"What's the most fucked up thing you've ever seen?"
My brother asked me that question tonight while we were out having drinks.
And I’m not mad or upset with him. He doesn’t know. None of my family knows. He doesn’t know that’s not a question that you ask someone in EMS/the medical field.
And yes, I am literally a brand new paramedic. Before that though, I was a Navy Corpsman (no combat experience), and during my paramedic rotations/internship, I did see some stuff that still sticks with me.
So I told him a relatively easy one. A 17 year old who jumped off an 8 story building. It was tragic. He died. Whatever. That’s not that bad.
I also told him about how one time I was doing CPR on a man in cardiac arrest, and when I looked up I locked eyes with his daughter as she watched us from the front seat of the ambulance. The look in her eyes, I’ll never forget that.
What I didn’t tell him was about the four year old with cancer I saw while in the Navy. How his mother sadly wiped the green sputum he kept coughing up with a face that screamed “my child is dying and I can’t stop it”.
Or how we found a man who had been dead for at least a day, and how I stood there as my preceptor explained to the family that their loved one was dead.
Ever since he asked me that, I’ve been thinking about those calls, and others, that have stuck with me.
And I’ve done my equal best to process those emotions, deal with them, and then file those horrible experiences away in my mind to a place where I don’t have to think about them.
But not tonight.
“What’s the worst thing you’ve seen?”
That’s a question better left unanswered. Or rather, better left unasked.