Friday, January 8, 2016

Paramedic and Family Caregiver "First Responder" Stories

Many of our first responders will be diagnosed with PTSD during their careers, and will battle mood disorders, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts as a result.

These are kids who live on borrowed time and would test anybody's resilience.

Hi Everyone!

While making my monthly stop at CBC Radio's, White Coat, Black Art, I've just come across two programs that are well worth your listening time. The quotes above are from the series host, Dr Brian Goldman, MD.

1.  The first program, Sock Drawer Stories: Portraits of Hope and Healing, describes the posttraumatic stress of emergency paramedics, one in particular who learned to deal with her PTS symptoms through painting. Teresa Coulter paints powerful portraits of colleagues with PTS, "opening their hearts and her's to healing". 

Teresa uses the analogy of a sock drawer (similar to the "file folder in your chest" you've heard me speak about in workshops) to describe what happens when we take the memory and emotion of each "bad call" or medical emergency or other trauma and stuff it in the back of our sock drawer. This works pretty well in the short term, allowing us to "forget" the trauma and present an "I'm fine!" face to the world. However, as time passes and the drawer fills up, opening it to add one more memory can cause all the old memories and feelings to fly out onto the floor.  This is what happens when we find ourselves "over-reacting" to a situation. It makes our PTS warning signs come out on full display.

In this piece, Teresa and her colleagues are interviewed by Brian Goldman about their PTS experiences and their individual paths to healing. 

2.  The second program, One More Thing Moms' Club, describes the experiences of another group of "first responders", a passionately articulate group of family caregivers in the Ottawa area faced every day with the frontline primary care and advocacy for a child with complex illness. While these Moms discuss the realities of life as they care for their children, much of what they say also applies to those caring for adults with similar conditions.

When I first saw the name of this support group, it occurred to me that it could have more than one meaning. Not only are these parents people who always have "one more thing to do" but they also have " one more thing to ask" of helping professionals exiting the room  because there's always another question, arrangement or issue to stress. I can't think of a more apt name for this group!

The unabridged interview with this amazing group of caregivers is well worth hearing in its longer-than-usual format.  

I hope you can take the time to settle into a big chair with a cuppa and really listen to both of these excellent programs. You'll come away inspired.


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