Please be aware that some of the content is very upsetting.
A year ago my husband shared this as a Facebook post. I then shared it also. It came up this morning in my “Memories, On This Day”.
I asked him if it would be okay to post it here as a guest blog to which he agreed. Allun was a paramedic for 10 years.
‘Finally feel able to share …. (Actual experiences … )
I was a Paramedic but nobody taught me….
I was a paramedic, but nobody taught me how to sit an 86 year old gentleman down to tell him his wife of 65 years had died in her sleep.
Nobody taught me how to watch as the desire for life left his eyes the moment I broke the earth shattering news that would change his life forever.
Nobody taught me how to accept a torrent of abuse from a complete stranger, just because they had been drinking all day and wanted a lift home.
Nobody taught me how to reason with the aggressive patient I’ve just met; overdosed, but needing my help to breathe.
Or the addict who was unconscious from overdosing. I saved his life but now he hates me because he’s clicking again.
Nobody taught me how to talk to someone so depressed that they had just slit their own wrists, panicked and called for help. Nobody taught me how to respond when they turned to me and said “I can’t even get suicide right”.
Nobody taught me that I’d need to bite my tongue when I went 2 hours over my finish time for someone who’d been ‘generally unwell’ for 24 hours.
Nobody taught me how to accept that I would miss out on things other people take for granted; birthdays, christmas day, meals at normal times of the day, sleep.
Nobody taught me how to hold hands with a dying person as they take their last breath, seeing the fear in their eyes but holding back the tears because it’s not my grief.
Nobody taught me that I’d need to keep a straight face whilst a young man explains exactly what happened to the end of his hoover.
Nobody taught me how to act when patients pulled a knife on me, a gun and a sword.
Being a paramedic was so much more than swooping in and saving lives; it was about dealing with the most unique, challenging experiences then just going home at the end of the shift. Being asked by my wife ‘how was your day?’ and replying ‘fine thanks’ because I was unable to talk about the stress and carnage the day had brought into my life.
Being a paramedic was about constantly giving a bit of yourself to every patient, because although it’s was my 5th patient of the day and I couldn’t remember their names, it’s their first ambulance, their loved one, their experience.
It’s about the bits that nobody taught me how…
Like standing in a supermarket with a dead baby in your arms seeing the desperation in the eyes of the parents and doing everything you can despite knowing it’s already too late.
It’s about standing on a bypass surrounded by carnage and body parts but remaining calm and professional even though inside your head you are screaming. Then years later waking up at night in a cold sweat haunted by nightmares from the faces imbedded In your memory.
It’s about providing pain relief and reassurance to a 90 year old lady who’s fallen and hurt her hip, and despite all the pain she turns and says “Thank you, how are you?”. Then just smiling back because you cant tell her.
It’s about a hug that you give someone on Christmas Day because they haven’t spoken to anyone for days, they have no relatives or companions but you’ve brightened up their day.
It’s about climbing in the car next to someone and saying ‘Don’t worry, we’ll have you out of here in just a moment…you’re going to be ok’ even though you know they will probably die within the next 30mins if you don’t get them out. Some made it … some didn’t.
It’s about everything that I did to save lives that required me to bend the occasional rule, which resulted in saving a life but then getting a written warning for my actions.
It’s about knowing fact that I couldn’t attend to the dying man because I was dealing with a drunk… who then assaulted one of us. Or the guy with the new shoes that were hurting him because they were too tight.
I was a Paramedic, But Nobody Taught Me How to carry the burdens into my future….
To paraphrase Major Dick Winters…
“I wasn’t a hero… but I served in the company of heroes“.”
A few comments left on his original post.
“There are a couple of good blogs by paramedic and they are named Blood, Sweat and Tea. I dare say you could upsurp them with such wonderful and emotive writing.” – NH
“This man wasn’t just a Paramedic. Allun was a great teacher, he was able to listen out for the important information in a conversation and had that quality in a paramedic this is SO hard to find. When the **** went down, he didn’t panic. It was a great loss to the Welsh Ambulance Service when Alsie left but it was a greater loss to me. When it was my turn to steer the ship it felt like I was doing it without a rudder. The picture of Alsie’s kitbag that goes everywhere with me in work. I had my only diva moment over his bag when he handed it back.” – JG
“Wow. You made me cry! We take so many people like you for granted. x” – HW
“This has opened my eyes and made me think alot! Very touching Allun, thank you for sharing your feelings like this 🙂 x” – AH
“I found this inspiring and emotional at the same time, amazing, had to share.” JD