My experience with the “L” word.

i was 27 and living in Sicily. i had been dating sonia for 4-5 months.

the absolute worst EMS call i have ever responded to, was as follows (in summation): the call was for “newborn in respiratory distress” secondary to anaphylaxis to formula. basically a 2 week old stopped breathing because it had ana allergic reation to formula. we got on scene and my partner (who was the senior EMT in the hospital) looked at me and said, “i can’t do this.” and walked to the front of the ambulance. when your partner taps out on a call (this is a RARE move btw….feel free to chime in Dogsquat.) you HAVE to take on the call. there was a look of absolute terror and helplessness on the father’s face. what followed was 20 minutes that passed in 15 seconds. the boy had a breathing rate of 13-14 breaths per minute (it should be about 100-120 per minute). the baby was cool to touch and i noticed mild cyanosis (starting to turn blue, means blood isn’t moving throughout the body). i was breathing for the baby with a bag-valve-mask, flicking his foot with my finger (tactile stimulation) and was giving him supplemental oxygen. fortunately, his condition had improved as we arrived to the ER. the doors were thrown open , and a team of about 4 people rushed the gurney out of the ambulance.

i don’t know how long i had been sitting in the captains chair. all i remember is one of the ER docs and the ER Dept Head escorting my upstairs to mental health. ALL EMT’s have a to go through a CISD (critical incdent stress debrief) after a traumatic call. i’d already done hundreds of calls, human dismemberment doesn’t move me. the hospital is pretty small so mental health knew all of us well. they sent me home after a about an hour of talking with me. i was THAT fucked up by the call.

sonia was living with me in between semesters at uni of catania. i walked in the door, and she didn’t even bother speaking. she walked over to me, hugged me, and led me to the living room. she put on “dumb and dumber”, and brought me a beer which i didn’t drink. she then informed me that i wasn’t cooking that evening (i had prepped food to cook), and she went across the street and got my favorite “pizza capriccosa”. i couldn’t eat. after she had eaten she sat behind me, and placed my head on her chest and she sang a song gently in sicialian. i guess at some point i fell asleep (she was rubbing my neck and head…..that puts me out everytime), because she was leading me to the bedroom. i laid down and fell asleep. next thing i remember she was on top of me, i think it was around 4am. she had opened the persionas (the shutters the protects windows in italy) and the moon light bathed the room. she looked stunning. serpentine and elegantly graceful, i felt like i was drunk. all i could concentrate on was her. we were lying in bed facing each other, and she finally asked me.

s- “danny, que fai oggi?” (what happened today?)

 d-“un incidentne con un bebe’.” (an accident with a baby.)

s- “e serioso?” (was it serious.)

d- “in fatti, molto.” (yes, very).

as i explained what had happened she sprang up, covering her mouth. she looked horrified.  “perche no me explicare pui presto?” (why didn’t you tell me sooner?).  i replied, “e impossible a parlare al momento.” (it was impossible for me to speak at that time). i told her the child lived and is doing fine, but i could already see a tear in her eye. i pulled her to me and felt her tiny fingers clutching my arm. “mi dispiache danny.” (i’m sorry danny). i told her it was alright.

“ti amo danny.” (i love you danny). and without hesitation i answered her, “anche ti amo.” (i love you too). the words came from my mouth without me even thinking about it.  and for the first time in my adult life, i actually meant it. i had NEVER said those 3 words to a gf before. and aside from beth, sonia is the only other woman i’ve said them to.  

stay up.

13 Comments on “My experience with the “L” word.”

  1. Bb says:

    Danny, I know men are capable of loving women, but I’m glad you told this story to emphasize it even more. And it was beautifully written. I felt like I was watching a foreign film. (And before you can say it, YES, I know I’m such a girl!)

    Sonia sounds like a wonderful, supportive woman.

    Keep on blogging!

    • dannyfrom504 says:

      she was supportive, fiesty, intellegent, and drop dead smolderingly beautiful. i almost proposed to her. had i stayed in sicily another year, i might have actually gone through with it.

      i have never had a woman treat me as well as sonia did.

      and i’m glad you liked the story.

      i think the thing with quitting the blog was a symptom from my PTSD. i’m usually pretty chipper and up-beat. i can swing into rock-bottom depression or complete bloodlust rage. and i was in a pretty crap mood the past few days. smh.

  2. dogsquat says:

    Nice save, man! I hope you spare a minute every Christmas and think about that kid, tearing into his presents, jabbering away in Eye-Taliun.

    Dude, reading about your partner tapping out got me in the gut. I’ve had a hard few shifts, and I got a cold cannonball of fear about where my duodenum usually sits reading that.

    Under no circumstances should you leave your partner and your patient flapping in the wind like that. Unsat.


    There is only a finite amount of time anybody can do this kind of work. It is too stressful. It pervades your being after awhile. It’s hard walking around with all this crap in your head. You feel like some kind of unclean alien trying to fit in with the normals.

    I once worked a kid who’d had an asthma attack at dinner. Everything went wrong. Nothing worked. She just got more and more cyanotic. We were hauling ass to the ED, bouncing around in back of the ‘bolance and the mom was going nuts – she kept clawing at my shoulder while I was trying to work. Shit sucked. I almost quit that day.

    Like I said, I think your partner screwed your patient and you over, and hard. However, I see how it could happen to anyone – no excuse, just a statement of fact. I hope that when my breaking point comes (and we all have one – Every. Single. One. Of. Us) it’s when I am by myself – off shift. I don’t ask God/The Universe/The Great Pumpkin for anything but that.

    Please let me not break until nobody is relying on me.
    Please let me realize I’m burned out before I fuck up.

    Anybody who gets those things is blessed beyond imagining.

    I can remember every single blue baby I’ve ever seen.

    Sometimes, I think my purpose in life is to do this shit so nobody else has to. I’m already fucked up, and if I keep going, then I keep some nice kid who wants to “save lives” from seeing this stuff. That nice kid will get tired of waiting for a spot to open up in EMS, so he’ll go study accounting or some shit. Live a nice life with a nice, clean mind. It’s my gift to that nice kid. The naive kid doesn’t even know how precious the gift I’m giving is.

    We’re like the garbagemen of life.

    I gotta keep studying so I have somewhere to go before I get so fried I pull some shit like your partner.

    I just read over this post. Sorry about how disjointed it is. I bet you get it anyway.

    I’m going for a run, or a glass of Scotch. Maybe both.

    • dannyfrom504 says:

      Devil-Dog you don’t havve to explain anything to me. i know. i’m so desenetized to human death that it’s chilling. we were on scene for 20 seconds. i got dad and the baby strapped in, and went to work. 89% O2 sats. FOXTROT MIKE!!!!! when we got to the hospital he was at 94%. (to laypeople, that’s an improvent, but if there were inadedquate perfussion/circulation for too long, the baby might have developed irreversible brain damage).

      i don’t feel that Dave fucked me over. everyone has their achilles heel, Ped’s was his. dave’s a great EMT. i CAN NOT watch childbirth. if i EVER have a kid, i’d have to be waiting outside.

      i must have looked like a zombie when i got home, the look on Sonia face was very telling. i got PTSD from all the shit i’ve experienced. but i finally had it. after almost 10 years of doing trauma management, i decided to get into radiology.

      and what most people don’t get, is you just can’t talk about the shit we’ve experienced. “how was work? eh, you know stuffed whole rolls of kerlex in a 8 year old girls chest after she got hit by a car and ripped her chest open. didn’t require too much work though because she was dead less then 10 minutes after we got on scene. ever heard cheynne-stokes breathing? “no” it’s really distinguisihable. hear it once, and you’ll never forget it. and you, how was the cubicle?” i’ve had the nightmares, i’ve had the alcoholism, if you startle me, or make a loud noise, i’ll jump and get connsumed with absolute rage. i knocked out a co-worker that popped a bag behind me. kocked.out.cold.
      the most i’ll usually let them in on, is i did traumam management for a long time, and i’ve seen a TON horrible shit. i’m amazed i’m as functoinal as i am. and you’re right, if people could step into our mind’s and experience 10 seconds of the horror and gore we’ve been exposed to…they’d probably need to be committed. i feel very fortunate to JUST have PSTD (which i’ve also lucky to have been able to manage)

      sonia was a HUGE help during those days.

  3. ASF says:

    I had my first ambulance experience when I was in NO actually danny (I think ultimately it was dehydration plus a condition). Those guys were calm as hell even though I was freaking out. They said as long as I’m breathing they were not worried.

    • dannyfrom504 says:

      Dude they send special forces medics to NO for trauma management.

    • dogsquat says:

      ASF, if I’m worried about you, you’ll never know it. Me being calm, collected, confident, and reassuring is part of the deal. An old lady might feel better if I’m attentive and touch her a lot. Somebody else might feel better if I act bored – different strokes, etc.

      A good EMT/’medic is like a duck – calm and sedate on the surface – but under the water where you can’t see, there is furious paddling to stay one step ahead of developments.

      Plus, after you do this job for awhile, you can usually pick out who is really sick from 20 feet away. We call it,”The look of impending doom.”

      There is also a difference between Not Sick, Sick But Stable, and Circling The Drain. You were probably Sick But Stable – you needed some attention but you weren’t actively dying at that moment. Sure, if you didn’t get help in 3 hours or a day you might’ve died, but the ‘bolance ride is only 20 minutes, and then you’ll be in the hands of people who’ve gone to school for decades learning to take care of you. That shit doesn’t even get my heart rate up anymore.

  4. johnnymilfquest says:

    “and no, i don’t mean lesbians.”

    I skipped to the conclusion of the article at that point.

    “i guess i should keep on blogging.”

    Danny, I knew you would.

    I thought about quitting before, even said I would let my blog hibernate for a while. But when you get bitten by the bug, its hard to give it up.

  5. dannyfrom504 says:

    yup. pretty much. during the call…i’m a machine. after…that’s when i have to decompress (and yes, alone).

    lol. i realized i had so many hits b/c Badger and PM pinged me. i really am a coat tail riding zilch. lol.

  6. spade says:

    i dont really have much to say into this except WOW, ive seen some bad things just being into doing dumb shit that we (me and my friends) normally have to call emt’s and what not b/c of our dumb asses ( im an adrenaline addict) but i cant even begin to imagine even a quarter of what you have seen. that all gave me the chills.

    i have to say there’s a lot of insight im learning from reading yours and your fellow bloggers posts, and it really has dumbfounded me at how many things in life with relationships ive never understood due to the blue pill syndrome. i was a red pill then got married, got screwed over, and have been stuck in the blue pill since. so i went out last night took some of your advice of just talking to a girl give it that small flirting let it be and whats the worst that could happen, she says heres my number, or you go talk to someone else. i got shot down a few times but many of the girls i talked to (just flirting not going for the lay) actually were really nice still. a few of them were “here come meet my friend” it was great. im just going on about nothing really now except thank you, keep on posting and by the way, love the food ideas… im def stealing your snickers desert

    • dannyfrom504 says:

      you see. it’s not all that difficult.

      how does priscilla act around me and rich? and yes, you will get shot down. did it kill you. actually the more you disregard getting shot down the more oblivious to it you become.

      glad i was able to help.

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