other people's emergencies: random thoughts of an urban paramedic

For more than twenty years I've worked as a paramedic for the city of Boston, Massachusetts. The opinions expressed in this diary are mine alone, and do not represent the views of Boston EMS. Names, dates, locations, and physical characteristics have been changed to ensure patient confidentiality.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Heal Thyself

It started half a mile into my run. A sensation in the left side of my chest, a cross between pressure and squeezing. I felt somewhat out of breath, too. It was bad enough that I slowed my pace to a walk.

Gradually it subsided. I was only planning on running four miles. For me, that's a fairly short distance. Pain or not, I could surely go that far.

I started to run again. A mile later, the pain returned. Just as bad as before, in exactly the same location.

I returned home, wondering what had happened. Hopefully it was one of those annoying little aches, familiar to anyone who exercises regularly, that comes and goes with no obvious cause. I hoped that it wouldn't be there the next time I ran. But it was. Each time I went out to run, I felt it.

I should have gone to a doctor, of course, because chest pain while exercising can signal a heart problem. But there was no way that I could be suffering from angina. I'm relatively young, with normal blood pressure and good cholesterol levels. I run between four and twenty miles per day, all year round, and I bike, and do strength workouts, and play ball with the kids. I've never smoked, and I don't even drink. I couldn't possibly have a cardiac problem.

And besides, the Boston Marathon was coming up. This would be my twentieth marathon, and my fifth Boston. My training hadn't gone particularly well, but I was determined to compete anyway. I wouldn't run fast, but I knew I could finish. Forced to miss last year's marathon while in Germany with the Army, I'd been training for two years. After all those workouts, I wasn't about to withdraw just one week before the race.

I discovered over the next several days that I could forestall the pain by running at a slower pace. As long as I kept my speed to around eight minutes per mile, I felt fine. So I kept running. And I went to the marathon. I started, and despite feeling lousy, I made it to the finish line.

For three weeks afterward, the pain persisted. Whenever I tried to pick up my pace, it would return. Finally I decided that enough was enough. I picked up the phone and called my doctor.

"Given your health history, this probably isn't a heart problem," she told me, "but you should see a cardiologist anyway. We'll eliminate the most serious causes first." She scheduled me for a cardiac stress test, which involves running on a treadmill while a cardiologist monitors the EKG.

But the cardiologist had other ideas. "I've looked at your old lab results," he told me in his office, "and I see some things that concern me. I think we should skip the stress test and go straight to catheterization. That's the only way to know for sure whether any of your coronary arteries are blocked."

The idea seemed ridiculous. I was perfectly healthy. Everyone seemed to agree that I was unlikely to have a cardiac problem. Yet there I was, being scheduled for a procedure normally associated with the sick and elderly. Sure, I'd go in for the catheterization. Once it revealed clean arteries, we could begin to search for the real source of the pain.

I reported to the hospital at 7:30 in the morning. A nurse started an IV and gave me some Fentanyl. It would make me feel drowsy, she explained, but it wouldn't put me to sleep. I didn't bother to tell her that I knew how Fentanyl works because I administer it to other people all the time.

In the cath lab, I quickly nodded off. I awoke to a tremendous crushing sensation in my chest, much worse than anything I'd felt while running. Through the haze of the Fentanyl, I heard one of the nurses saying something about "ST segments." An alarm bell went off in my head. ST changes indicate one of two things: either a shortage of blood supply to the heart muscle, or, worse, damage to the cardiac muscle in the form of a heart attack.

"Did you say something about my ST segment?" I asked the nurse woozily. Then I grimaced, as another wave of pain crushed my chest.

"Yes. We're opening a balloon in your artery to open it," she said. "That's why you're feeling some pain. That'll go away in a minute."

"Oh, crap," I remember saying. Even in my drugged-up state, I understood what this meant. The young, healthy marathon runner had been suffering from angina after all.

An hour later, I awoke in the recovery room. My wife was standing over me; she looked as if she'd been crying. I was hoping to learn that it was all a dream; that I didn't have a heart problem at all. But her expression told me otherwise.

"They told you?" I asked.

"Yeah," she said. "I'm sorry." She knew I'd be disappointed.

The cardiologist came into the room. He assured me that the procedure had gone well, and that the problem had been resolved. I asked him when I'd be able to resume my regular activities, like running.

"Oh, I don't recommend that you compete in any more races," he said. "That would be too stressful. But we'll talk more about it tomorrow." At that point he left, and I was glad. In the course of a one-hour procedure, my entire life had changed, and as much as I tried to fight it, the frustration, disappointment, and fear were making it hard not to cry.

Now that several days have passed, I can view the whole thing more rationally. I had been foolish not to see a doctor sooner. In fact, I was fortunate even to be alive. The pain, I learned later, had been caused by a 95% occlusion in my left anterior descending artery--the main vessel that supplies oxygenated blood to the heart. On any of those runs--and at any point during the marathon--I could have had a heart attack and died.

But the important thing is that I didn't. In fact, my heart suffered no damage at all. I stayed in the hospital for just one night, and I'll return to work at the end of the week. I reported the incident to the appropriate Army authorities, and it's not going to disqualify me from service. Even my running shouldn't be affected too seriously. The last time I talked to the cardiologist, he said, "I didn't mean that you can never run again, or even that you can never race again. Exercise is good. I just meant that for now, while you're still recovering, you should avoid the stress of racing. Go back into it gradually."

All this week, I've been sorting out my feelings. I wish it had never happened, of course, because I've always been proud of the way I stay in shape, and nobody ever wants to admit that they have a health problem. For several days I felt embarrassed about it. I went out of my way to ensure that nobody knew what had happened, because I was afraid of being perceived as weak. "Some athlete," I imagined people saying sarcastically. "See? He does all that running, and competes in all those races, and it doesn't mean a thing. That's why I don't run."

But after giving it a great deal of thought, I realize that this kind of thinking is idiotic. Having a health problem is nothing to be embarrassed about, especially when the problem has already been resolved. And running and other forms of exercise are definitely worth the effort. Sure, a runner occasionally makes news by dropping dead in the middle of a marathon. And, yes, I was awfully young to have a problem with my heart. But if I hadn't been so fit from running, then it probably would have happened sooner, and perhaps I wouldn't have recovered so nicely. As the cardiologist told me afterward, "The fact that you were able to run a marathon with a blocked artery is quite a testament to your cardiac fitness. Think of how healthy your heart must be, to do that with the blood flow nearly cut off."

It'll be interesting to see how this affects my view of cardiac patients. Since joining the military, I've developed much greater empathy for homeless veterans. Will the same thing happen when treating patients with chest pain? Perhaps.

When I return to the ambulance next week, I'll have the opportunity to find out.

This will be my final post. I've said this once before, but this time I really mean it. As much as I enjoy writing--and reading your responses--blogging is extremely time-consuming. I'd like to accomplish other things, such as writing a book about EMS. That will never happen as long as I continue to do this. There are other reasons, but that's the biggest one.

So, once again, thank you for reading. It's been fun. And if you ever see a book in Border's or Barnes and Noble with my name on the cover, be sure to buy it.

71 Comments:

Anonymous Bryan said...

Wow, TS - first I'm glad to hear you're okay. As someone who takes a similar pride in staying healthy and trying to do right by my body, I've also had health setbacks - none as serious as yours but they've given me the same concern about my health and my future. I'm glad to hear you're recovering well.

Second, I'm really sad to see the blog end - it's been great to hear your perspective from the ambulance and I'll miss having a little insight into the world of EMS. Take care and best of luck.

10:44 AM  
Blogger Hostis H. Generis said...

For all your readers, I'd like to say how grateful we have to know you're ok now, for your wonderful, funny, insightful, and moving writings, to wish you luck, and to tell you if you change your mind again, we'll all be here.

And when that book comes out, maybe make a tiny note about it here?

Godspeed,
HHG

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sad news about the blog but I kind of understand. Family and other more important stuff should always come first. Take care, Paramedic Pete.

10:50 AM  
Blogger Mr. 618 said...

Glad to hear you're doing better. Take care of yourself, brother. And if you need some R&R time with the wife, we're just up the road a piece in Maine...

11:14 AM  
Blogger danny said...

I'm glad you're alright. I really hate to see your blog go, but I understand. Thanks for keeping it as long as you have. I want to ask just one favor though; let us know when your book comes out so I can pick up a copy.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

Wow. Glad you finally decided to go seek some medical advice and that everything turned out well. I have no doubt that this is going to give a totally different perspective on chest pain patients but that will all be for the good.

As for no longer blogging, you are right - it is extremely time-consuming and time is probably something that you are also looking at differently these days.

Good luck in all of your future endeavors and I'll look forward to the book. Perhaps, like Hostis said, you can let us know here when it comes out? I'll keep you in my Reader just for that very reason!

11:49 AM  
Blogger Matt E. Warren said...

I'll buy that book if you write it. It was not long ago I wrote you saying I was going on my first ride-along as an EMT Basic student and finally, I am officially an EMT.

Thanks for your stories and their lessons, TS.

Matt-Michigan

12:20 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

TS,
I'd like to echo some of the comments above, as a relatively young EMT, (28 with 7 years experince) and newly married with a little boy on the way I'm glad you are ok! Too often we get wrapped up in the little things in live and fail to see whats important. This blog has been a source of inspiration, reflection, and encouragement for not only myself but for others that i know who read it. Thank you for taking the time to share you're thoughts experiences and memories with us.
Please if you do Publish it, let us know I know I'd love to read it.

J

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you're ok TS! Health problems are nothing to be ashamed of.

But I do want to point out you've said before that running\exercise negated the bad effects of a poor diet [necessary because of your hectic job].

I hope you realize that's indeed not the case.

2:14 PM  
Blogger Last Angry Man said...

TS, I am happy to hear that you ended up OK, with no damage.

I am also sad to see this blog end, but you have your priorities right. You must do what is best for you, as it should be.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have read your posts, and occasionally comment here and there. Perhaps one day I'll see you while I am on the job here in town.

Until then, be well, and thank you again for all of your tales about your experiences as an EMT in the Hub. They are unique, informative, heart-wrenching, uplifting - there aren't enough superlatives.

Peace. Out.

Christopher M. Arthur, AKA "Last Angry Man."

3:09 PM  
Anonymous BB said...

TS- To echo the sentiments here, glad you are OK. Go easy, but glad you'll be back.

Saddened to hear that your blog is ending. I have truly enjoyed your posts. Your writing is eloquent, and I feel that your patient care is a good model for us all to follow. I often forward your posts to other EMS friends of mine to discuss as case studies.

As for the book, you could probably take all the posts you've done and simply publish them. You've done the work already!

Best wishes for the future. I'm going to keep the address in my Google Reader in hopes you'll still throw a post every now and then.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Mick T. said...

Glad to hear it worked out well and that you'll be OK!

About giving up the blogging, you don't have to stop, you could always blog less often. I think we could survive on one of your great blog postings once a month! :)

Anyways, all the best, and good luck with the book!

Mick

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Joy said...

Thank you for coming and sharing how you are. I had been wondering.


Also, thank you for letting us know about the end of your blog. I understand completely.

The internet is such an amazing way to connect to others. Thanks for being one of the positive connections. Blessings to you and your family.

Joy

3:45 PM  
Anonymous mistab said...

thanks and best wishes!

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same as all, happy to hear that in the end you're healthy but sad to see the blog go!

I say keep writing the blog and then publish the contents as a book! Either way, best wishes!

6:49 PM  
Blogger AdCy said...

Good luck, TS. I am glad you are doing well, and I am happy you are following your dreams!

6:52 PM  
Blogger Norma said...

But I don't even know what your name IS; how will I know for sure it's YOUR book and not some other paramedic with the same initials??? :) Well, WOW; that is quite a story, as is pretty much every story you have been so generous as to share with us. I am sorry you had to experience pain and worry, glad nothing tragic happened, glad you had it checked out and cleared up and are able to go back to doing the running & other things that are important to you. And I'll miss your blog tremendously, I really will. I always enjoyed reading it...from every post, I learned something, and from many of them I had quite a good laugh. :)

7:00 PM  
Blogger TS said...

Thank you all very much for your kind words. Reading the comments each day has always been my favorite part of doing this blog.

HHG: If I do get my book published, I'll absolutely mention it here. I intend to leave this site up permanently.

Matt E. warren: Congratulations! Do a good job. In a sense, you'll gradually replace me!

Anonymous: I stand by what I said. Given that my blood pressure and cholesterol have always been normal, I think that this incident had a lot more to do with my strong family cardiac history than with my diet. And as I tried to explain in the post, wouldn't it have happened at an even earlier age if I hadn't been in such good shape?

That's what I was really trying to say--not that exercise can eliminate heart problems, but that it certainly delays them. I feel quite strongly that this was true in my case.

BB: A London paramedic did just that, in a book called "Blood, Sweat, and Tea." It's nothing more than a selection of entries from his blog, which is quite similar to mine.

I wouldn't mind doing that, if a publisher liked the idea. But to be honest, I'd like to write something a little deeper and more meaningful. I've been working on it for a while, but I have a long way to go. We'll see what happens.

Mick: No a bad idea, but I don't see it happening. People tend to lose interest when posts appear too infrequently.

Norma: My name is Jay Weaver. Thanks for all the nice comments.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous JAM said...

TS: I'm sure that you've heard many wishes for your future health, and I want to echo them. Hope that everything goes your way!

I went to my PCP in December 2008. After the nurse took my bp and weight, the doctor came in. He is very up front with his patients, if I can say the least1 He showed me the post it not with weight and bp on it and says to me, What the f&^%$ is with your weight?" He goes on to tell me that when I started visiting with him, 7 years ago, I weighed 60 pounds less. At that point, I had no logicial answer for him, other than I like to eat.

He left the room, and shortly returned. He gave me information for a weight management program, run by one of the teaching hospitals in the capitol city. He then went on to tell me that I am gradually working my way to being a candidate for gastric bypass surgery!

I called the number and made an appointment with them for their orientation session.

Fast forward to today, I am a little more than 10 weeks into the 28 week program, I have lost 53 pounds, and have dropped 6 pants sizes! (tight 44 down to loose 38). I exercise on a regular schedule (5-6 times a week). And I absolutely feel great! I weighed in at 286 lbs at the start of the program, and this past week I weighed in at 233, I still have a ways to go towards my target weight, but with the support that I'm getting from family, co-workers and the group meetings, I will be successful!

Oh and I should also mention that I've retired from my municipal job, and now work full time for a hospital based system. No more stresses!

Sorry for the long post!

All the best to you. Stay safe, whether its on the streets of Boston, or whether the military sends you!

8:30 PM  
Blogger Renee said...

Well, TS (er, Jay), I am very glad you are going to be ok. Yeah, us EMTs and Paramedics tend to think, "It can't be me... it isn't right because of A, B, C...", but as you, I, and others have found out, we sick, and we break, too.

Please make sure to take care of yourself! I saw your times on the Boston Marathon site; considering everything, wow! You WERE lucky, and obviously in good shape for your system to tolerate that with your occlusion.

I really am sorry that the blog is truly ending at this point. Your writings have been educational, amusing, and enlightening! I look forward to reading your book when you are finished. BTW, if standard publishers aren't interested in it, talk to others who have used the Creative Commons method of publishing!

Again, get well, stay well, and we will all look forward to your book! :-)

8:36 PM  
OpenID medicblog999 said...

TS,
I was shocked to read your post, but really glad that things finally turned out ok!
From one blogger to another - I'm sorry to see it end, but understand and appreciate the reasons. I've enjoyed reading your blog hope to get my hands on your book when the publishers get their fingers out!!

All the best for the future an thanks for sharing you life with us all.

8:59 PM  
Blogger TS said...

JAM:

I'm glad to hear that you've found a solution to your problem. I'm not sure whether you told your story in response to my conversation with the anonymous poster about diets, but being overweight is not my problem. In fact, I'm exactly the right weight. We were talking about the effect of the foods we eat, not the amounts.

Renee: One literary agent and two publishers have expressed an interest, but I'm a long way off from finishing a manuscript. I've heard of Creative Commons licensing, but I don't know much about the publishing end of it. Any idea where I can learn more? If you know of any good sites, I'd appreciate it if you'd e-mail me the links at urbanparamedic@hotmail.com com. Thanks!

Oh, and as for my marathon time--I'm sorry that you saw it! That was my slowest marathon since 1988! I understand what you're saying, though, and I agree. I was fortunate even to finish, in light of what was going on.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Brendan (Chicago) said...

Hey Jay,

I hate to be a broken record, but I was shocked to read your post. I actually freaked my girlfriend out because I let out a few "holy shits" when I read 95% LAD occlusion. Like everyone else, I'm relieved to hear that you've made a full recovery.

Similarly, I'm truly saddened to hear that you will be retiring the blog. Without seeming corny, your blog was the first that I ever read and it has truly opened a new world to me. It was refreshing to find other EMS professionals and share common ground. I wish you all of the best and will eagerly await your book (I'm sure you'll get it published before too long).

-Brendan (Chicago)

10:41 PM  
Blogger TS said...

Brendan:

That was funny. Thanks for making me laugh.

I appreciate the kinds words. I can't stress enough, though, that a book is not even close to being finished. But unless I devote more time to it, it'll never have a chance of being finished.

Thanks again.

11:46 PM  
Blogger fenwayguy said...

TS, if you don't mind, I thought I'd re-post the link to Kathleen Burge's January '08 Globe column profiling you and the blog.

Here's wishing you all the best. It's been real. (;o)

11:47 PM  
Blogger fenwayguy said...

Oops, sorry... Globe piece starts here.

11:51 PM  
Blogger Yvonne Tran said...

Long time reader, first time commenter. I'm sad to see the blog go. Since stumbling across your site over a year ago, I've enjoyed your stories and beautiful prose, even - as a non-American and non-EMS - I sometimes didn't get the finer details.

Here's wishing you the best of health in the future, and I will definitely buy that book when it comes out.

12:24 AM  
Blogger Gábor said...

I guess I'm just repeating what everyone else has said here, but glad to hear everything's turned out more or less OK! Take good care of yourself, I'm really sad to see the blog go but the number one priority is you and real life, I'm sure it'll have a positive effect on your life to divert time from the blog to other endeavors (let us know when the book is published! I'll definitely be getting myself a copy). Do make sure you keep visiting the cardiologist regularly, I'd hate to read another paramedic's blog about a cardiac call where the patient ended up being you.
Thanks for the great and interesting stories, the laughs and most importantly the insight into the world of EMS, it was the one major deciding factor on whether or not I wanted to go ahead and go for becoming an EMT - the answer, after reading every single one of your blog posts, is still a resounding yes, so if all goes well perhaps already next year in university I can start working on that. Thanks so much for everything.

-Gabor Posta

6:31 AM  
Blogger Kathy said...

oh well crap! I'm sad to see the end of the blog - I've really enjoyed reading it - it's always been like a little bit of home for me (being a displaced Bostonian). I'm glad you're OK - take it easy on yourself - remember that time is precious, it looks like you are going to spend yours wisely. I'll miss you!

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you've had your 'mortality moment'. Wishing you all the best for the future
j

6:39 AM  
Blogger TS said...

Thanks again, everybody.

7:32 AM  
Blogger DPL said...

TS,

It's been an honor to hear all of your stories and insights. I've learned a great deal from you about healthcare, the military, and perspectives on life. Thank you so much for all the time and energy you put into this blog, and all of your service to the city of Boston, and our great nation.

You inspired me to look at a career in public service, and I'm now a Police Reserve Officer, and in school to become a cop. I hope I can eventually get certified as a Paramedic... But I'll leave that alone as a full time gig!

God bless, good luck, and farewell, sir!

-Dan L.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Dan Dunn said...

Thanks for your posts, and good luck.

10:57 AM  
Blogger BJS said...

TS, First let me say I am very glad for you and your family that you are doing ok. I started reading your Blog after the story in the Globe. I am a Basic currently in medic school I work in your area in one of the blue and white trucks. Your blog has brought many emotions from m--happy, sad, concerned. But the biggest and best thing it has done for me is when I have felt the pressure of school intruding on my family, my sleep, or even my work, your writing could bring me back from the brink of "I quit." Realizing why I am doing this and how much it will pay off for me and the people I help. I just want to say thank you very much for the help you have given me , and the people of Boston. Oh, by the way, if I can ask, what name should I be looking for as author of your book.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous MichiganEMT said...

TS, it has been a genuine pleasure reading your thoughts and experiences and exchanging emails with you. Good luck with all that you do in the future. It is often difficult for those of us in EMS to admit that even we need help occasionally. I am a type one diabetic and although I take reasonably good care of myself, I have also dealt with some health issues.
Take care of yourself and be safe on the road. The pleasure has been mine.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

TS

Glad that you're ok. Like everyone else, I'm sorry that the blog is coming to an end.

When your book comes out, be sure to let us know!

5:13 PM  
Blogger TS said...

BJS:

If you scroll up through the previous comments, you'll find my name.

Thanks, and best of luck to you.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never left a comment but your posts have really helped me through some rough times

Sorry to see you go but I'll definately buy the book
Even though it's still in the making

Good luck!

10:02 PM  
Anonymous PatrickIsAJellyBean said...

Hope to end up coming across this one.. : )
First of all I would really say that me, along with everyone else is very glad your alright. You've lived a life of good and you deserve the best. Im glad your okay..

Second I would love to really thank you for all your time on these blogs, years ago I found it when I was just a kid interested in becoming and EMT, now Im graduated from high school and going to EMT-Basic school in just a couple of months, and you are definately one of the main things thats kept me on that track, your blogs have been an amazing image in my mind of the job and the future, and I really love every post. Your a good man an an amazing writer, and I'll be very sure to keep checking on your blog to see when that book hits shelves, I can say im really looking forward to that day. I love EMS stories, and one by you sounds just awesome. I love your spirt, and your pure goodness and Altruism, thank you for your service to your community and your country.

Best of luck to you Jay, it really was a pleasure, thank you for your hours of entertainment, tears, smiles, and pure strong inspiration.

God Bless, stay strong.

~Patrick P~

12:48 AM  
Blogger Herbie said...

95%?? I'm glad you're still with us.

As for the blog, I'm sorry to see you stop. I can understand why; I have lost the interest to keep up with my blog and post stuff. Reading your blog makes me want to come up and work for Boston; the only problem is that it's 225 miles behind enemy lines.

Be safe bro.

7:15 AM  
Anonymous DaveW said...

Best of luck, TS. I've really enjoyed the blog, and even though I only discovered it in the last few weeks, I've read the entire thing, and it's really helped me make some decisions about an EMS career.

I will miss the blog, but I'll stay subscribed if you'll post updates on the status of the book. I'll keep an eye out for a publish date.

Thanks, and stay healthy!

11:48 AM  
Blogger Shane Curcuru said...

Good luck with the heart and the book. Thanks for the stories and wonderful humanity you've shown over the years.

Do ask your readers for advice on finding agents, publishers, and advertising your book when you're more complete - I'd be surprised if there aren't some regular readers who will have excellent advice for you.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Joan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Joan said...

Take care and thank you for the job you do.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your insights. During the time you have been blogging, I have become a Community First Aid/CPR/AED instructor. Your thoughts and experiences have helped me in my teaching. I look forward to your book!

3:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thought- does BEMS have a spokesman position? I'm thinking maybe you could serve as a spokesman for the agency, and write this blog in an official capacity. I can see that it obviously takes a lot of time to write, and can understand all the other obliations you have, but it would be great if you could write the blog *for* your job, instead of about your job. Boston Police use Twitter to connect w/ the community, so it makes sense for BEMS to embrace online services, and having a 100,000+ readers blogger already in the agency, there's the perfect candidate for the role. Thoughts?

11:59 PM  
Blogger Weekendmedic said...

TS -

Very sorry to see this blog go, as it's been a very positive influence in my career (volunteer paramedic, full time cardiovascular tech in a cardiac hospital).

I'm sure you know how lucky you are, LAD lesions are truly widowmakers.

EMS needs more great authors - our library is much too thin (Bringing Out the Dead? I think not...), I look forward to reading your work in the future.

Thanks for your thoughts...

Eric

9:06 AM  
Blogger TS said...

As a matter of fact, Boston EMS does have such a position. I applied for it when it was created, and despite having a graduate degree, three years of experience acting as media representative for a national charitable event, experience teaching at the college level, and having published something like 30 articles, I was passed over. The person hired had a high school diploma and not much more. Since then, Boston EMS has hired a professional with a journalism background to do the job.

If I sound somewhat bitter about this, that's because I am. This isn't the only time it's happened. I've worked extremely hard to get an education and experience, so that I can work for Boston EMS as something other than a paramedic, but management has repeatedly told me "no thanks."

9:07 AM  
Blogger TS said...

Oh, and one other thing...

I think it's funny that you didn't care for Bringing Out the Dead. I didn't care for the movie, but I thought the book was fantastic. When I saw the part about one paramedic wanting to pronounce a cardiac-arrest victim dead because he hadn't eaten yet, and the Chinese restaurant was about to close, I thought, "Yes! I can relate to that! That is SO realistic!"

It's dark, but I really enjoyed it.

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad you have done well, your story is alot like Walter K., from years past, PTCA is regarded as a common procedure, until your turn, keep the feet warm, plavix will do that for you, 95%!!! you must have some great collaterals, May God bless you Jay. LAXRN75

9:52 AM  
Anonymous dolphkhan said...

I find it amusing that even in closing, you're still passively teaching. Over the past few months since While I'm sorry to see your blogging days end, but you've definitely got your priorities straight. Thank you for the thoughtful insights, the amusement, and the education. My best wishes to you.

10:18 AM  
Blogger TS said...

Thanks very much.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

TS its been awesome reading your stuff throughout my paramedic class take care of yourself stay safe and get on that book so i can buy it haha

7:40 PM  
Blogger mamagotcha said...

So sorry to see the blog end... even if you just collected the writings here and published them, I'd buy it!

And yes, please do post here when the book comes out... I'll keep OPE on my reader list and will definitely spread the word as much as I can when the time comes.

Good luck to you. Hope you heal quick and enjoy a long writing career. Best wishes and thanks for all the thought-provoking (and sometimes really funny) stories.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a paramedic in busy city in akron and I've seen my fair share of things myself but your stories were alot of fun to read. I do hope you write a book i will definately buy it. Good luck and good health. -CS

9:55 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

This blog has always been a "good read". You're an excellent story teller, TS. Also you have class, other blogs are peppered with the f word and I don't think I've ever seen that here. Regarding your unwelcome health suprise- Life is strange and wonderful and sometimes it's just strange. Things happen that aren't supposed to happen and vice versa. Take care and good luck.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Fibro Witch said...

I'm sorry to hear your serious about ending this blog. I enjoyed reading your writing, it gave a human face to the wonderful people who pick me up every time I get sick.

Glad your feeling better. Will miss your blog.

8:26 PM  
Blogger Michael A. Burstein said...

TS, I'm glad to hear you're OK, and I will miss your blog. Do let us know when the book comes out.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks....your stories have made me realise that healthcare professionals are humans...i used to be petrified of going any where near a doctors office when i felt ill...since reading your accounts you have gave me the courage to finally go...like you said, i like to look after my body too, and if someone was to tell me something was wrong id of been embarassed as if everyone would think i havent been looking after myself...but like you ive realised not to be embarassed!!....So thank you very much for that....glad to hear you have got sorted yourself too....now maybe you will feel the difference when you build up your strength again and are running!
Thank you loads,
Nola,
from Ireland

7:34 PM  
Blogger TS said...

Thanks, Nola. Glad you found it useful.

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You working the holiday shift this year on the 4th? I remember you wrote about it last year. Let us know how it went (once you catch up on sleep!)

5:35 PM  
Blogger TS said...

I did work at the event--for 16 hours, in fact. The crowds seemed somewhat bigger than usual, possibly owing to the nice weather after so much bad weather lately. Even so, injury-wise, it was the slowest Fourth I can remember working. As far as I know, there was only one serious illness and several minor illnesses, so a good day was had by all.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Dani B. said...

Glad to hear you're on the mend. Sad to see the blog go though. I guess it's better to ride off into the sunset though while the blog is still worth reading then to beat it to death. I'm still very grateful for the ride-along you gave me last February. I wish you luck with your book plans and hope that if you do publish you will post the details here.

7:21 PM  
Blogger Last Angry Man said...

Btw, TS, I did not get the Night Center position - a former co-worker coincidentally did. I got a much better position with the same parent organization, as a property manager for a pair of group houses in Brookline. All is thus good.

Hope you're well; eagerly keeping an eye out for the book.

See you around the big city!

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am sorry that the first post of yours I read is your last. It is indeed hard for us (Paramedics) to take our own advice, as such I am sure now that you will have an entirely different outlook on the job. I am sure that it will stretch beyond cardiac patients.

Good luck with your book.

Adam
www.ontariomedic.ca

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TS, would there be any chance that if I gave you my email address by emailing you, could you give me updates or not?
Thx!

11:48 AM  
Blogger TS said...

I'm not sure what kind of updates you're talking about. Feel free to e-mail me at urbanparamedic@hotmail.com.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Hi;

I've read several of your posts and enjoyed them. I hope that your heart is healing up and you are healthy and back at work. Good luck with the book!

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I meant by that was case/incident updates similar in format to you blog?

8:45 PM  
Anonymous ThisOldWomanIsOnlyAGirl said...

Jay -

Glad you're still with us!

I've not read your blog for a few months, so imagine my disappointment when I came back for a nice long read to find that you're no longer posting. Way to go out with a bang, though ;)

My husband, a medic student, introduced me to your blog. I'd still read it even if he wasn't. We both have enjoyed and appreciated your writing.

We all can only hope that you'll get that itch to post again someday. If not, we'll buy the book! I'll be checking back every so often. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is certainly interesting for me to read the post. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything connected to this matter. I definitely want to read more on that blog soon.

12:26 AM  

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