They Don't Want To Know...

This post is part of a new collaborative writing effort by EMS bloggers all over the country. Go to Normal Sinus Blog to check it out!

“So, Epi... How's work going?”

My family is sitting around the dining room table. The chatter has stopped as they wait with baited breath. My one drunk Aunt even sets her wine glass down.

What do I tell them?

Do I tell them how five, yes count them, FIVE of my regular dialysis patients died this week? Do I tell them how I now read the obituaries on a daily basis at the age of 32?

Do I tell them about the 22-year-old quadriplegic former football phenom? The one who has to go to wound care appointments every two weeks for the massive decubitus ulcers on his backside?

Do I tell them that I did compressions for the ninth time in my EMS career this week? Do I tell them about the patients' Granddaughter who had to be restrained at the door of the room? Do I tell them how I am still having nightmares about her screams? Do I tell them that nine out of nine times I've helped to work a code the patient has died?

Do I tell them how exhausting it is, mentally and physically, to work 50-72 hours a week for barely above minimum wage. Do I tell them that we do anywhere from six to ten runs a day? Do I tell them how I want to cry when they tell us to “Grab the Bari-Cot”. Do I tell them that most of us eat Flexoril like they're candy thanks to cots that at times don't function properly and morbidly obese patients?

Of course not. I don't tell them about any of that.

The room is still silent. My Mom looks concerned. “Epi?”

“Oh, it was great. Got to see some cool stuff. A structure fire, and a car accident. Everyone was fine, but there were some HAWT firemen in turnout gear.”

Everyone laughs. I do too, but it's not real. I change the subject by asking my Brother about his job. He regales us with a story of a couple committing insurance fraud and his part in their prosecution.

They don't want to know.

Later on that night my partner text messages me. “How was dinner with the fam?”

“Typical.” is the only response I can come up with.

“Still having those dreams?”

“Yes” I respond. I think he can hear me exhale from two miles away.

“Come on over and talk it out.”

There are some things only a Partner can understand. And a family can't begin to.


Anonymous said...

This was probably the best post I have read in a very long time.

I frankly don't know how you guys do it sometimes and I don't understand why the pay scale is the way it is.

I remember my first code and the daughter screaming, it makes me up sometimes. So I understand, but I fortunately don't have to deal with car accidents or hurting babies, so I applaud you and thank you all at once.

Without you guys we'd be screwed!

Epijunky said...

Hey :)
Your comment humbles me. Thank you.

And likewise, because my favorite patients are my dialysis regulars.

Thank you for what YOU do.

Evil Lunch Lady said...

I wish I had the strength to do what you do. I do not, I can not imagine the screaming....that would make me go insane. I'm so glad you CAN to your job! We all need people like you!

Rogue Medic said...

I had been thinking of posting along these lines. I had been married for almost ten years before working in EMS. A few years later we were divorced. The difficulty of talking about work was probably something that contributed to this. I couldn't find a way to write about it that worked for me.

You did a much better job with it than I would have. Thank you for putting into words something so difficult to express.

Medic61 said...

As always, I love your posts.

My problem is that I do tell my parents.'s awesome...


Witness said...

Amen. My parents get frustrated when I don't talk to them about my job, but in all actuality, they don't want to know. They don't NEED to know. They wouldn't understand, either way. You are lucky that you have a steady partner that's always willing to help - my company isn't so lucky. I have my preceptor, though, and we're good friends, and of course I have you and the rest of the blogosphere to lean on. :-)

Epijunky said...

*** I'm simultaneously rejecting and publishing this post with just one word removed.***

Paul Chandler has left a new comment on your post "They Don't Want To Know...":

Hey PWD, I really understand were you are coming from. I have been at the dinner table with my fam and have the same questions. Sometimes I tell them the way it is and they do not ask for a while, esp. when it a 3yrs old boy in Trauma Arrest (not a good day). But thankfully there are friends in the Fire/EMS that know where you are coming from and they have been there too and have the t-shirt. It not just a brother/sisterhood, but a understanding family.

I enjoy reading your blogs. Which service do you work for. I use to work for (Removed by Epi)in Columbus. Now I am paramedic in Brazil. Good times.

Peace, Paul

Rogue Medic said...


I guess you decided that we don't want to know - where he worked, that is. :-)