Please be aware that some of the content is very upsetting.
A year ago my husband shared this as a Facebook post. I then shared it also. It came up this morning in my “Memories, On This Day”.
I asked him if it would be okay to post it here as a guest blog to which he agreed. Allun was a paramedic for 10 years.
‘Finally feel able to share …. (Actual experiences … )
I was a Paramedic but nobody taught me….
I was a paramedic, but nobody taught me how to sit an 86 year old gentleman down to tell him his wife of 65 years had died in her sleep.
Nobody taught me how to watch as the desire for life left his eyes the moment I broke the earth shattering news that would change his life forever.
Nobody taught me how to accept a torrent of abuse from a complete stranger, just because they had been drinking all day and wanted a lift home.
Nobody taught me how to reason with the aggressive patient I’ve just met; overdosed, but needing my help to breathe.
Or the addict who was unconscious from overdosing. I saved his life but now he hates me because he’s clicking again.
Nobody taught me how to talk to someone so depressed that they had just slit their own wrists, panicked and called for help. Nobody taught me how to respond when they turned to me and said “I can’t even get suicide right”.
Nobody taught me that I’d need to bite my tongue when I went 2 hours over my finish time for someone who’d been ‘generally unwell’ for 24 hours.
Nobody taught me how to accept that I would miss out on things other people take for granted; birthdays, christmas day, meals at normal times of the day, sleep.
Nobody taught me how to hold hands with a dying person as they take their last breath, seeing the fear in their eyes but holding back the tears because it’s not my grief.
Nobody taught me that I’d need to keep a straight face whilst a young man explains exactly what happened to the end of his hoover.
Nobody taught me how to act when patients pulled a knife on me, a gun and a sword.
Being a paramedic was so much more than swooping in and saving lives; it was about dealing with the most unique, challenging experiences then just going home at the end of the shift. Being asked by my wife ‘how was your day?’ and replying ‘fine thanks’ because I was unable to talk about the stress and carnage the day had brought into my life.
Being a paramedic was about constantly giving a bit of yourself to every patient, because although it’s was my 5th patient of the day and I couldn’t remember their names, it’s their first ambulance, their loved one, their experience.
It’s about the bits that nobody taught me how…
Like standing in a supermarket with a dead baby in your arms seeing the desperation in the eyes of the parents and doing everything you can despite knowing it’s already too late.
It’s about standing on a bypass surrounded by carnage and body parts but remaining calm and professional even though inside your head you are screaming. Then years later waking up at night in a cold sweat haunted by nightmares from the faces imbedded In your memory.
It’s about providing pain relief and reassurance to a 90 year old lady who’s fallen and hurt her hip, and despite all the pain she turns and says “Thank you, how are you?”. Then just smiling back because you cant tell her.
It’s about a hug that you give someone on Christmas Day because they haven’t spoken to anyone for days, they have no relatives or companions but you’ve brightened up their day.
It’s about climbing in the car next to someone and saying ‘Don’t worry, we’ll have you out of here in just a moment…you’re going to be ok’ even though you know they will probably die within the next 30mins if you don’t get them out. Some made it … some didn’t.
It’s about everything that I did to save lives that required me to bend the occasional rule, which resulted in saving a life but then getting a written warning for my actions.
It’s about knowing fact that I couldn’t attend to the dying man because I was dealing with a drunk… who then assaulted one of us. Or the guy with the new shoes that were hurting him because they were too tight.
I was a Paramedic, But Nobody Taught Me How to carry the burdens into my future….
To paraphrase Major Dick Winters…
“I wasn’t a hero… but I served in the company of heroes“.”
A few comments left on his original post.
“There are a couple of good blogs by paramedic and they are named Blood, Sweat and Tea. I dare say you could upsurp them with such wonderful and emotive writing.” – NH
“This man wasn’t just a Paramedic. Allun was a great teacher, he was able to listen out for the important information in a conversation and had that quality in a paramedic this is SO hard to find. When the **** went down, he didn’t panic. It was a great loss to the Welsh Ambulance Service when Alsie left but it was a greater loss to me. When it was my turn to steer the ship it felt like I was doing it without a rudder. The picture of Alsie’s kitbag that goes everywhere with me in work. I had my only diva moment over his bag when he handed it back.” – JG
“Wow. You made me cry! We take so many people like you for granted. x” – HW
“This has opened my eyes and made me think alot! Very touching Allun, thank you for sharing your feelings like this 🙂 x” – AH
“I found this inspiring and emotional at the same time, amazing, had to share.” JD
As it’s Hypo Awareness week I had been thinking about my experiences of hypoglycemia (hypo). So far in my experience there a 3 different degrees of hypos. Hypo’s happen for many, many different reasons: too much insulin for the carbs consumed, exercise or just being busier than expected, temperature and hormones to name a few.
Here are some symptoms of a hypo/low blood sugar. I can experience some of these, but not all at the same time. They can also differ from hypo to hypo, for me it depends on the severity of the hypo. I have also experienced foggy brain, nausea and tingling lips. Different people experience a difference mix of symptoms. Some people have even been assumed to be drunk when they are actually hypo (link of a story further down this page). Some people don’t have any warnings at all, this is called hypo unawareness.
1st degree – these are the type of hypos that no one would even be aware that I was experiencing a hypo. I realise that I feel a bit “strange”, check my blood glucose (bg) levels, get something to treat it and just carry on as normal.
2nd degree – with these ones I’ve usually informed someone (work colleagues/husband/child etc) that I’m feeling a bit rough, get something to treat the hypo and need to sit for 10 minutes or so until my bg levels rise to an acceptable level again.
3rd degree – these are the ones that “floor’ me. Thankfully they don’t happen very often but when they do they can take me out of action for a considerable amount of time and make me feel really awful. These are the ones that make me panic more so than the others. If in work, I’m also racked with guilt at the sight of my fabulous colleagues being very busy working whilst also checking in with me while I’m sat down totally unable to help. Even when my BG has risen to an acceptable level I have to stay where I am as I’m still recovering. These hypos take the longest to get over and can make me feel extremely tired and wiped out afterwards, actually during and after all I feel like doing is laying down and curl up in a ball, obviously this is not practical most of the time. At home it’s easier for me to get my husband or one of my children to do the running around to get something for me to treat it with while I sit on the sofa concentrating on sweating and shaking.
Thankfully, for me, I’ve never experienced anything worse. I’ve never ended up unconscious and needing the help of others. Hoping that this is never the case. Recently there was a case reported where people thought a man was drunk and they just left him alone when he was actually experiencing a hypo and needed the help of others.
How much do you actually know about hypoglycemia, would you recognise and be able to help someone experiencing a hypo? Here are some pictures and a quiz that I shared on Facebook.
Pictures – Would you recognise the symptoms of a hypo?
Quiz – Hypo Awareness Week 2016
Here is a link to explain what to do if you are experiencing a hypo from Diabetes.org.uk.