My Second Permanent Partner – The Work Husband

Remember the ten foot tall, five foot wide, shoulder length dark hair, handlebar mustache guy? Yeah him. He was my partner for a few years. About the time Mel decided to go to medic school. That was a trip. Rick was full of information. About a lot of things, hunting, guns, EMS, fire, and life. He did a lot of jobs before he was medic, and bore the scars of some of them. He had a scar on his chest just at the level of his collar that resembled a bullet hole. He didn’t talk much about it. I didn’t ask. Rick could drive like nobody’s business. He drove truck for some time, and had over a million accident free miles. He liked driving. He liked how he drove. He liked to tell you how to drive. That’s where we ran into trouble. I don’t mind suggestions, I don’t mind constructive critcism, but I don’t like to be told I suck at it. And he liked to tell me that. Not because I actually did suck at it, but because Rick didn’t always have the best way with words. This came to a head one day when he was being particularly nitpicky with me, and I’d had enough. I pulled over to the side of the road, shut the truck off, chucked the keys at him and informed him that if he didn’t like my driving, he was more than welcome to drive. I then proceeded to get out and start walking up the road. I was DONE with him.

I got about a quarter mile up the road when he pulled up behind me and apologized. We didn’t speak, with the exception of patient care, for three days. We worked four days on and four days off. This happened on our first day on, and he called me on our first day off, and we hashed it out like marginally reasonable adults. He never said my driving sucked again. He nitpicked other things, but he knew when I was approaching my limit, and knew not to cross the line.

I got a little payback though. Rick and I were caring for an elderly female with altered mental status. We had her comfortable on the stretcher, had the cardiac monitor on her, and he was preparing to start and IV. Rick was not a little guy, so he sat with his legs apart on the bench seat of the truck, with the patient’s arm across his lap. He had thr site prepped to start the IV, and had taken the catheter out of the cap, which he was holding in his mouth, as he often did. The patient was calm and cooperative at that time. He poked her with the needle, and all hell broke loose. Her hand, which was draped loosely over his thigh, grasped tightly between his legs. I had my back to him, when the catheter cap came flying past me, and i heard the patient shriek, and him wheeze my name. “Mel, she’s got me, shes’ got me.” The patient had his manly bits in a death grip. His eyes were bugged out and he’d gone into a cold sweat. I love my partner to pieces, but for just a moment, I wanted to ask him who sucked now… I released the patient’s hand from his groin, he started breathing again, finished the IV, and never started one with his legs open like that again. I think he thanked me. But I can’t remember.

Rick was a family oriented man. He cared for his father for a long while, and he passed away while we were partners. My husband and I went to the wake, out of respect for Rick and his family. This was incidentally the first time I met his wife, and the first time he met my husband. Rick met me outside the funeral home, shook hands with my husband, then took my hand, and walked me into the funeral home to introduce me to his family. Here I am, holding his hand, and my husband’s, and Rick says, “This is my work wife, and her husband.” Rick’s wife smiles broadly and says, “You must be Mel.” I am close friends with his wife to this day.

Rick championed me throughout medic school, and sometimes had to put his foot directly up my ass to keep me motivated. And he was so proud when I got through it with the top grades in the class, and awards for patient care. He was sad too. Because when I finished medic school, I would be leaving him to go off on my own as a paramedic with my own partner. He was my senior medic, and gave me the blessing to go out on my own and provide care. He took a gig on the flycar downtown, then some other paramedic shifts in other areas as his tenure grew. He had a hand in the education and training of a good many paramedics and EMTs at the premier provider, and elsewhere. He was a volunteer firefighter, avid shooter, husband, father, and papa. Rick was also a very brittle diabetic, who struggled hard with his weight. He decided on bariatric surgery, and that changed his life forever. He had a good many complications after the initial surgery, rallied to the point of almost returning to work. He then had a stroke. He rallied again, then suffered a cardiac arrest. He rallied briefly from that before succumbing last summer. Rick was such a constant in my world for so long. It doesn’t feel real that he’s gone. He was literally there from day one. I go on not only for him, but for his wife, his daughter, and his grandson, all of whom were everything to him. And he, was everything to them.

For Dawn, Rhinanna and Orion. 10/27/1961- 6/27/2021


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