We all know that the average life span of an EMS worker is 5 years. It's a tough job. Unlike many, I knew this going in. I figured, like most probably do, that I was not average and would be able to handle it. In one way, I was correct, but I never saw the other side of it coming.
This evening when I returned home from my paying job I received an email which included a resignation from a member of 28 years. I read it twice. I had (have) no idea what to do about it. I am numb to her pain that drove her to quit. I can't handle anymore of the politics and bullshit.
I can handle the bullshit calls, being called out at 3am for a toothache ("it really hurts a LOT"), the off-hours jobs that come in bunches like being banged out at 3 am for 3 days in a row, the stacked up calls that have us responding from the hospital after dropping off one patient, just to go grab another. I can handle the disrupted family events that I leave in haste to tend to a fire or EMS call. I can handle all of that stuff, but the leadership stuff has just fried me.
I decided last year to 'not run' for the Captain's job anymore, but I was asked by too many folks to do another year. As there were no good candidates, I decided to do one more year for the 'good of the company'. That was the wrong reason and I know that now. The company has done fine, but I have had to fight with myself to do a proper job all year now. I need some time off and have for longer than I realized.
Like everybody else in this job, I have had my ups and downs. We all should realize they are temporary. You get the bad call that you can't shake for a while, you get the ugly personal attack or conflict. That happens and time usually helps you work things out. However, over time, things can build up, and I think that is what is happening to me. I have a fair amount of stress at my paying job, and when I get phone calls at work regarding EMS business, it adds to the stress, especially if I explain to the caller that I am in a meeting and can't talk, but will call them back when I'm free. They get pissy, and I get pissed off. They expect me to be available, and I expect a little respect. Some resentment lingers.
I realize today that I have been fighting off a deep seated and lingering deppresion for a while now, probably 6 months. I don't exercise like I used to, don't have much of an appetite, but my weight stays a bit too high for a tall skinny guy. I sit on the couch way too much for a guy that used to always be 'into something', and worst of all I have to force myself to get up and do the things that need to get done. I am generally disgusted with myself.
The only thing that gets me moving is when the tones drop. Even then, I make my way to the job or the station and do what needs to be done, but there is very little 'hitch in my giddy-up'. (For readers in other parts of the globe, that means I don't show much enthusiasm.) I'm concerned that if I slip further, I might actually become a liability to myself and others because I am not alert and thinking.
Every day I say to myself that this will be the day I head into the weight room and get back to work. But at the end of the day nothing has changed.
I know I will get through this because I have done it before. It just takes time to work through it. Once I turn over the Captain's badge, I know a huge weight will lift from my shoulders. I also know that I can't blame all my 'issues' on the Department and I have to work on some of the other aspects of my life.
Still, I can't help but wonder how much easier it would be for everyone if people would just treat each other with respect. This job is tough enough without all the bullshit that some folks feel compelled to generate.
(Postscript: I began this post over a week ago and it took 4 attempts over that week to come up with something I could put up here. Two days after I started it, the new subject came out for the Handover, go figger. I kept at it because I thought getting it out there might help me clear my head. Thanks for listening.)