honorary Hose Monster:
A few weeks ago I received an email from my boy Ruffneck. I have not seen the guy for probably about four years, but I know he's just as solid as ever. Ruffneck was one of those great people who told me to keep running with my strange thoughts. And now I have the Hose Monster Blog.
Anyway, like many of my friends connected to my Southern Cal life, Ruffneck works in the emergency field, and is on his way to becoming a full-blown paramedic. He's doing his internship with LACOFD in Inglewood. Unless you know a little something about Southern Cal, the word Inglewood probably does not mean a whole lot to you. But it's right up there with its much more publicized neighbor of Compton in gang presence and general danger. Ruffneck passes a quote on to me: "When it gets hot in the Wood, people get crazy."
Anyway, a few weeks ago, Ruffneck and his crew get a gunshot call to handle. The 23-year old patient has a total of seven gunshot wounds: one in the right leg, two in the left leg, two in the abdomen, the big toe on one foot blown off, and a final shot up the rectum. This is what I mean about Inglewood. It's not just dangerous. It's maliciously dangerous if you get caught in the wrong place or with the wrong people.
But my boy Ruffneck has a job to do. He goes to work.
On the rig heading into trauma, Ruffneck is working on our unfortunate guy when the patient squeezes my boy's arm, momentarily diverting Ruffy's attention to his eyes. And Ruffneck sees the fear in his eyes, of death, or paralyzation, of having to maybe have tubes strapped to his body for the rest of his life and having to shit in a bag or any other combination of horrible things that might result from a gang encounter gone bad at 2 in the afternoon in the middle of the week.
Ruffneck sums it up best when he simply calls it the fear of the Unknown. And in that moment, this guy loses his identity as a gang banger and becomes just one other casualty of so many things I cannot even adequately list them, one other person trying to deal with the fear of the Unknown. In many ways, this patient is having to relive that awful moment when your mother drops you off at school for the very first time and you have no idea what to expect or do. You just sit there crying, begging for someone, anyone to help you, to tell you what to do. And with seven gunshot wounds on you, I don't care if you are five years or 35; at that point you're not an adult. The fear is too much, the Unknown is too threatening. You're back in kindergarten. But you don't have any recess or nap time to look forward to at this point. Just the thought that if you're lucky and pull through, you can shit in a bag for the rest of your life.
You think about a lot of things you would otherwise not experience because of your friends and their experiences. Thinking about this reconfirmed my general lack of fear of death. It just does not really bother me. When my time comes to go, go I shall.
But I realized from this story that I can be terribly afraid of life sometimes.