The following is my worst memories, but with the details omitted. I feel I owe you one of my best memories, so hopefully tomorrow I can figure out how to make facebook or google download a video in less than 24 hours. I tried it, but it didn't work.
I realized today that depending on how you count it, either today or the next Sunday will be a month. It seems like only a day.
Yesterday was the first day since then that I ate three meals. The first night I hit 5 1/2 hours without a sleeping pill (I have only taken 4 pills total, and I kept thinking I needed to learn to sleep without, but no luck until now). I didn't have any night terrors, either.
I guess you have to understand that there are two factors to consider. The grief is here, there is no getting around it. Then there is something else. I don't know how to put a name to it, the best thing I can think of is post traumatic stress syndrome? It is the reason I changed the ringer on my phone, why I hate the 24.5 mile marker on I24, why I found myself shaking a bit as I got into the Explorer to go home the first day after shift. I know I have seen many things in my career that would make many men and women not in emergency services to go into counseling. I have blocked a person from cameras on the scene of a fire fatality, washed down a road avoiding a teddy bear, talked to a man we lost as I waited for other responders... he had helped my husband get our car unstuck out of my backyard just a few days before he hit the tree that killed him. So many others... and the details are bad, but I will leave those out for you. I know that these were all people, parents, and children. But I have never been on an infant fatality call. Never my own son. I read an article that said Paramedics were there when I arrived that day. That is not true. My house is 12 minutes away from the nearest ambulance if you drive nonemergency. I was only about 4 or 5 away from the house when I got the call. The dispatchers argued with my husband for several minutes after I convinced him to call 911, before he could finally speak coherently enough to explain that it was the right address, but we lived just over the line in Cheatham County. He hung up shortly before I walked in. I was there,with my Daughter lying on the ground crying, still holding the rooster coasters that she had been pretending were a book as she waited for me by the door before Daddy screamed.
It bothers me that she saw everything. It bothers me that I could only do a few chest compressions, I couldn't make myself acess him or give him breaths. I didn't want to know what I instinctively knew from what I saw, from the 'slide show' of all the past medical calls of those we could not save. It bothers me that no one put him on the moniter. Not because I think it could have helped, but because I needed to see that flat line and to have someone else tell me he was gone long before... To tell me that none of my skills could have saved him if I could have used them. That no paramedic skill, nothing a trained staff of an Emergency room could have.
I couldn't do CPR on my own son.
But if I had done CPR I know it wouldn't have changed anything. As it was, they let us hold him. It was the last time he was still 'ours' although I know that in reality he was no longer in that tiny shell. From then on we were told the timeline and what we could and could not do. If I had started a futile attempt at CPR, they would have had to continue, he might have been rushed to the hospital to no avail, we might not have been able to hold him.
My husband couldn't let go, he wailed and begged to change his diaper. I have never doubted the extreme love my husband has for our children, not before and not in that moment. My heart broke for him as I realized what he what he was feeling, what I was feeling. After giving him more time, he looked at me, told me he could not give him up to them. I held out my arms and he handed him to the only person he would let take him. I held him for a bit and it burned my insides. The smiling baby had fled, had flickered out sometime in the night. I told the paramedic that waited with a white coarse blanket that I knew he was only a shell, but that he was my son. To please tell them to treat Perry gently because he was all that remained of him on this earth.
And I let him go.
The others were people, some I have worked on in the Pleasant View/ Henrietta community I knew. But I could forget as the faces quickly blurred in the bad memories. Allow the dump valve in my brain to open. It is not cold, just a way I can keep caring without being destroyed as a responder. A merciful gift. I still hold little old ladies' hands in the ambulance because I can do this.
But he was MY Son. He was Perry. I cannot forget. I had washed that face with my own hands, I had kissed his cheek minutes after his birth, and nuzzled the incredibly soft skin on his neck. I had watched his toes curl around my fingers as I lovingly touched his tiny feet. Loved him as his lips puckered in and out as he dreamed on my chest.
That is the second part. The part I try not to rob me of the memories that I love.
So that is my worst memory.