The One Who Saves Lives

The One Who Saves Lives

"Mine is a story of resilience and self-appointed bad assery. It is full of twists, turns, detours, and surprises, ones that I am still learning to understand myself. Perhaps y'all can help me on this journey of seeking significance. 

I grew up pseudo-normally as a painfully Type A, perfectionist, overly-empathetic child in a loving family. I'm a quirky, fun-loving, analytical person who has always found beauty in emotions and in humans; I've been fascinated by the interconnected nature of the universe. In about 2009, this finally manifested as a desire to become a doctor. Since then, I have been fixated on this plan, one that seemed more like a vocation than a dream. I went 800 miles away to college. I fought through a series of challenges, particularly in 2014. On a road trip with some friends, a man randomly shot our car on the highway. Everyone was okay, but we were understandably uneasy. A month later, our sorority house caught on fire two rooms away from mine. Again, everyone was okay, but our world was flipped. There was smoke damage, some of my friends lost almost everything, and we were homeless. My support was 800 miles away. It was starting to feel like the universe didn't want me around. I became very anxious and afraid. I didn't tell anyone because I knew everyone else was dealing with their own emotions about the fire, so I just shut it all in. I didn't have time to focus on wanting to be a doctor; I was too busy trying to keep myself alive day to day. I became a shell of myself. School became hard because I wouldn't allow myself to think about the light at the end of the tunnel...mostly because I was pretty convinced it would never come. However, there was one human I couldn't fool with my happy mask, my best friend, Ashley. She worried about me constantly. She talked to me when I was scared. She wanted me to get the light behind my eyes back. She pushed me to find a way to spend time with patients, to hopefully spark my passion again. Y'all, let's talk about the importance of our tribes. She did it. She pulled me out-slowly, of course, but she did. Eventually, the crazy idea to become an EMT came to me. I always thought I'd be good at emergency medicine; why not give it a shot? It was absolutely intoxicating. I was completely and totally hooked. Learning how to save lives saved my own. I don't say that lightly. Putting on those boots and oh-so-flattering pants gave me purpose. I was back. Oh, was I back! The decision to go further to get my paramedic license was a fairly easy one. I battled burnout and stress and people saying I was too peppy or not strong enough, and something amazing happened: I put myself first. I realized if I wasn't preserved, I couldn't help anyone else. I found a therapist. I found a gym. I found that fire within me that apparently never went out. I realized how strong I've always been. That is why this ring and this pinky promise to myself is so meaningful. I wear it every day to remind myself to choose to be Wonder Woman, to recognize my responsibility to take care of myself so I can take care of others. 


EMS has been a life-changing detour for me because it's so beautifully raw. We make decisions on our feet. We adapt to change. We are collected under pressure. We have a front row seat to your humanity, and it's rich and beautiful and no measly words could ever do it justice. You see, I believe our hearts hold a certain capacity for souls; mine seems to be insatiable. My patients drive me to be a better medic, a better person, and one day a better freaking doctor. You see, Dr. Zink isn't just an "if" anymore; it's a "when". My fear of the universe's fires is nothing compared to how the universe should fear my fire. I'm unstoppable. "


- Natalie

Connect with her on Instagram! @paramedic_nat