Don't worry - I don't plan to ONLY write about being a paramedic's wife now that I am one ... but I've had some prime examples of what it can be like the last few weeks.
So, once or twice a month Tim is "on call" ... or has what his system calls "OCP." When he is on call, he is basically in a line of people who will be called upon to take over a shift if someone is out sick (in theory). A couple of weekends ago, he had OCP on Friday. It was getting to be about quitting time at work for me, and late enough that people would have called out. So we bought tickets to see Fast 5 at Alamo Drafthouse.
Big mistake. Not five minutes later did he get called in. *sigh* Not only am I a night shift widow again ... but I'm holding two tickets to a movie we wanted to see. Thankfully - Alamo not only serves amazing food, great beer, and doesn't feel as overcrowded as your average theatre - but they know it, and know that if they let me switch our tickets to Saturday night, they'll fill our two seats on Friday. We still got to see our movie, phew!
Now, when your spouse is a paramedic, you learn certain things. Like showing up to the station is a pretty good way to make them get a call ... as is asking how a shift is going. Nothing seems to bring on the calls faster than saying "It's been a quiet shift" or "We might get a golden wheel!" [a 24 hour shift with NO calls]. But sometimes I try to visit anyways (and Tim doesn't stop me). And lately it seems to get them calls. Especially if I bring food or a Sonic drink! I fell asleep in the station watching "Funniest Home Videos" and the Billboard Music Awards waiting for them to get back so I could at least see my husband. You see, when he was getting off that 24 hour Sunday shift at 6:00am ... I'd be getting ready to head in to work, where I'm due at 7:00am.
So of course, ideally Tim could work during the day like I do, and I'd only be sleeping alone one night a week instead of three. I don't think we're the only couple that tends to fight around bids.
I have yet to figure out why they call it "bidding." There is no wagering or bargaining going on. There isn't some eBay of schedules where, if you play your cards right, you can get a good deal. No, they are called, in order, by their employee number. Tim's number is in the 2000s. So he gets the opportunity to pick from the crappy shifts that are left by the time they get down to him, you see?
It is a stressful time. You worry that the call won't come through and you'll end up on the bottom of the calling list for not answering. You worry about who you will be working with for the next six months. You worry about what trucks you'll be on ... busy, not? Dangerous, not? How far from home? Will the long commute be adding to the time you have to spend away from those you love (not to mention a bed to catch you as you fall, exhausted, asleep before your head even hits the pillow after a crazy night).
This time, we had talked a lot about what was best for us, and how to prioritize that. Day shift, good partner, near home, all those good things. So I had the inside story on Tim's game-plan rather than panicking at the last moment not sure what he had to pick from, and how he made his decision.
He's still working nights. Some of his shifts end at 7am, which means I'll already be long gone. BUT - that means he doesn't have to leave as early in the evening when I get home. Plus, it has opened up the opportunity for me to take the free 6:30am CrossFit class at work (I start tomorrow). His partner is also a friend, and they've worked together quite well in the past. His 24 hour truck is so close, it is actually the one that services our neighborhood. And it is a rotating shift, which means he isn't stuck working EVERY weekend like he was when we first met.
I still miss him like crazy on the nights he works. Especially when it means we barely see one another between our jobs. But missing him during the week means he is home on the weekend. And that makes those longing hugs on the stairs by the front door worth it. I wouldn't trade our life for anyone else's.