Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Advice for When Your Firefighter Starts Slowing Down
I am going through a transition right now. It has been long, interesting and I think note-worthy. Maybe some of you are going through this as well? When I met my firefighter, Steve was 26 years old. He is now almost 50 and things have changed.
When I first got involved with Steve, he would go on 3-4 (two hour) call backs a day if he was not working. After we got married a year and a half later, I remember him having his pager on all night. He would get up in the middle of the night over and over again to go to the station. It was great money, but the interrupted sleep for both of us took its toll. 22 years later, he doesn't even have his radio turned on. In fact, I am not even sure where his radio is! He gets texts of calls sent to his phone but he keeps it on silent. It has been almost 3 years since he has gone on a call in the middle of the night on his days off.
Although my husband seems to never struggle with PTSD, (he puts on an extremely tough emotional front), yet I wonder if that will ever catch up with him. When we had children, he would come home and be very silent when he went on a bad call involving a child. He would usually open up to me by the afternoon and we would talk about it. I can't imagine the horror of seeing a dead child, let alone touch him, or work on him. This would be my worse nightmare. I don't know how he can not dwell on it and just move on. It scares me sometimes. What if all those images suddenly come back to haunt him and he may not be able to cope? I recently read an article about PTSD and firefighters. The article stated that a firefighter has a virtual Rolodex in his brain of all the bad calls he has been on. As he gets older, it gets bigger and bigger. I never thought of that. The only PTSD my husband has ever admitted to is when he is driving and someone is driving like a maniac around him. He gets extremely agitated. I finally asked him why he was so angry. He said "It is because I am the one that has to pick up the pieces when he wrecks." That made total sense to me. Crazy drivers take him back to his bad car wreck memories that are filed in his Rolodex.
Another change that has affected our relationship is the fact that since he doesn't go on so many calls, we have more time together. I used to be pretty much parent the six kids on my own. He was gone for work, or for overtime much of the time. I learned to be very independent. When, Steve started slowing down on the call back, he was around way more. That took some adjusting. We had to learn a different routine. Different but good. I feel like we are more "man and wife" now. Maybe this is how normal people live! LOL!
The last thing that has drastically changed is how tired he is after his shift. Even if he doesn't get up to go on a call (he is a Captain now, which means he stays at the station way more), his sleep is still interrupted by loud bells, lights coming on and radios blaring. This is so hard on people's bodies. Years and years of this has taken it's toll. Now when he comes home, he needs to take long naps. At first I used to get mad because it felt like he was just wasting the day away. Now, I realize how much his body needs that rest.
I would love to hear your stories as well!