Editor’s note – Shorts are collections of stories that have been submitted that are shorter than 1 paragraph in length.
I’ve had issues for a while now. Anxiety, depression, anger issues- these bleed over into my family. I recognize that. I want to fix it and I sought professional help. I selected a well-qualified individual who specializes in PTSD, who also takes my insurance. 4 sessions in (I have decided to go weekly until I felt like I got a grip on things) and I was advised from this specialist that PTSD individuals such as myself are very hard to treat and therapy isn’t effective because I continue to work in the field and continually re-expose myself to traumas on calls, therefore, this wouldn’t be an effective means of handling these issues because I would never “get over” my issues while still working. Floored. I don’t know what to say. I wanted to cry. And get up and walk out and be done with this person. But I already was charged for the session so we talked about other family issues. WTF. Great- so are there any therapists out there who fucking specialize?! You can’t help me because of my job?! You specialize in PTSD for 34 years! Feeling defeated. Pushing on- maybe look for someone else.
– Story written by a female paramedic, 16 years in EMS
I watched you wipe the tears from your eyes as we walked past you. A slight glimmer of hope sprouted from a barren field of desperation. I’ve been there. He laid against the window with the hand still gripping the pistol. A single casing lies on the carpet. Motionless, it doesn’t realize the damage it has caused. It did its job, but the single bullet didn’t stop on the other side of this man’s skull. It continues to rip through the hearts and lives of the ones he left behind. I find you leaning against the car with the woman that comforts you. I have an obligation to deliver this news. Something you will never forget. I introduce myself and my voice begins to tremble and crack. I have to be the one that tells you. I’m obligated. I deliver the news with compassionate eyes. Powering through my trembling vocal cords, fighting back tears, my voice is stern and blunt so there is no misunderstanding. Only to completely alter your day, your week, your year, your life. I know you’re seeing everything in slow motion. It will pass, I promise. “My Dad did the same thing, you’re going to get through it. I promise.”Again, fighting back tears. He embraces me, and his tears stain my shirt. I can only hope that my promises to stay true. I can only hope.
– Story written by a firefighter/EMT with 4 years in EMS.
I am a medic seasoned by almost 15 years of experience. A few weeks ago, I had a call during which I made an error in judgment. There was no untoward outcome for the patient. Everyone is aware – bosses, medical directors, etc – and appropriate measures were taken. I am still on the road, but now I have a panic attack on the way to work each day. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I want to describe my attacks, in hopes they will help others – or maybe me. As soon as they start, I know exactly what they are. It doesn’t help me brush them aside any faster. I don’t have shortness of breath or chest pain. I don’t hyperventilate. I do make my breaths slightly more intentional. It feels like the world is closing in around me. I know, deep down, there is nothing wrong but I can’t stop them. After the attack subsides, I have a postictal period where I’m in a daze. If I can, I sleep. The rest of the day I’m exhausted. I am on meds and in counseling. I work out regularly. I eat well. I’m hoping these won’t continue forever.
– Story written by a 38 year old male paramedic, 14 years in EMS.