Saturday, July 17, 2010

Work stories--warning

First, before some stories, I have to do some (minor) complaining...
I am SO TIRED! I worked a night shift last night and I have to tell you, this third pregnancy is by far the most challenging as far as work is concerned. My ambulance station is far, far busier than it was when I transferred there three years ago. The community is growing, and the calls are becoming far more frequent. Three years ago, it would have been exceedingly unusual to have less than 4 hours of sleep on a night shift. Four hours is golden. A person can function quite normally the next day on 4 hours sleep, and switch back to sleeping at night in one 24 hour period. Working once a week, night shifts were my preferred, because my kids were sleeping anyways, so all I sacrificed was a little sleep, and I got to work and earn a bit of money, get out of the routine around the house a bit, and not feel guilty that I was away from my kids. Win-win-win.

Now, our nights are so busy it is unusual to even be at the station for an hour total the entire shift!! Let alone asleep. I'm getting too old for these types of shenanigans. Especially because I just go sleep deprived, since I only do one shift at a time most weeks. So I get up early with the kids, do my thing all day, go to work all night, and (if I'm lucky and B isn't working the next day) sleep the next day.

This is horrific at 32 years old with three kids and minimal extra energy on hand. Add pregnancy? Last night, I thought I might die. The longer I go without sleep, the more naseous I feel. I came very, very close to puking last night. Or this morning, I guess. Early this morning! Also, my 'morning sickness' this time around really only happens when I'm in a moving vehicle. Dudes. I WORK in a moving vehicle. So: motion + baby Rice Grain + sleep deprivation = the mommy equivalent to to Chinese Water Torture. For 12 hours.
I'm very glad to be pregnant. I'm very happy! But I could do without the night shifts! It doesn't help that I'm so very, very done with my career as a paramedic. My plan now is to work until my maternity leave starts, go on leave, and then just not go back. I'll stick to the doula work and crochet toys, and hang out with my kids. I'll apply for midwifery school as I go along, and see what happens.

Last night I had a patient who had some serious mental health issues. In talking about her medical history she let us know that a few years ago she was rescued from being held captive by a man in his underground cellar for two and a half YEARS. I'm sorry. Who WOULDN'T have serious mental health issues after an experience like that? The world is SCREWED UP! Free Range Parenting be damned. Lock up your children, people.
[I'm obviously joking, but this type of scenario does make one revisit one's life philosophies]
And she was abducted as an adult, by someone she knew. [the most common scenario]

I have also had a patient before who took his girlfriend on a trip and killed her with a rock and buried her in the forest after repeatedly abusing her for a week. He was on trial, and the court called an ambulance because he had a severe anxiety attack in the courtroom.

I've had a gajillion run of the mill, drug addicted/homeless/poor/petty crime patients over the last 8 years. Some pretty bad parenting and coping mechanisms with kids involved.

Baisically, that woman is still living in that cellar, inside her mind. And it's hardly worth living. She won't go to counselling. She trusts no one. She lives in fear (he's out of jail).

I also spent an hour watching and participating while three of my coworkers patiently repositioned, medicated, repositioned, moved pillows, raised and lowered the bed, and talked quietly with a woman who is dying painfully. It takes my breath away to watch the kind of pain that is, damn you universe, so often wrapped up in a person's last hours, weeks, months, sometimes years. And the tireless loving care of spouses, children, siblings, and good friends day after endless, hopeless day that so often accompanies those last hours, weeks, years. And the patient, attentive actions of three of my coworkers who could easily have bustled in and bustled out, choosing not to engage, not to stay in a hot little house with a woman in pain and a man in distress, reassuring and repositioning for over an hour. There are a great many people out there who need our help, and last night especially. The shit was hitting the proverbial fan, people who were on death's door were waiting for ambulances coming from afar, the truly sick blending with the truly well and the truly crazy on a warm night in July, and we were sweating and sad in the presence of such deep, hopeless pain.
Some days, I have deep respect for the people I work with. Some guys have been around for decades and have checked out. Other guys have been around for decades, and still have time for some empathy for an old woman and her husband who don't really need an ambulance, but could sure use some company. It's the latter type I respect.

And then there are women in captivity.

Enough is enough. This job is eating my soul.

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel...


Rachel Clear said...

Damn, woman.

Get on out of there as fast as you can.

Tonya said...

I'm so sorry you're not getting enough sleep and feeling yucky! You have more drive than I can imagine! How do you keep going, keep trying, and not just quit on the spot? I'm impressed!

Asheya said...

I really don't know how you do it, with the no sleep and the pregnancy and everything. I would totally understand if you just threw up and quit on the spot on your next night shift!!

Any chance you'll be getting a desk job before you go on maternity leave?

And yahooooo for maternity leave and then quitting your job!

amy frances said...