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Paramedic Nat

A Blog About My Mental Health Journey

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paramedic

One Last Ride

Off to a book signing at a Chapters in Mississauga. The day was dreary. Sleet was covering the roads and threatening to freeze as the temperature read 2 degrees …then 1 degree. Ok, good, back up to 2 degrees. To be honest, and at the risk of sounding ungrateful, I wished I could have stayed in my pyjamas and blocked the cold outside world out. But, Heather and Matt were waiting for me. So, I salted the walkway and stumbled along what was left of the ice from the day before in my high heeled boots.

I got to the Chapters happy to find everything set up already – Heather is great like that. I was even happier to see Matt’s, “A Medic’s Mind”, banner and his books on the table. This moment was very full circle for me – sort of a proud mama moment. I had been introduced to Matt via a mutual friend several years ago, and we connected on Twitter. Instantly, …and I mean INSTANTLY, I was so impressed by his writing and creativity; this guy had talent – and I was happy to retweet what he shared. We became fast friends for many reasons: our love of writing, our dark humour, but mostly because we were both former paramedics now battling PTSD. Matt was a military medic. And I was a medic in Simcoe County, but the colour of our uniforms were irrelevant – we were the same.

Back then I was a bit further along in my recovery than Matt, and could tell from our conversations that he was still working through an early anger and frustration phase. (I could remember being there myself very well.) So, I was a friend and helped as much as I could while he navigated his emotions. (Once again, I could remember being there myself very well.)

Deep down, I knew there were big things in Matt’s writing future. He just needed a bit more time to get healthy enough to rip open some old wounds. He eventually did – and, “A Medic’s Mind” was born.

I was honoured to be at a book signing beside Matt today.

After I put up my, “Save~My~Life School” banner, we sat beside each other to await the interested book-lovers. Little did we know that what would ensue would be a healing and amazing moment for both of us.

With Matt in the figurative, ‘driver’s seat’, and I in the ‘passenger’s seat’, we became paramedic partners, reminiscing about the good ol’ days. It was like the clatter and busyness of Chapters disappeared, and we were back in the truck again. We instantly chatted in our paramedic lingo. And laughed so hard about some memories that will always make us smile! I had tears running down my face as he described an impromptu zombie apocalypse plan that needed to make happen on a call, and when my partner accidentally made a hoarder house, ‘a mess’. Without even noticing, we were back there, in the truck, remembering what we loved so much about being paramedics, and then, with a blink of an eye, a person wanted a book signed and Chapters had returned.

It was a magical day; I’m so happy I didn’t stay home. Being able to reminisce and smile together was super healing. We both reminded each other that we were ok with what our new futures held; were ok with that being our last ride.

We got to roll up our banners at the end of the day, and go home to our new futures. We had an opportunity to see that we were really only a moment away from laughing at the good times – all we needed to do was sit beside each other, like a driver and a passenger… and we didn’t have to do a night shift to get there.

I’m proud of you Matt! The future is so bright for you! And of course safe with your zombie apocalypse plan 😉

Video By Matt

Happy Paramedic Week

On this episode of BrainStorm I share blogs about my memories of being a paramedic and I wish ALL of the paramedics out there a happy paramedic week!

Check Out These Books by Natalie Harris

📚 Brainstorm Revolution: Here

📚 Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

📚 Save My Life School: Here

This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga 

➡️ BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

This Stethoscope…

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This Stethoscope… Was bought in 2001, when I was a paramedic student;

Has listened to thousands of lung sounds;

Has made sure the nebulized epinephrine was working on a pediatric patient;

Has listened to heartbeats after bringing people back to life;

Has been around my neck while I crawled into crushed cars;

Has pronounced many deaths;

Has listened to the cries of a newborn baby;

Has dangled around my neck while doing CPR;

Has been at a double murder, and auscultated the chest of the murderer;

Has helped to perform blood pressures on patients having a heart attack;

Has heard nothing sometimes, causing me to perform chest needles;

Has been wiped clean of blood after treating a patient with shotgun and stab wounds;

Has been around my neck while I told families that their loved one had died;

Has been dropped in a ditch where patients in a rolled over car waited for extrication;

Has been present for many air ambulance calls on the highway;

Has shown students how to trust that they hear no air entry;

Has been present in thousands of stranger’s homes;

Has been hidden under protective equipment at hazardous material calls;

Has been with me while driving lights and sirens more time than I could ever count,

Has been there when I held many patient’s hands;

Has been with me when I cried after after pediatric calls;

Has been present when I treated patients with strokes, diabetes, and amputated body parts;

Has been hidden in a box for a while now;

Has represented so much loss for me for a long time;

Has inspired me to tell this story;

Now hangs on my wall in front of Bill 163;

Doesn’t make me cry anymore;

This stethoscope will be a memory holder for the rest of my life and I will not hide it anymore.

Dear Paramedic Student,

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To the paramedic student,

You will think you can save everyone; you can’t.

You will learn how to eat an entire meal while walking from the station to the ambulance; who needs to chew anyways?

Nightgowns will be your nemesis; trust me.

You will question if you can defibrillate in the rain; can you?

You will hold many stranger’s hands; respect this opportunity.

You will question humanity after a pediatric VSA; that’s ok – you are not alone in this.

You will think that talking about your feelings makes you weak; it doesn’t.

You will learn the ‘vomit-look’ and be able to unwrap an emesis bag faster than you can blink an eye; you’ll know you have ‘made it’ when you can do this.

You will have your hands frozen to the metal of the stretcher when you are on the side of the highway in a snow storm; be grateful for quick-connects.

You will run out of sterile water when you are irrigating a burn; thank God for pain meds.

You will wonder how the heck could the senior guy/girl know more about anatomy than you? Remember, they have put anatomy back together on the side of a road; they know their stuff.

You will get lazy and not wash the truck; wash the damn truck.

You will step in things you cannot recognize; don’t wear your boots in your own home.

One of the best sounds you will hear is a newborn crying; then you will breathe.

You will wade through bloody mud to reach a trapped driver; they have been waiting to see your face.

The last sense that leaves an unconscious patient is sound; talk to them.

Google ‘agonal breathing’; you need to know what this looks like so you don’t mistake it.

You will think you’ve seen it all; trust me, you haven’t.

You will think you are the luckiest person in the world to have the career you do; you are.

~Nat

The Benefits of Sharing Your Recovery Story – with Matt Heneghan

On this episode of BrainStorm I chat with my friend and retired paramedic Matt Heneghan about recovery and our love for writing.

Check Out These Books Written by Natalie Harris

📚 Brainstorm Revolution: Here

📚 Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

📚 Save My Life School: Here

This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga 

➡️ BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

Bill C211 Reaches Royal Assent

On this episode of BrainStorm I talk about what the Royal Assent of Bill C211 means and i share my experience in Ottawa.

 

Check Out These Books Written by Natalie Harris

📚 Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

📚 Save My Life School: Here

 

This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga 

 

 

➡ BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

Career Fulfillment

The feeling of career fulfillment – ahhhhh – like a post-turkey-dinner nap, or a gold-star-stamped exam – it feels wonderful doesn’t it? In essence it satisfies our being – and who doesn’t want that feeling? I know I sure do.

I had that feeling for many years as I zipped up my black steel-toed work boots and buttoned my advanced care paramedic epaulettes onto my uniform shirt. I had that feeling when I showed a paramedic student how to start an intravenous (IV) line and when I saw their eyes light up when I placed their hands in the proper place to feel that a patient’s pulse had returned. I had that feeling when I held a patient’s hand in the back of a bumpy ambulance as we drove them to the cardiac care centre to have the blockage removed that was causing them to have a heart attack. I had it when a healthy baby was born, and even when I stood frozen from the cold wind on the side of a highway waiting for a patient to be extricated from a car.

For me, career fulfillment didn’t come easily. It took a lot of endurance and hard work to become a paramedic, and alas, it was fleeting. What fulfills my life has changed since I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a double murder call I was a paramedic at in 2012. And finding that feeling of fulfillment again took me quite a long time because sadly I placed all of my worth into being a paramedic and forgot that I was still a human being under my uniform.

The truth is, just when you think life has set you on a path of endless happiness, an unexpected fork in the road appears, and pulls you down a path you didn’t choose – or did you? That path may be dark, and filled with thorn-covered, tangled vines in which you have to navigate around, through, and under, careful not to cut yourself or get suffocated with. At some point the path may be filled with hopelessness…until one day a glimmer of light appears through the mess, and you suddenly remember that life can be fulfilling again.

Career fulfillment has returned to my life – I now I share my recovery story with the world. I let people know that there is hope and happiness after a major career change; sometimes happiness you never could have imagined if you didn’t make that change. I now have the opportunity to watch people grow through peer support meetings I helped to create called, Wings of Change, (a free solution-based peer support model that demonstrates to the meeting goers that they are not alone and that recovery can be a beautiful path.)

Now I get to listen to stories of enlightenment when someone finds a break in the binding chains of PTSD. I get to witness heartwarming moments of recovery. I get to say I have a voice again, and best of all, I get to witness other’s find theirs. I may not walk in paramedic boots anymore, but I have been blessed to now walk beside those who still do.

The Grieving Process

On this episode of BrainStorm I share how important it is to go through all the steps of the grieving process with any loss including the loss of a relationship and the loss of your career. 

 

Check Out These Books Written by Natalie Harris

Daily Lessons from Save My Life School: Here

Save My Life School: Here

 

This episode of BrainStorm is brought to you by The Homewood Health Clinic Mississauga 

 

 

BrainStorm by Natalie Harris is proudly produced by PodcastWagon.com

Sirius XM – Canada Now Interview – Paramedics and PTSD

Sirius XM – Canada Now

AFTER THE SIRENS

WORLD BROADCAST PREMIERE:
Sunday April 8, 2018 | 9:00pm (9:30 NT)
CBC DOCS POV
Also airs online at cbc.ca/cbcdocspov/ on Friday, April 6 from 5:00pm ET

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