Sunday, July 08, 2007

Going Around In A Big Circle

From today's NH Sunday News: Michael Woodbury, the self-confessed shooter of three people in Conway last week, claims he told prison officials that he shouldn't be let loose on society and that he "needed help." Of course, Maine DOC officials aren't saying anything, citing confidentiality. Just the same, if Woodbury in fact did ask for help, why didn't he get it? According to the article, he was serving a five-year sentence for Armed Robbery, and he served the entire sentence. If what he says is true, then someone in Maine dropped the ball. Makes me think that a civil lawsuit of victims' families against Maine DOC is potentially in the future.....

I have a new summer reading list addition: I've started working on Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner." It's the story of a young Afghani man before the fall of Afghanistan's monarchy and the Russian invasion. I'm just early into it, but I'll talk more about it as I get further along. So far, it has my attention; like any good work of fiction (even if this is historical in nature), if it grabs you in the beginning it will hold your interest throughout. This is doing that with me. And I hope it continues to be that way.

Yesterday I watched parts 1 through 5 of "Band of Brothers." I have it on DVD, but it was being shown on The History Channel, and I got wrapped up in it. Couldn't help it; it is one of my favorite programs, even if it is only 10 episodes. Favorite of mine that it is, however, it is still difficult to watch, at least in parts. The footage, the special effects, and the actual story all contribute to the overall experience of watching. I would very much like to read the Stephen Ambrose book that the series is based on. Perhaps that will go on the reading list for later on in the summer.

I have all of my application paperwork together for CCT school in October. Now all I have to do is send it, along with a check for $800 for the tuition. My employer will reimburse me for the tuition when I pass the CCEMT-P exam. I've talked about this in previous posts; it's important to me to get this done, mainly because there is a lot I want to learn about the aspects of Critical Care that I don't know. Things like the operation of IABP's (Intra-Aortic Balloon Pumps), advanced pharmacology, flight physiology, and the operational aspects of CCT. I do it all the time, but there are a lot of things that I simply am unaware of. There is also quite a bit that gets thrown in our faces at facilities that I'm personally not as comfortable with as I should be, and I hope that this helps with that. In the short-term, though, this also will take care of continuing education hours that I think I need.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine recently, and it took some interesting turns, some that I didn't expect. The meat of the conversation was about dealing with death, which in our line of work is something that happens pretty regularly. In my last post, I talked about my student, Mike, and the cardiac arrest we worked. This came up in the conversation - while Mike was able to get skills he needed and we did everything we could, did it make it any easier to deal with? That is in interesting question - first of all, I didn't know the patient personally, and I believe that having that barrier makes it easier always to deal with death in that way; it's not my loss, so to speak. Yes, it's not easy; I would never say that it is. But the fact that it is not personal to me or to members of my crew helps. On the other hand, when it is a personal loss, like a close friend or a family member, the result can be potentially devestating. That is why I will never allow a crew member to take care of someone they are close to because their judgement can be impaired.

One of the other things that came up in the conversation was the subject of dealing with the death of family members. Over the years I and members of my family have dealt with a lot of it, as I'm sure most families do. We talked about the death of my grandfather (my mom's father) when I was 22, and we followed on to talk about the death of my dad, when I was 36. Mostly what we talked about was the way I dealt with each event. When my grandfather died, it was the first time in my life that I had to deal with death in a personal way. I had never done so before that, I suspect, mainly because I was shielded by my parents; I believe they they thought it was important to protect me from it emotional trauma that it could cause.... So when my grandfather died I was totally unprepared for the effect it would have on me to actually face it head-on. I had nightmares for years, and I couldn't have a conversation with someone about him without having visions of him lying in his casket at the funeral home.

Years later, after having worked in EMS for a little while (I think I'd been in the business for about 3 years at that point) and having had to manage unpleasant situations, my family was preparing for the impending death of my father - he was extremely ill with cardiac problems, CHF, and about 18 months before he died was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One thing I can say about my father is that as disagreeable a human being as he could be, he was pretty stubborn about dying. Mainly, I think, it was because he was scared; he'd had some experience as an embalmer's apprentice when he was a young man, and I think knowing what would happen when he was being prepared for burial terrified him, although I can't say that with certainty. Also, his short-term memory was affected by a massive heart attack he'd had; no oxygen to the brain did a number on him.

He died at home and my brother, one of my sisters, and my mom were with him, as was a member of the clergy; I missed his passing by maybe 10 minutes. When I did get there, I stayed with my mom that night, and when the funeral director and his assistant came to pick up my father, I helped them package him for transport to the funeral home.

Without a doubt that was the hardest thing I have ever done, both before then and since. But it helped give me closure, and in the long run has given me a different perspective on death. I can honestly say that I don't fear it.

Ironically, when my friend Father Daniel died, one of the people who was first on scene as a medical provider is another ordained clergyman. When he and the partner he was working with had initiated resuscitation efforts in the monastery church, one of the priests went to anoint him, and the partner tried to stop him. Matty, my friend, held TP (the partner) off by making it clear to him what was going on. Later on I spoke with Matty, and he told me that it was like he was fighting God for one of His own in His own house! In a perverse way, I see the humor in that; both people of the cloth and medical providers are ordained in their own special way to take care of others. It's almost as though in a situation like that, we're saying to God words to the effect of "you can't have him yet - let me have a crack at him first!" Do we think that maybe we're showing our arrogance as human beings by doing that? I think we are..... But that's my opinion; others may be different.

Wow - this went the way my last therapy session did. Reading this is like riding a bike on a bumpy road. I hope I didn't fall off.


Jen said...

I enjoyed "Kite Runner" as well! We can chat about it sometime if you want.

manchmedic said...

I would like that very much. I just finished it - review to follow.....