25 November 2009

Thankless Giving

There are moments when we must ask ourselves why we do this job. I am grateful that these times of true evaluation are few and far between. I'm not sure if it's my type "A" personality that allows me to to enter a chaotic situation and try to instill some order. Or, is it my underlying belief that each and every one of us have a duty to their fellow man and neighbour to be of assistance in their time of need. Whatever the reason, this I know to be true, death and I must come to an understanding and develop a better working relationship. Death is more powerful than I alone or in the company of the greatest physicians in the world will ever be. Death has more tools and ammunition available than the meager supply of medications, algorithms, and quick wit that I have. While I will never agree with the job that death must do, I do question the method in which it must be carried out sometimes.

Tonight I heard the cries of anguish from a mother who watched life cease for her 12 yer old son. For all the begging and pleading with her god, it was to no avail. I don't know what could have happened in the hours leading up to the time when he decided that putting a cord around his neck and hanging himself seemed to be better than his circumstance. Was it sadness? Was it anger? Loneliness? Frustration? What could have been so bad that this young boy on the brink of manhood would side with the opposing side and concede defeat? I wonder if he heard his mothers wailing and sobs as the final neurons in his brain ran out of fuel. Did he feel the pain of chest compressions and defibrillation? Was this the finality as he imagined it would be? Were his questions about life and death revealed in his final moments?

I have no doubt that through out the coming days and weeks that his mother will be asking the same questions. These are some of the questions that will remain unanswered for a lifetime. Tonight I grieved with this mother, as did all those around and within the sound of her cries. Some choked back emotion and continued about their work while I, and others removed ourselves from the environment to quietly reflect on our own lives and to shed tears with and for the mother.

In a twist of true irony, I was less than a half mile from this young boys house having dinner with my fellow crew members when he made his final decision. About that time a family was getting up from their table to leave when the husband stopped just past our table, took a few steps back and said, "I just want to say thank you for what y'all do, not just because tomorrow's Thanksgiving, but we really appreciate it". With the utmost in humility we returned the thanks for his generosity and kind words. All the while just up the road, a group of seasoned medics and firefighters waged war with a ruthless thief.

Death, my adversary, and I will continue doing our jobs to the best of our ability. With all that is in me I will fight against it's efforts and effects. I only hope that in time I will come to understand the meaning of its existence. Until then, we coexist, with purpose and passions that only the giver of life will ever understand. I, and others, will continue to give. We will give our all with or without thanks or public recognition. Only because that is what we were made to be; givers.

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