Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A is for...

Well, here we are at A, and if you are blogging about EMS what should A stand for? Ambulance? Nah…to predictable. How about…Adrenalin? Already covered it. I know…A is for Acting! It makes no sense, but believe it or not, I came to this career through acting. Before I became an EMS maven, I was a professional actress. I studied theatre in college (the first time around) and I spent eight years hitting auditions, doing commercials, traveling the country in search of work (living out of my car) and I was totally, 100%...miserable.

Oh I loved acting in plays. In college, I was able to portray some of the finest heroines to grace the stage; Portia in “The Merchant of Venice”, Maggie in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”, and Blanche in “A Streetcar Named Desire” to name a few. But, acting in college plays and making a living as a professional actress is not the same animal. There isn’t a lot of artfulness in hawking laundry detergent, and doing silly farces night after night in dinner theaters while people pick roast beef out of their teeth doesn’t get the old creative juices flowing. Something was missing from my life, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was.

One thing I did figure out early in my show business career was that I would have made a terrible famous person. I like my anonymity and if I want to go out looking like a reject from the trailer park, I’m going, and if you don’t like the fact that my bra strap is held together with a safety pin and falling off my shoulder, then don’t look at me! No, if someone jumped in front of me with a camera they might be pooping lenses and f-stops for a week. I would have made Sean Penn look like Pat Boone.

Trouble was I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had no skills other than the requisite table waiting and bar tending kind that are a must when you are a “professional” actress, and I had no burning desire to acquire any. I couldn’t type, and would have self-combusted in an office environment anyway, so I didn’t see the need to learn. I was drifting in a sea of perpetual dieting and meaningless auditions that might net me a cereal spot or a voice over and then it was back to the grind of just trying to find some work. My life lacked meaning and that’s when I met…the Captain.

He was a part time actor and we had the same agent. I had done a couple of shoots with him and we were on “friendly acquaintance” terms. We got stuck together on a really long auto dealership shoot that went over time and budget and lasted several days. We had a lot of down time and that’s when I learned that he was a fire Captain when he wasn’t selling cars on TV. Cool…I’d never met a fireman before. I bent his ear for two days and by the time the shoot was over I had procured a coveted “ride along”.

I showed up at his fire station breathless with excitement. You might have thought it was at the prospect of seeing hot sweaty firemen, but I had a wrinkle in my brain that I couldn’t quite smooth out and it had something to do with the chat I’d had with him about his life’s work. I began to put a name to what seemed to be missing in my life. It was…a sense of purpose. I had never been able to find it in my show business pursuits and I was starting to think that I had missed my calling.

Don’t misunderstand me. There is a higher purpose in the arts. I am still an avid lover of all things cultural, but as an observer. I personally did not find happiness and contentment in my attempts at creating; I am at home being the one who the culture is created for, and by the time I left the fire station at the end of that shift, I knew I had found my calling.

The journey itself is too involved to completely cover here, but I returned to college, received a degree in Emergency Medical Science and have blissfully been plying my trade for the last 25 years. The odd thing that I quickly discovered about my new profession was I had more acting challenges in EMS than I ever had in the theater. Such as, acting like I wasn’t scared out of my gourd or acting like I knew what I was doing. And these acting gigs are all improv…the calls aren’t scripted, the bad guys don’t throw stage punches, and I love every minute of it. People often ask me if I regret not pursuing my acting career any further than I did. My reply is, “Why would I want pretend drama when I can have the real thing!”

Monday, May 30, 2011

B is for Bill Clinton

I don’t want to seem immodest, but I am the most powerful person in America. How do I know this? Because I, single handedly, not just once but twice, elected Bill Clinton, President of the United States of America. Yes, my single vote in 1992 and then again in 1996 kept him in the White House for eight years. What, you say? There must have been others who voted for him! Not so I say! I have tried to find someone, anyone, who would admit to it and none can be found.

Granted, my search hasn’t taken me far out of the circles of my present location and profession, both bastions of extreme right wing Republicanism. Tea Party? Ha! Long before those lightweights came along we had the Beer Party down here. Comprised of mostly white, male, conservative Good Ol’ Boys, these guys wrote the book on “stay outta my back yard” politics. I’ll have to admit, that though my politics swing to the left, I do agree with these guys on the gun issue. You know, the whole “when you pry them from my cold dead hands” mentality? Hey, I am a Rural Southern Liberal Democrat after all.

Most of my co-workers thought that Bill Clinton was evil incarnate. I think that he was one of the best presidents we have ever had and I believe that history will view him the same way. You disagree? Fine I’m up for a debate. Read the last paragraph…I think I can take you!! All kidding aside, wouldn’t it be nice if the biggest news story and the worst problem we were facing in this country were some stains on a blue dress…but I digress.

In 1994 Mr. President Clinton was scheduled to give one of his televised town meetings at a local Charlotte television station. The preparations for such an event are exhaustive. Before any Presidential visit, a team commandeers a treatment room at our trauma hospital and sets up a command center in case #1 ends up there for some reason. They install a bank of secure phone lines that go directly to God knows where, probably every major head of state in the world. These advance teams are always pretty tight lipped about such things. This visit was no different, but included much, much more since this event was to be so open and placed the President in a more precarious security situation.

When the memo went out looking for a crew to man a dedicated ambulance for the event, I felt that being the only openly practicing Democrat in the organization that it was not just my duty, but my birthright to be on this crew. Imagine my surprise when I went in to claim my rightful position and found that two of the aforementioned GOB’s had already snatched up the slots. Now, over the years, I have been known to jump up and down on a superior’s desk to get what I want. That day, I jumped from the desk to the file cabinet and hung from the light fixture, all the while screaming the one hundred and ten reasons why I should be the Charlotte paramedic to personally attend Mr. President Bill Clinton…of course I got my wish. I was assigned as a third on the unit which suited me just fine. I just wanted to be there.

We were to be part of the official entourage and motorcade the entire time the President was in our city. I had been so excited about being a part of this historical event that it wasn’t until a couple of days before his arrival when the advance team did background checks on the three of us, that the enormity of what could happen hit me. What if something did happen to our President? Was I up to the task of performing the skills that were so second nature to me in probably the most intense situation possible? I got my answer when we met with his medical team on the day of his arrival.

We first were assigned a Secret Service agent that was to be our liaison for the entire event and he arranged the meeting with the doctor and nurses that accompanied the President everywhere he went. This affable MD shook our hands, thanked us for our service then said, “You will never touch the President. If he has any medical emergency of any kind, he will be transported in his limousine with his medical team in attendance; you are basically here in case anyone else has an emergency”. I guess not having a bullet proof ambulance was an issue, not to mention the fact that relying on three strangers to attend a sick or hurt President of The United States wasn’t a mistake this thorough team would make…silly me! I’m not sure if the sigh that escaped me was one of disappointment or relief, but I was quickly caught up in the excitement of where I was and what I was doing.

Our Secret Service agent didn’t quite fit the stereotype you see in the movies. He was a tall, gangly and gregarious guy who was eager to help us and answer any of our questions. He wasn’t particularly fond of Mr. Clinton either, and admitted that he didn’t vote for him. When I heard this, I asked him the inevitable question; “Would you take a bullet for him?” It was if I had said the trigger word some night club hypnotist had given him. He got very serious and his eyes kind of glazed over…I thought he was going to start barking like a dog. He quietly assured us that he would die to protect the President of The United States of America without a second thought. Yikes! These guys are for real!

The experience did not disappoint. We traveled through the city in the motorcade, and convened at the television station. There were a couple of hundred people involved in making sure this thing went off without a hitch. We were staged outside and couldn’t see or hear what was going on in the studio, but our agent had radio contact with everyone and gave us a play by play of all of the happenings. At one point he chuckled. The sound men in the studio were complaining that the snipers on the roof of the station could be heard through their equipment…could they be a little quieter please? I looked up at the dozen or so men on the roof toting high powered scoped rifles and thought that I’d let those guys do pretty much whatever they wanted!

I talked our agent’s ear off. I had so many questions and he answered the ones that he could. He explained how the presidential limo was constructed to just about withstand a nuclear attack and gave me an insight into what day to day life was like at the White House. I had been eyeing a large, custom SUV with a high roof and completely blacked out windows that had followed behind the President’s limo the entire time, and was presently parked behind it in front of the station. I asked him what it was for and he got a little smile on his face. He talked into his cuff where his radio mic was hidden, yes they really do that, and then he took the three of us up to the SUV. “Put your face up to the window and look in the back”, he instructed us. We did and saw a friendly guy waving at us from behind a huge anti-aircraft gun. The roof was designed to open up and this dude could shoot down an attack from the air. Nothing like being prepared!

All too soon the event was over and we accompanied the motorcade to the airport where Air Force One was ready for takeoff. They had us park our vehicles and then instructed all the emergency personnel to get out and line up at parade rest, on the tarmac beside the entrance to the air plane. We were going to meet the President! I have often thought of all of the important things I would like to say in such an auspicious situation, but when President Clinton stopped in front of me an shook my hand I was dumfounded and blubbered something inane I’m sure, I can’t remember what I said to him. I do remember looking into his eyes and seeing total exhaustion, but he was gracious and thanked me for my service with sincerity. I was floating; I just wished that I could have had a photo taken to mark this event in my life. I mean, how many people get to meet the President of The United States?

A few weeks later, a package arrived at my home with a Washington DC return address. It was a photo of President Bill Clinton shaking my hand. I never saw the photographer and I never gave anyone my address (like they didn’t already have that), but everyone who had been in that receiving line got a photo of them meeting Bill Clinton. I looked like a goofy, gushing school girl in mine and Mr. Clinton looked…well, he looked Presidential.

Friday, May 27, 2011

C is for Christmas

Twas The Night Before Christmas

(Medic version…with deepest apologies to Clement Clark Moore)

Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the station,
Not a Medic was stirring, it caused great elation.

The pagers were tucked in their chargers full power,
For not a call had gone out, for nearly an hour.
In holiday slumber, the crews were all basking,
And the only thing heard, was the sound of gas passing.

When suddenly to our collective disdain,
The once quiet pager sang out its refrain
We climbed in our gear, we ran to the truck,
They told us “one shot!”, and we said OH… (gosh darn?)

With red lights a blaring and sirens a screaming,
We rushed to the scene to find the place teeming
With dozens of nosy neighbors galore
And a man with a hole in his chest on the floor.

His brother was violent, his mother was nuts
(his girlfriend was guilty and already in cuffs)
The poor man was thrashing, saying. “I’m gonna die!”
When I tried to lend aid, he slung blood in my eye.

In route I tried to call to the docs
(while choking back puke from the smell of his socks)
The radio crackled, the reception was choppy,
And all that I heard was, “18 we can’t copy”

Doing my job, I went for a stick
(all the while thinking I just might be sick)
I spotted a vein, a big one I see,
The truck hit a bump, and I missed the IV.

The second one flowed,
I said, “Finally, a truce!”
And at that very moment…
His bowels let loose.

We finally arrived at the emergency room,
And BELIEVE me it was not one moment too soon
Bedraggled and covered in blood stem to stern,
I gave my report to a brand new intern.

With wide-eyed ambition,
This new doc did listen,
Then asked if the man
Had a private physician.

I threw up my hands right there in x-ray,
I wrote my report and I left in dismay.
As we left, the rig slid on ice (yes unsalted)
Just as dispatch piped in, “18-one assaulted”.

I shouted in glee as I stepped on the gas,
Merry Christmas to all!...let’s go kick some ass.

D is for Death

Being a paramedic is all about saving lives, but no matter how hard we try, patients often die. In my twenty-five years in EMS, I have been in attendance at the final moments of dozens of peoples' lives. Some might think that I am hardened to its effect to be able to see so many people die. That is so far from the truth. It is my life long fear of death that ultimately led me into this line of work. I have a complicated history with death that goes far back into my childhood, a history that I will revisit to shed some light on how and why I do what I do.

I used to lie awake at night as a young child, terror stricken because I thought someone was in the house. We had an old gas heater that ran loudly and when it shut off, it would pop and creak and every sound it made was a footstep, a door opening and I would lie there with tears streaming down my cheeks and snot pouring out of my nose. I was totally silent for fear I would attract attention and this intruder would commit unspeakable horrors against me. I would try to go to sleep when the heater was running because I couldn’t hear those “footsteps” and somehow that would comfort me. I never feared monsters or ghosts…I feared this being and I was certain that he was looking for me. This happened every night so I took to going to bed early, long before my parents, so I would be asleep before the house was dark and quiet.

I experienced this for years. During the day, I would laugh at myself and feel silly because I let these ridiculous thoughts bother me…then night would come, and I would dread the approach of bedtime. I would pray…pray so hard that the Lord would take these nighttime terrors away from me, but they came. For years they came and I was 10 or 11 years old before I could sleep peacefully without that faceless man creeping through my house night after night. He was my imaginary friend and he was as real to me as Santa Clause and God.

During adolescence I forgot about those night terrors. I made good grades and was involved in school and extracurricular activities. I had two best friends, Yvonne and Voneda and we were the Three Musketeers. They used to joke that I needed to change my name to Eva or Violet so we would all have a V in our names…I would tell them that they were stupid and we would all three burst out laughing. We were always spending the night with one another. Yvonne snickered one night as the three of us sat in her room. We were going through puberty and all had recently had the cardinal come home to roost for the first time. She said breathlessly between her giggles, “Do you realize we can have babies now!!” We three screamed and swore that we would never “do it”…Well, maybe with our husbands, but only in the dark! Who could imagine being naked in front of a man…EWEW! I still have some of the notes we used to pass in the halls. The ones written on notebook paper and folded into triangles that said little more than, “Hey…I really hate this class” or, “Don’t you think (so in so) is cute?”, but were always signed…LYLAS (Love you like a sister).

I can remember like it was yesterday… December 18, 1973. The day Voneda called to tell me that Yvonne had been killed in a car accident. I couldn’t believe she was calling me because I was just starting to call her and Yvonne to tell them that a good looking junior had just asked me out. I answered the phone, and when I heard Voneda say, “Cyndi”, I started babbling about my upcoming date. She said my name a second time and I heard something in her voice. I stopped and waited. I could hear her crying and all she said was, “Vonnie’s killed”. I must have screamed because my mother took the phone, talked to her mother and found out what had happened.

My parents took me to the funeral. I was so scared. I gripped my father’s arm as we approached the casket and all I can remember thinking was how frightened I was to look at her. She didn’t move. I had never seen anything so perfectly still in my life. “She’ll move”, I said to myself, “Nothing can stay that still for long.” I remember staring at her hand and willing it to move. “Just one finger, please move just one finger so I’ll know that everything is all right”. My dad had to coax me away from the casket. I didn’t want to leave because she hadn’t moved her finger yet.

That night, as I lay in my bed I heard it again… “Pop –Creak”… He’s back. Go in the kitchen and turn on the light. Quick! Shut the door, he’s in the living room. I’m fifteen years old…this is not supposed to be happening…I got rid of my night terrors years ago. But there he was, my imaginary friend, returning to torment me and the thing I knew at fifteen that I had not known at five, was his identity…He is Death.

Thus I began my quest to beat Death. Not by being overly cautious and careful, no I have met Death on his own turf and I have reveled in beating him. Riding rodeo, white water kayaking, rock climbing, rappelling, I have rappelled down a mountain face first, and out of a hot air balloon at 1500 feet. I went to motion picture stunt school and have fallen off a four story building, been shot off the back of a motorcycle, had my arm wrapped in asbestos cloth and set on fire, I was a volunteer fire fighter and I became a paramedic.

I initially found solace in the science. Death wasn’t a personified evil being. It was sometimes the result of a catastrophic traumatic event, but most often, it’s a steady cellular breakdown, one piece at a time. Our cells become hypoxic and the vital organs stop receiving oxygen and fail, one by one until the body no longer functions and that is what we call death. There have been times when I have literally brought people back from the brink of death. No heartbeat, no spontaneous respirations, and through the miracle of modern science I have been able to reverse that, and it is the ultimate high and the ultimate victory over death.

Over time, an unexpected shift has occurred in the way I view death. My career has given me a wealth of experiences that defy scientific convention, and has brought me to a belief in the existence of miracles and a renewed faith in God. Miracles don’t always end with death being defeated. I have come to realize that death is simply part of our journey and one that is not to be feared. I have experienced many deaths both professionally and personally. I have lost quite a few people very close to me including Voneda. She died six years ago from ovarian cancer and we were still best friends. There is only one Musketeer left and I miss the other two terribly, but I am not afraid of following when my time comes.

Our time here on earth is limited and life is for the living. We all have the same fate; only the time and methods differ so the best thing to do is choose to be happy. When my death is imminent, there won’t be a faceless man creeping in to steal me away, I will just transition to the next part of my journey. In the meantime, I plan to live life to the fullest…and still snatch folks from the jaws of death whenever I can.

E is for Emergency Workers (all of them)

I wanted to write about why we emergency workers do what we do and I remembered this song and video. I can't say it any better. Just listen to the words as you watch the images. This says it all

I wasn't able to put this up as a link, (my computer skills are minimal) but just copy and paste to your browser...oh and you might want to have a tissue handy.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

F is for Fear

There isn't much that I am afraid of. I like snakes and spiders, except for Black Widow spiders, those witches are evil. I'm not afraid of heights or closed in spaces. I'm not afraid of the dark. But there is one thing that I am afraid of. It is an irrational fear, as most fears are, but I am totally, completely and deathly...afraid of trains.

I don't know why. Trains have never done anything to me. I did spend a year one night on an Amtrak to Miami, but the ride on that rolling back alley has nothing to do with my phobia. I have been afraid of trains as far back as I can remember. I never go around the crossing arm, no matter how long it stays after the train has passed. Hey, there might be another one coming! I have been called many a name while other drivers are going around me to cross the track safely, but there's always the chance that a train might sneak up on you!

The tracks near my county home have no lights or arms, just the black and white RR sign. I always stop completely, roll down my window and listen, look and feel for the rumbling hulk that may be my demise. When my daughter first got her driver’s license, I was already white knuckling it in the passenger seat when she barreled through a crossing without so much as a passing glance down the tracks. My screaming banshee fit almost caused her to lose control of the car and I made her sit on the side of the road for half an hour as I listed one thousand, three hundred and twelve reasons why she should never do that again.

In my job as a paramedic, I am often faced with unpleasant situations, calls that test my nerve and resolve to always be professional and deal with whatever may arise. I had a call that just about crushed that resolve. Yes, this call involved a train. Now I have responded to many patients over the years who have been hit by trains. For some reason, more people than you would ever imagine fall asleep on railroad tracks. Perhaps they are drunk and just trying to find their way home and the tracks are an easy path to follow, but the outcome is usually not too good. Now, these calls don’t trigger my fear because the train is long gone by the time we get there and we are left to pick up the pieces…literally.

That night, when we received the call for “one hit by a train”, I had no reason to think that this was going to be any different, but when we arrived…the train was still there. The engineer had seen the man just before he hit him and had stopped the train as soon as he could. There was a cluster of first responders with flashlights right near the crossing, and when we got to them we found that this patient had been one of the lucky ones. He hadn’t been lying completely on the tracks when he passed out; just one leg had been on the rails when the train went by. That leg was presently missing, but the patient was surprisingly conscious and stable, and thankfully, very drunk.

This was early in my career and I wasn’t the lead paramedic so I was at the mercy of my crew chief as to what job was going to fall to me…stay with the patient, or go looking for the leg. Being less experienced, I was handed a flashlight and sent on a limb finding mission. It would seem that I could just walk along side of the train and shine the light around and under the beast to try and find the missing appendage, but there were steep embankments on either side of the tracks, so the only way to search was to follow them…under the train.

I tried walking on my hands and knees, but the gravel between the rails was too sharp and I couldn’t control the beam of light with my hands on the ground. So, I began to duck walk, under the mile long machine, looking for a severed leg. You would have thought that the driver would have turned his train off when he stopped, but it was still crunk, or cranked, oh hell, the damn thing was still on…and it was breathing!

Pshhhhhhhew…crrreeeeaaak. The unmistakable exhale was coming from somewhere up the track near the engine, and the sound of straining metal was all around me. It was as if the monster was angry at having to stop and was poised to resume its merciless journey and it had just tasted blood…did it want more? I thought about trying Lamaze breathing to slow my rising panic, but I was afraid that I might start pushing, and I was already close to pooping my pants, so I figured I should just try to concentrate on finding the leg.

Hours passed…ok five minutes, but it felt like I had died and gone to hell and was destined to duck walk under a train for all eternity, when my light beam illuminated a boot. It indeed was attached to piece of blue jean clad leg that ended in gnarled array of bone, meat and gristle…I had found the man’s amputated lower extremity. Not wanting to spend another minute under the train, I tucked the leg under one arm, the flashlight under the other and waddled in double time back to the crossing. The patient had been stabilized and loaded and I jumped in the back with my partner and a first responder drove us to the trauma center.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized that I was so freaked out by the train that it never occurred to me how weird it was to be walking around with a newly severed leg under my arm, so maybe my fear was a blessing in disguise. It would have all been worth it had the leg been viable, but the trauma surgeons took one look at its frayed end, and tossed it aside as they prepared our patient for life as a below-knee amputee. The experience didn’t help me with my fear of trains either. I still don’t like them. You can have your Thomas the Tank Engines…I hope I never have to get near one again!

G is for Geriatric

When a person aspires to a career in EMS, they are drawn by many things. Some seek excitement, an adrenaline rush, a job that is different every day and appeals to the adventurous. Others have a desire to help people, they want to feel that they have a job that matters and they want to make a difference in the world. Most of us were drawn by both of these aspects. In recounting stories from my career, I usually relate the most exciting, the funniest and the most poignant memories of the last 25 years. These musings make up about 10% of what I have actually done during the span of my career. The other 90% of the time… I was taking care of old people.

When I first started in this business, I imagined heart pumping trauma calls, shootings, stabbings, massive pile ups on the interstate and tense domestic situations. Yes, I have had my share of these calls and more, but the vast majority of my time on duty has been spent caring for the elderly. Hardly a shift goes by that I don’t respond to a nursing home. Sometimes it is for a true emergency, a heart attack or other acute medical situation, but more often than not, it is to transport someone to a doctor’s appointment, or to the ER because of abnormal lab values in routine blood tests. Residents of these facilities often pull out their feeding tubes or urine catheters and have to be transported to the hospital to have them re-inserted. The majority of responses to private residences involve the over 70 crowd as well. Think about it…who is most likely to get sick? An old person!

I’ll have to confess. I did not choose this path because I had an affinity for the elderly. I admit I was one of those adrenalin junkies looking for excitement at every turn, and early in my career I hated the nursing home calls, the non-emergency transports that often made me miss an exciting auto accident or other trauma call. I felt like my training and talent was being wasted as a taxi service for Grandma. Over time, my attitude has changed. I’m sure that the fact that I am now a grandma and am rapidly approaching old age myself has something to do with my shift in thinking, but I had changed my mind about the geriatric crowd long before my offspring had offspring of their own. I was surprised to discover years ago, that I truly love…Old People!

Whether a nursing home or private residence, I get to enter into these people’s lives, if even for a short while, and see the fruits of a lifetime. Photographs, mementos, awards, all proudly displayed in peoples’ homes gives a glimpse into the decades prior to them becoming sick, old and infirm. I once took a little old woman home from the hospital who was weak and barely able to speak. She wasn’t ambulatory and we had to lift her from the bed to our stretcher. When we arrived at her home, the walls were adorned with photos of our patient as a much younger woman holding and caring for chimpanzees. There were framed newspaper articles extoling her work with primates and memorabilia from her travels all over the world.

I have also had eye opening and informative discussions with elderly patients in the back of my ambulance. When there is no acute emergency, there is time to talk. I have learned many things from these people and I relish the conversations with them. They are at times intelligent, funny, inspiring and sometimes dangerous.

I once transported a 101 year old woman for chest pains. She wasn’t showing any signs of having a heart attack or other acute illness, and her vital signs and all other assessments were normal, but I followed our chest pain protocol just the same. When it came time to start the IV, I explained to her what I was going to do. She said, “Don’t you stick me with that needle”. I patted her hand and told her it would be alright and would only hurt a little bit. She replied, “If you stick me with that needle, I’m going to hit you.” My response was to pat her hand some more, and tell her that she really needed the IV and it would be over in a second. I mean, how bad could she hurt me, she was 101!? Well, I stuck her with that needle and she punched me. I don’t mean she slapped me, or swiped at me with her bony little fist. She cold cocked me in the jaw with a powerful right hook. I saw stars, and I learned that when a 101 year old woman tells you something…you better listen!

EMS is an exciting and rewarding career. The youngsters coming into the field remind me of myself many years ago. Eager and chomping at the bit to hit the streets and participate in the spectacular events that most people only read about in newspapers and see on TV. I just hope that they come to the same realizations that I did; that the calls that don’t make the news are often just as rewarding and yes, exciting, and there are many things that can be learned by just taking the time to listen to what an old person has to say.