Allow me to begin by saying that I am an EMT, sometimes called Paramedic, "Doc" to the skells. I work for a University Hospital in a city in NJ, which leads me to see alot of different things during my 12 hour "tours" as shifts are called, and people are always fascinated by this. The questions always posed to people in my prefession are usually like "What is the goriest thing you've ever seen?" or "You get to see some cool stuff- like people shot and everything, tell me some stories." I always avoid these questions the same way I do when I go home to my parents house and my Mother and Father always ask "So how's work?" my standard reply is that it's good. I leave it at that, because I don't know how to tell anyone what I have to deal with on a daily basis. Now dont get me wrong- I'm also a firefighter- 5th generation to be exact, and i was practically raised in a firehouse, so I can take an awful lot, I've been bred and conditioned for a life of public service and think it truly is man's highest calling.
However, I wish I could get past the pseudo-romantic ideas of it all and just say like a normal cube-dweller how my day was. Just a little
"Hey honey, how was your day?"
"Oh not good, I lost the Fischer account today, so no christmas bonus."
See thats nice, plain, simple, honest. True. But I can't do that- how do I say that I started my day with a 18 year old girl on her way to college who got cut off and hit by a drunk driver at 7:30 in the morning, who even though was wearing her seat belt will live with reduced function for the rest of her life because he hit her so hard she developed a brain bleed. My lunch got interrupted by a 45 year old father of two who collapsed during his oldest son's baseball game due to him ignoring chest pain for 4 days, and ended (an hour and a half after I was supposed to go home) with a shooting that claimed the life of a 16 year old who got mixed up in the wrong crowd.
Kind of hard to have a nice dinner over that. Or that we were getting fuel at the DPW when gunfire erupted from the bar next door and we dove for cover in the sand bunker. Or the 10 year old boy found in an apartment downstairs from his own, bound hands and feet, beaten and raped after being abducted on his way to school. Not to even bring up the people who call for an ambulance literally for a stubbed toe. Or a headache. Or "I just don't feel right, I don't know what it is." causing that bus to have jobs (like the ones above) pending- i.e. waiting for them to clear to answer them, and pile all the ARI's (Alcohol Related Incident = Drunk) or EDP's (Emotionally Disturbed Person = Psych, anything from "I see purple bunnies", to I'm shooting at you through the front door.)which clog up urban EMS systems.
How do I say that we went to a stabbing and had to pronounce the patient dead- setting off a riot that ended up with more people hurt and shots being fired in our direction? How do I describe the feeling of having a man standing over me while treating his friend for a heroin overdose saying to me "If he don't live neither do you" only in more colorful language? How do I describe the 80+ year old man in full blown Congestive Heart Failure who was a paratrooper in Normandy asking me to let him die so he won't feel ashamed anymore?
How do I describe the feeling I get when a seriously injured patient I had had comes up to me on the street and remembers my name and thanks me for everything I did, and while I don't remember him at first, I remember the job, then him, and the rest of his life story- and that makes him feel better then the day I stopped his wrist from bleeding out on the street. How do I describe going out for a beer with the brothers after work, and running into a man who wants to buy me a beer for bringing his mother out of a diabetic coma? The answer- "Eh my day was OK, how was yours? What did you do today?" I'd rather hear about your day then talk about my own, for your sanity and mine.