25 July 2014

22 : Paramedic Assaults - Something Blue

Most Trusted Profession in Jeopardy

from NSW Ambulance Anti-Violence to Paramedic Program

The high incidence of assaults on paramedics has caused the NSW Ambulance Service to launch an anti-violence campaign using posters designed to show the human side to paramedics. Their campaign reminds offenders what constitutes assault : 

Assault is legally defined as any contact or threat 
of contact by a person to another, which instils 
immediate fear of violence. The threat must be 
made in such a way that the person making the 
threat has the ability to carry it out at the time it 
was made. For example, if a patient or bystander 
threatens to punch a paramedic, which causes 
fear in the paramedic, and the person who made 
the threat can physically carry it out, that would 
constitute an assault.

A recent 12 month jail sentence given to a 36 year old woman who assaulted a male paramedic in NSW, is evidence that there is zero tolerance to assaults on paramedics. It is the beginning of a long process to ensure that prosecutions to crimes against paramedics are being taken seriously.   zero-tolerance

South Australia has recently followed the lead of NSW Ambulance Service in commencing a new awareness campaign to prevent violence against paramedics. The statistics of assaults against SA Ambulance Service paramedics has nearly doubled in the short space of two years. Despite legislation changes in 2009, which increased the assault charge against paramedics to the charge of aggravated assault, to date there have been a very disappointing number of cases that have led to prosecution.  increase-in-assaults-campaign

In November last year I was assaulted by a female patient whilst at work, the first time I have been physically assaulted in the 15 years I have worked as a paramedic. This aggravated assault case is still slowly working its way through the court system and will hopefully end with a significant sentence that reflects the serious nature of the offence. In the meantime I have had to recover from the physical and psychological injuries this vicious and unprovoked attack has caused me. The flow on effects have been numerous: to my family, my colleagues, my friends and my trust in others and confidence in returning to working as a paramedic. 

Violence at work is an issue that has been tolerated in the past, and sometimes put down to just part of the job, will be no more. The zero tolerance policy on assault to paramedics within Australia is spreading and the violence will no longer be tolerated. In my case I was unfortunately physically assaulted; a king hit to the head which caused concussion, bruising and worst of all cervical neck injuries, nerve damage and pain which I have had to learn to deal with. I was also psychologically assaulted in the same incident, but also in many others over the years. We have tolerated being verbally abused and frequently spat on as if it was an expected part of the job. However, any threats verbal or otherwise toward us will no longer be tolerated. It shouldn't have to be only the physical assaults that take the focus, no level of abuse should be tolerated.

Paramedics are highly trained professionals that pride themselves in giving their all to help those in need and care for their patients. The more times we are stopped from doing our job by threats of violence and abuse the less likely we will be in the future to help. In order for us to continue to do our important work, being the difference between life and death for so many people, we need respect and safety to do our work. No-one deserves to be injured at work.

19 July 2014

22 : Humans Killing Humans - Something Borrowed

Tragedy of Humanity

I kept asking who did it?

Israel? Palestina?
Russians? Ukraine?

Then my mom answered.
Humans killing humans.

This short phrase doing the rounds on the internet at the moment says it all!

The tragedy of humanity is humans, humans are the sole cause of this latest tragedy reeling across the globe - the downing of Flight MH17. For two days I have watched little else and have learnt, like the rest of the world, the awful truth; that this plane and all of its innocent 298 passengers and crew were killed for no good reason. It wasn't an accident, an unavoidable catastrophe, it was a conscious and malicious human act that caused this tragedy, using weapons of mass destruction. Killing 298 people of all backgrounds, of all races and religions, people who have contributed to society each in their own ways; 80 innocent children on board that will never have that chance.

As I have watched in horror the events unfolding from the safety of my warm family home, I realise how incredibly lucky I am to have not lost a loved one on that flight. It really could have randomly happened to any one of us, every one who has ever flown knows the remote risk of being involved in a crash. However, I doubt there are many who are afraid of flying that would have ever thought that a missile would have been the cause of their demise. We can only hope that those on board didn't know what happened; that it was instantaneous for them. It is not instantaneous for the rest of the world and the families and friends of those on board who are destined forever to grieve for them. To those families I feel for you and sympathise with your terrible and tragic loss.

Although it is actually humans that are responsible for this, I still have hope for humanity. Already this tragedy has rapidly brought together multiple different countries, governments, politicians and ordinary people from around the globe, united in their frustration of this atrocity. I strongly believe that although there are still many ongoing conflicts around the world, that there are enough humans that do care and want an end to global conflict and violence. 

Humans killing humans needs to be acknowledged as the cause but not the ultimate focus of this tragedy. Humans uniting and putting an end to our conflicts should be the focus. After all, we have enough to worry about with the rapidly reducing natural resources of our world and dealing with the natural disasters yet to come, than to stress about humans killing humans.


16 July 2014

22 : The New Age Tooth Fairy - Something New

My Tooth Fairy is a Periodontist

Turns out when you are over 40 and lose a tooth you don't get a visit from a magical tooth fairy visiting you through the night to leave gold coins under your pillow, complete with a sprinkle of fairy dust. Instead, when you are over 40 and need to lose a tooth it is off to the periodontist you go; where your tooth is unceremoniously ripped from the jaw that held it for all those years and you are sent home with a hefty bill instead of a shiny gold coin!

The dentist is not my favourite place to visit, like many people I put off the inevitable and avoid that drill a few weeks longer than I should. The trouble with this plan of action is that the problem that may have started out small turns into a bigger one the longer you avoid the inevitable. I can use the excuse of money as a genuine one, however, there really can be no price put on a situation that causes so much pain. The truth is that my problem started many, many years ago, but the latest in a string of events had been over 12 months of avoidance that led to the demise of my tooth.

I spent a great deal of time at the school dentist when young, commonly returning back to my classroom embarrassed to wear the sticker that warned everyone that I shouldn't bite my lip. I had teeth drilled, filled, poked at and pulled every single visit. It's no wonder now as an adult I choose not to go back to be maliciously assaulted unless absolutely necessary. Of course I now know they actually mean me no harm and that I am not a small child shaking in a cold chair without explanation anymore. Now I know fully well what is about to happen and why. I have no one else to blame but myself and whoever introduced me to sugar!

I have been plagued for many years from an unusual and very annoying ache, mixed with shooting pains from a certain tooth in my upper jaw. This particular tooth has caused me to undergo the removal of all four of my wisdom teeth and the cause of countless cavities over the years. The last awful dental visit came with recommendation for a root canal. Of course my response was quite reasonable, I just never went back. So it is quite understandable that when a huge chunk of tooth broke off one day over 12 months ago, I suspect the very tooth that had caused all these years of suffering, that I would react with the same diligence I had always had where my dental care is concerned. I dutifully and willfully ignored it and hoped it would magically go away.

After all, I wasn't in pain, yet. I decided that I would deal with it later and at least that part was right. I certainly did deal with it later! It was a couple of weeks ago when I admitted, even to myself, that the recent aches and difficulties with chewing was caused by a problem with one particular tooth. By this time the pain was so global it was really difficult to work out where it was actually coming from. It made sense to be from my tooth with the jagged edged hole, but I just couldn't be sure. I managed to isolate the pain to the top right jaw but was very disappointed to realise that at times the pain even shot around to the bottom jaw too. Even I knew that surely the likelihood of multiple cavities occurring at the exact same time was remote. It was all my own fault, I had left that tooth and should have had it repaired over a year ago.

It was probably a week of pain that increased by the hour before I shared my thoughts with others. Then I did what any sane person would do; I brushed my teeth - a lot - started using magic mouthwash designed to kill all sorts of bacteria and took bucket loads of pain relief. When all that didn't magic it away I rummaged through my tablets and even found some unused antibiotics I could try. Finally, in tears of pain and exasperation I complained to my husband that I had done everything humanly possible and the pain was only worse. I mean what else could I possibly do? He looked at me with disbelief, and told me to go to the dentist!

After a few more days of pain that had begun to interfere with one of the few pleasures I had left, drinking hot coffee. I made the dreaded phone call and organised an appointment, but made it four days later. I mean you shouldn't rush these things and I was still prepared to hold on to the fantasy that it might magically disappear all on it's own! It didn't, and the day arrived. Like a lamb being led to the slaughter I dutifully went to the dentist of my own free will and returned to that cold hard chair, determined to meet my fate head on. It was a lovely new dentist that day, for some reason they are always lovely people. What was there to be afraid of with such a smiley face?

After a chat and one simple xray and a bit of a poke around, the chair came back up, the glasses and bib were removed and I knew I was in for a big problem. With xray behind him for support the dentist started on his well worn speech, but the difference was he didn't know quite who he was dealing with. I was given all the options which I instantly said no to each and every one of. When he realised he was out of helfpul suggestions I gave him mine. I wanted the tooth out, and now. I was ready to give up this tooth which hadn't been kind to me for years, the pain I had endured was like no other and something I was never prepared to deal with again. He smiled and admitted that the tooth was not really worth saving, that a root canal at this point would have a high failure rate. He rang his periodontist friend and managed to get me an appointment in the city the very next day.

The periodontists office was amazing and instead of being afraid I was very determined to see it through and have my tooth removed in the chair with no general anesthetic. If I had wanted that I would have had to wait, waiting was not an option anymore. The periodontist was very professional and patient with me, such a kind man who laughed with me and not at me. He spent the time I needed and drew not one but two pictures for my benefit, he then spent the next 45 minutes attempting to extract tooth number 16 that was holding on until the bitter end.

After what seemed like an eternity and two extra shots of numbing local anesthetic out flew my tooth with a snap, nearly knocking the periodontist, the dental nurse and tray on the floor in the process. Or so I thought. My ordeal wasn't over yet, the tooth had snapped off and then the roots had to be individually drilled and plied out one by one! The gaping hole that was finally left went right through to my sinus and I was told that I was lucky this was not damaged in the procedure! After another lecture on caring for the remaining teeth I have left and sent home with a care sheet, an appointment was booked for 8 weeks to check on healing. Instead of a broken painful tooth, tooth number 16 in my mouth will be eventually replaced with a dental implant.

I'm told that the insertion of a metal screw directly into the bone of my jaw will be the easier part of the tooth replacement process, I had already gone through the worst. Once the numbness wore off I was ecstatic to realise that the horrible pain I had put up with over all those weeks and even years was actually gone, completely gone! Although I still have considerable healing to go through and nurse my poor jaw back from the bruising, I no longer have that shooting horrible aching pain and for that I am very, very thankful. 

So although my tooth fairy no longer pays me and has turned into a periodontist that I'm sure I'm personally sending on a very expensive overseas skiing holiday. I don't care, I have learnt my lesson and taking care of my remaining teeth is now my new priority.

02 July 2014

22 : Leaving the Proverbial Nest - Something Old

Flying Free

The time has finally come for Miss 22 to leave the proverbial nest and fly off to England to live and work for the next five years. We all face that time in our lives when we have the urge to leave home, one way or another, but there are the select few of us that have an urge to go as far away as possible. My daughter had that urge and her dreams of becoming a fashion journalist meant staying home was not going to be an option. She has bided her time, saved her money and organised as much as she could so she could give it a go. The time had arrived for her to take that final plunge and go for it. There are no guarantees for success, no way to know how it will all turn out, but what she does know is that if she doesn't give it a go then she will never find out.

The human species would never have populated all parts of the world if we weren't born with the urge to know more, to seek out new futures for ourselves and to travel. Even though in this current internet age we are actually more connected with the world than ever before, and it is not such an unknown and frightening place. It still is a huge thing to just up and leave everything and everyone behind and start over. It takes a certain kind of courage to risk it all and even a little brashness. But if we all stayed home safely tucked in our homes, living the same mundane lives over and over then there would be no such thing as progress. Progress needs forward thinking people who are prepared to risk it all and give new things a go; a steep learning curve to success.

I'm not sure why but when Miss 22 was a little 3 year old girl, with the world still in front of her, I had a sudden flash forward into her future. I pictured this tiny little girl all grown up and working as a journalist. I had a vision of myself opening my front door to find her standing there with a short blonde bob hair cut and grinning from ear to ear, somehow I just knew she was a journalist. This is an image I have always remembered and now, 19 years later, she is actually heading off to live out exactly that dream. However, instead of having a short bob hair cut and knocking on my door, she was heading off to the airport dressed stylishly with her medium length brown hair ready to embark on her new journalism career.

Maybe my vision of her was an insight into her future, I don't know.  What I do know was that vision was accompanied by a very strong sense of knowing that helped me realise all those years ago that everything would be alright. That this child was destined for greatness somehow and she would eventually make all her dreams come true. It is a very long road to success and for her it is only the beginning; but this great leap is a step forward in the right direction to follow the path she has set for herself.

... until we meet again.

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