Friday, September 26, 2008

In a little funk

Thank goodness I started back to every 2 week appointments and will be doing a group once a month. I feel sort of apathetic about this whole process lately. I've not been making a point of exercise. If I get it, hey, great! If I don't, well, we just won't talk about that, huh? 

My eating has been hit and miss. I've let myself binge a couple of times, the past week, and I have been eating more than I need for regular meals. I don't know if this is post-deployment slump, or what it is. 

Whatever it is, I'm not likin' it. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What a difference a week makes

This time, a week ago, we were on the road to Louisiana with the hopes of savin' lives and kissin' babies. We got moved around a lot, but that's about all we did. Pics and story of that to follow another day, as I'm still to busy to get them posted.

We got home very late Monday night. We dropped our gear, I put fuel in the truck (one last tankful on PEMA's dime), and I finally got in my car to go home at 12:30 Tuesday morning. I pull up to the familiar tan mailbox, red porch. Unlock the door and drag all my gear and garbage bag of dirty clothes into the house. It's quiet. Too quiet. That's the thing about your dog getting old. They don't greet you at the door any more because they can't hear too well any more. It's good on those days when you really have to pee and you're running straight to the bathroom; no wiggly-waggly canine to trip you up on your single-minded quest. Also works well when your dog has a condition that makes her sick when she's stressed and doesn't like fireworks.

However, when coming home from a trip, it's kind of sad. Reminds me of when I used to kennel the dogs and I'd come home, expecting yelps and kisses and wagging tails, opening the door to... nothing. And that's what I saw this night. Peeked around the corner to the office where Old Girlie likes to nap. No dog. In the bedroom, an empty orthopedic dog bed. No dog snoring on the chair in the sunroom. I crept downstairs, half-afraid of what I might find. I mean, when you suddenly have to leave a 13 year old dog that has Addison's Disease with a patchwork schedule of pet sitters for nearly a week, you worry about... well, you know.

As I tiptoed down the stairs, I saw her. Lying on her side on the living room floor, tongue hanging out. For a second my breath caught in my throat, until I saw hers. Her sides were moving with each breath, thank goodness. Of course they were. She's always fine when I go away, I just jump to horrible conclusions in my head.

I quietly lay on the floor in front of her, remembering what the homecoming greetings used to be like. The jumping kiss assaults that often resulted in a fat lip or a nasty head lumps for both of us. The yelps of joy and excited pacing. Pondered whether or not it's better this way - me getting to actually set my stuff down and take a breath before the onslaught of doggy love.

I tap the floor gently and her eyes slowly open. I can actually see the fog lifting from her eyes and mind and her eyes widen with excitement. She jumps up - these days jumping up has become a slow process with many steps. She has to get her back legs under herself and haul herself up. Then she's off. Just like the old days. Running around the living room, though these days if she runs too fast she trips herself up. So she's running, stumbling, tripping (sounds like a Fergie song or something?), yelping, throwing herself on the floor beside me and kicking me with her back legs, and expressing her joy in my most favorite way: rolling around on her back, kicking her back legs up like she's doing bicycle crunches, and yapping happily.

It brought tears to my eyes. I wonder how much longer I will get to have this friend, this precious gift, in my life. Election day she'll turn 14.

It's good to be home.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We're doing important stuff here.

Actually, we're waiting on final word that we're going home. We've done nothing but brief, eat, move, sleep, repeat - with an occasional opportunity for a shower thrown in there to keep us from rioting. It's not our IC's fault; the state of Louisiana just got carried away in their requests for assistance.

On the bright side, we found a fabulous restaurant, recommended by a local guy we ran into and confirmed by the Louisiana state guys that had eaten there the night before. If you're ever in Lafayette, La, you've got to go to Lafayette's. We had fried gator. Gumbo. Fried crawfish and crawfish etouffee. And the chocolate torte at the end.. we passed it around like a crack pipe. I felt tingling - in places I haven't felt tingling in since last Tuesday night - with each bite of that torte.

We had that semi expensive meal because we were told, first thing this am we'd be busting our asses on missions. Turns out, it's a good thing we went, 'cause we're outta here today. The guy running the shelter where we were housed turned out to be a complete ass, so whether we were moving to go on another mission, or moving to go home, we're ok with it.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Headed to LaFayette

... around 8am for a search and rescue mission. Gotta admit, I'm stoked. This seems much cooler than, "Hey. Can you take this unresponsive guy on a vent back to the hospital? (x 1000)" We'll see what it ends up actually being when we get there. We may be running a shelter, we may sit around like we did here. We may evacuate hospitals and nursing homes. They just sent teams literally 15 minutes ago toward NOLA too, because there is reportedly a levee breach.

So.. probably no phone or internet where we're going. Will try to update as is possible, but I think it's going to be a very hectic 3 days.

You know what we all have in common? We're all pretty happy about having what seems like a cool mission coming up, but we're also all really, really, disproportionately and overly bummed about missing the homemade church-lady gumbo.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Well, here we are.

Zachary, Louisiana. Our Ambulance Strike Team was deployed for a hurricane relief mission. What we are being told thus far, is that our mission will mainly be to repatriate the hospitals and facilities of patients that were evacuated. That could, of course, change.. depending on what Ike does.

This is a cute little town. Nondescript. What is incredible are the people here. Our incident commanders told us the residents were very nice, but that was the understatement of the year. Everywhere we go, complete strangers approach us and ask us where we're from, how do we like it here, how long will we need to be here, do we need anything? One gentleman tried to pick up the tab for our breakfast, which for some reason almost brought tears to my eyes.

We met up at a park n' ride lot about 30 minutes from our ambulance base and drove for 2 days to get here, in a convoy of 4 other ambulances and 2 support vehicles. Of course once we got here last night, we had to sit around for an hour and wait until we could drag our gear in, set up sleeping arrangements, and bunk down for the night. We kept hearing rumors that there was 1 shower in the entire building for a hundred or so personnel. Exhausted and covered in the slime layer that one accumulates over 12 hours on a drive, all I wanted was to wash up, brush my teeth, and go to bed so that I could make the 5:45am roll call. Of course, the only bathroom I knew of for some reason had no power. So there I was, doing the whore's bath (or Polish bath, if you're more into ethnic stereotyping - being Polish myself, I'm allowed to say it) by the light of my little mini-mag. That cot felt incredibly good; it was the best 4 hours sleep I've gotten in a long time.

5:30 rolls around and we're ready. Not quite bright eyed or bushy tailed, but awake. There is no roll call. We are not going anywhere. The incident commanders need to make fuel arrangements for our vehicles and the state needs to come inspect/credential our crews and units. So my partner and I signed out, and hit the Wal-Mart for some necessities. We picked up breakfast, after politely declining the kind gentleman's offer to buy for us.

I'm being told we are beginning to get our paperwork and credentials together for the feds, so off I go.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

All packed up and ready to go!

Yep, there's Ol' Red, my trusty (and rusty) mountain bike. We've been together for *thinks* geez, at least 10 years. Red harkens back to a time when they didn't think of making titanium-frame bikes for regular non bike racing folks. Times when they made the frames out of lead, or mercury, or something similarly and unnecessarily heavy. I figure between my ass, and Ol' Red's weight, and those packed up panniers, I'm getting a hell of a resistance workout when I ride to work.

Now that I've got a bike computer, I can stop deluding myself about how long the ride is to the station that's farther from my house. Of course I mapped it out on my car's trip meter, and then pretty much rounded it up in my head to 6 miles. Which at some point, like any good story, got exaggerated to 7-somethingish miles each way.

No. It's 5.8 miles. Not that that is anything to turn up one's nose at, especially considering it was done at 7am, and a good bit of it is uphill. And the fact that I'll be doing the same 5.8 on the way home tonight. Hopefully I'll get myself a little mo' goin' and get up early tomorrow morning and the next day to ride back and forth to work too. There's a sense of finality and inevitability once I make the right turn off my street and go down that first hill. This is it. There is no other way to get to work but under my own power, so get movin'. I need that sometimes. Hell, who am I kidding? I need that just about all the time.

One drawback to this whole process - heck this whole way of living - is the sheer amount of planning involved in all of this. Just like I have to cook healthful meals out of good, non-processed, non-adulterated ingredients, chop up a big salad each day and plan a good breakfast -instead of grabbing lunch money like many people do - I now have to make these meals bike-friendly, and make sure that I have all of my uniform stuff packed and ready. And a hair brush. Oh, and Naproxen, in case I start feeling decrepit. A claw clip for my hair. Contact lens solution, in case a rogue June Beetle who doesn't know what month it is flies into my eye. And of course, my travel mug of coffee for the road, safely housed in a ziploc. I mean, where does it end? Next thing you know I'll be strapping Queez, coffee beans, filters, and my coffee grinder on top of all that gear so I can have *reallyfresh* coffee when I get to work. Ol' Red'll look like the Beverly Hillbillies' truck when it's all said and done.

Yesterday's session:
I feel I have made a good bit of progress from my session 2 weeks ago to the one yesterday. I'm very happy with my new sense of what a portion is. I can tell I'm back on the losing weight and not maintaining track, though I try not to weigh too often because I start getting obsessed. I tried on a pair of jeans that hasn't fit for 3 years and they were tight, but they fit! Exercise isn't quite where I want it to be, as I know I can do more; more frequently, more intensely. I'm still getting more exercise than the Average American, so I just have to realize that it will come, and keep plugging away. I have the opportunity now to go to a support group instead of/in addition to my sessions. I'm kind of excited about this, as these are all people who are right now struggling every day with this stuff, just like me.

  • Walk/jog around lake with little Girlie Monday
  • Cut grass yesterday, then went road/trail biking with Dan. Trail biking is a horse of a different color. Never have I felt so timid and uncomfortable on a bike. Trails sometimes only marginally wider than the bike. Creeks to cross with big honkin' rocks in the mix to stop me dead in the middle because I couldn't steer around 'em. Deliberately placed tree obstacles everywhere. And downhills that, if made out of cement, wouldn't faze me - but made of hard-packed dirt with roots and rocks, terrify me. It was definitely out of my comfort zone. Something I would have loved when I was 12 (before I knew what a broken bone felt like - white hot unbelievable pain, in case you're wondering) but now just brings out the medic in me. I sit there at the top of this narrow-ass rutty dirt hill and imagine all the trauma that will befall me when I, well.. befall on myself. But I did it, and I'm looking forward to more. It was a really good workout.
  • Today: ride back/forth to work. 11.6 miles round trip.
  • Tomorrow, Friday - hopefully more of the same.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Our secrets keep us sick.

Truer words have never been spoken. It's a simple sentence with just enough alliteration to make it easy to remember and repeat. It's one you often hear if you, like me, are a fan of the show Intervention.

So, in the interests of disclosure and of staying healthy:

  • I still haven't exercised much in the past 2 weeks
  • I ate mindlessly at the cookout yesterday and had a mini-binge on 2 lemon bars and strawberry jello-pretzel stuff

It could have been worse. That - compared to one of my binges of say, a year ago - is like comparing a flea to a sperm whale. And I have gotten little bits and pieces of exercise; walking/jogging the dog around the lake, mowing the grass, running up and down the steps at work, lifting sick and injured people hither and yon. I just know I can be doing better. I'm hopefully getting my bike tuned up a little today, and getting the bike computer installed. The next 3 work days looked nice weather wise. I'm going to make every effort to ride back and forth to work on those days.

And if I don't.. well, I guess I have to come and confess.