Enough at Uniform Stories




I wrote this a while ago before I retired (23 years) thanks to Uniform Stories for resurrecting it, and all who have supported fire/police/ems/military members and their families. It’s a great career but it ain’t cheap.



  • DetroitFire says:

    Fantastically written. This has been shared by a ton of firemen I know due to the truth. It’s not what we like to talk about at parties, but it’s a real part of the job hat peoe need to hear. Thanks!

  • jon patton says:

    hey mike–thanks so very much for the article you wrote awhile ago. i was on the job 23yrs paid here in lincoln,ne. up to 3 years prior. ended my career basically due to health issues. beautiful story you talked about. i can’t relate with all —but quite abit– you put all of your’s beautifully —thank you much——

  • Rick F. says:

    Looks like the site where the article was posted crashed. Is there any way of uploading it here?

  • Dick Steele says:

    Dear Sir
    if possible please contact me via email or Facebook i would like to talk to you about this I’m a 10 year fire engineer in St Bernard La and I’m feeling your pain.
    Thank you for the reality in witch we live everyday people have no clue and thats cause We chose not to tell them because really i don’t believe they would understand There have been some comments on this page that has been made that seem to me like this truth was just about firefighters this in my eyes is about a brother that had to vent and I’m all ears this was not about JUST firefighters i got it as all first responders so stop being so caught up in you own self and you know who I’m talking about if you commented we all have extreme call and events through out our careers Mr Mike or should i say Brother Mike my Facebook name is Dick Steele and my email is ffdsteele@yahoo.com contact me if you see fit Thank you for what you do.
    Firefighter Dick Steele

  • C. Cooper says:

    I have several friends in the Fire Department but they never talk much about it. So glad you shared the reality of its toll on the human spirit, because especially in non-fire country, I’m sure most people don’t realize that firemen do more than sit around, cook for each other, and put out the occasional house fire. I work in residential sex trafficking recovery, so it was also good to know how much is held in common between those of us who work in high pressure environments where we constantly face trauma, oppression and death. There is a dark underbelly of this world that not many people really see in its entirety, and though working in these areas provides more fulfillment than probably any other career, it does not come without its scars. I can greatly identify with the insomnia issues you describe and so I wanted to drop a word about how I found healing from them, in case anyone else is struggling. It took WAY too long to get better and nearly drove me insane, so if I can save anyone some pain, its worth it. Anyone who deals with stress-related insomnia (either trouble falling asleep, or falling asleep for a few hours and then staying awake until sunrise) should know that it is more than just the current stress on your brain causing it, and you must seek help immediately so it doesnt get worse. Even if insomnia is caused or related to specific situation, if it has gotten regular and debilitating, it might not just “clear up” when you get out of your stressful situation. There IS an emotional/conscious part of it that must be tackled as well, so I highly recommend counseling and discipline related to thought life and the amount of work you take on. (I found was that when I began to carry the burdens of the entire world, my brain knew there was an infinite number of tasks to be done in this enterprise, so it just stopped turning “off”. To this day I cannot cram too many tasks into my day, because if I go into hyper-work mode, my brain switches back to insomnia to accomplish these goals.)

    However, what I discovered after months of research (and doctors who couldn’t help), is that prolonged, sustained stress (such as a career in public service) does semi-permanent damage to your adrenal glands which release stress hormones to cope with your lifestyle. You wear them out, basically, in what is known as “adrenal fatigue.” I found that this causes insomnia because your stress hormones are also what raise blood sugar during the night to keep you asleep. (See below, Fatigue and Insomnia http://novusdetox.com/press/dependence.php?include=139840)

    To restore your adrenal glands to both cope with your life AND give you the sleep you need, it is sometimes not enough to just quit the job or change one’s lifestyle (and what about those of us who can’t “quit” just yet?) Sometimes those glands won’t recover (or will take much longer than needed) without some therapeutic work from a holistic doctor. No sleep drug in the world can solve the problem of exhausted adrenals….just as birth control pill cause “fake” menstruation, sleep drugs cause a “fake” state of sleep which does not usually solve the root problem. After several months of suffering, I finally found a natural doc who wasn’t a quack who explained the wonderful world of adaptogenic herbs, which basically meet your hormones wherever they’re at and move them towards balance, whatever that is. There are several, but ashwagandha is most common, and that is what I took. It works like a jump-start to your adrenals, and after just a few weeks on ashwaghanda (along with lifestyle changes) I started sleeping normally again after MONTHS of surviving on 2 hours per night (or less). It was a miracle. I can testify that finding one’s balance can be a little tricky….I stayed on the ashwagandha too long and it began to have the opposite effect. But if you have a doc who knows what he is doing, you will be able to find balance and be back to normal before you realize it.

    Anyway…I hope that ramble isn’t unwelcome here; I its a little off-topic and yet the physical toll on our lives is so real that I would hate for someone whose heart is really “there” to be held back from a calling just because our medical establishment isnt great about calling on natural healing when it is needed. From what I gather, adrenal fatigue is epidemic in the US, but the only healing methods gentle enough to help with our sensitive hormones are largely ignored by the medical establishment. (Even though most drugs are actually created from herbs….ugh) My dad was a pharmacist so of course I know there is an important role played by conventional medicine….but we have a ways to go before we learn how to integrate ALL the helpful healing methods offered. I can vouch that stress-related insomnia is both something you CAN recover from, but something you probably want to go natural with

  • Michael Morse says:

    Great comment, thank you CCooper, I’ve been taking adrenal support vitamins for a few months, just starting to see a difference.

  • William Cassidy says:

    Iam in my 34th year and had told myself I wanted to do 35 as a volunteer. Now I don’t know if I can make 35, because of the same reasons listed above. WHY do I do it, because I wanted to give something back to my community. Now for me there is no pension, yet when my radio goes off I respond. Just the ramblings of a tired Volunteer Firefighter. Captain/Chaplain William (Stumpy) Cassidy, Taylor Fire Rescue, Taylor, BC Canada.

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