He's rounding on a hundred years old. A carpet took him down tonight, nothing more. He isn't even seriously hurt. Just hit the wall hard enough to rattle his brain a bit. He's not really confused, just can't quite remember the last six weeks or so.
His wife died a month ago, and so I hold his hand and listen to him cry, as the loss is made new again.
* * *
A man lies on my stretcher, muscles flexed, teeth clenched, arms rotated peculiarly so his palms face outward, to his sides. Blood streams from cuts on his head and face, and he breathes quickly, noisily, snoring. He doesn't respond to anything we do. The air in the ambulance smells of beer and iron.
I hand two syringes to my partner and look down at the man's face as she gives him the meds, one after the other. I adjust my safety glasses, thumb the laryngoscope open, and wait for his breathing to stop.
* * *
A toddler sits in the car seat, which in turn is strapped to my stretcher. He cries, confused, hot, still coming out of the seizure I fervently hope was caused by a virus. His mother holds his hand, trying not to look scared. As my partners work at assessing him, I stand behind the gurney, patting his shoulder with a blue-gloved hand, telling him softly, "It's okay, it's okay, you're okay, sweet boy."
Neither he nor his mother speak a word of English, and I cannot stop thinking about how much easier this was before I had a child of my own.
* * *
I have the same conversation a hundred times.
"Whoa, you're a paramedic? I bet you see some crazy stuff. It's got to be a super stressful job!"
Every time I lie.
"Eh, not really. Most of it is pretty routine. Little old ladies falling down. Nothing like you see on TV."