EMS & PTSD: Behind the Mask – A Blog by Tales From The Boo Boo Bus – The Silver Lining

DO US A FAVOR PLEASE? If you are reading this blog please share it on your Facebook, Twitter, etc. The more people we reach, the more hope can be spread! Also, comments are greatly appreciated! The feedback we receive is extremely valuable. Thank you! You can also follow us on the Facebook Page "Tales From The Boo Boo Bus". -Bandage-one and Doc Reaper THE MESSAGE: Sometimes we get to use the bad that we've experienced for the good of others. When we get those opportunities we must seize them, and use them to their fullest extent. Writing this blog, and sharing my personal experiences involving EMS and PTSD is a silver lining. Every post sends a message, the primary one being, "You are not alone." And you aren't. For all of those just like me...struggling, feeling lost, alone...you aren't alone. We are in this together. Here is a lining made of silver... I was dispatched for a transfer of a patient to a children's psych facility a couple hours away. My patient was a 14 year old girl, with suicidal ideations. "Great. More BS today...another privileged teenager that wasn't getting whatever she wanted from mommy and daddy." I thought. Then my dispatcher called me to give me more information. "Hey, YOU have to take this patient, and Alex (my partner) has to stay far away from the patient. She was raped a month ago." My heart sank. My hands started trembling. I told her I understood and hung up. I looked at my partner, with sorrow in my eyes, and told him the information. "I think it's best you just stay in the truck and I'll walk her out, OK?" We pulled up, and I walked in, got the information and paperwork and turned to the girl and her parents. I introduced myself, shook their hands, smiled at the sweet girl who was a bit awkward and shy. I took her by the hand and saw the scars on her wrists. I took a deep breath and we walked out to the truck. She said goodbye and hopped in. I belted her in, got a set of vitals, and told my partner we were good to go. I took another deep breath, looked down at my feet, then up to her eyes and told her, "I know what happened to you. They told me earlier. You don't have to talk about it. I just want to let you know that the same thing happened to me too." She looked at me, a bit stunned, and then told me was sorry. "Don't be sorry. You didn't do it, it wasn't your fault. I just wanted to let you know that life can go on. It can get better. Much better than you ever imagined. You will be happy again. You will forget for even a day or two at a time. And when you do remember, it doesn't hurt so much. You will learn how to cope. How to live again. How to laugh. How to have a relationship. You can even get married one day." I paused as she processed everything. She seemed a bit incredulous, like I was when I was told those things. I could see the desire in her eyes for everything that I had just told her to be true. She wanted to believe me. She looked at me and said, "Did you at least get Justice?" "No." I replied. "Not in the way you mean. But I'm still alive and enjoying life. That's my justice. I never told anyone about it. Didn't speak of it for two years. I ignored it, shoved it away, tried to pretend it never happened. Not dealing with it and working through everything caused me to develop pretty bad PTSD. I had very bad nightmares, and sometimes still do, but not so frequent. I was doing some military exercises a few years ago, and was having a very difficult time coping. I was exhausted, couldn't sleep, kept having flashbacks. I finally collapsed from exhaustion one evening, right outside our Battalion Aid Station (BAS). I was carried in, had fluids pumped into me and the Doc was talking with me...he finally asked me how I was sleeping. That's when it all came out. I told him about the nightmares and he asked all the right questions." "I was forced to go see the Chaplain the next day by the Doc and my Platoon Sergeant and First Sergeant. I didn't want to go. I was pretty pissed. But talking to that Chaplain was the best thing I ever did. He connected me with a counselor afterwards, and proceeded to get the help I needed in finally dealing with what happened. I had to try a few counselors till I found one that was a good fit, and I was comfortable with them. I still go on occasion for tune-ups, but overall I am very pleased with the progress I've made." She looked at me with Hope in her eyes, and I smiled gently at her. I knew what she was feeling, that she craved peace again. She needed to rid herself of the guilt she felt. I then told her the most powerful words I had once been told that night I broke down. As I spoke, my mind went back to that evening...my Platoon Sergeant looked at me, as we sat in the grass between two humvees. A peaceful night with stars and the moon shining down on us. The only thing ruining the calm was the turmoil I was experiencing inside. I stared down at my combat boots while my Platoon Sergeant tried to convince me that what happened wasn't my fault. I wasn't listening. I couldn't comprehend. I knew he was wrong. Finally, he looked at me and said, "It's not your fault because you didn't ASK to be raped. You didn't ASK for that happen. HE did it without regard for you. At that moment, he made the decision. Not you." I slowly looked up and met his gaze as the realization that he was speaking the truth dawned on me. I asked him to repeat what he just said. "You didn't ASK to for that to happen to you. THAT is why it isn't your fault." As the words of my Platoon Sergeant settled on her ears, she looked up at me with the same look in her eyes that I had when I first heard those words. "Oh..." She said. And then she smiled at me and we started talking about what had happened to her a bit, and talked about different coping methods, and different plans to help her deal with everything. We talked about her future, college plans, career plans, our favorite foods, and what we each do for fun. We smiled and laughed and enjoyed our ride together as we leaned on each other for comfort and support. I dropped her off at the facility with a hug and a kiss, waved goodbye and walked back out of her life. I grimaced as I walked back down to the truck. My hands started trembling a bit. I was handpicked for that run, and God is an asshole for putting me through that. I wouldn't have wanted anyone else to be her provider...but the mental anguish I suffered for her was more than I wanted to bear. The nightmares finally eased up a week later. It is my silver lining. And I will cling to it. If I had to experience something so awful in order to help save someone else's life then I am grateful for it. I will gladly bear that cross. -Doc Reaper If anyone comments with an "I'm sorry" or some shit, I will throat punch you. You have been warned. 😛

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One comment

  1. as someone who was raped and molested as a child, this is amazing. I didn’t tell for five years after it stopped, I got myself thru it, and today, 17 years later, I still have nightmares and flashbacks, but I am a functioning adult. I got married and have 2 beautiful daughters. I am not afraid anymore, and haven’t been for a long time. kudos to you for helping her in a way that no-one else could have in the given situation.

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