Just An Ordinary Day

There wasn’t too much remarkable about that day, at least when it started. I woke up to a typical light overcast outside my window. I did my usual morning routine. I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into my ordinary “day off” attire…boots, jeans, a t-shirt and a jacket. I threw my worn bag into the passenger seat of my unassuming car, sang along to the radio in my usual off-key pitch, and parked in the supermarket parking lot. It was, by all means, an ordinary day.

I grabbed a shopping basket, and meandered through the aisles. The other patrons milled around in their usual way. An older lady with a blue scarf was sorting through the produce, trying to pick the best tomatoes of the bunch. A boy in a Spiderman t-shirt was fruitlessly pleading for his father to buy him the big bag of Reese’s. Some woman with glasses was spelling out her coworker’s name for a baker to write on a cake. I was making that time old decision: chicken or beef. There was really nothing to take notice of. Which is why I’ll never be quite sure what caught my eye and redirect my focus.

It was just a man, chatting with a friend he happened to bump into. I returned to deciding what I was going to do for dinner, when my memory started to stir. I glanced back at the man out of the corner of my eye. He looked familiar, but I couldn’t immediately place it…no…it couldn’t be…I tried really hard not to stare in disbelief.

I remember everything about the last time we’d met. I remember the weather, the time, the place, and everyone that was there. I remember the furniture, the pictures around the room, and the clock on the wall. I remember someone dancing from foot to foot, deciding whether they wanted to watch or not. I remember someone trying not to cry. I remember trying to speak lowly so I wouldn’t cause even more emotional trauma to everyone there. Funny thing is, I doubt he remembers our encounter, even though I treated him kind of roughly.  See, the last time we met, he was dead. My partners and I were pounding on his still, pale chest. We were squeezing each breath into his lungs. All in the hopes of converting that rhythm into something more life-sustaining.

His skin glowed now with a radiant life. His cheeks were much rosier than in my memory. He had a quick mind behind his sharp eyes, as evidenced by the laughter of his friend. A deep chuckle came forth from the man’s wry smile.

The feeling that built in my chest was one that defies words. The man that stood only a few yards away from me was so alive. He was doing normal, every day things. To anybody else, this scene was average. Just an average man, wearing plain clothes, running ordinary errands, talking about typical things with his friend. And yet, there was something so extraordinary about it. Just the whole notion of being alive is such an incredible thing all of the sudden. Every blink, every breath, every heart beat was such an amazing thing. Every movement, every chore, every interaction, every joke…it all suddenly carried so much more weight. He was a man who’d beaten the odds. And, in my small way, I had helped him do it. And that just felt…incredible.

I wanted to savor that moment, that feeling, forever. Where the gravity of the things I do for a living really sets in, but in the most surreal way. Where suddenly everything was brilliant, and nothing was taken for granted. I walked past him, offering him a big, genuine smile. He smiled back at me, a little confused as to why I’d be grinning like that. He would probably  never know, and oddly, that is fine with me.

I continued on down the aisle, back to my every day life. He carried on with his. And that makes all the difference.

An Unexpected Pat on The Back (AKA, A Touch Of Narcissism)

As any of you know, I haven’t exactly been regular with my blog posts. Some of it has been due to my hectic schedule of academics and work. Some of it is from writer’s block. And some of it has come from simply having nothing to write about. Then along comes NaBloPoMo, a challenge to write a blog post every single day for the month of November.

Well! Let’s do this!  I can’t promise it’ll be about EMS every single time, but I’ll do my darnedest to make it interesting!

Like I mentioned before, my life has basically been broken down into a constant cycle of school, driving, work, and sleep—and I use the term “cycle” loosely, because there’s nothing regular about it at all. I’m taking 17 credits this semester at two separate campuses (same school, different campuses): one is 40 minutes away, the other an hour away.

When I’m not commuting to, attending, or commuting from my classes, I’m heading over to the station to do homework. At home, I have a shady, finicky, unreliable dial up internet connection, so I tend to use the internet at work for any major research or projects (yes, they’re all aware that I do this, and they are very supportive, understanding, and cool with it). I get my homework done between calls and chores/odd jobs that need doing around the station. Things have been crazy around there, as the department is going through some major growing pains lately. So, sometimes I wind up staying until the wee hours of the morning, taking advantage of the quiet and limited distractions, to get all of my work done.

Sleep deprivation has become so regular for me lately. I rarely get more than four hours of sleep consecutively a night anymore. Usually, I nap for a few hours, get up, do what I need to do, nap again, more obligations, etc etc. It’s certainly not the healthiest thing I’ve ever done, and after a couple weeks of this, I’m starting to feel it.

Whenever I get too tired, or too overwhelmed, or too tempted to just give up, I remind myself that I’m doing this to apply for nursing school in January. It’s just a few more months. I’m not 100% sure what I want to do, or where I want to go, but I know that slacking off now could close a lot of doors. When you’re unsure, the last thing you want to do is inadvertently limit yourself.

But, you know, there are some days where it’s really hard to look towards that light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes, it’s too easy to just sink into the darkness, to focus on the tough parts. You do your best to set yourself up for success, but there’s always that little concern that you might not reach that goal after all.

I’ve been just getting by, as far as morale goes. I took a trip to New York last week to visit with old friends, just to break the cycle I’ve gotten myself into. My return home was greeted with 2.5 feet of snow, and a letter from my college.

The letter was an invitation to join the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society. Regardless of how you feel about joining an honor society, I was…relieved. Recharged.

All of the hours I spent driving to school, in all weather. All of the beautiful summer days I spent in classes and labs, trying to get a head-start on my education. All of the all-nighters I spent working essays and studying for exams. All of the meals I’d given up so I could afford books and gas during the months when money was especially tight. And suddenly, I had an unexpected pat on the back. A confirmation that I was doing alright. That all of this work was for something

My only goal for all of this hard work was to one day earn my RN license. In the short term, all I was hoping for was an acceptance letter to a nursing school next semester. I had thought of nothing else for my academic work.

But this letter, this little recognition, made me feel like my work wasn’t going unnoticed. And you know, sometimes it’s nice to get a little recognition. Especially when you’re running on empty.