Retired Firefighter    ■    Power Dispatcher    ■    Husband    ■    Daddy    ■    Grandpa    ■    Crazy Man

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

So That's How it Ends

Engine 56, Squad 56, Medic 98, possible cardiac arrest...

I was close to Station 56 and made the squad, responding behind the duty crew in E56.

The dispatcher advised us that the elderly female patient was found caught between the bed and a wall, and that her daughter couldn't detect a pulse and couldn't get her freed. Not a good setup for the patient.

As the Engine arrived, the dispatcher further reported that the patient's 96-year-old husband was also present in the room in an adjacent bed, and that the daughter couldn't remove him from the room, either.

E56 reported a probable code and then went radio-silent. Busy. But by the time we arrived and were entering the home, they came back on the air to amend their situation to DOA.

It seemed like it would still be prudent to move the husband away from the sight, so we set about trying to do that. He was not cooperative at all, and kept asking questions. He knew there was trouble, but not precisely what it was. Awkward. EMT classes don't teach that part. But then his daughter stepped in and told him the full truth.

He calmed immediately. He rested his head on his pillow. His eyes focused on nothing in particular. Then he whispered the words. "So that's how it ends." He slowly turned his head to look out the window, and sighed.

We gathered our equipment and left the room without a word. There was nothing we could give him nor anything he wanted from us. He remained turned away from us the entire time.

As we walked through the modest home, without the focus of an emergency, there was time to observe. They had apparently lived there for a very long time. Everywhere, pictures of family, the couple, portraits, vacation shots. The story of two lives as one, of a long marriage.

We see this all the time, but it still wears on you. And it makes me reflect on how the story of my marriage to the most amazing woman in the world will end. It will have to eventually, one way or another.

Fill your days with love and life. The sadness of the final parting may not be avoidable, but you should take the initiative to make the story worth telling and worth experiencing, with no regrets.

With no regrets. That was the piece I hadn't processed. He was sad, no doubt about it, but his peaceful acceptance told me he had no regrets.

There's your reminder. Do with it what you will.

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