Today I finished a three day training course and am certified in First Aid at Work. This, in itself, is a big accomplishment but for me it is very special and I will explain why.
I was originally scheduled to go on this course the week after Terry died but my school offered to send me on another one when I returned to work or to cancel it if I so decided. I had asked to take this course as I was to run the school French trip this year. Last year while chaperoning the French Trip with my Emergency First Aid at Work qualification we had a student collapse and have a seizure and although I dealt with it exactly as I was trained to do, it panicked me and I only agreed to run the trip if the school would provide me with additional First Aid Training.
When I first went back to work in January, the school asked me if I would still be interested in attending the First Aid training and although it still seemed like a distant dream, I knew I wanted to do it. Terry was a Scout Leader and trained his Scouts in First Aid every year. I took for granted all of the First Aid knowledge he had, taking comfort that if anything went wrong with the children or me he could always fix it. I remember coming home from work one evening to Terry smiling from ear to ear and proudly telling me how one of the scouts, who was only 13 at the time, had saved a man’s life by putting him in the recovery position and calling for help. Terry was proud of me when I dealt with a seizure on the French Trip with only basic First Aid skills, although to be fair Terry was proud of everything that I did.
And so a few months passed and I asked the school to choose a new course for me. We found one at the end of June that I signed up for. I felt really confident signing up for the course, but as the weeks drew nearer I began to panic. The last time that I had used my First Aid training was when I found my husband unconscious on the couch and had to put him into the recovery position as I called 999. I was not cool or collected when I found him, I screamed at the 999 operator to please come and help me, I begged the paramedics to tell me what was wrong with my husband, to tell me that he was going to be OK. Terry’s mother says that when I phoned her from the ambulance I was screaming hysterically, but I don’t even remember the phone call. On the course they would ask me to put people into the recovery position and I was terrified that it would bring back flashbacks to finding Terry, a day that I avoid going back to if at all humanly possible. My school sent an email to the trainers advising them of my circumstances. I asked members of my Widowed and Young Support Group for advice and was surprised to find that several other widows had competed First Aid training after using First Aid on their spouses. They told me I could do it and so I went for it.
On Friday afternoon as I told my colleagues I would see them on Thursday, it seemed like a good idea, but as I parked my car on Monday morning and walked up to the First Aid Training Centre my heart was pounding and I was actively fighting the urge to run back to my car and drive away. I arrived at the centre early so that I could speak to the instructors. ‘Did my school tell you about me?’ I asked them. They then asked for my name. Yes, the school had informed them of my circumstances and if I needed to leave a session I could just show myself out and they would come and find me to see that I was OK. I chose the seat right next to the door and planned my escape for when the recovery position was taught.
And then something funny happened: I was paired up with a lovely Polish girl to practice the recovery position and I did so over and over with no flashbacks. I was focused on doing a good job and that got me through it. There was a moment on the course as we were discussing dealing with unconscious breathing casualties that the trainer told us to always keep speaking to them as hearing is the last sense to go. I flashed back to my panicked screaming as I dialed 999 and was devastated that the last thing that Terry heard was me terrified and panicked. I went to the toilet and cried at the mere thought of it. But then I mentioned this to my support group and a widower told me that although I was terrified, the last thing that Terry likely heard was my voice, which was all he wanted to hear and I was upset no more.
I learned a lot on my three day course and met some really lovely people that I trained with. I feel confident using my First Aid skills if needed, although I hope that I never have to use them ever again. Now that Terry is gone and cannot advise me on all things First Aid, I must learn to do it myself, as with so many other things.
As I drove out of the parking lot today ‘Burn’ by Ellie Goulding came on the radio. This was one of Terry and my songs and I cried as I drove myself to get a celebratory Frappuccino. This training course was terrifying. On Monday as I took a seat I didn’t think that I could do it without breaking down but I did. I am strong and capable of saving lives, just as my Terry once was. I know that he is so very proud of me and I feel that my newly honed First Aid skills are another way that I can carry on the legacy of Terry’s altruistic life that I was lucky enough to share with him for a few short years.