already a few blocks down the road," or tell dispatch we're closer than another car when we're's a bloody, messy, disgusting cat fight that keeps our energy focused on dollars and survival and staying ahead of the next car, rather than on our patients. Not that we focus on anything but our patients when we have one: but I mean our energy stores are depleted when we DO have a patient because we spend so much energy on survival in between calls.
I try as hard as I can to stay clear of the politics, but even so they are burning me out. I try as hard as I can to stay honest and fair, but even so I'm getting cynical. My union doesn't care. My employer doesn't care. Most citizens of BC don't care...which is too bad, because people are actually dying in this province because smaller towns cannot recruit or retain paramedic staff because they can't pay starting paramedics enough: there are 4 to 5 hour stretches of highway in the interior that have NO staffed ambulances in the towns nearby. People die in their cars waiting for a helicopter to be dispatched to free them and give them medical care. Or they die in their houses of heart attacks, strokes, stabbings, overdoses, diabetic emergencies, and allergic reactions...If a starting paramedic can work in an urban area and get paid $20 an hour regardless of whether they are on the couch in the station or on a call, why on earth would they choose to work in a rural area and get paid $2 an hour? Yet the union is not interested in fighting for wage increases or benefits (currently one needs 6 years seniority as a part time paramedic to be eligible for any benefits) or recruitment/retention plans for part timers. If the union doesn't care, why should the employer? The union delegates' response to my letter concerning the average 70-90 hour work week logged by most of the part timers I know? "They do so by their own choice. This job was never set up to be a job someone could make a living at while doing it part time. You are supposed to have another job to support yourself and do this on your days off until you have enough seniority to go full time."
Well that's working well, now isn't it?
I believe that, especially in today's competitive job market (competitive amongst employers--it's an employees' market right now), an employer has a responsibility to examine not the way a job was meant to be utilized, but the way it is actually being utilized, and change accordingly. It is the union's job to hold the employer accountable to this responsibility. When the provincial ambulance service was first created, entry level paramedic training was rudimentry...a first aid course...and after being hired, further training was offered free of charge. Most of the rural communities staffed their ambulances with first aid attendants from the mill, the logging company, the shipping industry, the mine, etc, and those attendants worked the ambulance on their days off from their 'real job.' Well, times have changed but the ambulance service infrastructure (and union attitude) has not. Now, entry level paramedics are trained to the level that ALS attendants were 20 years ago, and they pay $6000 or more for their own training, and there are annual license maintenance requirements and patient contact requirements to keep up. This is too much for your average industrial first aid attendant~especially for $2 an hour. If a present day, rural first aid attendant wants to cross over to the ambulance service, it is going to cost him or her 4 months away from their job and community, lost wages, $6000, and in the end s/he will be offered a job that pays $2 an hour standby pay, $20 an hour when an ambulance is called (infrequently), and requires him or her to start 15 IVs per year, demonstrate utilization of most or all protocols and advanced skills to a minimum level every year, and transport a minimum of 20 critical patients per year. That's hard to do on the occasional day off. You see why it is no longer appealing to those we used to recruit?
There is also a retirement surge going on in the ambulance service, as there is in every profession, creating a vaccuum. That vaccuum, out of financial necessity, is centred in urban areas because that is where the lucrative part time jobs and the full time positions are situated.
There ARE people who prefer to live in rural areas and would be willing to live and work in smaller communities, if making a living as a paramedic there was remotely possible. I assure you, it is not.
This is a dangerous time to be travelling our roads, or getting sick, or visiting relatives in rural areas in BC. I know. I work here.
I've considered getting involved in my union in order to try and be a part of a solution, but to be honest it's a fight I don't have the spit for. Well, I do, but if I spit all my fire at the ambulance service I won't have any left for my family. See my quote on the sidebar from Jann Arden.

Wow, that was a bit of a rant. I guess I needed to get that off my chest!

I'm thinking that for my next career I'd like to be a doulla. What do you think? Midwifery appeals to me, but 5+ years of full time school does not, at this point in my life.
Not that I'm leaving tomorrow. Every time I drive code 3, yelling and swearing at the retarded drivers who turn in front of us or are oblivious to their surroundings, laughing and trying not to pee while the world rips by outside our windows; every time I diagnose a sick patient, every time I save someone or make someone feel better, or connect with a patient, I get euphorically high. That's a tough addiction to shake, and I'll miss it when I'm done. There's nothing else quite like it.


Roboseyo said...

the hummingbird and the bee

ps, mel:
read this post from my sister deb's blog, plus the comments. . .

and then this one from YOUR blog, plus comments,

and the my sister's final word on BOTH comment threads, in the comment line of this post on MY blog.

Tonya said...

Hey Melissa! Glad you had a night out! I can relate to the non-exercising thing (and my husband only travels about once a month!). It is nearly impossible. I recently bought a Christian Yoga DVD. It's really easy to do, but you should see me! Kids climbing on me, cat rubbing against me ... Certainly not a relaxing experience. :-) I had a kids yoga video a few years back that I would do with the kids. Whatever works, right!

Louise said...

SYTYCD tour sounds amazing! Glad you had such a fantastic time. As for exercise...I too cannot believe how out of shape I have become. At least we get a lot of walking in? At least we are relatively healthy? Oh boy, I should go for a jog too!