In The Blink of an Eye

An Indescribable Sense of Loss on an Incredibly Lucky Day

Fire Daily started just a few scant months ago as a way to stay involved in the fire service after suffering a disability on the job.  Forced into an early “retirement” of sorts, I was surprised at how much I really wasn’t enjoying it.  Beyond the medical issues, I have to tell you about the overwhelming sense of loss which became almost unbearable.

I have been a firefighter all my adult life, starting as a volunteer in my home community and eventually becoming my department’s first full-timer.  After a long while, I started all over again at a career department down the road where I began that special firefighter relationship with a whole new group of guys and gals.  My second job was as a fire and EMS instructor.  My whole life revolved around my family at home, my family at work, and my family of students and fellow instructors.

Then, the accident happened.  Another quarter of an inch shift in location, my neurologist explained, and my skull fracture would almost certainly have resulted in me becoming a quadriplegic.  So I fully appreciate the “luck” that befell me on that warm spring day in May.  But, even with help from above, I must tell you how everything changed in the blink of an eye.

Let me repeat that.

Everything changed in the blink of an eye.

The regularity of having contact with the guys and gals with whom I truly held a special bond was severed.  One day there, next day- crickets.

It’s difficult to try to describe the different relationship that developed when I was no longer part of the “team”, yet always still a part of the “family.”  Although I’m able to pop in anytime I want (there’s an open invitation forever) to break bread and bust a gut with the guys, it just isn’t the same.  I’m not going to be on the line with them for the next “big one.” Or even the next little one.  Or even the advanced living center call for assistance.  Or training.  Or shopping.  Or watching “Family Guy”.

In the blink of an eye, it’s all gone now.

The longer I’ve been away, the deeper the sense of loss of being apart from them and the job I honestly loved.  This emotional response must be similar to the feeling experienced by firefighters that are forced to retire before they want to due to age. Be kind to them, folks.

Enter Fire Daily.

It all started out as a means by which I could remain somewhat connected to the fire service without gearing up and actually battling the red devil.  Blogging has been extremely medicinal for this injured firefighter/paramedic.

Just like the change that happened halfway through my career by switching departments, this new change has brought me into yet another family- a group of bloggers and readers that have quickly become my friends.  As the days and weeks and months plod along, these ties, too, will continue to strengthen.  How can I be sure?  Because we enjoy a certain pact– call it brotherhood- that is inherent to the fire service.  It lives in each of us and continues to develop each day no matter who we are, where we live, or what capacity we hold.

Although I will always have a sense of loss, I thank each and every one of my readers and fellow bloggers for allowing me to remain connected.

As another well-established blogger puts it- “Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff!”

You are my new family.

15 Comments

  • Ckemtp says:

    Great post buddy. Consider that open invitation to break bread open at both of my departments as well. Anytime. Since you won't be on duty, consider it an open invitation for liquid bread after I'm off duty as well.

    Blogging is extremely therapeudic.. bad day at work?? Blog about it. Good day at work?? Blog about it. Mediocre day at work? Blog about it. Who cares if another group of guys gets nominated for Fire Critic's best blogs of 2009 contest and you don't (Oh wait, that was me) (and really, I'm not bitter blah blah blah… hard field to compete in blah blah blah… Got beat by an alien cyborg blah blah blah)

    It's great sharing the interwebs with guys like you. I look forward to the future and the bright spots that are sure to come.

  • Greg Friese says:

    Glad to be sharing a virtual station with you. I enjoy your posts, interest in EMS, and I am looking forward to your new podcast.

  • I'm sorry to hear about how you got here. But I'm glad you're here brau.

  • Oh lord do I know your pain and sense of loss. I to had to “retire” long before I was ready but some PTSD and arthritis made the job of paramedic physically impossible to work as a paramedic/ firefighter any longer. Likewise I'm still “family” and always welcome but ti's not the same. However I am here and have made some awesome friends still in the jobs ,,,,,, and like somoene before me posted, so sorry for your loss and the reason you got here but as I LOVE your blogs, I”m so glad you are here and am deeply honored to call you Friend !!!! *hugs*

  • Fire Critic says:

    Special bond among bloggers for sure. I know of 2 other bloggers who have had a similar fate get them into blogging. One of them is still “on the job”. You are def. still part of the family though!

  • firehat says:

    Powerful stuff. I'm glad you can find some solace.

  • Tom Allen says:

    Sorry to hear that your career has ended. The same situation happened to me in 2002 and I still find it difficult to talk about it. Glad to hear I'm not the only one that has this problem. I don't go back to the station because it brings me back to what I could have been doing had I not gotten injured. The guys slowly stop calling or stopping by and new guys get hired as life goes on. I hope this story will remind the readers that are not injured to get in touch with your brothers that are. Thank you for bringing this situation up. TA

  • Fire Daily says:

    No sympathy needed for this guy… just thought you all might want a glimpse into my head. Let me know if you found anything. Thanks for the love- stay stoked!

  • Fire Daily says:

    Hey, TA, thanks for your comments. You touched on something I'm just beginning to notice now- how the department continues to move on without you (whoda thunk?).

    Phone calls are coming less and less, new people at the station who don't know me, well, they just don't know me. It's not their fault. But, like you my friend, I now have two departments to which I gave a huge amount of my life and energy and love. As they move on without me, I really long for the good ol' days when I was a part of them. Damn, that sounds just like our parents!

    Thanks, buddy.

  • Fire Daily says:

    No sympathy needed for this guy… just thought you all might want a glimpse into my head. Let me know if you found anything. Thanks for the love- stay stoked!

  • Fire Daily says:

    Hey, TA, thanks for your comments. You touched on something I'm just beginning to notice now- how the department continues to move on without you (whoda thunk?).

    Phone calls are coming less and less, new people at the station who don't know me, well, they just don't know me. It's not their fault. But, like you my friend, I now have two departments to which I gave a huge amount of my life and energy and love. As they move on without me, I really long for the good ol' days when I was a part of them. Damn, that sounds just like our parents!

    Thanks, buddy.

  • Tom Allen says:

    I know, 19 years to the same department as your first and 23 years to the second and they are both still going strong. It would be nice if they acted as though it was difficult to get along without you even if for just a short time. But alas the world keeps on turning and life goes on.

  • chiefreason says:

    John:
    I have always said that blogging is therapy. I have some experience with injuries, though I had mine before I joined my volunteer department. My knees got worse and they hurt much worse in the cold months. I got involved in discussion boards and writing articles for another website. I have since had both knees replaced, dropped a hundred pounds and write whatever I feel about whenever I feel like it. No rules; no schedules, you know?
    I have met some great people through the internet and met some of them in person. It's like getting together with old friends when it happens. I'm sure it will be that way when we meet and we will. Our health and our families are the two most important things that we have. Everything else is a gift. The passion that you had for the job you can now pour into what you write and share something that is much bigger than the brothers and sisters you served with.
    I am satisfied when just one person tells me that they liked what I wrote and am equally amused when the same article pisses off someone else. I get both ends of the spectrum of emotions with one article. Hopefully, you will share in that.
    You got good stuff.
    And thank you for reading mine.

  • Fire Daily says:

    Thanks again, Art, for your generous words and encouragement. How boring and unfulfilling it would be to type away all day without any response. Seems like I have some fun to look forward to as my responses begin to come from wider edges of the spectrum.

    Stay warm, healthy, and loved.

  • Fire Daily says:

    Thanks again, Art, for your generous words and encouragement. How boring and unfulfilling it would be to type away all day without any response. Seems like I have some fun to look forward to as my responses begin to come from wider edges of the spectrum.

    Stay warm, healthy, and loved.

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John Mitchell

Firefighter/Paramedic and a Lieutenant in suburban Chicago

Toledo prayers

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