I’ve known for the last few years that I’m not the person I used to be…I stopped laughing…the healthy laugh, I was still smiling and was still using so-called gallows humor to help relieve stress but really laughing about something that tickles you way deep inside – it had stopped. Emergency workers – whether they are EMS personnel, cops, nurses, dispatchers can laugh and eat their way thru a conversation about horrible things…the above mentioned HAVE to laugh their way thru their job or they would totally end their life bonkers swinging from the end of a rope from the top of a high ceiling. I always go back to the story of my shift dispatch partner taking a particularly disgusting call that would make the normal person do a little shiver and shut down. She took the call, got EMS enroute and went back to eating her hamburger. I, who often congratulated myself on my ability to cope, turned to her and said OMG stop eating. It has been a story retold several times in the dispatch center as a stress reliever for someone else taking a particular nasty call that no one should have happen to them, let alone anyone else should have to know about.
It’s the nature of the beast. But years and years of it changes who you are. I found myself being more normal after spending the afternoon with my old friend, Gena. Normal is probably not the appropriate word…but I felt like my old self. I didn’t feel the negativity and the dread in my soul that I so often feel… Waking up on Valentine’s Day, I will be retired. I will be a former 911 operator – it was an incredible career. I will always have my memories. I’ve delivered babies over the phone, I’ve been the very last person to ever speak to someone taking their last breath. I always remember the black lung victim who passed as the ambulance was approaching his door, murders, plane crashes, horrific traffic accidents, house fires and all of the people I have referred to as assholes after hitting release on the phone….many will always be remembered. I’m so glad I’m done…I’m very tired of the ugliness…I hope to put those rose colored glasses back on and laugh until I can’t breath.
Until next time….