There are times in our lives where pride of our business and dedication to our service is at an all time high.  We take several things for granted and never realize that it can be taken away from us at a moment’s notice.  With recent events in my life, I have realized not only how important life may be, yet who is important in sharing my life with. This is where that sense of pride and dedication to our service steps in.

On Sunday, August 9, 2009, I woke as I did every morning with a cup of coffee and a cigarette and sat on my porch and watched the sunrise and listened to the day awake.  I never knew what was brewing deep inside my old bald body until later that morning.  While enjoying my Folgers brew and Marlboro cigarette as I have for the past 32 years, my “chronic indigestion” returned and I began having some pain in my right shoulder.  As with most of us in EMS, I diagnosed myself with joint pain – possibly pleurisy, took a couple Tums and totally ignored what was the beginning of a much dreaded day.  I didn’t want anyone to see that I was in pain – that I was soft and could not take a little shoulder pain.  In our business, along with cattle farming, you will have some minor aches and pains and we just learn to live with it and go on.  Plus, this was on my right side, totally opposite of where the important parts lie!  I dressed myself for church services and made the 25 mile trip to Harrison with my family and noticed that this pain was more severe and was now radiating into my right jaw and ear – and the 10 Tums and Prilosec weren’t kicking in.  After Bible class, my intuitive other half put me on 100% O2 and took my pressure, 184/124…I promptly got a quick trip to the emergency department.

Of course, the story goes on from there…enjoying the drugs, embarrassing the nurses, using my “When Seconds Count” membership, and receiving another stent in my heart compliments of a fine physician at Washington Regional.

My point from this story is for everyone to pay attention to what your body tells you!!  Don’t ignore what we all know can happen.  We have too many people depending on us to make their world go round – not only our family that we share our homes with, but the family that we share our many hours of work with.  I am trying to live a better life.  I am currently smoke-free for a month now and watching what I eat a little closer.  Sure, in our professional lives at times, we do not know what we are going to eat, where it comes from or when that meal may take place.  I am not preaching about our food intake as much as I am about listening to our bodies and taking care of ourselves.  We are only given this one body to make the best of it for the number of years that we are blessed to be on this earth.

I use myself as an example.  I am 44 years young and have not taken the best of care of myself for many of those years.  I have eaten what I could grab, exercised by lifting a cot and have done things with my body that I shouldn’t have.  I have had two heart attacks and now cannot walk through a metal detector without it beeping.  I have been told that if I don’t change my ways of living, my time will be short.  I intend on being a burden to Evyn and Allie.  I WILL be around to sit on the porch with a shotgun.  I WILL be around to see my children graduate.  And hope that I live to be old enough for some nurse to have to change my diaper one day!

With all this preaching aside now, I have another situation that I want to discuss.  The Arkansas EMS Foundation was created to help those in our EMS family during difficult times.  After returning from the local pharmacy and spending $250 on prescriptions, I checked the mail to gather more bills that needed to be paid by the first of the month.  Inside the mailbox was a small white envelope, with AEMSF titled in the upper left of the envelope.  I opened this mail first and tears began to flow.  Not only was my family at home concerned, yet my extended family of EMS as well.  I really don’t know how to say thank you enough to the board of the AEMSF and to express to them our deepest gratitude.  I want to let the Board of the AEMSF know how much they have touched my life and how great a service they have provided to me and my family.

I would be remiss if I didn’t extend my sincere gratitude to the staff in the emergency department and CCU at North Arkansas Regional Medical Center in Harrison.  After several blood draws, my Triponin levels continued to rise and AirEvac 40 transported me to Washington Regional.  I received the most professional care and treatment that a person could expect to receive from the crew at AE40 and I thank them tremendously.  By the way, may I just say, that myself, the pilot and the crew would like to thank whomever created Zofran!!!

My life has been changed dramatically since the 9th of August.  I challenge each person who reads this to evaluate what can be done differently in your life so that we, your EMS family can enjoy as many years as possible of care giving and fun-filled times that we can.  I am not challenging everyone to go get a complete cardiac work up right now, but think about it as your mid-life approaches.  We live in this highly stressful, demanding world of EMS and we just have each other to take care of ourselves.  I appreciate each and every one of you who are out on the streets taking the time and showing the dedication in making the sick and injured feel more secure.  Thanks to your families for letting you take time from them to dedicate and devote to those who need you.  Tonight, take a moment of time and let those that live in your life know that they are loved.

Please be safe and enjoy the ability that God has given us by taking care of those that need us!!