I’d like to think that I’ve always been very honest on here. I try not to sugar coat things, and at times I’m very blunt, sometimes more than what others like to hear, but that’s the thing about life and society today, we care so much about what others think that we often aren’t upfront and completely honest about our feelings, and while I am blunt, I do still worry what others will think about it.
I have sugar coated the last five years often when discussing what my journey has been like with others. Mainly because I didn’t want to be viewed as “weak” or “incapable” by others. When explaining what it was and is like living with POTS, to others I would leave out the feelings that came along with it. Instead of explaining that while the symptoms were hard to deal with, and the pain was at times so intense, I would leave out the one thing that was the hardest part about it: the feelings. Because I didn’t think people cared to hear about how I truly felt, but instead wanted to hear a story of hope, and how I got out of bed every morning and kept on going. But that isn’t how it worked, because in the beginning, most days I barely made it out of bed.
I have these memories of the beginning of my diagnosis that I never bothered to share with anyone. My family was there to experience it, but other than that nobody knew of what I went through, because I was so worried of how I was going to be viewed by others. I watched my sisters face as it all unfolded in front of her, and knew that I couldn’t share the experience with others, because I was scared of receiving the same look again by someone else, that wasn’t family, that wasn’t forced to love me unconditionally even through the ugly.
Only now, that I am able to do and accomplish goals I set for myself, am I able to look back on those days and realize how truly horrible they were. One of my biggest fears in life is that I will wake up one day and I’ll be unable to get out of my bed again. That I’ll succumb once again to the ugly side of this disorder.
When you work in EMS (Emergency Medical Services) you find yourself in the uncomfortable, in the ugly. But not your own uncomfortable, and your own ugly, but others, strangers. And in that moment, it is your job to put all of your own uncomfortable, and ugly aside, and to comfort theirs. When you strip away the medicine in EMS all you are left with is the “act of caring”. And that, is the most valuable aspect of it. No amount of medicine, regardless of the healing capability it holds, will ever provide the comfort that the simple act of caring can.
I get praised often for my ability to do the job I do, but the thing is the ability to care is something innate, it lies in all of us. Wether you allow yourself to care though is a personal choice. Understandably we aren’t all going to go into the field of medicine, and become first responders, but the potential for one to is there, if you allow yourself to care.
I watched both of my grandfathers fade away and die in front of me, at the time I had no medical knowledge. I didn’t understand that the cancer my grandfather had, that started out as simple skin cancer, and then turned into melanoma, that eventually spread to his brain was literally destroying all of the cells inside his body causing him to no longer be capable of everyday tasks. But I did know, and realize that he was losing the very things that made him, him. All I had then was the capability to care. I couldn’t provide him with oxygen so that he would at least be able to breathe easier while he died, I couldn’t check his vitals to know what state his heart was in. But I could help feed him the cinnamon jello that he loved dearly, and I could sit there and keep him company. I couldn’t provide medical care, but I could care.
The greatest thing we can provide to our patients, and humans in general, is not our medical care, but rather our genuine selfless care.
All of the times I spent in and out of doctors, I could care less about what medical terminology they rattled off. I was too young, and honestly too upset about what was happening that I didn’t care about what new drug we would try next to attempt to fix things. All I wanted to hear was that a doctor finally cared enough to not give up on me, I wanted to know that someone actually cared about me, and not just my case. We went through over a dozen doctors before we found the one, that was able to look us in the eyes, and assure us that he would not let us down, that I was more than just a file in his extensive list of cases, and that he would indeed make sure that someday, even if it took years, which he assured me it most likely would, but someday he would find the fix, and I would be better.
Since his promise to care, I have gone on to obtain a role in which it is part of my job to assure my patients that I care. I carry his promise with me every day that I work, and remind myself before I ever meet my patient face to face, that it is my job, my responsibility to care.
It’s not always easy to care. There are some days when you are so drained, wether physically or emotionally that you simply just don’t think you have any care left inside of you, and while it is far easier to do the job without caring, that is not what we, what I exist for. I believe that people choose EMS because they understand it is their job to care, and while I know that unfortunately that isn’t the case for everyone, I would like to think it is for the majority.
There is a myth in our society that we as humans, don’t care to hear each other’s struggles, but that is a myth. The human being was designed to care, it is an innate response, and we need to acknowledge it, and allow it to happen more often.