Every time I come off shift, I wonder if it will be like this for the rest of my life. Every part of me aches, every part of me screams for relief.

My feet beg me to take off the work boots I've been in for so long. They ask me why I haven't gotten some good insoles yet, and remind me of my double novicular bones. "Sam," they say, "have you forgotten that you already have two extra bones working against your comfort?" I remind myself to buy some gel insoles, but I never do.

My legs are covered in bruises. If it's not because I bump them against the stretcher, it's because the jump bag slaps against them as I head inside. Often I use them as furniture-finders when I groggily make my way from the bunk room to the radio to answer a call in the dark. My shins and my thighs hate me.

My hips and my back are by far the worst. My scoliosis is bad enough on its own, cocking my hips permanently to compensate for the curve. But every night I spend on the second-rate mattresses that have occupied our bunk room for god knows how long is another night my back will never be the same.

My shoulders scream from the stress. I carry it all there, and it is obvious from the way they are almost always shrugged up. The knots are palpable. My partners pat my on the back or take me by the shoulder, and I wince.

And after almost every shift, my head pounds from the alarm ringing in the hall or the sirens sounding out from our medic. I take Advil in preparation, but I know it won't help much.

I am tired. I want nothing more than to sleep in my own bed after a long shift. I change into a loose shirt and some shorts immediately. Smells of the ambulance and the hospital linger in my clothes long after I've left.

It is so difficult to come off of an 18 or 24 hour shift, especially if there is something I have to do right after. So why do I do it? If I hurt so much and if I am so tired, why do I keep subjecting myself to it?

When I come home, I am happy. I know that what I have done has had purpose, even if I never hear a word of thanks. If we don't run a single call, I am happy, because I know that I was there, ready. I go back to the station every week, looking forward to the ache that I have come to associate with it.

My name is Sam, and I am an addict.


Witness said...

You've taken the first step to recovery.

However, if you're anything like me, there's no way in hell you want to recover!

Scott said...

Are you Gelling like MaGelling? LOL! Extra navicular bones? That's kind of cool. Did they discover that with x-ray, or is your foot obviously a little deformed? You need to find somebody to massage your back! That might help you feel better, and it usually puts the ladies I've massaged to sleep. You are an addict... but it is a good cause! Oh! I just bought an ACLS book. I don't think I'll need ACLS for what I want to do in nursing, but I am going to take it for fun at some time.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. And don't worry, the pain that you have to contend with on a daily basis, they make you who you are.

Medix311 said...

It always amazes me the amount of aches and pains, pulled muscles, strained backs, and hours of lost sleep and perpetual exhaustion we are willing to put up with. People always tell me it takes a special kind of person to be a paramedic--I know they're talking about the calls that we run on, but I think of it as everything that we put up with to do our jobs.