Two Right Brained Solutions
This past year has been a rough one as far as my Art goes. When the creative juices are flowing there are few places that I’d rather be than in front of my drawing board, or with my guitar in hand. But when I feel their lack it becomes painful to try and move forward.
I’ve been in at least two very painful situations where an artistic or right-brained solution literally saved my job, and my sanity.
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The first occurred when I was working for Jackson County Ambulance Service in Carbondale IL. Before working for the Ambulance Service I was doing my artwork and living in a small 8X30 trailer on 80 acres of beautiful farm land. During that time I became interested in herbal (Indian) medicine; picking, drying, and experimenting with different cures. I decided to see what was happening with Conventional Medicine, so I chose Emergency Medicine as the quickest way to get a foot in the door. I soon found out what a big step it was from the peace of the farm, to the adrenalin packed, life and death situations doing patient care, as well as crowd control at accident scenes.
Although I graduated at the top of my class in EMT Training, I knew it was because I studied so hard. I also knew that some of the others in the class who were already working for Fire Departments, would do much better in a real emergency situation. I found that when the adrenalin shot into my brain, my mind would go blank, and I would franticly start looking up pages of text in my memory.
There were usually two of us that went on each Emergency Call; one would drive while the other would handle patient care. On one of my first serious calls doing patient care, we were in route with our patient so I notified the hospital.
“Carbondale Memorial Hospital, this is five queen twenty (5Q20) in route to your facility.”
“Go ahead five queen twenty.”
I opened my mouth to tell them what we were bringing, and my mind went blank. My partner helped me get thru that one, but it became a problem for about a month. I was working with a very knowledgable group, and they all helped me in any way they could. Some brought in little cheat sheets from fire departments they worked for, listing different bits of info the hospital needed to know: approximate age and sex of the patient, injury, vital signs ( blood pressure, pulse, respirations), level of consciousness, aide given, and ETA to the hospital, just to name a few; and they were expected to be given in a certain order. This seemed simple enough, but there were still those exceptions to the rules, like the Level of Consciousness, that changed the order in which they were given, so there were still those blank times for my poor brain.
Then one day we all took part in a mock disaster drill. The Hospital, the Police, and The Ambulance Service, as well as Volunteer Groups from neighboring towns, were all notified. We were told that a full school bus was hit by a train. There were many Injuries, and we were told to watch for other existing conditions as well, such as diabetes, asthma, physical disabilities, to name just a few. When we arrived on the scene, the school kids were already made up with fake blood, and with bones, bowels and foreign objects protruding from their bodies. There was every injury possible, and each ambulance transported as many as three victims at a time.
As I called the hospital to tell them what we were transporting I felt that twinge of fear, hoping my mind wouldn’t go blank, when I heard a voice inside my heart say,
“Oh, just paint them a picture.”
So that’s what I did. I painted for the hospital a detailed picture of what I was seeing on my end. Instead of trying to remember what words to say, I just told them what I was seeing. It sounds so simple, but it worked. Even the exceptions to the rules took care of themselves.
We made many trips with multiple victims that day, and the word amongst the Trauma Nurses was,
“Who was the guy with the great phone patches? We knew just what to expect when the ambulance arrived.”
So from that day forward, all I had to do was...
“Just, paint them a picture”
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Another right-brained solution to a seemingly impossible situation happened when I moved back to Downers Grove,IL. I decided to go back to the job I had before going to college: Postal Worker.
I thought it would be less stressful than Emergency Medicine, but was I wrong. There were those in management that were firing everyone who was making it thru their 90 day probationary period, so that they wouldn’t have to give them full pay or benefits. The supervisors would stand behind us as we cased our mail, demanding that we case faster, and reminding us that our job was on the line. Seasoned older carriers were having nervous breakdowns, and were taking early retirement. To say the least the tension in the air was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I knew I’d never last unless I figured a way.
Then one day I heard that same voice I heard years earlier at the Ambulance Service that said, “Just paint them a picture.” This time it said,
“Don’t worry about trying to case faster. Just focus on making the time between each two letters the same. And if you find yourself speeding up where you start to hit the metal dividers in the case, SLOW DOWN until you find that smooth rhythm again. Find a rhythm that you could do all day.”
So I tried it and it solved a multitude of problems. Like my mind became more focused in a calm way, and I was able to case more mail than ever before. It became like a Postal Meditation; my personal island in the midst of all the turbulence. I even noticed that as I found that rhythm each day, it started to pick up a little speed on it’s own, and I was casing even more mail.
Although there were many more problems in the Post Office in my 20+ years that followed, I always went back each day to find the...
“Rhythm of the Mail”