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Things you need to know when you marry a paramedic

Life as a paramedic’s sidekick will never be dull, or easy, or without hardship


Photo/City of Houston

By Michael Morse

So, you agreed to marry an EMT or paramedic? Great choice! Allow me to prepare you for the road ahead, because it’s a long windy, strange trip indeed!

Here are seven things you’ll need to know.

1) Your spouse will change. Then change again.

Just when you think you know who you are married to, once again they change. And sometimes the person they become is not the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. But don’t despair, before long they will change into a person you love again. EMS has the potential to creep into a good person’s mind, turn optimism into dread, fun into drudgery, compassion into stone and a job into a way of seeing and reacting to life. But just as this profession takes, it also has the ability to give. Learning how to properly cope with sickness and pain, suffering and abandonment, and ultimately death makes a person a little more alive than they once were, more in tune with themselves, and with time and patience, better partners — well suited for the long haul that a marriage is.

2) Your spouse will probably not react “properly” to injuries.

You sliced the palm of your hand open while opening a can of tuna. Blood is everywhere, the tuna is ruined, lunch is ruined and everything is ruined! Your spouse is on the couch in the living room. All you need is a little love from a caring person to soothe you. What better person than an adept medic to clean your wound, dress it, give it a little kiss and let you know everything will be alright.

But what you get is this: “Put pressure on it.” And that is it. There will be no rapid couch extrication, no hurried response to your crisis, and no horror in their eyes at the sight of your blood. In other words, don’t expect your spouse to quickly boil water and cut up the sheets to make bandages. If you are lucky they might hand you a box of band-aids, but don’t count on it!

3) You will spend a lot of time alone.

EMS never takes a break, never has a day off, and definitely does not take a holiday. And speaking of holidays, forget about spending those together. If your spouse manages to get Christmas off, it is very likely that most of the day will be spent sleeping due to all the overtime they worked to help provide for the big day.

New Years Eve? Ha! If they are working, they are working. If they are not, they are working in their minds, thinking of the mayhem that is happening outside the safety of your home. And they’ll be reticent to go out and join the party because they have seen far too many repercussions from the people whose partying spun out of control. Even Easter and Thanksgiving bring with it vivid recollections of congestive heart failure, abdominal pain, lonely old people with mystery illnesses, and crummy young people doing the granny drop for the holidays.

4) You will never have to wait at the ER.

One of the greatest gifts of being married to a medic is getting the royal treatment whenever you have to go to the ER. Unless, of course, you are married to one of THOSE medics. Being one of THOSE medics makes going to an emergency room worse than dying from whatever it is that made you need to go to the ER in the first place! Most medics are not THOSE medics, and even the ones who are will likely have a few friends of like mindset who will help them through the morass of knuckleheads, drug seekers, nitwits, deadbeats ... wait a minute, have I become one of THOSE medics?

5) Laundry will become an adventure.

In a normal household we have dark clothes, white clothes, and maybe a mixed bundle every now and then. In a medic’s home, we have dark clothes, white clothes, potentially contaminated clothes, definitely contaminated clothes, DECON clothes, hazmat clothes, DEFCON 5 clothes and Biohazard clothes.

As time progresses, you will find that your stringent adherence to separating the “ordinary” clothes from the “what is that smell” clothes becomes less and less diligent, and the thought of a mixed load becomes less horrifying. One day, you realize that you have mixed Little Johnnie’s Underoos with Big Mommy’s cargo pants — trauma shears and all. And you’ll see it through, fold and put it all away like nothing ever happened.

6) Traveling will become a battle of wills.

It matters not if your spouse is driving, or in the front right seat. Either position spells a miserable ride for everybody else in the car. While driving, your medic speeds up when they hear sirens, goes through red lights, tries to answer the FM radio with an imaginary mic and backs into the garage.

If you are determined, you can take control of the wheel, only to be stuck with the ultimate back seat driver sitting next to you. “Speed up, slow down, turn here, stop there.” It never ends until the trip is over, and even when it is over for you, your spouse is busy sizing up the “scene” even though you have been to your parent’s house a thousand times.

7) You will find true happiness.

Your medic knows how to treat people, understands how precious life is, is willing to work long hours to provide for the family, and accepts that things never go as planned.

Life as a medic’s sidekick will never be dull, or easy, or without hardship. Life with a medic by your side is exactly what you let it become, and as time moves relentlessly forward, the medic recedes and the person returns, loaded with valuable skills and knowledge, a million stories to tell the grandkids, and an appreciation for the person by their side who has grown up right beside them.

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