Volunteer Work and Travel

Now that I am retired and have completed renovations to my home to make it comfortable and safe, I have more time to do things I enjoy. I also have re-emerged from my deep well of grief over the loss of my husband. I still think of him fondly every day.

But I have a life to live and while I am still upright, I intend to do so.

2023 sees me being active with serving my community and soon will see me on airplanes, Harleys, trains, and roadways.

When I am at home (that is, not traveling), I keep busy by…

… applying my skills as a licensed (that is, re-licensed) medic.

This interest goes back to 1978 when I was among the first in my area to be trained to be a paramedic volunteer.

I enjoyed that; however, when my “real job” (paying work) got really busy with tons of travel (like 35 – 40 weeks each year all over the United States, its Territories, and Canada), I had to stop volunteering because I was not home enough to take training updates and meet my minimum service requirements.

Fast forward to 2020 when my husband was sick. That was during the height of the pandemic. There were times when my husband had to have injections of antibiotics and IVs for fluids. In order to reduce the number of times I would have to take him out, I got re-trained to administer shots and insert and maintain IVs. Further, I re-trained to become an Emergency Medical Technician so I could perform some more care for my husband at home that otherwise would have to be done in a medical facility.

After my husband died in January 2021, I felt lost and numb. My entire sense of purpose (caregiving) was suddenly gone.

I remember crying my eyes out in my best friend’s office. My best friend happened to be Chief of paramedicine. We met and became friends back when I was first trained in 1978 as a paramedic. My friend remained in our local EMS system while I moved on to other employers and other jobs.

Anyway, my friend said, “the Covid-19 vaccines have just become available. We really need people to serve as vaccinators to meet the demand.”

Thus… I got busy as a vaccinator and became known as “the most gentle vaccinator” in the whole county. Then later that year, I re-trained to regain my paramedic license.

I told each person I served that I would not have learned how to be so gentle if it were not for taking care of my husband. I did not want to cause him more pain, so I was exceptionally careful and tried to be painless. Each shot I administered was in honor of my husband.

By November 2022, I had administered 100,000 vaccinations. That was quite a goal!

These days, I continue to serve as a volunteer medic, both at a local clinic that serves a large Spanish-speaking population once a week, and also in the field as I fill in for others who need a day off.

I am also active with my professional association and a national advisory panel — both of which also keep me on my toes.

While I enjoy volunteering and serving others, I also enjoy travel. This year, these trips are lined up:

April: Puerto Rico (trip #38) … time to visit mis amigos in the west and also attend and speak at a conference related to my profession.

May: Seattle (one week) … leading an in-person meeting of my advisory panel. This will be a rather quick in-and-out trip since I have been to Seattle a lot and do not have interest to remain longer for sightseeing, especially “on my own dime.”

May: Los Angeles (tentative/a few days) … attend a memorial service for someone who was very special to me and with whom I lived when I worked there and attended graduate school.

July (two weeks): I will board a train in Vancouver and ride through the Canadian Rockies, then transfer to a small bus for a photo tour through Banff and Lake Louise. I will put my great camera to good use. I will end up in Calgary where I will attend the Calgary Stampede for two days! Yee-haw! Got my Alberta Boots ready!

September: my buddy “S” and I have organized another grand motorcycle tour. We will fly to Phoenix, straddle the saddles of Harley Street Glides, and ride some 1,000 miles through Arizona. Highlights include: UT-191 Devil’s Highway, Petrified Forest, Window Rock, Monument Valley, Moenkopi (Hopi Reservation), and Sedona. Then we ride back to Phoenix to return the Harleys and fly back to our respective homes.

Winter holidays (December to January): I will return to my home-away-from-home, Puerto Rico. A friend will be away for the holidays, so I will stay in her house, take care of her dog, and enjoy the company of other friends as close as family. I also will return to the area of the Caribbean Sea where I scattered my husband’s ashes to swim with his spirit and enjoy fond memories.

My life is indeed filled, fun, and forward-focused, just as my husband would want it to be for me.

Life is short: keep living life to its fullest!

One thought on “Volunteer Work and Travel

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Your writing is so important, especially now as things seem to be heading backwards, it’s important that your life and words are out there to dispel the myths.
    My deepest condolences for the loss of your husband. These past few years have come with so much loss, I’m glad to see you out there living!

Comments are closed.