Month: December 2017

A long December…..every December.

December is almost over. Thank the calendar gods.

I was once the most festive of festive humans. I LOVED Christmas. I was basically Christmas balled up and stuffed inside a human.

My freshman year of high school I planned a Christmas party at my house and basically invited my entire grade. Christmas was my jam.

And then on December 7th, 2012 I fell on my head and slowly but surely I lost my festivity.

I tried so hard to remain festive, that I even strung Christmas lights on my neck brace.

Yeah you read that right.

I strung CHRISTMAS LIGHTS on my NECK BRACE.

I tried so hard to continue to love the holiday, and not attach the holiday to my accident but that is so much easier said than done. I took the concussion test three times in December. I wore a neck brace for the entire month of December, (and January.) I received muscle relaxing creams and Advil as presents. I became a “frequent flyer” in the ER. But Merry Christmas y’all, let us be thankful and reminisce on all the wonderful things, let us appreciate the cards we have been dealt. All while I model a neck brace and get told by medical professionals I’m faking things. But happy holidays anyways!

How are you supposed to celebrate the holidays and enjoy all of its festivities when you look like a robot. You can only hide so much of a neck brace with a scarf, at some point you’re either going to have to just strut your stuff, or resort to using a curtain as a scarf because maybe then you’ll have enough square inches of fabric. Or I guess in Baby Mer’s case just throw some Christmas lights on there……*facepalm*

So December is almost over, and then I can finally sigh my sigh of relief, and breathe again. Because I hold my breath for most of December, I become a Scrooge, I shut down and am a not so friendly version of myself, I try to ignore all that this month so kindly likes to remind me of. I don’t know why I need to grieve for the entire month. My accident took up all of 5 hours of that month. So why do I need an entire month to throw myself a pity party? I don’t know, I guess because I’m human? Is that a valid excuse? Do I need an excuse? I mean I’m sure I could throw a pity party all 12 months of the year, people would probably get real tired of it, but I suppose I could do it.

I still give the gifts, and I wear the matching PJ’s with my sister, and I decorate a tiny tree. I try to be festive again, but no matter how much I force the festivity it doesn’t happen.

I feel like I’m suffocating in December.

I feel like I’m trapped in December.

I feel like I’m drowning in December.

No matter how hard I try to breathe, to escape, to swim, I can’t get away from it. So I just try to survive.

December is merely a month of survival. I tell myself at the first of December every year, it’s just 31 days, you just have to make it 31 days, then you can breathe again, it will all go back to normal, whatever normal is.

I’m not depressed, I mean I am, but so is every other chronically ill college student, but I’m not depressed about life, well not really, I love life, probably more than most people, but I hate December’s and I dread them, and I loath them.

I picked up over 250 hours this month between my two jobs so that I could try to forget that it’s December. I worked Christmas Eve Eve, Christmas Eve, and Christmas so that I could keep myself as busy as possible in hopes of forgetting things. In hopes I won’t see the festivity as much.

When I see people post pictures of their presents I want to scream in their faces. I turn into the grinch. My Christmas was ruined, stop shoving yours in my face to remind me. And then I have to mentally slap myself because good lord Merideth you are not the center of the earth. It does not matter that you don’t get to enjoy Christmas like you used to, stop ruining it for everyone else. Let them enjoy the fact that life didn’t kick them to the curb on this one.

There’s 6 more days until I can breathe, until I can stop crying about everything, I bet you’re shocked to know I’m crying writing this post right now. For once this month they aren’t tears of sadness, well those are mixed in there, but a majority of them are tears of relief, because finally it will be over, and for 11 more months I can almost completely forget about it like I usually do.

I don’t cry, crying is not my thing, but December turns me into Niagara Falls. The whole entire waterworks plus some. Mention vanilla lotion and how it’s your favorite scent and the waterworks will begin to form because for some odd reason I can’t remember, vanilla lotion is tied into the awful nightmare that is the original December.

So decorate your trees, or your neck braces, sing your Christmas carols. Sorry I’m not overly excited to wish you a merry Christmas and whatever else festive people do now. I try my best to look enthused about the month, but I won’t lie, I’m real bad at fake emotions.

December is almost over, soon I can breathe. I can’t wait to breathe again.

“And it’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.” -Counting Crows

*this post was sad, and I don’t like to end things on a sad note so go ahead, I give you permission to laugh WITH ME about my glowing neck brace.

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Linda is…..

There is one thing in my life that is completely predictable and routine, yet completely unpredictable all at the same time- Monday’s.

Every Monday I spend my day in Pendleton, IN. at the fire department. I have for the past 6 months, and I hope to for a long while.

It’s the only real routine in my life, and it’s kind of a saving grace. It’s the one thing I can count on. From 06:00 to 18:00 every Monday my life is the most routine it will be for my entire week, but it’s also the most unpredictable.

I can count that every Monday I will be on the ambulance in Pendleton, but what exactly my day will hold, that I’m not entirely sure.

But I know Linda will be there with me. (Unless she’s taking part in her more adventurous and social life than I live.) So unless Linda’s adventuring calls, I know I will have her by my side every Monday

I won’t lie, Linda scared the crap out of me when I met her for the first time. I questioned wether I should have listened to Gentle Giant about working here…..I had a feeling this woman was not going to like me. I was loud and had no filter, I would annoy her to the end of time.

But I was wrong, well not entirely, I’m definitely positive I annoy Linda at times almost once a week, usually more. But she has become one of the most consistent, reliable, and predictable things in my life.

She’s become my fire mom. I’ve become her fire daughter.

Linda is everything I hope to be one day.

It’s almost entirely too difficult to explain Linda to you. There just isn’t quite the exact, most perfect, combination of words.

Linda is a strong woman, she’s been through a lot in her life, but she still walks with her head held high (except for the days we both pull our backs out while lifting things together we should have left for the big fire guys with the big fire muscles to do), so unless it’s one of those days where we both walk with a slight hunch, then she walks with her head held high.

She is wise, she has decades of experience in this career, and I am beyond lucky to learn from her. She teaches me silently, she doesn’t have to physically explain her ways, she just works, and I learn by watching her ways and picking apart her reasoning.

She is patient, she puts up with me for 12 hours each week. All of my loud ramblings, my broken-brain moments, my useless rants, my hot mess of a life events, and so on, and so on. She is patient and listens, and when she can’t stand to listen to my random rant on the medical marvel that is “fetus in fetu” she nods her head and pretends to listen so that I can continue on in my ridiculous explanations and marvels at all that is science, so that my insides can feel listened to.

She is set in her ways, Linda takes no BS. I wish I was as good at this as Linda is. There is no time for BS in life, Linda will let you know, and when you’ve landed knee deep in BS, Linda will let you know. I wish I could walk out of knee deep puddles of BS like Linda can.

I’m not sure I really believe in fate, or the mushy-gushy “everything happens for a reason”. I think life happens, and sometimes in weird, mysterious, unexplainable ways, sometimes things finally work out in ways they should.

The ability to learn and be taught by Linda every Monday is one of those things.

And while we sit at McDonald’s eating our breakfast this morning, like we do every Monday morning, and tell our adventures and recap our week with drawings and explanations, I am certain that this is where I am supposed to be on Monday’s.

And not because the town of Pendleton needs me, but because I need the town of Pendleton.

I need the Linda’s in the world to be a part of my world. To remind me why I am here, why I chose the job I chose. Why I do what I do.

I used to dread Monday’s, now Monday’s are the one constant good day in my week.

I can count on Monday’s, and I can count on Linda.

Linda and I are a well oiled machine, we are a killer team, we don’t have to talk to know what the other person is going to say (except for when I’m processing things extra slow and don’t get it) we work well, and we work efficiently.

We are a true dream team. An adopted mother/daughter fire duo. We are a force to be reckoned with.

And for that I am entirely thankful, and beyond blessed.

It’s not “Seizure Girl”, it’s Merideth.

They called me “Seizure Girl”.

I haven’t had a seizure in 4+ years.

But they called me “Seizure Girl” anyways.

I’ve become very good about making light of my accident.

Joking not to fall off things or, “you’ll end up like me”.

Joking that “…..it’s the broken brain”.

But they called me “Seizure Girl”.

I’m not a very sensitive person. I mean, I used to be, but then my accident happened. I went through so many different emotions in such a short period of time. It was a rollercoaster. I got so tired of emotions, and having to deal with feeling them that I eventually told myself I was just going to stop, feeling them. That I would pretend they weren’t there.

So when jokes were made about my accident, I laughed and chimed in too. Because I wasn’t feeling emotions anymore. I was pretending they weren’t there.

I’m the underdog in life. I’m the odd one out. I’m the rare pumpkin in the patch, but not the good rare, the strange rare. I have been for five years now.

Apparently I’m the “Seizure Girl”.

You know it takes a lot of effort to not feel feelings anymore. Or rather to pretend they aren’t there.

For the last five years I’ve woken up every morning and have been reminded that I’m different.

Our society isn’t very accepting of different.

So for the last five years I’ve joined in on the jokes. In fact I make a lot of them now. Some of them even leave those around me in shock. Those that don’t know me find it odd I would laugh at myself. “She’s used to it” those that know me will say. “She doesn’t care” they add when you laugh or make your own joke about it.

They’re right, I’m used to it. But they’re wrong, I do care.

I care so much that for the last two weeks I haven’t been able to get the phrase “Seizure Girl” out of my head.

“Oh get over it” says family. “You’re better than them” says friends.

But they’ve never been the “Seizure Girl”.

Do you know what it feels like to wake up on the floor of a parking lot surrounded by people staring at you?

How about being told by an MD that there’s nothing wrong with you, that it’s all in your head?

Or even better, let’s get real vulnerable here. Being stripped in an ambulance because you’ve pissed yourself from seizing?

Telling the stranger that used the flash on their camera “it’s okay” after they’ve made you fall over?

Asking for someone to help you open the door for you after they’ve watched you try to in your wheelchair from across the hall for five minutes?

Yeah I didn’t think so. So when you try to tell me that I’m not the odd one out, or the underdog, you’re wrong.

Those things made you cringe didn’t they? They left you feeling uncomfortable didn’t they? You just thought, ‘wait that really happened to her’ didn’t you?

For some reason our society doesn’t want to hear about the ugly, they only want the good. And when they hear about the ugly anyways, they need to quickly make light of the situation, and make a joke so that they can laugh and no longer feel uncomfortable about the ugly. Well let’s face reality, there’s a lot of ugly that exists. Why are we turning our heads to the things that make us uncomfortable? This is life people. Uncomfortable things exist, and they probably wouldn’t be uncomfortable if we all stopped turning our heads and accept that they happen.

Yes I used to have seizures. It was miserable. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But I’m not going to beat around the bush and leave out the parts that were hell for me just so that you can feel better about yourself or warm and fuzzy on the inside. My story isn’t all warm and fuzzy, it’s uncomfortable and ugly too, deal with it. I’m not sorry you felt the need to give me a lousy nickname (and it really was lousy pal, you could have at least called me the fainting goat) to feel better about what happened to me, and ignore the fact that me standing in front of you makes you remember my story, and it makes you feel uncomfortable.

In the last five years I’ve been humiliated more than I could ever even begin to explain. My life is a series of random events that someway or another end up with me swallowing the feelings and stuffing them back inside.

Tell me I’m more than “Seizure Girl”. That they were wrong, go ahead. Tell me all you want. Try to make me feel better about someone else’s lousy choice of words.

At the end of the day I still will have been “Seizure Girl”. I mean they weren’t really wrong were they?

I’m also Merideth though.

And I’ve worked damn hard to get where I am.

I’m not sorry that my accident might make you uncomfortable to the point that you feel as if you need to make a joke about it to “lighten things up”.

Until you’ve been “Seizure Girl” don’t let the words, or any others of the like come out of your mouth again in reference to me.

Because the “Seizure Girl” you’re referencing is much more than that.

I hate the color pink. My favorite food is Indian. I’ve never had a pet dog. My mom and sister are my best friends. I have a cat named Tuna.Monday’s are my favorite days of the week. I’m very loud.

And I used to have seizures.

This world wasn’t made for people that are the odd ones out. It isn’t easy to wake up every morning and be reminded that you are different. No matter how many years ago my accident was I will forever have to jump through extra hoops and leap over extra hurdles just to get to where you are. People don’t understand.

But that’s okay.

I’m not the same as everyone else. That changed five years ago and it will never go back. There’s no undoing it. I got the unlucky end of the stick or whatever that saying is. I can’t forget feelings. I can’t pretend they aren’t there. Words hurt. Reactions hurt. Actions hurt.

I hope you’re reading this and I hope you regret letting the words come out of your mouth. I hope you realize that I’ve been through hell to get to where I am now. I hope you understand that people in my same position, the other “Seizure Girls” some of them are dead now. Yes I said dead, not “passed away” on purpose. Because it’s awful. This “thing” that turned me into “Seizure Girl” it’s an awful thing. I don’t need to be reminded by you that I have it. I’m not trying to make you feel bad about yourself. I mean I secretly hope that you do just a little bit (not so secret anymore.) I’m trying to get you to understand that labels don’t mean shit. That there are more to people than their diagnosis. That as strong as that person may look on the outside, there’s a very real possibility they’re falling apart on the insides.

You don’t have to have been sick to understand that someone that is deserves respect. Stop staring. Stop pointing out the differences. Stop making jokes about them. Stop treating them with special attention or extra kindness or doing that weird thing where you act completely different around me as if I’m not a human and that I’m some weird extraterrestrial creature.

I’ll joke about my broken brain when I want.

I’ll call it a broken brain because it’s how I cope.

But that doesn’t give you the authority to unless I’ve made it very clear that you may.

My name is Merideth, in case you’ve forgotten, or you don’t know, or whatever else led you to coining me “Seizure Girl”…..idiot.

I am not God.

I am not God. My job is not to be God.

Shocking, I know right. But while we are on the topic, if the big guy is out there reading and listening to my rant, let me just tell ya buddy, you sure do like to push my buttons.

Medicine is an interesting world. The job is to heal, and when we cannot heal, it is to treat, and when we cannot treat, it is to comfort, and when even comfort is not possible it is to simply be there, and to listen.

Regardless of who the patient might be.

In your everyday life you are confronted with the horrible, and the evil of this world. Most of the time through the media. But in Medicine, and particularly Emergency Medicine, it usually isn’t from the media that you are confronted with it. It is right there in front of you, real life, not behind a screen, but right before your very eyes. It is impossible to shut your eyes and ignore the evil when it is breathing, living, and surviving in the back of your ambulance.

But I am not God. My job is not to be God.

My patient, will always be my patient.

I do not decide whether they live, or they die.

I have 30 minutes with them usually at the most, and I must give them my best, regardless of where they have come from.

This is hard. Some days more so than others.

Thanksgiving morning I ran a 5k that benefitted the homeless in my city, it provided them with meals.

Thanksgiving afternoon I gave my everything in the back of my ambulance to my patients.

Thanksgiving evening I drove home with tears in my eyes upset with our world.

Our Police Officers keep our towns and cities safe from the evil in our world, Our Firefighters run into burning buildings to save our citizens in our communities. Thanksgiving evening I cared for the evil in our world. I provided my best care to someone many people would consider undeserving.

But I am not God. My job is not to be God.

I do not know why evil exists. I cannot tell you why someone would cause harm and evil on another human. I do not know, I don’t have the answers.

I knew going into this career I would be put in situations where there simply was no explanation. Nobody would be able to tell me why, there would be no answers, other than the fact that evil exists in this universe.

I recently fell in love with a tv series called ‘The Good Doctor’. The show is centered around a surgical resident who has autism. There are many reasons I love this show, but one of the main reasons being how well the trials of medicine are depicted. Two weeks ago they aired an episode called ‘Apples’, since the airing of the episode I have watched it 4 times. It is quite possibly the most brilliant episode in medical dramas to ever exist on television. It portrays the dynamic of medicine and emotion so well. It displays the balance between caring too much, and caring not enough when it comes to a patient. It just gets it right.

I’ve watched the episode 4 times not because I enjoy the show, but because I can connect so well with it. I understand the struggle in trying to distance yourself so that you don’t become attached, but wanting to make your patients aware that you do care.

In my fire station there is a framed saying on the wall that goes something like ‘what happens here, stays here, and never leaves’. I’m sure its mostly referring to the drama that is ever present in a fire station, but I know it is also referencing the things we see on a daily basis.

One of the first things I was ever told when I entered this career was to leave work at work, to never take it home with you. But anyone that slightly has a soul, will know that sometimes it is simply impossible to do.

There will always be the calls that you remember, that for some reason you can’t get them out of your head.

We would have to be robots in order to provide the exact same care every single time to every single patient, and to leave every patient feeling absolutely nothing. It simply isn’t possible. We are humans, and no matter how hard you try to swallow them or push them away, feelings will always make themselves present some way or another.

So my eyes did that gosh awful thing Thanksgiving evening as I drove home with someones homemade spice cake splattered all over my uniform. It wasn’t the spice cake that caused my eyes to water, it was the universe they were flooding for.

I am not God. My job is not to be God.

I will never be able to take the evil out of this world, neither will you.

With all of that being said though I wouldn’t trade my job for the world. I wouldn’t give up the flooding eyes if it was an option.

I get to go to work everyday and be reminded of how freaking lucky we all are to get a chance at life, and that is pretty cool.