Thursday, 5 June 2014


There are several posts, in fact dozens of them, sitting in the drafts folder, waiting to see the light of day. At times, I sit at the keyboard and, just like the ad for Yellow Pages used to say, let my fingers do the walking. Or, as in this case, talking. I wrote most of this post over two years ago, but wasn't ready to share it. Everything within it is still true today. 

There are times where I don't write the posts, don't compose the stories, they just magic themselves from memory to fingertips, skipping out any thought processes along the way. Sometimes, the opposite is true. There is a tale I wish to tell, if only I could find the way; if only confidentiality issues, or lack of descriptive skill, or plain and simple fear weren't preventing me from doing so. For me, writing is often a type of therapy, giving voice to the sights and sounds that sometimes torment or trouble or even tickle my thoughts.

I've never been one to talk about how I feel. I find it uncomfortable and always worry that the skeletons I keep hidden behind lock and key will be too much of a burden to anyone else, be they family, friends or total strangers. It takes a certain amount of bravery to open up and bare one's soul. Over the years, I've watched colleagues who seem to take everything in their stride, who never appear to be bothered or upset by even the most gruesome of scenes. I've wondered if perhaps I am the odd one out. 

Perhaps I'm the only one who's affected by the horrors of the scenes we see. Perhaps I just had an overload of them. If you've read my writings for any length of time, you'll know that I tend to attract more of the serious calls than would be a fair average. My colleagues look at me and wonder if the black cloud that follows me will be blown away on the winds, leaving a clear sky, or whether it's planning on raining down with a particularly torrential downpour. I've never asked or prayed for that to change. All I can do is face up to the challenges as and when they present themselves and hope that I deal with them to the best of my ability. 

This blog has been, and continues to be, a revelation to me. Despite the fact that I'd kept an old-fashioned (and now destroyed) diary for years before starting to write here, the realisation that there was someone, anyone, out there who would want to read about my thoughts and experiences was astonishing. As I head towards half a million readers, that realisation is all the more powerful. It is also daunting in the extreme.

MrsInsomniac has spent years trying to get me to open up, to be less afraid to trust others. Trust someone enough to reveal what I'm really going through. To talk. Not the babbling gibberish and hyperactive nonsense that I talk most of the time, but really talk. Express what I was going through. Describe the scenes, the experiences, the thoughts, the fears, the triumphs and tribulations. 

On the one hand, to talk about what it feels like when all I want is not to feel anything. To talk about what it feels like when despite all the knowledge, despite all the learning, despite all the experience, to turn up to a scene and realise with cool composure that there is nothing left to do. 

On the other hand, to talk about the scene that is so chaotic and confused and unusual when we arrive, with instructions and treatments and decisions flying in all directions, yet by the time we leave, all is much calmer, and there is warmth and a smile and appreciation and thanks.  

And in both of these possibilities, when we have either done good or when we have done nothing, is it right that sometimes I feel something when I shouldn't, yet at other times I feel nothing at all when perhaps I really should?

Monday, 2 June 2014


There is no honour in a so-called "honour killing." 

These horrendous pieces of news reach our eyes and ears all too often, streaming in from media the world over, yet for as many of these horrendous news items that make it to the front pages, there are so many others stories that never see the light of day. The trauma affects only those closely connected to the victim and the world can't share the pain, even if only for a brief, fleeting moment of reading a hastily clicked-away internet screen. 

I know these cases exist. I have seen them, or at least their results. A woman lies dead in the street. A man she chose to live her life with was found not far away. Their families, disapproving of their relationship, made an unholy union in order to sever theirs. Calm is restored. At least until the next victim in the cycle finds themselves at the wrong end of a knife or gun or blunt instrument; harbingers of doom; revokers of life; restorers of so-called honour. 

The cycle continued. One death led to another, each family seeking the upper hand, the glory. There would be news of a shooting, or a stabbing, or an inexplicable car accident. Then there would be quiet. Sometimes days, sometimes weeks or longer, but still the air was filled with the constant threat of the next retaliation. 

We were traveling through one of the tougher parts of town. The roads have more holes and fewer rules, housing is a mish-mash of prefabricated buildings and run-down apartment blocks, street signs and street lights are almost non-existent and the numbering system no better than guesswork. 

Only a few days had passed since the last honour killing. The latest in the neverending cycle of deaths that proved nothing except that yet another gun had tried to restore its owner's pride, yet at the same time now made him, or those closest to him, the next likely target. In the darkness, we could see the hazard lights of a car parked a few hundred metres ahead. The driver's door and the rear door directly behind it were both open, and all we could see was a pair of legs sticking out. As he heard us approach, he jumped out. 

He was wearing nothing but a pair of boxer shorts. No shoes, no trousers, no shirt, nothing. As we pulled up behind the car, the first thing we noticed was that he was covered in blood. 

"She's in here! I don't know if she's breathing!" It seemed as though the latest victim of honour was in the back of an almost-naked man's car. 

We jumped out of the ambulance, grabbed the bed so that we could at least move her into the ambulance and be able to see to start treating whatever gruesome injury was about to reveal itself to us. The man who greeted us jumped over the clots of blood that were lying on the floor by the passenger door and looked as though he was about to faint. He sat back down in the driver's seat with his head between his knees and his hands on his face. 

"Just help her. Please. Just help her." 

Two steps later, we could see that our victim was no victim at all, sitting as she was, cradling the baby boy that she had just delivered.