Humans are amazing creatures. We are bundles of contradictions that all coexist at the same time. When we are in our normal daily routine, we crave adventure. But we don’t want to pack for the trip. Once the thrill of the adventure is over, either still on the trip, or once home, we crave to be able to slip back into our normal routine. We don’t want to deal with the clean-up/catch-up. Why is the grass always greener on the other side? And why are transitions so hard?
Earlier this week, I recertified my Wilderness First Responder (WFR). To do so, I spent three entire days outside. Half of that time was spent in scenarios where a portion of the class pretended to be the victim, and the rest of the class broke into small groups to tend to their patient. I did this course through the Wilderness Medicine Institute of NOLS. I have always been impressed by the quality of their classes, including the realism of the scenarios. Stage makeup is always used. If a victim is supposed to be bleeding, there will be blood. If they have a heavy bleed, there will be a lot of blood. If a person had an accident that caused a broken bone or internal bleeding, there will be a bruise. If the patient suffered a burn, the magic of makeup is used to create something that looks pretty nasty. Prosthetics are even used to simulate open fractures or impaled objects.
The heavy use of moulage is done for multiple reasons. The first reason is to reinforce the habit of actually looking at an injury at skin level to assess its severity. If someone says “Ow!” when you touch them, look at the offending body part. Can you see anything wrong? The second reason is to make the scenarios as realistic and grotesque as possible. That way, when a student encounters a real situation, they are not shocked by the amount of blood or the grossness of the disfigurement.
So basically, half of my three day class was spent trying to stress us out. This was purposely done. Similar to military training, if you train correct procedures in a stressful environment, when the actual stressful environment occurs, hopefully your training will kick in and you will follow correct procedures. Of course, here we were trying to save lives through medicine and not take lives through war.
I would say that my course certainly qualified as an adventure. Leading up to it, I was terribly excited to go. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in class. But transitioning back into daily life was kind of rough. I didn’t want to deal with cleaning all the camping gear, processing the backlog of mail, or catching up electronically. I just wanted to be able to slip back into my normal routine.
Ah, but life does not work like that. Just as in my WFR class, certain steps need to be taken, in a certain order. Skipping steps can have undesirable side effects. So, today I will focus on appreciating where I am right now, with the tasks that are before me today. I will not yearn for the adventure of treating wilderness injuries, and I will not yearn for the comfort of a regular day. I will appreciate today for what it is.
Have you struggled with a transition lately? Share your story in the comments below.