Junior Year Day 1

Welcome, Junior Year.

You have greeted me with a broken computer, a banged up foot, and a construction crew working outside my window at 0700. It would be nice if this trend did not continue.

Yours truly,

p.s.--I go to the Apple Store today to try and get my computer fixed. Send me working-computer-vibes?



I've managed to get hurt, again. Once again, not my fault, but involving a stretcher. This is what happens when a 220 pound man on a 60 pound stretcher collapse onto your foot. Not very pleasant.

It's not broken, luckily, but I bruised the bones. So I get to hobble about like this for a few days. To top it all off, it happened on my last day of work at the transport company. Lame!

Also, my internet isn't working here. I'm picking up some wireless network from my school, but my ethernet connection is doing nothing. My entries may be few and far between while I wait for IT to help again.


Blog Award

Jeff, from Building Common Ground was kind enough to give me a blog award! It is now my distinct honor to pass it on!

The rules are as follows:
1.You have to pick five blogs that you consider deserve this award in terms of creativity, design, interesting material, and general contributions to the blogger community, no matter what language.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3. Each winner has to show the award and give the name and link to the blog that has given him or her the award itself.

4. Each winner and each giver of the prize has to show the link of “Arte y pico” blog, so everyone will know the origin of this award.

5. To show these rules.

And now, on to the good part.

1.Hands down, EpiJunky. This woman is absolutely amazing. She's a mother, a student, an EMT, and a fantastic friend. She's a great writer, and never ceases to make me laugh. She's like a big sister to me, and her posts are rich with detail.

2.Second goes to Kim. I love reading a medblog from a different point of view (not just ER/ambulance blogs). Kim is a great, touching writer who has reduced me to tears on more than one occasion. If you haven't already read some of her stuff, definitely head over there right now to check her out.

3.Bernice is another one of my favorites. I'm not sure what to call it, but her posts have this quality to them that keep me coming back. I vividly remember some of the posts while I'm at work, and her strength shines through her words. I really enjoy reading what she has to say!

4.Okay, now for a male blogger! Rogue Medic is absolutely fantastic. He gives a different perspective on EMS, and offers a great style of writing. His entries are always informative, and I come back every time having learned something new. Definitely add him to your "must read" blogs if you're interested in the field!

5.Lastly, "Virginia EMT", aka Eric. What can I say? I love my partners.

There are about 60 other blogs I'd like to give this to, but that'd be breaking the rules, and my fingers can't type all the laudatory things I'd say! So, in essence, you all get one. But those are the first five that came to mind.

We had a super-massive trauma in the ER this past shift, so I'll be writing about that as soon as I get some "free time."

Take care out there,


One Year

It's been a year since I started writing here. I can't say that I've ever seen a year go by so quickly! And, beyond that, so much has changed.

When I started writing here, I was a brand-spanking-new EMT (not that I'm a veteran now). I had literally gotten my license in the mail five days before I started writing. Now, I had been a driver for about a year before that, so I wasn't completely green.

I was entering my sophomore year of college with high expectations that would later be let down, but hey, that's okay! I was 18 years old, and I was looking to save some lives.

Now, I'm nineteen, entering my junior year, and I have even higher expectations. I've saved some lives. It's been amazing. But, I've seen some lives lost, some lives made difficult, and had some lives truly touch mine. I've been angry, I've been hurt, I've been really depressed. I've laughed, I've felt the high that comes with a great call. I've held patients' hands, sung to them, held them in my arms, and fought back tears while with them.

In this year, I've realized that my life's calling is in EMS. I am meant to be a firefighter and a paramedic, and I plan on doing a damned good job. I've decided to pursue a career in creative writing as well, hoping that the two will mesh well. I'm picking out grad schools that have the degree I hope to attain, and I've planned my life out more clearly that I thought was possible. I know that man plans and God laughs, but it doesn't hurt to be as prepared as one can be.

In this year, I've gone from being this brand-new EMT to an ER employee. I've started IVs, been asked if I'll teach others how to start them, gone in on traumas I never thought I'd see, and held way too many screaming children. I've left that hospital feeling like I've made a difference, or feeling like nothing I do will ever be enough.

In this year, I've learned a lot about humanity. I've learned about cruelty, honesty, love. I've changed lives, and I've had mine changed.

It wasn't just patients that changed me. Coworkers taught me more about myself. Drew and Eric...wow. I don't even know where to start with them. They mean so much to me; I am not sure that I can properly put it into words. I'd be cheating them if I tried.

Chris, and all the other paid staff who helped precept me taught me what I know about EMS. Obviously, my amazing EMT instructor taught me a lot, but they taught me "the street," if you will. I realize I work in ruraltown, USA, but we still have a "street!" Regardless, they taught me what it was to provide care. Splinting an ankle? You don't have to break out the frac-pack...just get a pillow and some cravats! Calling in a report? Don't let it freak you out; just breathe and tell them what you see and what you've done. I've picked up nuances from them, pet-peeves, and idiosyncrasies that I'll have for the rest of my EMS career.

My life has been really changed, however odd this may sound, by those of you who read my blog. I have had the opportunity to become friends with some truly amazing people. Epi, Witness, Kyle...thank you. Thank you for being there to talk to. Thank you for laughing with me, for understanding, for reminding me that I'm human when emotions hit me the hardest. You may not be in my life forever (I hope you are!), but I will never forget the kindness you have shown me.

Sam has become less of an idea and more of a reality. Writing about her has become less of an experiment in my major and more of an undeniable part of my life--a part of me. I've find myself become more of a Sam and less of a Samantha this past year, which I love so much.

It sounds silly for me to be writing all of this, but I don't think I can really explain what this blog, the people I've come to know through it, and the people in my EMS family mean. I've done the best I can, but I know it's not enough.

So, case in point. Thank you so much for reading, commenting, emailing, IMing. You're amazing. I didn't know how long I'd do this when I started, because I didn't think anyone would read. But you all...wow. You encourage me to write like it's your job.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Here's to another year.

Take care out there,


One Word Contest

I got a ton of entries for my favorite word contest (23 to be exact). I had so much fun reading them, but (of course), picking my favorite was so hard!

So, without further ado, I present to you the winner of my One Word Contest!

Bernice is the "grand prize" winner (haha!), with her entry for the word "choose."

My favorite word? I have been sitting at my computer staring at the screen rolling over all the words in my head. Which is my favorite? A big word? A small word? And then, there it was. Choose.

It is kind of silly to think that two letters would have such a great impact on me, but if you think about it, it is a powerful word. In life we are faced with challenges, decisions and roadblocks. With each of these we have to choose exactly what we have to accomplish to come out on the other side, whether it be the way we planned or with just a lesson learned.

You can plan, you can form strategies and you can have ten gazillion great ideas, but when it comes down to it, you have to choose something. You have to choose your path and act on it. Sometimes this is a rather simple feat - chicken or beef? Sometimes it isn't so easy - tell them how I feel and lose them or stay silent and stay friends in agony. No matter the situation you have to do something, even if it is just stepping back and living in agony.

Every day of our lives we make decisions and we shape our destiny. It takes more courage to choose than we give people credit for.

This entry made a lot of sense to me, and means a lot to me as well. So, Bernice, you get to pick your prize! Something hand-made, an entry revolving around the word, a ride-along (if you're ever in my neck of the woods), a guest entry...you get to pick!

"First Prize" goes to J. A. Coppinger for "Integrity."

"Second Prize" goes to Loth for her entry of "boytritus."
It's the six inch deep layer of plastic, lego and crap left lying by my two boys.

And "third prize" goes to Chris for this entry:
I'm going to go for 'Thanks' and variants thereof (see, came up with one eventually!). Thanks is one word which is not used nearly enough, but it has such power - it can make someone's day, and regularly using it means people enjoy working with/for you that much more.

That one word can make the difference between people enjoying their life and hating it. What else can you say that about?

I'd be more than happy to let you guys pick a prize, too. I'm in a giving mood!

Now, for the honorable mentions!

First goes to Nikki for "kumquat".

J gets one for his entry of "douchecanoe". It's a word I made up, so uh...thanks for letting me know it's your favorite :P

Medicx311 gets one for "fucktard," simply because I literally laughed so hard it hurt.

This girl gets one for "lovie."

And finally, Tracy gets one for "kindness."

Aw, hell, you guys can have something too. I'm just so excited so many people participated! But Bernice, you get in touch with me and let me know what "grand" prize you'd like!

An annoying long entry celebrating a year of blogging coming tonight or tomorrow (my actual blogo-versary!). Thanks again, ladies and gents :)

Take care out there,



Thank you all so much for the emails, IMs, comments, texts, phone calls, etc. You are all fantastic, and your concern means the world to me. I'm doing much better now, and every day I feel a bit more healed.

Because everyone is doing it:

Yeah, I gave into the peer pressure. What of it!?

Also. We got five (count 'em, five) gunshot wounds today in the ER. Here's my favorite.

Nurse: "Sir, have you been drinking tonight?"
Nurse: "Okay, sir, we're going to put this tube in your bladder so you can pee and we can get some urine."


Nurse: "Sir, can you rate your pain on a scale of zero to ten, zero being no pain, ten being the worst you've--"
Nurse: "Where?"
Nurse: "Yes, sir, you've got a tube in your penis right now. What about your bottom, where you got shot?"
Man: "I GOT SHOT!?"
Nurse: "Yes, sir, that's why you're here."
Nurse: "And your bottom, sir?"
Nurse/Me/Everyone Else: *stifles laughter*

Take care out there,



I write because it is one of the few things that makes me feel better. It makes me feel human, complete, sane again.

This entry is graphic. It's probably disturbing. I'm so sorry for that. I wish it weren't. I wish I weren't writing it. I wish my shift had been uneventful, that I had come home and been the same person I was when I went to work. But none of that is true. And so I write.

It's been slow all day. I've done maybe 3 IVs, and a handful more blood draws. I sit with my chin in my hand, tapping my foot against the cabinet lazily. I refresh the screen to see yet another list of completed orders.

"Come on," I whine to no one in particular, "can't someone order something on somebody!?"
"Eh, you've only got 10 minutes left!" Amanda smiles at me and snaps her gum. I yawn in reply.

I hear the squeak of sneakers as an ED tech comes running towards us. He's out of breath, and gets his sentence out in pieces.
"Guys...we have...two trauma codes...coming in."
"What?" I'm trying to figure out what the odds are of two separate traumas happening at the same time.
"Two little boys...badly burned...apartment fire."

I look at Amanda and she stares back with wide eyes. We grab our lab buckets and head to the trauma rooms to suit up.

I start from the bottom and make my way up systematically. Booties, lead coat, apron, gloves, mask and face-shield, and finally a hair cover. I start overheating immediately as we wait for the first to arrive.

Amanda goes to the second trauma room as I wait in the first. My hands are sweating as I set up the IV equipment and get the blood tubes out. I'm not sure if it's from the gloves or my own nerves, but little sweat beads form on my brow.

As my patient arrives, Amanda comes running in. I try to figure out what's going on, but I'm overstimulated. Amanda is crying and so is the little boy, but only one makes sense.

He's two years old with soot around his nose, his body dark and his hair singed. He looks up at me with confused eyes, and sniffles a few times.

"Oh god, Sam, I can't do it, I can't do it?"
"Do what, Amanada?" Tears are running down her face, and she just stares at me in horror.
"Sam, please go to the other trauma room. I'll do this one. Please, I can't do it."
"Okay." I'm confused, but I grab my bucket and head out.

I don't know what the smell is, but it makes me almost stop in my tracks. I quickly realize that it's the smell of burnt flesh. I push this out of my mind as I approach this boy.

My eyes widen and I feel my heart beat out of rhythm. His whole tiny body is burned. Skin is peeling off in sheets, and he turns to look at me. His eyes are as wide as mine, but glazed over slightly. I see them shut, and before I know it he's being intubated.

I pick a tourniquet out of my things and tie it around his forearm. I try not to think about what that will do to the skin after I remove it. I pick up his arm and look down. His tiny little fingertips are falling off. My stomach turns and I don't think, I just act.

As soon as I'm done, I leave the room, blood tubes in hand. Amanda looks at me as we walk back to the lab. She starts to say something, but stops as soon as she realizes I'm not paying any attention to her.

The third child, a girl, was flown to a bigger Trauma Level 1 center on the coast. We didn't have the resources to take care of him, but from what I hear, she wasn't doing very well at all.

Then it hits me. Three little children, all seven and under were in an apartment fire. Why weren't the parents in the beds next to them?

"Where are the parents?"
"In the waiting room."
"Um...because they're waiting?"
"No, I mean...why aren't they hurt?"
"You didn't hear?"
"No." I know what's coming, though.
"The mother wasn't in the apartment."

I try not to think, again. I see that I have another patient to get before I go, so I push everything out of my head like always.

"I need pain medicine," my patient moans.
"I don't do meds. I just stick." I know I'm being curt, but I can't manage to say anything else.
"Ohhhh, it hurts so bad. I need some demerol!"
"Your nurse is coming soon."
"Oh the pain! Can't you give me anything?"

I just stare at his arm as I secure the IV, saying nothing. I don't look him in the eye. I know that if I were to meet his gaze, I'd be unable to keep my composure. I'd yell at him. I'd scream, I'd cry.

Get the fuck out of my ER, I'd say. Stop wasting everyone's time so you can get high. Don't you know that there are children who are close to death? Don't you know that I don't have the time or energy to waste helping you get your fix?

But I can't. I have to treat him the same as I treat everyone else. I have to give him great care, and I have to manage not to piss him off. I succeed and leave before I can do any damage.

I clock out. I grab my things and just leave. I pass the mother of the children on my way out and I try not to ball my fists. I keep my face blank as I pass a few police officers as well. I hear some talk about the fire and just keep on walking.

I make it to my car before I break down. I call my mom and just cry. Sitting in the dark, all I can see is that little boy. All I can picture is those three children burning in their home, surrounded by smoke and flames. I can imagine the terror on their faces, the cries that no one hears. I avoid thinking about their pain, about what they were thinking. I just cry and cry to my mom.

I'm not quite sure how I made it home. I don't live but a quarter of a mile from the ER, but it's the longest drive of my life. Before I realize it, I'm back in my apartment, curling up in my bed, wrapping myself around a pillow.

It's going to be all over the news tomorrow, I think to myself. It's going to be popping up on websites and the various TV channels, but I don't want to think about it. I don't want to remember what I saw.

But every time I close my eyes, it's the only thing I can see.



Okay, I did it. I called the 24 hour dispatch, got in touch with the right people, and had the debriefing today.

It was interesting. I'm stopping short of beneficial, because I'm not entirely sure if it was yet. But it was interesting.

I got to talk, though. And talking is sometimes all you have to do.

I've written about it, but I'm going to re-write it. And when I'm good and satisfied with it, I'll post it here.

Thank you so much for the emails, IMs and comments. I really appreciate the good wishes coming my way.

Take care out there,



I wrote an entry earlier. It's gone now (as you can tell).

I'll put it back up later, I'm sure. I'm just not ready yet. I do hope you understand.

I've scheduled a CISM debriefing. I really hope it helps because this not sleeping thing isn't okay. I suppose you've got to use the resources that are available, so that's what I'm doing.

Please, just send good thoughts this way.

Take care out there,


Lights and Siren

This is an entry for Normal Sinus Rhythm. Go check out this week's entries and leave some comments if you have the time!

I love driving with my lights and siren going. There's nothing quite like the rush I get from seeing the lights bounce back at me, ricocheting off of an infinite number of facades. The sirens scream higher as we drive under a bridge, wailing, urging me forward. Children standing with their parents look at me with smiles plastered on their faces, waving as they jump up and down.

Lights turn green. People move. But I learned early on that this doesn't mean much. Everyone moves except for that one person. Everyone stops at their new red light except for the guy on his cell phone.

People don't hear us. They don't know where we're going. They think that they can make it across before we come through the intersection. It doesn't matter why; our lights and sirens aren't going to save us from the exception to the rule.

Which is why when I heard that a dear, dear friend of mine was in an accident in the ambulance today while going lights and sirens, my heart sank. He, his partner, and his patient are all okay, along with the other car. But all I can think about is how much worse it could have been, how many lives were involved. And so I pray that this is it, and that he never goes through that again.

And I pray that for the rest of my EMS family, even those I don't know exist. Please, be careful. Please, be aware.

Please, be safe.


A Conversation

Via phone, with Witness.

Me: "Ugh, my throat hurts."
Him: "Why?"
Me: "Well, we had this patient with bilateral decubital ulcers on her feet, so I spent the time breathing through my mouth and wearing a surgical mask."
Him: "So now your mouth feels like it has decubital feet ulcers in it?"
Me: "Yeah, I'm paranoid that I have decubital feet ulcer bacteria growing in my throat."
Him: "Yeah, you probably do."
Me: "EW, WHAT!?"
Him: *giggles* "You know smells are just little particles of things."
Him: *laughing harder* "And really strong smells are LOTS OF PARTICLES!"
Me: "You sadistic sonuva!"
Him: "Haha, yeah, I know. Decubital feet ulcers in your mouth."
Me: "Oh God, that's so disgusting."
Him: *pauses* "Yeah...ew, it is."
Me: "Haha, at least it got you, too! But you gave me an idea for a story, so I'll forgive you some."
Him: "Oh, thank goodness!"

Yeah, thought you guys would appreciate that. And what I really mean is that I'm hoping to share my misery with you.

Partner of the Day: "Your hair smells like shampoo."

I suppose it's better than many of the alternatives...?

Take care out there,

p.s.--FAVORITE WORD CONTEST! That is all.



I'm really sorry about not finishing the story of Janice. I got an email today asking me to write more about her; I wish I could. When I figure out what I want to do with her, I promise I'll write the rest of the story!

Also, what is it with stubborn EMS motorcycle riders? I'm not calling you out, friend, but really. You worry me.

And lastly, can someone please give me a prompt here? I'm struggling. Just give me a word or a sentence or a type of call to write about--please!

Take care out there,

Okay, so I lied. This is the last thing. Please don't forget to submit your entries about your favorite word! Learn more about the contest here and here. I swear I'll stop bugging you about this soon, but it's super important to me! Thanks; you all are the best :)


Random Things!

Is anyone surprised by this? Tell me that you've read my blog, EE's Blog, or AD's Blog, and then tell me you're surprised. It's disgusting.

In other, happier news, I have something like 17 entries for favorite word. Go check out the original contest idea here and then the sam-pleading-with-you entry here. Suggested prizes have been something homemade, an entry revolving around the word, a ride-along with me, an entry based on what the winner would like (a theme they choose, essentially), and a letter (hand-written) from me. Any other thoughts? Just 13 more days! You have tons of time to enter and make my blog-oversary spectacular!

On yet another note, I successfully started every IV I attempted last night. It was fantastic, and I'd walk out of a room doing my victory dance. One of my new favorite ED techs would join me in post-success dance, say "work it, girl!" and bump hips with me. It was fantastic. Let's hope I can keep this streak up :)

Take care out there,



This is my late submission to NSR. The theme this week is "kids." I'm sure you all know what that NSR is by now, but if not, go check it out!

The pager beeps loudly as it vibrates across the table. I pick it up and check it, knowing full well I'm about to be on my way to whatever it is.

"CRITICAL ALERT, TRAUMA 1," it says, as if the capital letters are begging me to hurry. I grab my bucket and check it quickly.
IV needles gauges 16-24? Got them. Syringes, tubes, needles, gauze, alcohol, tourniquet, saline locks, and saline flushes? Got it all. I grab an extra pair of small gloves and stick them in my pocket as I make my way through the supply closet toward the first trauma suite.

A tech is carrying her in. She's seizing in his giant arms, her little hands hitting his chest, her tiny feet kicking towards his neck. She can't be more than 3. He puts her down as gingerly as he can, and I realize that other than the doctor, I'm the first one in.

"She's in status, I need to get some meds in, get me an IV." He's nearly bumping his head against mine as he leans over her. He's trying not to yell, but his voice cracks.

"I...I don't do IVs!"
"I haven't done an IV yet!"
"Oh for the love of--DAVID!"

David looks up from whatever he's doing and pushes me out of the way. People are slowly filing in, taking what seems like a lifetime. I watch impatiently as David starts the IV and hands me two syringes of blood. Obligingly, I fill the 8 tubes with it, trying to ration it evenly.

She stops moving. Her eyes are glassy and rolled back, and she's taking on a bluish tint. I don't really hear much, I just let myself get pushed out of the room like a rag doll. I'm not quite sure how I managed to hang on to my bucket, the vials of blood, and 8 name labels, but I find myself back in the lab, sitting on the stool with wheels.

"Sam?" I hear something coming from somewhere around me, but I don't focus on it.
"Sam? Sam, you're so pale, are you okay?" The backside of a warm hand against my forehead brings me back to reality.
"Are you okay?"
"Oh, yeah, yeah, I just...yeah."
"Um, okay. Want me to label that blood for you?"

I look down at the labels as a voice comes on the intercom. Grace Perez. "Code Blue, Trauma 1."
Grace Perez.
"Code Blue, Trauma 1."

I don't listen. I just watch. I go to the computer and order all the labs. I don't listen. I won't listen.

The doctor takes her mother into the consultation room. The heavy wooden door closes. A second later, I hear it.
"Gracie! Oh God, not my Gracie!" I sit back down and clutch at my scrub top. It feels too tight; everything feels too tight.

Her sobs choke out from behind that solid door, ringing around the ER. Guttural and real, they wrench my heart.

It's not until later that I hear the whole story. Her mother found her seizing in her room, and panics. She didn't call 911, but instead loads her Gracie into the car and drives her to the ER. I don't know how long she'd been seizing, not breathing.

All I know is that when I leave, my ears ring "Gracie."



Guys and gals...come on! I've only had 4 entries! I'm dying here.

So, to recap. This post explains to you what the contest is. It's very simple. Just tell me what your favorite word is, and why! It doesn't have to be profound, and it doesn't have to be an essay. I'm just curious!

So if you're a first time reader, of if you've been reading from day one *cough*, *cough*, please enter! Maybe you've been reading for a long time but never commented. Here's your chance.

Please. I'm begging. Blogger/reader interaction.

You can email me (it's in my profile)
You can reply to this entry or this one with a comment.
You can even send me an Instant Message (IM...also in the profile)

Just somehow get me your favorite word with an explanation of why. 17 days and counting!

And if you're feeling super nice and you'd like to link to the contest in your own blog (with the hopes that this would get more entries), I'd be eternally grateful. I'll even mail you a thank you card :)

I'm off to see Lewis Black do his thing.

Take care out there,



I can finally make this public knowledge! I'm so excited!

My dad, aka PolarDoc, is going to Antarctica for 6 months come early September! He's gone to great lengths to become a physician at McMurdo, one of the research stations down there, and I couldn't be happier for him. From taking ATLS and ACLS to filling out pages and pages of forms, he's done a lot for this.

I sort of prodded him to start a blog, too. I want to be able to see what he's up to, and I know that as large as the med-blog community is, you all might want to read as well! Please go visit and leave him a comment or two? Tell him Sam sent you! ;)

Congrats, Daddy. You're going to have the experience of a lifetime, and I'm going to be the girl whose Dad is busy being super-awesome in the South Pole.

At least we still get to go to the USC v. UVA game before he leaves! Go Trojans!

Take care out there,

p.s.--Don't forget about the Blog-oversary Contest! And yes, this p.s. will be at the end of every entry until the day it's over!

Blog-oversary part 2!

Okay, so it's officially 19 days away and I haven't done anything further for my pending blog-oversary! I'm scrambling here.

So uh...here's my lame attempt at a contest. In all honesty, this has nothing to do with my blog-oversary, but I really want more interaction with those of you who read my blog. I get emails and comments, but it's all very cursory for the most part. Other than a few that I do keep in close contact with, I never really get to know you all! I'd love to get to know you all a lot better. I've already made some amazing friendships from this blog, and I'd like to further that if at all possible!

So I want you to either leave me a comment here or send me an email or even shoot me an IM with your favorite word. And then explain to me why it's your favorite word. And then also tell me what your ideal contest prize would be. I'm thinking like...a blog post centered around the word, or a ride-along (if you live locally) or some sort of stuff from my rescue squad? Whatever. You let me know, and if it's reasonable, I'll do it!

So quick recap:
Comment. Email. IM.
Favorite Word.
Ideal Contest Prize?

I'll decide the winner the night before my blog-oversary! Hooray!

Also, I promise to have a post of substance coming soon...hopefully for Normal Sinus!

Until then...

Take care out there,