Tuesday, December 1, 2015

December already? WTF?

As November comes close to an end and I look back at the year that has passed, all I can think is “Holy shit, what a year!”
I started the work year with my ship docked in Singapore, a beautiful city I hope to visit again when I have more time and free daylight hours.
From Singapore we sailed to Mumbai and began a large project off of India. (For anyone familiar with the blog or the Riverpirate Times Newsletter, it was five long weeks without internet).
I spent fifteen days in May on my Harley, and rode from Halifax to Gatlinburg and back, via the Nascar All Star Race in Charlotte. I sampled nine flavours of moonshine at a distillery in G’burg, I rode the Tail of the Dragon and the Devil’s whip, and I took the Blue Ridge Parkway home. Almost 4000 miles. Knock one more off my bike it list.
In July I was transferred to the Western Trident for a job off Newfoundland, and have remained with the ship, becoming part of the permanent crew. My old vessel has been temporarily cold stacked due to the downturn of the oil industry and the low cost per barrel of oil.
Since joining the Trident we have transited from Scotland to Norway and spent six weeks in the Norwegian Sea, and as I write this we are currently sailing from Cape Verde off the West coast of Africa to Cape Town. Three days ago we crossed the equator, another first for me, and another off my bucket list.
From Cape Town will sail around the Cape of Good Hope to the port of Durban, and then to Maputo Mozambique where our next job will start in late Dec or early Jan., and at a glance, that’s been my year. Almost. There was also Arizona.

Arizona, or more specifically the Arizona EMS Odyssey Conference in Phoenix marked a turning point for me in my ongoing recovery and management of emergency services stress related illness.
Earlier this year I was invited to speak at the EMS Odyssey conference about my experiences with emergency services stress, CIS, and PTSD and spent several days in 100 + degree Arizona heat in June.
It was by far my most shining moment as an educator and public speaker primarily due to nervousness, and despite multiple “dry runs” and two preparatory presentations delivered the month previously, the presentation did not have that same smoothness of transition as was typical in the professional life I had formerly known, and lacked in the level of quality I had wanted it would have.
That said it was an amazing experience, one I’ll cherish forever, and with the conclusion of the presentation I closed that chapter of my life and let my grief over the loss of my EMS career finally go.
Mostly when I let myself think about all I had done and what I could have done I find myself still angry, even though it’s been almost eight years, but a little fire in the belly keeps the spirit alive and if you’re going to have hate inside you, it might as well be directed at an Insurance giant and their subsidiaries than at an individual. In my case, I fucking despise Medavie Blue Cross and its subsidiary Emergency Medical Care Inc. Sadly, the majority of my peers who previously worked for, and some who currently work for the Evil Empire echo my sentiments.

All told, 2015 has been a banner year for me, perhaps my most beneficial yet as I stride forward in good health and away from the traumas and demons that accompany from my life in EMS. That might sound a little over the top, which has never really been my style, but the triggers that stimulate recall of events best left un-remembered remain just below the surface, ready to rear their ugly heads when memory or conversation stimulates their release. Therein lies the primary reason I walked away from all things career related in 2008.

If you’ve read any of my newsletters or blog entries you are already aware of the important role photography has played in my return to better health and my ongoing recovery, and on that note I can very easily tell when my Harley time and my camera time has been minimal, especially when home and work stress starts to pile up, manifesting itself as a visceral and almost palpable level of unsettledness and mild anxiety. A little camera time to take the edge off, the resolution of the affecting stressors when possible, and the return to my normal is often accomplished. In times of increased unsettledness my camera is my go to, especially when Harley time is not an option.
It didn’t really hit home how automatic my response to increased stress had become until the day I was preparing for my first “After the sirens” presentation. I had gathered my thoughts early in the morning, ran through the list of things I needed, troubleshot all the foreseeable complications I could, and ran through the slides on more time. When there was no more prep to do I found myself pacing from room to room looking for things to occupy my hands and my mind, and as I did I found my anxiety level rising steadily. Before I even realized what I was doing my camera was in my hand and I was outside taking some shots of my bike. Within a few minutes I had calmed perceptibly and it was only shortly after that the proverbial light bulb of realization came on that grabbing the camera was an automatic response. With realization comes knowledge.

My goals for the remainder of the year and for 2016 are to be a better photographer and spend more time in camera mode, and make the final transition to becoming a health and safety practitioner whose primary role is injury and incident prevention. I am one step closer to achieving that goal with the recent completion of my Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety from UNB.
Next year I’ll start my OHS Diploma program and I’ll finish it when time and money permit. The path I’ll take from here to there will be a long one, however I’m only a young guy yet, as I won’t hit the big Five O until August J.

So here I go, onward and upwards towards even better health and an even greater level of inner peace.
When I get home in a little less than three weeks it will be Christmas holiday time and I’m looking forward to spending those five weeks with my family, and getting RB the beasts and me moved into the farm.

I hope whoever is reading this is well and in either aware and in touch with their personal and mental health needs, or actively working towards achieving those needs; needs which surpass all others by a landslide.

Be well and take care.

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