My ‘firefighter mode’ helps when responding to emergencies

It can also take a toll, so I need to manage it well

Alliah Czarielle avatar

by Alliah Czarielle |

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I’ve always had a naturally good “firefighter mode.” As a child, I was inventive and resourceful. If I accidentally left my homework at home, I could do it over in minutes. In high school, I was the go-to person for completing group projects under pressure. This pattern continued well into my adult years.

Lately, I’ve come to understand that this is a symptom of my attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The adrenaline rush I get during emergencies gives me a sudden burst of clarity, allowing me to think on my toes. Emergencies engage my fight-or-flight response, which activates my hyperfocus and allows me to get things done with increased energy and resourcefulness.

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As a wife and caregiver to my husband, Jared, who has severe hemophilia B and a seizure disorder, I was able to make use of this skill at putting out fires in emergency situations. On one occasion, for example, Jared had to be rushed to the hospital due to a freak accident involving a pool slide. As soon as I noticed that his tooth had been bashed in and his lip was bleeding profusely, I called the attention of the resort staff. They wasted no time calling an ambulance to take him to the nearest hospital. I also contacted our employer at the time to ask for help, and they came through.

It felt like the longest day ever due to the sheer number of decisions and actions that were instantly required. I was up almost all night, except for short naps on a dental chair. Adrenaline coursed through my body as I watched over Jared, responded to his needs, and did whatever I could to control the bleeding in absence of factor IX concentrate.

Fight or flight

While riding the waves of my fight-or-flight response can be effective, it also comes with risks. The biggest one is burnout. That burst of energy I experience often comes at a price. Running on heightened senses depletes my energy, resulting in debilitating mental and physical fatigue over the next few days.

As I enter a new decade and chapter of my life, I’m learning that consistency matters when striving for a healthy and well-balanced life. As a working mom, I need to have enough energy at all times to fulfill all of my roles and responsibilities. Being in a state of burnout for extended periods of time will have detrimental effects on my finances, ability to nurture, and ultimately, my mental state. And the cycle can repeat itself.

Cultivating clear and quick thinking

My firefighter mode serves as a valuable asset in navigating emergencies. However, I find that it’s also essential for me to learn how to think clearly and responsively, not just in emergency situations, but also in everyday life. This may be tough to do, considering the way that my brain is wired, but I hope to find techniques and therapies to help me with this.

This way, I don’t always have to rely on firefighter mode to get things done, and I can be there for others while also taking care of myself.

Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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