If you live around Providence, and pay attention to the news, you may hear about the elderly man who was hacked up by a machete'. The juicy part will be that the machete' wielder was the elderly man's grandson.
You might hear about the shooting on Admiral Street. That kid was shot in the leg, and friends transported him to the ER.
It will be hard to miss the gunfight in Academy, where five people were gunned down.
None of them died. I didn't give any of it a second thought once they were out of the rescue. Well, that's not 100% true, the grandfather that got cut up was pretty weird. But that will be forgotten pretty soon, I'm sure.
The one you will never hear about is the one that I won't forget. She won't make the nightly news, she's better than that. She's a ninety-four year old lady, wife and mother who fell out of bed at the nursing home. The inter-agency report was undramatic, definitely not newsworthy, just some vital signs and events leading up to the fall. She has dementia, and was frightened, and combative. Her eyes were an icy blue, and looked right through me as I tried to calm her down during transport. I have a knack for that, and I enjoy making people comfortable. The icy glaze in her eyes melted as the transport progressed, and she actually wore a vacant smile on her face when we arrived at the ER.
Without those little magic moments, this job would be little more than an ugly, bloody trail to nowhere.
I rummaged through her demographic sheet during transport. She was a nurse, a long time ago, retired in the seventies. Her husband's name was John, and he died in 2009. Her son's name is John too.
John Jr. signed the DNR for his mom. No CPR, No intubation, No feeding tube. A DNR is a strange document, kind of gets lost with the rest of the paperwork, but the emotional baggage that accompanies it gives it considerable weight. Looking at it, then at the patient, then back at the paperwork projected me into the future. Who will sign it for me when if need it, or will I be cognizant enough to take care of my own affairs? Will I be able, mentally and emotionally to prepare and sign one for somebody who needs me? Will we be okay? Will any of us be?
Getting old isn't easy, but it beats the alternative. I think.
The shootings and stabbings don't mean much when the big picture comes into focus. It's the real people who matter to me the most. They're the ones I connect with, and the ones that give me the essential feeling of usefulness that gets me through the long shifts. There are many different paths to choose as ife progresses.
We all end up in the same place. It's how we get there that matters.