Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hooray #2!!

HOORAY!! Hurdle #2 is complete. I finished my last precepting shift last Friday, and was signed off and handed in my paperwork on Monday. The last and final hurdle is a licensing exam for BC Ambulance, similar to an RN exam once you are finished your nursing degree (though of course I don't have a degree in paramedicine--no such thing yet!). I don't have a date for that exam yet, but when I do I'll post it so you guys can think of me on my third and final hurdle to complete paramedic school. The boys survived! The last week was difficult for them because they missed me, but they seemed calmer and exhibited fewer anxious behaviours, so that was good. They are such good boys, so easy going and flexible, I truly am blessed. And now, mommy's home! And the sun is out! So we're all happy. Thanks for thinking of us!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Some photos

The sunshine came out this week, hooray! Previous to Sunday, we had 22 days of rain :P Yucky. Here are Matthew, Ayden, and our friend Bodhi playing at the park and in the backyard this week!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Another Life Saved

I'm on my very last precepting shift tonight!! Last night after I posted we got a call for an overdose in a hotel room. When we arrived I had that same sense from the moment I looked at this guy, that he was Sick. Dying. He was depressed and had taken way too much heroin and was now not breathing. We put a tube in his throat, pumped some air into him, and gave him a shot of narcan to counter the heroin in his body. It takes about 8-10 minutes for that drug to work when injected, so we were down loading him into the ambulance when he popped one eye open. Holy crap! This guy was just almost dead 8 minutes ago and here he is peering up at me looking confused and freiked out. The weirdest thing was that he had darker skin, like part african-canadian or part indo-canadian or something, and bright blue eyes. It was so unexpected that he have blue eyes that it was eerie! He was still pretty sick, vomiting everywhere and thrashing around, but definately in better shape than when we arrived. Very cool. I used up all my energy on that call, too, and was happy that we only had one more, very tame, call after that for the rest of the night.
Now I am three hours into my last shift in Maple Ridge. No babies delivered yet!! Only nine hours left!! :P Thanks for rooting for me!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

13th Day and Counting

I'm currently at my 13th day in a row of either working or at school, with one day off in the midst of it!! This is my second week of precepting. I survived the infamous Station 48 so this week I was not nervous at all; I guess I was so crazy nervous to work the Eastside while being critiqued that I figured Maple Ridge would be a cakewalk. And it has been pretty kind to me. I have done two day shifts and am on my first of two night shifts, though tonight we got bumped over to Port Coquitlam, which can be pretty busy. Yesterday we did a weird call; this guy was found sitting in the driver's seat of his vehicle in an underground parkade, car in drive, and foot on the brake, unconscious. Crazy! His vehicle was the type that locks the doors automatically when you put it into drive (I hate that feature; any safety you gain against carjackers--who, by the way, can generally get you out of the vehicle, locked doors or no, with a gun to your face--is offset by the danger of delays in getting people out of their vehicles in an emergency) so the firefighters had to smash his window to gain access to him. I was stumped as to what was up with this guy at first. He was totally unresponsive, even to pain, but breathing okay, good pulse, and no injuries. There was one venipuncture in the bend of his elbow which could have been a track mark or evidence of legitimate bloodwork; he was well dressed and driving a nice car, clean cut guy, so not evidently a drug user...we yanked him out of the vehicle and started an IV and checked his vitals and blood sugar, which were within the normal range. So I gave him some Narcan and he started to come around. It turns out he WAS a druggie; you can never judge a book by its cover, I guess, and a violent one when he came off his high. He was flailing all over the ambulance stretcher like a 6'4" fish and my preceptor had to sit on him with his knee in the guy's neck to get him to stay put. Wild! All in a day's work, eh? :P I'm not too impressed with my preceptor this week; can you say axe to grind?? Very unsafe work practices, not interested in my situation or my life or anything pertaining to anyone else but himself, runs his calls like a circus mcgurkus (for all you dr. seuss fans out there), and bosses me around like his personal slave. He's always droning on and on about political stuff in the Ambulance Service and mistakes he sees other people make and heroic stuff he has done to save lives, etc...this man should not be teaching. Anyways, its a hoop to jump through and I'll jump, and I was lucky last week having three great preceptors and learning so much working with them. Even here, I manage to glean the odd bit of wisdom either from my patients or my preceptor (or his partner, who is awesome, and with whom I am always swapping baby/toddler stories and advice because she has an 18 month old son). I'm seeing the light at the end of this tunnel get larger and larger as I get closer to being done. Hooray! I only have tomorrow's night shift to get through, and then the licensing exam, and I'm done for good. Already I am much calmer and more patient at home now that I am less nervous about school. The boys are doing a bit better now than they were at the beginning of the week; we got to spend the day together today which was wonderful. We had to go to the Dr. and run errands all day but we did it together and managed to have some fun to boot. On Sunday afternoon Brent called me at work in Squamish and told me that Ayden had some goop draining out of one of his eyes, which made me think PINK EYE (gross--the boys had it once before) and I told him to take the day off on Monday and take him to the Dr. to get it checked out, if it didn't clear up. So Monday morning he calls me and tells me it is all cleared up, and off the boys go to daycare and Brent goes to work. I come home from precepting that night (not having seen the boys since Saturday afternoon), take one look at Ayden's eyes, and turn right around again and take him to the ER. He had the worst case of conjunctivitis that I've ever seen. He had rubbed them so hard that several blood vessels had burst and the whites of his eyes were as red as blood, which made him look evil and slightly eerie. Way to go Brent! ;) We spent 2 hours in the ER and left with some heavy duty antibiotics...well, today Matthew had to go see the Dr. because HE has developed a case of conjunctivitis in each eye... :P I sure hope I don't get it, is all I have to say.
Goopy eyes and all, I sure miss my boys! All of this week I've been hankering to quit my job and forget it all because I miss them so much, but I keep telling myself it's only temporary and when school is all over I never have to do another 13 day stretch again...I can go back to my two shifts a week, which is perfect, and then when/if Brent goes back to school I will work a full time position, which is two day shifts, a switchover day (24 hours off), two night shifts, and four days off. And eligibility for 6 blocks of holidays per year. Then, when Brent is done with school I can either stay full time, or go back to part time, one or two shifts a week if I want to. That is a much more manageable schedule than 13 days in a row!!!! It has been interesting these past two weeks as well, because I have been going away overnight to go to work for so long that I have gotten used to it, but it has been SO heavenly to go to work and then come home at night and see the boys for 1/2 hour or so before they go to bed, and then sleep in my own bed next to my sweetie every night (or sleep in it by myself during the day if I'm on night shifts). I'd forgotten how great that is.
Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts/prayers this past little while! I'll keep you posted on the rest of the week!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The First Week of Precepting

I'm done my first week...hooray! Thanks for all of you who are out there rooting for me, it is great to have so much support. My second precepting shift in Abbotsford went well; it was pretty slow and most of the calls were pretty run of the mill. My preceptor there signed me off with lots of 'excellents' on his comment form, and with many well wishes for the future. I then spent two days at "Station 48," which, as I mentioned in my previous post, is in the innermost guts of the downtown East Hastings area of Vancouver. It doesn't get much poorer and wilder than station 48. My preceptors there were amazing--street smart AND book smart, and funny to boot. My first day there I did 10 or so calls, and the second call I literally saved this guy's life. I mean, we 'save lives' but we frequently joke that we 'saved another life' after we return from the routine or boring calls with leg wounds or toe pain or drunkenness, etc. But THIS guy was minutes away from death; he still had a pulse but he was not breathing, which means he had another 4-6 minutes from when he stopped breathing to the beginning of irreversable brain cell death. So we put a tube in his airway, pumped air into him, I started an IV and gave him some drugs, and WHAMMO!! He woke up. He looked like crap and he was definately having a cardiac event, so he was ONE SICK DUDE--but he was alive. It was VERY cool. We have two unofficial categories we place patients in: Sick or Not Sick. Sick means dying. Not sick means not dying. This dude was Sick! When you get experienced you start being able to tell from the doorway of a patient's room if they are Sick or Not Sick just from the way they look, and I have enough experience now that as soon as we walked into that guy's apartment, I thought "Holy crap, this guy is dead" which he wasn't, but near to.
After that call I felt very thirsty and slightly nauseous, and I definately had no energy left for more critical, Sick patients where I'd have to use my brain and an adrenaline rush...luckily, the rest of my patients were non critical.
The following day was SLOWER THAN HECK!! We had six calls, four patients, and transported only ONE person to the hospital all day. That opened up the opportunity for my preceptors to grill me on my pathophysiology, drugs, and protocols, which was great practice. By the end of the day, though, I was exhausted, and my preceptor kept grilling me and hovering over me while I was doing things, and all his feedback was helpful but negative. So this salty watery fluid started leaking out my eyes and I had to run to the bathroom at St. Paul's Hospital ER and empty their kleenex box for 20 minutes. So of course I look like I've been sprayed with pepper spray or smoked a bunch of weed because my eyes are beet red and my face all blotchy, but I can't hide out in the bathroom any longer because someone is going to send security to hunt me down soon! I left the bathroom and immediately went outside where it was dark and cool, and waited for my preceptor. He was worried about me because he could tell I was upset and didn't like that he had been the trigger for my really wasn't him. I was tired, missing my kids, and TOTALLY stressed out to be working the downtown Eastside, which is like a totally different culture with different rules and different people...
anyways, after my weeping session we got to teasing each other again and all was good, though I felt a bit foolish. Well let's face it, I felt a lot foolish. He is a great guy and we had a great rapport so everything was okay, but I did let him know that it's helpful if he tempers his criticisms with positive comments, and he thanked me because he is a newish instructor and needs feedback, too.
A little humility never hurt anyone, especially us paramedics. I know some paramedics who wear imaginary superman capes and think they are God's gift to the world, so it is nice to know I'm not one of them. ;)
Keep my kids in mind this week, if you will! They are missing me tremendously and starting to act a little wild, and it is six days yet before I can spend any significant amount of time with them again...feeling guilty...and aweful for them... it's temporary!! I promise!! It's just so hard for them to understand "next week" when they live so emphatically in the present moment. I'll keep you posted on this week as well!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The First Precepting Shift

Hooray!! My first precepting shift is finished, and I'm 32 minutes into my second shift. My first preceptor (I have 3) is nice and has no axe to grind, and is a good balance of helpful and flexible. We had some good calls yesterday with great feedback and good discussions about the best way to treat or manage specific cases, weighing the pros and cons of certain treatments. Perfect. I was quite glad my first shifts were in Abbotsford because I know the area well and am acquainted with some of the other crews. I even knew one of the houses we responded to; I had been there before in the past for a different medical problem. One of my friends was dispatching our channel as well, which was great. The whole team was rooting for me, and my dispatcher friend tried her hardest to send me to the most extreme cases so I could get signed off as experiencing the critical ones. I am one day into the eight day, second hurdle, precepting aspect of Paramedic School--woohoo! Tomorrow and Friday I am precepting at the notorious "Station 48" in East Hastings, Vancouver. I'm nervous!! So far, the boys are doing great but it has only been one day!! I also recieved an email with my written exam mark from last weekend, and I did well!! Hooray!

Monday, March 12, 2007


Well, last week I had three major hurdles to get through before I was done Paramedic School. Final exams (2 days' worth!), eight precepting shifts as a student on an ambulance with an instructor, and a licensing exam (8 hours). This weekend I got through the first hurdle! Final exams included a two hour written component and 12 hours (6 one day and 6 the next day) of practical exams where we take turns being each others' patient and act out specific skills to demonstrate proficiency, and to demonstrate our knowledge of the protocols (algorithms) we need to know and the pathophysiology behind them. Whew! Talk about stressful. I don't have my written exam mark yet, but I'm not as worried about that. We get feedback on our practical exams right after we do them, so I know I did well on those. I've been so focused on this stuff that it feels weird to have the final exam behind me. Of course, I felt about five minutes of relief that the final was over, and then I started panicking about the precepting, which starts tomorrow! Yikes!
Anyways, I am just so glad to get to the end of this course, I'm grateful for the knowledge I've gained and the people in my class, and for (most of) our instructors. And I am SO glad it's finally almost over. It has been a long haul! I started this program when I was pregnant with Ayden and had many stops and starts, and here I'm almost done. Ironically, BC Ambulance has changed their entrance requirements so that when I'm done this course I'll be an "entry level" paramedic. :P When I started, entry level was much different. Much lower.
So! Here we go, on with precepting!! Hopefully I will have kind instructers with much patience and actual wisdom to convey, and not just an axe to grind. Hopefully I have good calls so I get to demonstrate a variety of skills and protocols. What I really want is to deliver a baby. One of my coworkers had a delivery on one of her precepting shifts, and she fainted. Twice. V. funny! I'm looking into becoming a midwife's assistant so a delivery would be awesome. Think of me this week as I work my buns off on my precepting shifts, and think of my kids the next two weeks as I will be gone 9 1/2 of the next 10 days for 12 hours at a time...they are not used to me working more than one or two days a week so it will be hard for them. Thanks! I'll keep you updated!

Thursday, March 1, 2007


I've been asked to put some of my artwork in a show the end of March, so I chose three pieces, and I've photographed them in case they sell, so I'll have a record of them for keeps. Here are the three I've decided to put in the show. Enjoy!


Fuscia Tulip

Intrusions (a reflection on the first year of marriage)