If I’ve learned anything while practicing prehospital emergency medicine (besides remembering to say “clear” before you defibrillate and not after), it’s how the human body has an amazing ability to independently heal itself with or without EMS intervention. It’s a humbling admittance to be sure, but true all the same. Ask anyone who’s been in the field long enough and they’ll tell ya, it’s not emergency medicine that cures the patient as much as it’s about giving patients the resources to help cure
themselves—assuming of course, they have health insurance.
Emergency medicine is based on providing the appropriate ingredients, reconstruction and opportunistic routes for sustaining an already drained percolating state of homeostasis. Speaking of drained and percolating, standby while I hit the can and grab a cup of Joe so I can experience polyuria even more before I finish this article.
Ironically, the body of an EMS provider is always trying to heal itself both physically and mentally—often while the medic is providing healing resources to the patient. Bottom line is, our EMS bodies hate our job. It believes the lifestyle we live is disrespectful and indifferent to its needs.
To some degree, our body can forgive us for our earlier youth-filled exploits of rebellious conquests, mindless partying, sleeplessness and reckless double-dog-dare-darwin doings. But by the age of six, those painful exploits begin to manifest themselves, requesting an unwinding of old patterns and permanent reprieve from such hooliganisms.
My body wants an apology. No, it wants restitution for an EMS lifestyle it had no voice in—a voice that might say, “Yo Steve! Can you hear me? Guess not from all those sirens wreaking havoc on my cochlea. I appreciate you bending over to hear me out anyway. What’s that? Bending over is a problem for you? Well, I guess that’s to be expected from the lumbar stenosis and mild herniation you gave me from having lifted over a total of 25 million pounds of sickly or traumatized flesh from all sorts of compromising positions. No need getting on your knees to apologize seeing as you need 10W-40 to keep them from locking up on me. No need losing sleep over it either since I don’t see the inside of my eyelids anywhere from 24 to 48 hours at a time. I just wanted to give you some food for thought other than the fast food kind, which has been congregating in a coagulating manner within my GI track for the past 30 years. Don’t take it to heart though, seeing as I’ve already done that for you. Speaking of, do you know if heart cathes tickle? Seriously, don’t sweat it. The random moments of post-traumatic shock do that for me anyway, while cleansing my pores. I could continue to piss and moan, but I know you actually have to, secondary to all that coffee. At least my stretched-out bladder can hold it from all those years of not having access to a bathroom during calls.”
Okay, so it’s not quite that bad, but I’m trying to make it up to my body by working out 3–4 times a week along with cycling, and watching what food I eat before it tickles its way through my coronary arteries.
The body does indeed have a remarkable ability to heal itself. Let’s help keep it in a forgiving mood by caring for ourselves, because it certainly isn’t going to forget if it has too much
Until next time: You know it’s bad when the older crews gather during shift change and compare notes—not of the patients they treated, but which coffee-drinking medic has the best orthopedic surgeon.