Wilderness First Aid Training

My work crew and I had wilderness first aid today. I took the opportunity to open up and tell everyone about Addison’s Disease and what it means for me working in the field. I showed them my injection kit and my medications, talked about symptoms and consequences, and levelled with them all about the risks I face. It was difficult and I felt immensely exposed.

People had many questions. Would I be able to help someone else in an emergency? Would our employer back them up if things didn’t go well? What was the process to decide if I was capable of this position? How do they inject me?

Every question I answered truthfully and honestly. I bluntly said that, if I die, I don’t blame anyone, and neither does my family. I assured them that I’m well aware of the risks I take, and I deal with with my illness everyday but still want to live my life. Some seemed very nervous, and I told them all that it was their choice if they went in the field with me or not, that I won’t blame them and their mental health is just as important as my physical health.

The instructor was great, and gave appropriate prompts to the discussion and even brought the conversation back to the fact that there were a few people in the room that had a high risk of heart attack as well. At the end of the day however, when I thanked her for backing me up, she commented that “I can’t believe they let you do this job.”

I feel sick. What would happen if everyone decided they won’t work with me? Is the instructor right? She’s a search and rescue technician, she knows the reality of medical evacuation. Should I really be working by myself at this job? What would I do if I wasn’t a hydrometric technologist?

But also, the well known feeling of loss is overwhelming. Grief about my illness and the effect it has on my life is strong today, and the sadness that comes with it. I know it will subside, and become once again just a part of my complicated life, but today, again, it hurts.