Posted by: medicblog999 | July 9, 2009

Am I really weird??

head-in-hands-sculptureI was reading one of my fellow bloggers blogs the other day and was really quite moved by one of his posts. I left a comment after reading the post, which after I read it again, made me think…..Am I really weird??

The post is over at medic(THREE) and can be found here. Go and have a read first then come straight back and you will see what I mean…….

If you have read the comments, you will see why I am asking the question. If you haven’t read the comments, then I will discuss my comment here again as it does me good to self analyse sometimes.

Medic(THREE) asks if some of the faces that he sees, in the more tragic and upsetting jobs ever go away, or are they left as a permanent reminder from what he has had to cope with and deal with. My answer was based solely on my own experiences and was :

“Hi M3,
Im afraid that with a job like this one, they never really go away (completely).

You will move on and ‘forget’ about the little one, for some time, maybe even months or years, but out of the blue, even if you havent thought of the job for years, something will remind you of it.
The only positive is that it will get less and less harsh!

Personally I dont like to forget, I like to have things dealt with and filed away, but in an absurd way, I feel its sort of a duty of mine to remember, especially in cases like yours.

I used to be a theatre (O.R nurse) nurse, working in cardiothoracics. I was part of the donor retrieval team and when we went to harvest a heart and lungs, I always went to the head of the table before we started and lifted the blue sheets so I could look at the patients face. Everyone thought I was really weird, but I felt that there should be some recognition of the gift they were giving.
I have said in the past on my log that I am not a religious man (as far as God, heaven and Hell), but I do believe in a spirit world/life. If the deceased are around us and looking on us, I want them to know that whatever has happened to them, they have moved me, they have had an impact on another humans life, and I will remember them.

That was a bit of a long winded comment, and you’ll probably be thinking I am a right nut case, but thats how I deal with it.”

I wonder if anyone else feels like this, or is it just me?

Im sure that we all, after a time, have some degree of post traumatic stress disorder. How could we not after what we see over a career?

Some of us burn out and leave the job, some of us become so hardened to protect ourselves we become seen as uncompassionate, cold and uncaring. I hope I never become like that, but I can see how that is a way of coping for some paramedics.

However, I meant what I said in the comment, I feel it is a duty of mine to have a moment for those that have died and those that are left behind. It is a very personal moment for me because I dont believe in a God. I am not having a quiet moment of prayer, as that would be hypocritical, but I am respecting the ending of a life. No matter how old the patient, whether they be 9 days or 90 years old, they will almost certainly be leaving people behind who will mourn their passing and will have their lives changed for ever due to a sudden and unexpected event.

I’m sure people expect paramedics to be used to these things and not really think about it too much, but I think it is an essential part of our job to show true compassion and caring for the families left behind.

Dont get me wrong, after I have finished dealing with a family at a sudden death, you will often here me saying to my mate…..”right, lets go get some grub!!”, but there will always be a moment, even if its just for a few seconds, where I try and remember the patient that has died.

I know some of you will be reading this thinking that I am barmy and if I am doing this and not just forgetting the jobs, then I am heading for a definite melt down in the future. You may be right, but it seems like the right thing for me to do.

So back to the original question,

Am I really weird??



  1. I don’t think you’re weird. I think the general publis sees us as weird when we laugh about something they find tragic. They don’t understand it’s what keeps us from falling apart.

  2. You’re not weird at all. I still remember the ones I could not save. They are mostly trauma victims, and some days the memories come form no where. I don’t regret my career choice, I always thought that was part if the job. We see the worst day of their lives and it should effect us to some degree, that’s how we keep our humanity. Once you stop feeling, you lose empathy for your patients.

  3. Not weird at all, friend. I don’t really want to forget them. I do want to control some of it though. I’d prefer they didn’t come to me in hauntings at 0200. I’d prefer they didn’t come when I looked at my little boy.

    The ones we failed are the only ones worth remembering. Lessons learned, they call ’em.

  4. I’m not a religious person either, but I agree with you that respect and dignity for the deceased are truly important considerations.

    Another ‘not weird’ vote here.

  5. You, my friend, are definately weird. It is my honor and privlege to officially welcome you to my weirdness club. Welcome aboard!

  6. You arent weird, its nice to know that someone else is like me, I still think of my most awful job (3 year old hit by 2 cars and was killed) i know his name and always refer to him by his name. I couldnt drive past the scene of the rta for 6 months in my own car. I could only just do it in the ambulance.

    The incident has (finally) been put in a box at the back of my head and it rears its head at stressfull times. So I dont think you are weird just human!

    Harri x

  7. weird(adj) : of strange or extraordinary character : odd, fantastic (merriam-webster)

    I think we all are. Who or What isn’t?

    Maybe if it wasn’t a part of your job…If you went to the morgue just for the heck of it…but then that would just be creepy, not weird.

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