It has been nearly two months since my last blog post and so much has happened that it is hard to decide exactly where to start, so I’m just going to jump right in.
✨RUNNING & TRAINING✨
I am currently in the dreaded downtime between training for big race events, but I am still running. Every single day, as a matter of fact, thanks to a “Mile Streak” pact that I have going with a friend of mine for the past 195 days straight. (200 has got nothin’ on us Mr.G!) I have been using this downtime to read up on and try out a few different training methods and techniques. I have narrowed my “search”, and am now focused solely on the Hanson’s Marathon Method. (The same kind of training plan followed by my favorite elite female runner & winner of the 2018 Boston Marathon, Des Linden.) The science explained throughout their book is mindblowing. I find myself rereading page after and page and thinking: “So…I’ve been doing this wrong all along?!”. Things my friend, Joe, and Coach Shep have said in the past are now starting to make sense. The science behind running slower in training has been resulting in faster/easier race performances and increased training speeds even on the smallest scale for me considering I’ve not really been “training”. I’ve honestly just been “playing” these past few months; enjoying whatever my run turns out to be, day after day. I do, however, plan to give this method an honest, hard working try for my upcoming fall marathon.
❤️PERSONALLY & EMOTIONALLY💔
I have had my share of intense struggles the past few months. I have kept quiet about the details and the extent of it to all but the people closest to me…and the few who witnessed my “meltdown” firsthand. After losing my parents in October 2017, I became restless and agitated, especially at work. I felt the need to return to working on the Ambulance fulltime; as if there was something “more” that I could do for this world (or our community) by functioning in the fullest capacity to which I have been trained. For awhile, this seemed like the right decision. I started to feel “like me” again. As time went on though, the reality of things began to set in for me. What once seemed like saving lives and making a difference in this world no longer seemed so true. I began to realize that, more often than not, we are simply prolonging an inevitable death. The outcome is almost always out of our control. We’re being called upon in a person’s worst possible moments, and we do everything in our power/ability to help, but seldom do we actually make a lasting difference. We put bandaids on bulletholes, so to speak, and never truly get to the root of the problem because the problems are not ours to fix. People need to be willing (and wanting!) to save themselves by making the necessary changes in their own lives and bodies in order for their prognosis to truly improve, otherwise, they simply live to die another day. That being said, my faith in this field, in myself, and my abilites began to fade.
💔PTSD & ME❤️
Early February 2019, I was working a 24-hour shift with one of my favorite partners when a call went out over the air and we both froze in our tracks. If you’ve ever worked a day in EMS, you’ll know what I mean; when that dispatcher’s voice hits a higher pitch as he/she dispatches the initial emergency with a fast paced urgency that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
You just know.
This is going to be bad.
I remember it all as if it were yesterday. My heart felt as if it had stopped in my chest and then began to pound so hard and so fast that it hurt. I could hardly breathe. Time stood still. The sun was setting and the red/gold haze that streamed through the room reminded me of “that day” back in October; the day I got the call about my parents. The room began to spin.
A smarter person would have shut off the radio.
A wiser person would have walked away.
The call was not mine to respond to. My location was far enough away that it was unlikely that I would even be called as the backup unit, yet, I could not turn it off, and I could not walk away. Just like with my parents, I needed to “see” everything, hear everything, and feel everything. And, just like with my parents, there was nothing I could do about it. Sadly, there was also nothing the responding medics could do either. Two people were pronounced dead at the scene.
From this day forward, I was not the same. I tried to act like I was fine. I tried to pretend that everything was okay, but nothing could be farther from the truth. In the past 17 years, serving as a Paramedic, there is not much that I have not seen and done in this field. I have always prided myself on the fact that I was one of the “strong” ones. I could see and do whatever this job called upon me to see/do and continue on, unphased, because none of it was ever personal to me. I could move from one call to the next with efficiency and ease and rarely think twice about what had just happened or what my partner and I had been called upon to do or bear witness to. All of the sudden, however, it was as if every single thing I had ever seen or done over the course of my career came flooding back to me in frighteningly crisp, clear detail. We’d pass a house on the way to a call and the visions would flash through my mind and replay for me the stories: the patients, the families, the details of them all. Things I had not seen for 5, 10, 15, or more years! People and things I had never seen, heard, or thought about twice since they happened. Over the next few weeks, it became quite exhausting. None of these stories are good. None of them have happy endings. There are no silver lining here, and no one (I don’t care how strong you think you are!) can keep a positive mind amongst this level of negativity. The symptoms began to manifest physically on a daily basis; my racing heart, my skin crawling/tingling, my hands shaking. I had trouble thinking, trouble sleeping, and a real hard time focusing even on the simplest of tasks. I started making stupid mistakes. Daily. I started snapping at friends and/or family for no apparent reason; agitation and impatience a daily occurrence, when at work. My Garmin smartwatch started to send me “high stress” alerts and warned me to get some rest. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or interact with anyone. I simply wanted to be left alone, yet, I didn’t want to feel alone.
On Monday, April 15, 2019, the same day as the 2019 Boston Marathon, I responded to a motor vehicle crash. I knew from the inital dispatch that it was going to be bad. I immediately wanted to go home. I wanted to disappear. I wanted to sink through the seat that I was sitting in. I wanted to be going ANYWHERE other than on that particular call. My Gramin watch, again, alerted me to the high stress that I could already feel; recording a heart rate of 177 as I sat in the passenger seat of the Ambulance, trying not to vomit, while en route to the scene. The call itself is still hazy in my mind. The details come back to me in nonsequential bits and pieces now but there are certain details that remain crystal clear. These details are eerily similar to my own parents crash and, on that day, they sucked me in like a moth to a flame. I knew getting distracted by them could burn me but I simply could not turn away. As a result, I came close to ignoring some very serious “warning signs” and hesitated in making some critical decisions. In reviewing the case, including chronological time stamps, it would appear as if everything was done in good time but, to me, it felt like an eternity. The magnitude of what could have happened weighs heavily on my mind. It is a weight that my shoulders can not bear to carry. I left the shift shortly after that call. (Something I have never done and I am not proud of.) I found myself at a bar with a bottle of Jack Daniels, surrounded by friends who were on the call, as well, functioning on behalf of the fire department. I did not leave until the bottle was empty. When I woke up the next morning (feeling like death had become me) I at least had enough sense to call my counselor for an impromptu appointment. I’m pretty certain I scared even him on this day. He did not let me leave without concrete followup. I saw him several times that week and the week that followed. It was at this time that he seemed to switch gears with me. He began to employ techniques used for treating PTSD and, while I was skeptical, I must admit that these things have truly helped. Through several additional appointments, I have come to face the realization that I can no longer continue in the field of emergency medicine. I no longer love this profession and it is crushing my soul. At one point in my life, it truly helped me to grow as a person. It gave me the strength and confidence I needed to stand up for myself as a human being, while motivating me to keep moving forward in an effort to help as many people as I possibly could to the best of my ability. But this is no longer the case. At this point in my life, nothing good can come from this. It is time for me to move on…and so I did.
✨PART OF A BRAND NEW TEAM✨
In the eight weeks that followed, I began my avid job search. I enrolled in and completed an on-line certification class to help boost my chances of securing a better job. I applied to several posted employment opportunities and attended multiple job interviews.
At 8am on May 31st, I showed up for an interview at a nearby chiropractic clinic. FOUR HOURS LATER, I emerged feeling as if my life was about to change for the better. I can not put into words what happened that morning, but I can tell you that I finally know what people mean when they say “everything happens for a reason”. It feels as if every hard moment that I have had to face over the past few years of my life was leading me to this place. In that moment, on that morning, I was “interviewed” and conversed with in a manner that I can only describe as “transcendent”. I was not seen for where I am or what I have been through but, rather, for who I am at the very core of my being and what I can be if placed in the right environment, surrounded by the right people, and supported with positive energy and genuine intention.
BUT WAIT! It gets even better…
As if accepting the inital employment offer wasn’t life changing enough, I have, also, opted to take advantage of the talents of my employers by consenting to care in their practice as a patient, myself.
The years of working EMS have taken their toll on me physically, as well. I have been aware of the damage that the “EMS Life” has done to my body for quite some time now, but every chiropractor I have ever had has always told me the same thing: “There is nothing we can do to reverse the damage; we can simply manage it and keep it from getting worse”.
(*Xrays from 2017)
So imagine my surprise when my newfound employer and CORRECTIVE CARE CHIROPRACTOR not only tells me, but SHOWS me, that not only has my body continued to deteriorate despite my regular chiropractic care, but that there is no reason (considering my current age and overall good health) that we can not CORRECT most, if not all, of my issues!
(*June 2019 Xrays)
(*Correction Potential Xray, June 2019)
Well, obviously, I’m “all in” on this opportunity as well, so I have committed to care. It has only been 2 weeks but I can tell you this: I have not had a single headache in these two weeks, my energy level is much higher, and my “chronic pains”, while still present, have significantly decreased.
Today, “Dr.A” even introduced me to “foot protocol”, addressing the issues and adjusting the bones in my feet that have been causing me difficulty on my runs for years. I never even knew this was a “thing”?!
So here I am, right here, right now, facing a brand new direction in my life, and I couldn’t be more excited. Truth be told, it is alot to learn and take in all at once, but I am jumping right in.
All the science I don’t understand, but with a team like this by my side, directing my next step and having my back, I am confident that I will not fail. And for the first time since October 2017, I have very little interest in ever looking back.