Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I've written before, perhaps here or just on someone's garage, about the way we find, or see revealed, themes or trends in our various shifts. Because I have no idea what will actually occur when I show up for work each day (beyond the usual routine of cleaning, sitting/waiting, etc), there are shifts in which the calls we respond to give the over-narrative for the day.

Last week, it was open trauma/gashed flesh: the guy whose nose was obliterated by the other guy who swung the heavy belt buckle; the fellow whose finger tip was severed by a lawn mower; the little girl whose foot got caught in the spokes of her bike (we think) and the metal served as cheese-slicing agent, slashing through her shoe and deep into her heel. No other real calls than these, and some fire alarms.

The other day, it was sadness, or hardship, or quotidian tragedy. Life's a Motherfucker. Call it what you will, we supped at the trough of broken-heartedness, and we were full to sickened with it.
An old lady fighting to stay out of a nursing home, but unable to care for herself over the weekend when her caregivers were off. Moral dilemma: do we respect her (lucid) wishes to live on her own, even if it means she may/will fall and hurt herself, or die? Or do we do our little part of the big machine to get her to a nursing home, where she'll wish she were dead (but can't kill herself, thanks to the staff's presence--no, she'll have to sit, suffer, and die of neglect or infection like everyone else).

Drunk sick by too much Listerine too early in the morning. Half-arguing with us about us calling a squad to get him to detox. What is the better option? He knows he's killing himself; he knows he can't/won't stop.

The enormous woman with myriad health complications who needed six of us to get her out of bed to get to hospital because her breathing is compromised because she is enormous and has myriad health complications. The acrid tang of putrid flesh was almost as hard to take as how horrible her quality of life was. Yet she was pretty upbeat overall.

Public service to help someone w/ her smoke detectors. Realizing w/ growing horror how truly mentally impaired she was/is, yet there we were, in her living room, with her odd husband and goofy kids. These people were barely or sub-functional, and they were also living their lives just like anyone else, except with a good deal more chaos and fear and confusion.

It was a hard day. A sad day. No easy answers, or hard ones, for that matter. No solutions. At times, very, very little hope.

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