I stuck the needle into his hand, immediately realized that my first choice was lousy and he was running out of time, pulled the needle out of him and accidentally stuck it into me.
And I didn’t care.
It barely drew blood. I wiped the fleshy part of my left hand, just below the thumb with an alcohol swab, got another catheter and put it in his AC, then drew up some Narcan and finished the job. He came to, looked around, decided he didn’t want to be where he was, ripped the IV out of his arm and fled.
And I let him go.
And I didn’t care.
I was tired. Too tired to take care of my patients, too tired to take care of myself. Being exhausted is no way to run a rodeo, or an ALS vehicle. I should have known that the party was over, but I didn’t. I was the last man standing, too arrogant to give in, and let it go. I blamed the lack of resources for my apathy, the never ending runs and never enough ambulances to go on them. But it wasn’t that, it was the overtime. The overtime killed me, and ruined what was a great career. I retired as a Captain, but I was in no condition to lead by the time I made it, I could barely take care of myself.
I knew I was a lousy Captain, and didn’t care.
A person needs to set boundaries, and adhere to them. I didn’t. We are our own worst enemy, thinking we are invincible, yet proving that we are not. Looking back I can see where I went wrong, and how I let my ego decay my rational sense of self preservation. I had convinced myself that I was the guy who could handle the eighty hour weeks, and a part-time job on the side, and take care of my family, and be a barrel of laughs at the cook-out.
Somebody once told me I was delusional, and that the person I thought I was had left the building long ago. Turns out they were right. Too bad I had to quit to figure that out. Life is funny, though, and second, and third, and forth chances are always there, waiting.
But so is whatever comes with a dirty needle stick.