It was an eventful Saturday, although the plan was to sleep in, then to follow my nose around until the things that needed doing got done. I puttered, I worked in the yard, I showed Brother Mike the new property, got a glaze firing going in the kiln, and was just about to make a pot of coffee for Scott and Mary when the pager went off. A motorcyclist entangled himself with a guardrail, and medical assistance was required. Lucky for me Scott and Mary are both on the Search and Rescue team, so they’re well-versed in handling emergencies. Otherwise I’d be on my own until the ambulance arrived from Belt. So we gathered together the gear and trotted off to the site of the accident. It was not a fun one. The guy took on the guardrail at about 70 mph, partially amputated his leg, poked a rib into his lung, and doubtless broke his back, among other injuries. Mercy Flight landed, whole herds of EMTs, paramedics, doctors, nurses and hangers-on clustered about barking orders at each other and littering the landscape with discarded plastic bits of medical frass. After a couple of hours of Sisyphusian efforts to keep Wally’s heart beating they got him onto the helicopter, and Scott, Mary and I repaired to their sun deck to alchemize the chemical components of beer into urea. It was a beautiful, sunny, spring day, so rather than wallowing in the sudsy comfort of beer, I resumed my puttering after only a couple.
And rather than dwelling on the relative probability of Wally’s demise, I tried to cheer myself up by taking a walk with my friend Beth, who, it turns out, is an expert in the field of Creating Life (see the post titled “I’ve got a secret”). Without any training or preparation whatsoever she is excelling in so many fields its really hard to keep count. She did the whole blastocyst thing perfectly, without even thinking about it or breaking a sweat, and then, with the fluidity and grace of a four-foot Russian gymnast on a balance beam, Beth just went ahead and moved on to forming an embryo, and now – a fetus. Can you do that? On purpose?
Well, being a woman, and thus inherently capable, I probably could back in the day – at least I could have if I had had a LOT more psychological stability – but that’s not my point. My work has never been in the field of Creating Life. Mine has been, when duty calls, in the field of Not Letting Life Ebb Away. And in doing this, unlike Beth-the-Creator, I often break a sweat. And I often fail, despite the years of training and practice I’ve had. It is, I know, part of the job description of an EMT to sweat and fail, but its not the easiest thing to do.
Failure is normally quite easy for me. I can fail a mathematics test with aplomb; fail to have a career with panache and – I must add – graceful touches; fail to breed or partner up with a natural ease not unlike Beth’s in Creating Life. But when I fail a patient, it can make me cry. Don’t get me wrong: if we responders fail in the Not Letting Life Ebb Away department, its not really, technically a failure, since we do what we do and we do it well, and sometimes its just that the guy’s time was up. We have the magic Mary Poppins bags full of medical equipment, but we aren’t Mary Poppins. Who knew?
In any case, we had a stressful day, and no one could keep Wally from dying, but that wasn’t why I quit the Quick Response Unit. I quit after Chris and Linda accused me of stealing Linda’s stethescope. Chris wasn’t even there, but he’s positive that I never owned an expensive Litman stethescope, and that Linda did, and since I have one and she lost hers I must have stolen it. Am I supposed to trust them, to work with them again? I’m just utterly dumfounded.
I’m also perplexed at the fact that no one even asked me why I quit. Not the people on the QRU, not the people in the Disaster and Emergency Services office, not the people on the ambulance crew: no one. They had a paramedic from Mercy Flight call me at home to tell me that we did a great job, and that no one could have done better. (I know they had him call because he’s a bad liar. He said DES didn’t have any other phone numbers for our QRU.) I guess they assumed I quit because of the gory accident, but not one person asked me why, and that sucks because it was the only test question I prepared for. I have 11,000 reasons (having my team gang up on me is only one), and I was looking forward to withholding -oh – 5,000 answers just to make myself feel powerful and important. I pictured myself being so regal, cool, and above the fray. Dang.
But I guess its really a matter of my inability to read the writing on the wall; my Thumbelina tendancies. Before her deliverance on the wings of the healed bird, before her redemption at the hands of the tiny Flower King, tiny Thumbelina came close to marrying the mole. Marrying the dot-eyed insectivore and spending ther rest of her days in darkness.
But say Thumbelina had married the mole. And lets consider it from the mole’s point of view. They live together under the soil, in the unbreathable damp and darkness. The tiny beauty is a devoted wife. And yet the mole, who can’t help being half-blind, can’t help hating flowers and sunshine, feels the thwartedness of Thumbelina – Thumbelina who was born from a tulip. It is not in the mole to ask her to go. So he makes his grotto more gravelke, darker, danker and wills her to leave.