Sometimes, normally around this time of year as I lay in my bed thinking of reasons not to get out of it, I get a melancholy upon me. So I watch the hours tick away, huddled under the duvet while things that I should be doing get put aside for another day.

And I think of the ambulance jobs I've done and I get a little sad.

I think of the twenty-something victim of drunken driving who we pulled from the seat of his car because we knew he was dying. Of the blood pissing from his ears, an obvious huge head injury. Of our ambulance becoming a mortuary for two bodies.

I remember the thirteen year old girl whose heart just stopped. Of the futile attempts to save her, of her mother wailing outside the Resus room.

The only time I've cried actual tears, my first sudden infant death. Carrying the tiny baby in to the waiting doctors, knowing that there was nothing that could be done.

Thinking on how sad I was when one of our pleasant semi-regulars died in a way completely unrelated to her long term health problems. I wonder how her husband, also not a well man, will cope.

I think of all the Ethels and Alberts I've been to, laid on their beds in lonely 'nursing' home rooms. The ones who have died, and the ones who would wish themselves dead.

The woman, beaten by her husband and promising my crewmate that she wouldn't go back to him, walking hand in hand with him out the A&E department.

The house full of twenty year old alcoholics, wasted lives, refusing help, happy to be unwell and dirty and dying. Just so long as that next drink is around the corner.

The good man who loved his son and who died suddenly with no ID on him. The family only finding out after they went to the police.

The mother of two young children – dying on Christmas eve.

The stream of lovely old folk, with cancer, with dementia, with other fatal and painful diseases.

The things I can't change, the small neglects that one person visits on another, the luck of the draw.

These are the things that stop me getting up when I have no work to do, and when the days are like nights. These are the things that I think of when all motivation to 'do something' has left me.

This is why I wait for Spring.

46 thoughts on “SAD”

  1. I still cry, after every bad call. My 30 yr paramedic partner has learned to just leave me to it. I'll be in the back of the ambulance, cleaning up and after a few minutes, he'll pop his head in the back door, “You done?” I'll sniff, “Yep” and off we go to the next one.One particular summer, at the very beginning of summer break, we had three adolescent fatalities in a row, that I had the unfortunate chance of attending. Being a mother of a 12 yr old this hit me pretty hard and I fell into a depression.

    That same paramedic had sage words for me. “They made the choice.”

    A foolish choice resulted in each of their death. One tied a rope around his waist and the other end to the golf cart his mate was driving and got on his skateboard. Another was riding his bike in a busy road at dusk in dark clothes and another was playing with his father's gun when he accidentally shot his friend.

    I still cry after the full arrests, the fatality RTCs (and we have plenty of those where I live), the lovely oldies in the 'assisted living' facility who just drift off to “forever sleep”, and the at home hospice care folks who finally given in to the cancer with their families at their side.

    I'm still human.

    So are you.

  2. Hang in there Tom. Those warm, cloudless mornings will be here before you know it.I suppose its easy to say 'just remember the good times', but also remember the inspiration that people like me take from your posts. It wasnt long ago, I was in a crap job, with distant aspirations to join the Ambulance service, going nowhere. Through reading your blog for ages now, (and your book!) I realised it was all I wanted to do. Not quite there yet, but I do now work for Welsh Ambulance and Im focused on getting to where I want to be. Experiencing those highs and lows that you so amazingly describe.


  3. You do an amazing job and write amazingly well about things that must be difficult to even think about sometimes. I hope you feel better soon. Thanks for all you do.

  4. I could witter on about the things that have helped me get over periods of depression, but this is not about me. When you are in that deep dark pit you can see no way out. If it is any consolation (I guess probably not) I seem to have 'turned a serotonin corner' this year. Maybe that will happen for you? I really hope so. The other people who have posted comments have said everything I could possibly wish to say. You are loved not only by your family and friends, but also by the people who read this Blog and so many of your 'customers'. You are fcuking Robbie Williams man!! All that adoration and respect. Every time you write a Blog or climb into that Ambulance you are making a difference to everyone you come into contact with. In the days of the Bible you'd have had a huge following… “he is not the Messiah, he is a very naughty boy” my Mr & I love you – as does everyone else it would appear. Hang on in there. Tricia x

  5. Think about the lives youv saved. Think about all those people that shouldnt be here, but are. Think about the families whos lives you have changed.

  6. Remember the smiles, remember the laughs. Remember the pain cured, remember the lives saved. Remember the thanks and the gratitude. Remember why you left nursing for ambulance work. Remember the hard jobs and the easy. Remember the loss and the grief. Remember the ashen-faced and the rosy-cheeked. Remember the day you first saved a life, and hold tight the day you first lost one. Remember who you are. And above all remember; c'est la vie.

  7. It's just like Dr Cox said on a repeat of an episode of Scrubs I watched the other night, he told JD to look around, the guy who'd just come in with his kid at Christmas was the prime candidate to die… but they did save the guy so he could spend Christmas with his kid, just think of all the people you saved so they could spend Christmas with their families.You've got a fantastic imagination, your words inspire so many people, try to think of something to inspire yourself. You don't have to get out of bed to do that, it makes it easier to lie there though, a warm fuzzy cocoon of nice thoughts :o)

  8. If you didn't get like that sometimes it would mean you had no compassion and then you wouldn't be half so good at your job.

  9. It is amazing how resilient and yet how fragile the human body is. More than most, you know both sides of that coin, and I'm sorry to say that this sadness is a good thing; If it didn't hurt it would mean you'd have stopped caring, and that would have meant you wouldn't fight so hard to save people. I know that sort of sentiment is never any help when your hearing it, and I wish there was something to say that could change the reality of those events, to change those decisions and make everything right with the world, but there isn't. People will always waste their lives, and there will always be tragedy and pain so long as there is life. It's times like these men of faith turn to their religion and pray, but you've stated several times that you don't swing for that, so all I can say is the Spring always comes, the sun rises that much sooner each day, and there will always be the ones you can save, the times that reported silent baby starts crying or the addict gets clean, all those good things to keep you going.

  10. Tom,For all of the bad times, a hug,

    For all of the good times, a hug;

    Today is a sad day,

    tomorrow will be different

    YOU make a difference in others lives

    Let others make a difference in YOUR life.


  11. On dark winter days, when I see an ambulance, sometimes I wish I'd be in it. Just to have a good reason to be taken care of and have a break.Thank God there are people like you who choose to witness the saddest things and help others in the most difficult times.

  12. Crikey mosesJEEZ

    Boomin heck

    Srike me !

    I'm all depressed now…

    Think of the newborns who have slipped out of their mum into your safe hands.

    Think of an uncontrollably hilarious moment … and hold that thought.


  13. In my experience, depression makes you take a walk through the dark and lonely cellars in your mind – it's not that you don't know the sun-room is up there, with its shiny windows and flowerpots, it's just that you're not inhabiting it right now, the stairs are so STEEP, and it all looks rather far away and irrelevant.St John's Wort & 5-HTP saved me from spending 3 – 4 months a year, EVERY year, in the cellar: I'm sure you're switched-on enough to have heard of them so I only mention this in passing, and like everyone else here I wish you the very best in getting through it and starting to enjoy life again.

  14. I can't say anything new, only we see people at their worst and try to make them just a little bit better, a little more comfortable, and hurt a little less, and for that, we should all be commended.We're human, we feel compassion, we ache for the people we bring into the A&E or the ER, but then we get back into the rig and throw on the lights and sirens and go help the next person. EMTs, medics, and first responders are the good guys.

  15. I can only reiterate all of the above although Alison J's comment made me laugh out loud.I was asked today by a work experience girl “How do you lot cope with deaths?”

    A wise question from a seventeen year old.

    Ans. “I cry, talk to colleagues and watch Tom & Jerry cartoons”.

    The days are getting longer and the sun will be here soon. Mind you, the Aztecs would sacrifice someone to ensure the sun did rise. So pick a politician….

    p.s. Real ale helps too.

  16. It is so hard not to dwell on all the painful, sad things when it's so bloody grim outside. I sympathise. I think I may have SAD but have mistaken it for thinking I was going MAD! I have never had it before – it is quite tormenting at times. Yes – don't forget about all the good things too even though they don't seem to matter – they really do. Take care.

  17. Thank you for everything you guys do, you don't get the credit you deserve from some people, but there will always be people out there who are grateful for everything you do, even if we don't ever see you!Thanks!

  18. At this time of year the knowledge that day by day the nights are getting shorter keeps me going.Tom, every day of your life you make a difference. Never forget that.

  19. Funny thing about brain chemistry problems: it seems un-effing-possible to get other people to understand what it's like. I'm sunlight-addicted too (in Southern California, so it's not too bad….), and I'll get the “Pull yourself together, stop being an insomniac / oversleeper /whatever” comments too.It's not like that. For instance, if you're a coffee drinker and one morning there's no coffee in the house, you are simply not going to feel sunny about it. There's no point saying, “Oh, just don't have a headache.” Coffee alters brain chemistry, and that's what it feels like.

    Obviously, Tom does all the pulling together anybody can do. 10 (or was it 12) hour shifts, writing a blog, writing books, and rising so high in WOW he has bananas on his shoulders. What more do you want?

  20. With global warming, you won't have to wait long. I already have bulbs coming up! Wishing you a happier tomorrow.

  21. Humanity is a strength that most have, but few show for fear of ridicule. But we show it to ourselves when we are alone. Fear not Tom. There are hundreds of thousands who feel the same at night.You have that special quality to feel and to reassure others. Think of those who see their blood ebbing from horrific wounds and how they feel hope when they see you. Of the lives you have saved and the families who will be eternally grateful for your actions and will remember you to the end. You never know, there may be a child called after you.

    Please take solace that those who read your words go to bed and feel the same because of your eloquent portrayal of life as you feel it. And we all know one thing. If ever we need the help of a medic, we would be so pleased to have Tom Reynolds alongside us.

  22. Another thing is, you make _me_, the reader, feel alive. Times when I'm just another consumer, working the Mon-Fri 9-5, I read your tales and link back in to the world around me. It's a world I'm not exposed to. Death and trauma are infrequent visitors to my life and the processes of day to day drudgery loom large as the only reality I view. And then I come here and I tap back in to the ebb, the flow and the fragility of life and experience.Sure, it's a vicarious trip, but often Tom, reading your blog feels like looking up at the stars and understanding I'm on a spinning blue rock and that life is bigger than my viewpoint.

  23. Dear Tom,I think you are sad and demoralised by Dr Crippen and his pointless critsism of your ilk. You get little thanks when you have done amazing good, yet loads of greif for a minor transgression from 'policy'. Forget him, just carry on being the best you can. The main reason I am inspired to reply; is your photo of 'Marie Celest'. I trained there as a midwife. I miss it so much it hurts. I am now working in a cosy suburban area, where all they are worried about is what shoes you wear. (2 recent counts of 'gross misconduct' for refusing to stop wearing my croc's. ) Thankyou. ( hope I was one of the lovely midwives you occasionaly mention, I am bound to have met you on one of your materna-taxi runs. I love your blog.

  24. Hey, Tom. I know about depression too. I got horribly depressed returning a couple of weeks ago from a holiday in England, actually. Yes, the days are short there, but here in Canada, they are short and brutally cold, and will be at least 10 more weeks! Bleh.I shouldn't whinge, though; I'm a librarian, I don't deal on a regular basis with sick, neglected, or dying people. I do, however, deal with books, and I would like to suggest a really wonderful book on death and dying to you. It is by a Tibetan scholar named Sogyal Rinpoche, and it is entitled “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”. It might help you and your co-workers to deal more easily with some of the aspects of your work. It isn't airy-fairy, either; very down-to-earth advice.

    Be gentle with yourself. Life is hard, and your path is a challenging one, but your compassionate heart, though it feels burdensome, is really what saves you.

  25. Most of us spend our lives ducking and diving the very issues that face you and your colleagues on a daily basis; the fact that we all will die and we have very little influence, if any, if it will be a 'good one' or at the 'right time'So I am not surprised that when the January blues hit (factor in the shift work for a deeper shade of blue)

    I am not surprised that it kicks the feet from under you. Hope you feel brighter soon.

  26. After many years of experience I've realised that very few healthcare professionals actually care about people. The truth is, bad things happen, but if I or a member of my family were to be in a situation like any of those you mentioned. I'd want a healthcare professional like yourself who actually gives a damn to be there. I know its little solace but sometimes it makes all the difference.

  27. Thomas : for what it be worth;Not being in your moccasins :Get White lights, they are now available in the new fangled fluorescent style cost saving versions. get rid of the yellow ones.Take 1000 st John's Wort.I have found both work for me , but “nutin “is perfect.Hope is good, but you have earned our respect for all that you do.I have survived to this age where they say one has wisdom , but it ain't true , you need good genes too.When it comes to handing out the ribbons , you will get yours and they will truly be deserved.We all have to play the hand dealt , one card at a time,, You never know what the future brings, in retrospect I realize How lucky I have been. All one can do, is to do the best you know how , with tools that you have.So I hope by now you up and out living it up.Having spent 30 years in the “lunno' town ” gloom back in the good old days of heavy lung filling smog that use too reduce London's elderly population, And having gone thru the agonizing misery of wondering ” wots it all bout alfie” , I had to leave for greener pastures so that I could have more than scraps for what would be left after paying the rent, not having enough for Whimpy burger.So now all these years latter, enjoy the sun and the warm climate although I be still a moaning that it be cold as it be 55.0CYour Blog brings hope to many and makes people realize that there are good people out there, thus we can ignore the Daily Wail head lines.

  28. Go with it.You know, in your heart, of the job that needs to be done.I think it's natural that we should feel sad. Some more than others. If we don't feel then why do we do the job?

    Tears can bring about great therapy and they happen at any time of year.

    You've been (and continue to be) of great inspiration to the public and those in the same job.

    Grab a tissue. Blow your nose. The smiles will return when they are ready.

    If i am in east London and trip over a wild daisy and break my fingernail i hope you turn out ;0)

    Smile! It increases your face value.

  29. I don't know how you do it, I take my hat off to you who do. Love Liz & not so baby josh (19 weeks & 1 day yes pregnant again lol)

  30. Brilliantly said.I've just been dumped on by the depression bug myself, not surprisingly given the weather, and gone from being up and ready to move as soon as I wake and I've stretched out all the painful bits, to taking five hours to even get out of bed. Five hours of sitting, staring at a computer, being hungry and yet somehow lacking the will to get myself food. Twelve hours to get dressed. Negative, intrusive thoughts will surely follow and I'll have to fight those too. My usual method is to get on with living well, and I am doing so, but at such a treacle slow pace…

    It'll get better, but it's more like trying to work through a bad mental health 'cold' than any sort of 'bad mood'.

    Tom, you're amazing. I don't think it hurts to tell you once more that you do wonderful things and there are very many of us that benefit from your existence, every day, usually in concrete ways. Through work, yes, but also through your blog. Get better in your own time.

  31. Or, speaking from my experience, hunker down and stay there until it wears off. Dragging yourself up and shuffling around can make it all seem worse.And Pigeonwidgin, I'll join your campaign if I can add February to the petition. It's even worse than January for me.

    Tom – do what feels right.

  32. Oh dear Tom, January is a pesky month but Spring is just around the corner. Dwell on all the positive jobs and the huge difference you make to countless people – if i was poorly sick i would want you to scoop me up and make me safe and better. There are people and there are people, you Sir are the best however sad you feel don't ever lose sight of the huge difference you make (don't forget there are the ones you know about as well as the ones you don't) Hang on in there bud Spring is just around the corner!

  33. That was a truly poignant post, and I enjoyed it lots.I'm not going to tell you all the good things you've done, and how good you should feel about yourself, but I am going to tell you how cool it is if you can't get out of bed, and then you stare at the lightbulb in your bedside light for a minute, and then you realise it has to be switched on, so you switch it on and stare at it another minute, and that just jolts you into action enough that you can do a bit of what you wanted. Just a bit, though.

  34. I used to be a semi regular. “Fits”. “Fainting”. Overdoses. The usual. I was being beaten and raped by my partner at home and I basically went bonkers because of it. I'd eff and blind and cuss at the ambulance crew because I was insane and I hated everything, especially myself. I was a walking hand in hand with boyfriend in A&E type because really it was only at casualty that he'd give me any affection. It was the best bit in my pathetic life waking up in hospital. Boyfriend would be nice, nurses might hate me but they'd still look after my wellbeing (one up on everyone else in the entire world) and hells, the paramedics would even stand up for me sometimes. Actually stand up for me!! Me!! A wretch, an idiot, a failure of a human being! I repaid them with abuse of course – verbal only but still vile.I managed to get out. I'm a good person now, I work in social services and I do a lot for charity. I always remember the kindness that the paramedics and healthcare staff gave me, just like I remember every one that treated me like dirt and wrote me off as no good. I'm very grateful for all your guys help. I've just never been able to find the words to say it.

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