Thanks to all that have helped!!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Louisville Metro and Open Doors

On Tuesday I attempted to take the Louisville Metro EMS physical agility test. For an overview here is what the test consists of...
100' Serpentine Carry: Carry an approximately 80 pound hose bundle 100 feet
zigzagging through cones spaced 5 feet apart
you have 1min 10sec to complete

Enter through the window of a standard size car window and then exit 
through the same window

The following tasks are performed continuously, you have 5min 30 sec to
complete these tasks

Enter the driver side of the ambulance, touch the radio, emergency
equipment, gas and brake pedals then exit

Open the rear compartment and remove the stretcher with 2 med bags placed
on the bed. Move the stretcher next to the fire tower

Carry the med bags (approx 33 pounds) to the 3rd floor (although their paperwork
says 3rd floor they made me go to the 4th)

Once on the 4th floor put the bags down and pick up the 80 pound hose bundle and
carry back to the stretcher.

Put the stretcher with hose bundle back in the ambulance

Return to the 4th floor, retrieve the med bags and place them on the floor of the
ambulance (end of test)

As stated above, I had 5 min and 30 sec to finish this task. I completed the skill in 5 min and 57 seconds. 27 seconds over my allotted time. I had asked prior to testing for another minute or 2 to complete the tasks as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act. I was denied this accommodation and therefore failed the exam. To say I was bummed was an understatement. I was crushed. Thankfully, I have a very supportive group of friends and family, who helped me realize that considering I climbed effectively 8 stories in under 6 minutes as an amputee. That's not to shabby. 

I did email the HR rep for LMEMS and brought to his attention that although their departmental paperwork said we would be tested by going to the 3rd floor, we were instructed on test day to go to the 4th. Had I went to the 3rd floor as on the paper they gave us I very well may have passed. The rep responded that since I didn't say anything before my test then I forfeited all rights to complain. So, that's it. My future with LMEMS is over. I can retest in 6 months if I chose too, but I think this ship has sailed. That leaves me with a decision to make. Do I continue on in EMS or do I try a new path? I think I've made that decision. I may take a part time job on the ambulance, just because I really do enjoy patient care, and I am good as a medic, but in the long run EMS is just too hard on our bodies. Most people in this field end their career with a back injury. The days of making it 20 or 25 years are quickly coming to an end. An ever expanding population of bariatric (obese) patients is increasing the rate of injury on duty, and ending careers almost quicker than we can replace those left by the wayside. 

I have decided that I will continue in some function in medicine. I may teach paramedics, I may go back to nursing school, who knows where my path will lead. One thing is for sure. I am turning my focus. For the next few years my focus will be on helping Kate go to school and continue to push for Insurance Fairness for Amputees. I am going to try to focus on a national level instead of state level. My number one priority will be Kate. She has supported me throughout this insane journey we have been on. Up till now, the focus has been squarely on me, it's her turn for center stage. I will continue to write, do the occasional speaking engagement, and always mentor others (amputees and EMS). 

So, with that said, please continue to follow along. I have decided to stop trying to open this closed door and search for a door that is open. 

Until next time, 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Six Million Dollar Man and PTSD Breaks

Yesterday I did an AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit. It was a great experience. It reminded me of the power of the internet. I was able to reach out to thousands of people with a simple  post. More importantly, I was able to connect with a person who is facing an amputation and after reading and participating in my AMA felt much better about the prospect of amputation. It amazes me that it's 2014 and still amputation is looked upon as a life ending prospect.

Link to Reddit AMA

What comes to mind when you hear the word amputee? Do you still get flashes in your head of peg legs and wheelchairs? Do you see a person who is downtrodden and broken? These are the common perceptions of the amputee. I hope to change that. No, when I hear the word amputee I see a fighter. I see strength. I see a future where man and machine are joined to not only replace, but enhance our abilities. Yes. I am a bionic man (play the six million dollar man theme here). It is an exciting time to be an amputee. No longer are we going to be forced to sit idly by and watch the world pass. We are out on the front lines of the blurring of flesh and bone limbs being replaced and augmented by gears and neural interfaces.

After such a high of course, I came crashing down. I was quickly reminded that while I am happy with my decision to have an amputation, and about where the future of prosthesis are headed. I still have my demons that I must deal with. As I lay down last night to try to sleep, the PTSD demon reared his ugly head in full force. It was different than any attack I had ever had. Not only did I feel like I was reliving the moments after my fall. I was there. My background noise of what ever show I was half watching was replaced with the sounds of birds chirping and water splashing down against rocks. For most it would be a serene scene, for me it was Hell envisioned. The walls lit by the television light were replaced with the sights of trees passing overhead as I was carried up the mountainside by Fort Knox Fire and Rescue. This was the first time that I had a full on hallucination of my fall. I WAS THERE! I felt like my bones were trying to crawl out of my skin, my phantom pains added to the delusion by recreating the burning sensation of an open ankle dislocation. Yes it was truly terrible. Yet, today...I'm still here. I'm alive. No demon; PTSD or otherwise, will stop me on my quest. I am thankful today that I was reminded in vivid detail of why I'm here. I'm not saying I'm thankful that I have PTSD. On the contrary I loathe this disease with all my being. I am thankful that I have a place to go talk about it and it can be seen by anyone who wants to read it. I hope this message reaches you. I know your in Public Safety and being affected by the atrocities you see is perceived as a weakness somehow. I want you to know you are not alone. I realized now that I have had these issues for awhile. Sometimes it's my fall, other times it's that SIDS baby or the pediatric full arrest or the dead husband that I couldn't help and had to break that news to his wife on Christmas morning. Yes, we all deal with it. I have just chosen to stand up and say I am a Paramedic, I am an Amputee, I am a PTSD sufferer, and this is OK.

If this is you, if you want to talk I am available. You can contact me via my email at You have complete and total privacy. No one and I mean NO ONE you do not want to know will no. I promise I won't say a word. I care about you and all my readers. Weather you are an amputee, member of public safety, or just a normal person feel free to reach out. Someone is here who is willing to listen.

Until Next Time.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hosting an AMA on Reddit

I'm doing an AMA on Reddit right now...come on and join in. If it doesn't take off I may try again later tonight!

Prosthetic Medic