Writing in the blog, Our Front Door, she takes readers into a haunting life and death world she shares with her husband as they each work on the front lines of emergency response and trauma care in Asheville, North Carolina.
Here are some powerful excerpts from Melina’s work. The images she creates cannot be forgotten.
Excerpts from “If You Only Knew, A Tribute to EMS Professionals”1
“If you only knew the weight of a wife as she crumbles to the floor when I pronounce her husband dead. In the very same spot that their young baby took his first steps just hours before. His first birthday cake still on the kitchen table, and I feel my chest caving in. I’ve carried her weight on my shoulders since that day.”
“If you only knew the pain in my gut when I arrive on scene after a suicide. Blood and dreams scattered on the wall. Images that cannot ever be erased, for me or for them. I struggle with the thought that as a system maybe we could have done more, done better, but yet here we stand. It’s too late now.”
“If you only knew the sound a mother makes as she watches her child slip away. We keep going, knowing that our efforts are in vain, but we do them anyway. I think I would want that if it was my child. I always think of my own children as I cradle their fragile little bodies, I wish I didn’t, the thought is often too much to bear.”
“If you only knew what the wet grass feels like under your knees, as you kneel in a ditch to calm a young teenage girl as she is cut from her mangled car. Through tear filled eyes she tells you that you are the reason she is alive, and how thankful she is for you. Although you try not to let the emotion come, it does, and with her, it’s okay.”
Excerpts from “I Remember You”2
“I remember you. I remember your nails were painted pink and your blonde hair was pulled perfectly back into a ponytail. I remember your purple shirt that I cut down the middle and the way your body bounced up off the bed as I tried to pump life back into your still heart. I’m not sure why, through all the faces, but I remember you. You are the reason I am here.”
“I remember you. I remember your gorgeous little head full of shimmering curly locks. I remember the one I placed in an envelope for your mama, and I remember handing it to her as she sobbed at your bedside. I remember how it all seemed so final and unreal. I remember the prints of your tiny hands and feet. I remember wrapping you up in a warm blanket because I couldn’t stand the thought of you being cold. I am quite sure I will never forget you. You keep me humble.”
“I remember you. I remember standing for 6 hours straight at your bedside titrating drips, knowing without a doubt you would not survive the night, only to see you sitting up in a wheelchair a few short weeks later. I remember knowing you were a miracle, and that you would change me forever. You made me believe.”
Excerpt from “It’s Not What We Do, It’s Who We Are”3
“The last few weeks have been tough for us, our job is hard, and people don’t understand what we do. It can be incredibly frustrating. Our acuity is high, our volume is outrageous, and we are exhausted. Physically, mentally, emotionally, exhausted. The people I work with are incredible human beings, I’m not lying, these people are the cream of the crop, and they are worn out, how could they not be. I seriously lost count of the traumas and strokes we had in one shift last weekend. It’s a lot to swallow. Pumping on the chest of a teenage traumatic arrest, followed by giving Tylenol to a screaming baby, de-escalating a violent psych patient, cleaning a GI bleed, and then chasing an angry lady with dementia down the hall. Only to empty your beds and start all over again. It will wear on you.”
Excerpt from “Somewhere There’s A Nurse”4
“Somewhere there’s a nurse compressing the chest of a 40-year-old father who just arrested in front of his family. Somewhere there’s a nurse reminding sweet Mrs. Jones for the 460th time today where her room is. Somewhere there’s a nurse who’s hungry, hasn’t peed in 8 hours, and is trying to pass evening meds before the end of her shift. Somewhere there’s a nurse consoling a parent whose whole world just turned upside down with the loss of a child. Somewhere there’s a nurse being berated and belittled by a doctor. There’s a nurse rocking a crying baby, emptying the tiniest chest tube you could ever imagine, and measuring urine output by weighing a diaper no bigger than your palm. Somewhere there’s a nurse taking vitals, giving shots, and holding hands. There’s a nurse intently watching as the 17-year old’s ICP creeps up, 3 days after he crashed his motorcycle. There’s a nurse preparing to intubate a 10-year-old who is having an anaphylactic reaction, placing a COPD’er on rescue Bipap, and cracking the chest of a stabbing victim as a last-ditch effort.”
Melina Arrowood, RN paints moving stories in each paragraph she writes. We hope that by sharing these glimpses into the worlds of dedicated EMS and nursing professionals you will look past the uniforms and see the people who provide truly extraordinary services daily, often sharing our pain in more ways than we might imagine.
1Arrowood M. “If You Only Knew, a Tribute to EMS.” 17 May 2016. Our Front Door Blog.
2Arrowood M. “I Remember You.” 29 December 2015. Our Front Door Blog.
3Arrowood M. “It’s Not What We Do, It’s Who We Are.” 11 July 2014. Our Front Door Blog.
4Arrowood M. “Somewhere There’s A Nurse.” 4 May 2014. Our Front Door Blog.
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