I passed. I passed! I PASSED!

Made it through my practical exam. I have about two weeks until my written, and assuming I pass that, I will be a Nationally Registered EMT-B. Only took me 23 years but who's counting? Right? And now it's on to (hopefully) the EMT-Advanced course, paramedic school, and life in the EMS world.

The test went pretty well today. The first station was a 2-part station: patient assessment (either medical or trauma) plus bleeding and shock management. I kicked ass on the bleeding/shock exercise. That one was easy. The patient assessment was where my biggest concerns were. 25 year old male presented with sudden onset severe low back pain. Primary assessment went well but I forgot to assess skin condition and I verbalized applying a cervical collar without assessing PMS (pulses, motor, and sensory function) in the extremities. Technically, they could have said that the failure to assess skin condition was a critical fail because I wasn’t assessing for shock, but the patient was not a trauma patient and no other vitals indicated shock so I would have fought that one. 

The second station was a 4-part station: oxygen tank & non-rebreather mask assembly, treatment of an unresponsive, non-breathing patient, CPR/AED, and long spine board. All of those went well and I had no concerns. 

Then I just had to wait for the results - each of our score sheets had to be verified by 2 other people besides the proctor. I was called in for my results and I think they derive some humor from drawing this part out. She had a dramatic pause before telling me that I had passed the patient assessment portion (after already having told me I had passed everything else). But I was so relieved to have passed everything that I just shook her hand and skipped out of the room.

So now I have two weeks to review all of the academic material before the written exam. I have a really good study guide that came with text and a bunch of online resources as well. One of the cooler things about Team Rubicon is that you can't swing a dead cat without hitting an EMT or Paramedic so I've had dozens of offers of help and I'm so grateful. I don't know what I would do without these people.

Sidenote: when I posted on Facebook or mentioned to friends and family that I passed, the response was usually something along the lines of 'Congratulations! I knew you could do it!'.

I didn't. Not completely. We are all usually our own worst critics and I am no exception here. I have my own personal doubts as to my capabilities. I also have my concerns about getting TOO cocky and that coming back to bite me in the butt. I had a few things I missed in this practical - I am human and this is still new to me (well, the details are). So I didn't necessarily know I could do this. I'm not being falsely modest or employing fake humility. I know my own weaknesses.

All of the above leads me to some stuff that's on my heart. This year...has been so indescribably amazing on a personal level. Brutal in some ways, beautiful in others. This year has stretched me to the point of tearing me wide open in so many ways and, while painful, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Growing up, my family was pretty small - just me and my parents. My brothers (half-brothers) are older and were already out of the house and on to their own lives by the time I came along. Our extended family lived in other states. So it was just the 3 of us; often just me and my mom since my dad traveled a lot for work. I moved out at 18, moved away from the town I grew up in at 22, and became a military spouse at 26. None of that played into being surrounded by family. In some ways, the military compensated for that, but even those people came and went.

But this TR family, this 'TRibe'... they are 45,000 brothers and sisters I didn't count on, didn't expect, and can no longer live without. Good thing they are everywhere.

I've been blessed with wonderful friends throughout my life - people that have not necessarily stood in for family, but have augmented and filled holes as needed. I can look back through each part of my life and find those gems - those people that really bring out the beauty in it all. To be able to do that even once in a lifetime is a blessing. I don't know what you call it when you can do it more than once - abundance? What do you call it when you can do it dozens of times? Or when life hands you the most amazing people that just take your breath away?

I am blessed. Beyond measure. Beyond words. Beyond comprehension. I did nothing to deserve these blessings. What a wonderful way to wrap up the year...my family is together and healthy and amazing; the roof is still over our heads and there is food on the table. We have all that we need and more. And while not with me in the literal sense over the holidays, there are these people I love that I hold in my heart so tightly that I sometimes can't breathe.

I could not ask for more. Not one drop more.

Merry Christmas.

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