Month: July 2017

Heartache In Our Homeland, and the Ultimate Sacrifice.

In the span of 24 hours, a deputy police officer took his last breath, after attempting to clear debris from the road and getting hit. An officer took his last breath after being shot in the line of duty. A high school senior was tragically killed in a car accident. Three people were shot. And, we welcomed home the body of an American hero who lost his life while serving our country. All at different times, all in different places. And the city still buzzed, life continued.

To those that aren’t connected first hand with someone that is a first responder, works in law enforcement, is a volunteer responder, etc. this news may mean nothing. But to the families of the badge this is everything. You hear about line of duty deaths all the time on the news, but until it hits home in your own city, where you work, you often don’t realize just how possible the reality of it is.

For me this day brings chills up and down the back of my spine. I still refer to myself as a baby first responder as many of my co-workers and fellow first responders have far more years under their belt than I do. It makes the hair stick up on my arms just thinking about it. I know that everyday that I put on my uniform brings with it a higher possibility of being injured/taken from this earth but it’s not something I usually think about.

As I lace up my boots, grab my stethoscope, and put my shears on my belt I instead think about what the day will bring, in terms of those who I will possibly help. Thankfully most days I’m not put in a situation where I must consider the safety of my life, but those days do come. You never truly know what you’re walking into when you step foot into someone’s home, or you pull up on to the scene of the accident.

In school they always teach you that your safety is your first priority, but I know myself, and I know my coworkers. We are stubborn when it comes to these things. We see a patient, and we feel a need to help. I’m not saying that we ignore safety procedures and precautions but I do know that we will do everything we possibly can to save someone.

I don’t believe that we go into the job preparing to die. And maybe this is just my perspective. I believe we always know in the back of our heads that it is a possibility, but that drive to save a life in that moment is so much stronger than anything else.

I can’t speak on behalf of officers, or firefighters, but I do know that in that moment on the scene, or in the back of the truck nothing else matters in my life more than the life in front of me. Everything else for that time being gets put on hold, and you work your absolute hardest to keep that person alive, to get them where they need to be.

In the last year I’ve witnessed things that have made me question life more than once. I’ve left a shift, and the only word I’ve been able to formulate out of my mouth is “why”, and sometimes that doesn’t even make it out.

You see this job, it’s so much more than just “fixing”, most of the time we don’t even fix the problem, we just try to manage it. You rarely ever have just one patient, because even when only one person is sick or injured they still have a family. And more likely than not you will need to deal with the family as well. Often times this can be even more stressful than dealing with the patient. And at the end of the day I understand.

Nobody wants to get a call hearing that their loved one has been injured. I sometimes forget that when I pick up a phone of a patient, I am about to deliver some of the worst news the person on the other end of the phone could hear. My job is showing up to people’s worst nightmares. Again, and again. There will always be another call, there will always be another patient in need.

There isn’t a stack of paperwork, that when you get to the bottom of it that job is done. Someone will always be in need of our help. And if it’s not in my city, it’s in someone else’s.

Trauma and illness knows no boundaries, it doesn’t discriminate, it happens when you least expect it. It’s ugly, and it’s hard, it hurts, and it haunts. But we show up, because that is our job. That is the why.

We all have our own ways of coping, for some it’s going home to a family, or a pet, for others it’s exercising, or traveling. Someway or another we find an escape. But there are bound to be the calls that no matter how hard you try to put them out of your mind they will continue to haunt you.

Yesterday our city experienced a multitude of those calls. The first responders witnessed images that will forever be stuck with them. The departments suffered an unimaginable loss. But the families, the families will experience the ultimate tragedy, as they will forever be missing a piece to their puzzle.

As they reach milestones in their lives they will look for their father, their husband, their brother, their cousin to share the memory with, but he is no longer here. He gave the ultimate sacrifice, he gave his life.

“Greater love hath no man than this, than a man that lay down his life for his friends.”

Lieutenant Aaron Allen, thank you for your service, your sacrifice, and your dedication to this city. You paid the ultimate price for someone’s foolish decision. You gave your life for 20 years to our country, you returned home and continued to serve, and our city was honored to have you.

Deputy Chief James Walters, thank you for your service, and your dedication to our city. You served for 30 years, and lost your life trying to protect our motorists. We will forever be grateful for your commitment to safety.

Ryan Lohrey, thank you for your commitment to protecting our country. You did what many citizens of this country don’t have the courage to do. You defended our citizens in one of the greatest ways known to man.

Men, may you rest easy now. Your job is done, we will take it from here. You will never be forgotten, and your legacy will always live on. We will support your families, and your children for as long as we may live. You are heroes, to not only this city but this country. May we live courageously in pursuit of the safety and wellbeing of our neighbors as you have.

And may we never forget that this world is far greater than our self. We are a minuscule piece of this puzzle. We are mere flecks of life in a giant atmosphere.

It is our duty to leave this earth better than we found it, and these three men did just that.

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“How are you doing?”……

I think this sort of post is long overdue so here we go……this is a long read. A VERY LONG READ.

“Merideth how are you feeling?”

“Well, okay I guess!”

And really it’s true. My first year of college is almost completely wrapped up, summer classes are almost done, and in a few weeks I will start my second year. I can’t say that this last year was necessarily easy, but I definitely learned SO much. So let’s do a little recap, and then I’ll fill ya in on all the “deets”……….

I packed up my room at home and moved 30 minutes away to the city to live in an apartment.

I started college classes.

I caught a lot of colds.

I also got a lot of sinus infections.

I had surgery.

I started an awesome job!

I moved apartments. (Girls are high maintenance.)

I got the flu, and then I got a Spinal Tap. (LOL)

I met some amazing new friends/roommates!

I worked A LOT.

I passed my classes.

I started summer classes.

I got a second job.

I adventured.

I learned.

As you can see this past year has been – WOW. So much has happened and so much has been left out in the above list, those seem to be the big major things that took place. This year academically was very difficult. I knew going into this that it was going to be a huge life adjustment. I was going to have to learn how to completely depend on myself, and that was something I had never done before. When I first got sick I had to learn how to rely on those around me to help me, so going from depending on others, and having them around to help and then transitioning to being completely on my own was hard.

My senior year of high school I was lucky and had a really pretty healthy year. I didn’t have too many difficulties with my POTS, except for when I caught a cold or what not. (If you aren’t familiar with how my crazy body works, I tend to have a weaker immune system so I catch colds a whole lot easier, and when I do get “normal people sick” it makes my POTS symptoms flare) however I was pretty lucky. So honestly I didn’t think anything about transitioning when it came to college. If anything I thought it would be easier because I would be living in my own apartment with my own bathroom. Well I was WRONG. First semester was quite a mess. A few weeks in I caught a sinus infection that I never really got completely rid of until I ended up having to have surgery in November. Thankfully that took care of that problem, and knock on wood I haven’t had any sinus infections since. However, that first semester really took a toll on me. I was having a hard time taking care of myself because I was so weak, which was causing me to miss classes, which didn’t help my grades. It honestly put me back in a place that reminded me of what my sophomore and junior year of high school were like. Thankfully though the surgery took care of things, and I am SO thankful!

I was off to a great new start for second semester until I caught the flu! Right? Just my luck! The best part is that I even got TWO flu shots! I can testify that Influenza is every bit as terrible as it sounds, and once again with my luck it ended up with two ER visits, and a spinal tap. Boy am I glad I made it through that one! Talk about flashbacks to the old days when I was bedridden, that two weeks definitely reminded me of those times!

Overall this year didn’t;t quite pan out health wise how I would have probably liked but if I look back at it all there is a positive in it all, these were all “normal people things” and I didn’t ever have any major setbacks caused by my POTS. These were just life things, and I got through them.

When it comes to my POTS, I have to say that the human body amazes me every day. I have a very hard time remembering much of my freshman and sophomore years of high school – the years in which my health was at its very worst. I think that most of this is due to me trying to block out the memories, because of how painful they were.

I now currently only take 8 pills a day, only in the morning. This is a HUGE accomplishment compared to the some 30 pills I was on over a time span of three different points throughout the day. The body really is amazing, and I am so very lucky that my brain is healing. I remind myself often of the words Dr. Moodley first told me with my diagnosis “This is not a sprint, this is a marathon. This is going to take years not months.” I am not patient, but I have somehow learned to let my body do its  thing, and slowly but surely it is.

I find comfort in knowing that I am able to do more every day. I once could only walk to the mail box before having to sit down, and couldn’t even run. Today I can go to the gym when I please, and while I might not be as fast as everyone else, I can run. I can work 12 hour shifts, when I used to have a hard time even standing on my feet for five minutes. I can eat food, whatever I please (almost) without having to worry about m stomach not being able to properly digest it. I can drive my ambulance with lights and sirens and not flinch. I am healing.

While I did have a reminder this month that I am still recovering, most days now I am able to “forget” that I am different from others when it comes to health. Every year the fourth of July brings problems my way. This holiday is just not for me. The monotone bang that fireworks make cause my head so many problems. While I have definitely come a long way and do not seize through a firework show, they definitely leave me with quite the migraine. This year brought me some sadness, as I was hopeful I would be able to enjoy them, but I quickly learned that would not be the case and spent my night in the shower. But I did it, on my own. And nothing happened. And that is a HUGE accomplishment.

I am healing, every day.

I have big goals, and dreams. Plans that I am determined to achieve.

Sometimes I try to move at fast paces like my peers, or even faster. I like to try to shove as much onto my plate as I can, but I often have to remind myself to slow down. I tire quicker than others, and I am in no hurry. I have all the time in the world to accomplish my dreams, so there’s no need to spoil them trying to get there in a hurry.

So that’s where I am. Just chugging along. Just me and my ambulances, and I couldn’t be happier.