Day 15

I’ve been up here in The Empire State for 2.5 weeks now, and I think I am probably changed forever. I am learning so many things about myself. I have new concerns for my patients. I am afraid of exposing them to a virus if they do not already have it. I am also afraid of leaving them afraid and feeling isolated even after I see them. It is hard to comfort people when you are trying to maintain a safe distance from them. 

I am also learning to communicate with stressed out family members who are feeling neglected and ignored because they cannot be at the hospital. When our loved ones are sick we want to be there to take care of them and we are unable to allow visitors. I cannot even imagine what it is like to be sitting by the phone wondering what the hell is going on at the hospital. I know my imagination tends to run wild when I cannot be there. I can’t imagine what it would be like during this time. I am trying to make plenty of time to reach out and give these families the support and care they need as well. 

All of this is stressful and it is easy for me to become mired in self-pity and to feel like it is all too much. I have to remind myself that I am one of the lucky ones. My family is safe and sound at home. 

Speaking of lucky, I got presents! A dear, sweet friend made me some beautiful scrub caps and I am already feeling even more loved and cared for than I usually do. Our friends and family are the reason we can keep doing these jobs. They remind us to keep fighting and provide us with the support we need to overcome our fears and self- doubt. When I find myself feeling inadequate and wonder what I am doing all I have to do is think of all the people who believe in me. 

It is so easy to fall into the trap of negative self-talk. When I am frustrated I tend to take it out on myself. I wonder why I cannot be better. I wonder why I do not know all the answers. I convince myself anyone else could do a better job than I am doing right now. I ask myself just exactly who do I think I am and what makes me think anyone would trust me to take care of their loved one. That is a dangerous place to live in for very long. It is also not true. 

Not that I am special, but I know how to take care of patients. I have been taught by the best of the best. I went to one of the best nursing and NP schools in the country. My mentors have all been phenomenal and they have taught me the skills I need to provide excellent care. 

My fears are healthy as long as I keep them in perspective and use them to make sure I am constantly evaluating every situation and looking for the best solution. Staying humble allows me to ask for help and recognize my own limitations. This is why I am good at my job. I am not afraid to ask for help and this is a strength, not a weakness. 

I do not know what the future looks like. None of us do. We all need to keep our wits about us and just keep doing the next thing when it comes up. We will make it through this because we are able to adapt and change. This is our gift as a species. We all need to be prepared for things to change and to be willing to change along with each situation as it arises. We need to protect and love each other. I am so grateful to know I am loved and I get the opportunity to give something back to others. It makes me feel useful. 

Today is a better day. Wish me luck and remember to take care of the ones you love. We all need support right now. These are scary and hard times. I feel like we can make it through though. 


I get it. We are all frustrated. People are out of work. There does not seem to be enough money to go around. Poor people are suffering. 

I keep seeing the most ridiculous posts on FB. People insinuating the virus is a made up hoax. People spreading posts about how this is all a money grab by hospitals. People saying social distancing is worse than the virus. There are even videos by nurses (or so they say) claiming patients are being murdered by their healthcare providers. 

Are you kidding me? 

I got up here a week after things had started to calm down a little. The stories I have heard have scared the hell out of me. They describe it as a tsunami of COVID patients. Young and old alike. Nevermind about all the other sick people. 

I am so angry people are spreading this rhetoric. If you honestly believe your doctor and nurses wish to harm you in order to make some money, you need to find a different doctor. 

The reason people need to stay home and try to avoid spreading this virus is simple. THERE IS NOTHING WE CAN DO TO TREAT IT! If you are lucky, you are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. If you are still lucky, you feel like you have never been sicker and spend two weeks in horrible pain and wondering if you are going to die. People who end up in the hospital, but manage to recover are STILL lucky. 

There are a painful few who survive once they require a ventilator. Those folks are still lucky. If you are unfortunate enough for your heart to stop because it is starved for oxygen, or you throw clots all over your body, there is not much we can do to help you. 

Nurses, doctors, CNAs, Rad Techs, RTs, housekeepers, food service workers, everyone in the hospital is putting their life and safety in peril to help people everyday. They have families waiting for them at home too. Many of them have underlying health conditions, and yet here they are… trying to help you. 

In many states healthcare providers can be assaulted by patients and have no legal recourse. We are literally putting our health and safety on the line every single day we go to work. I am not asking for accolades or cheering, all I want is for people to use some common sense before they spread false information. 

Yes, the information we have about this virus changes constantly. This is because we are still learning about it. It is brand new. The way we treat it changes. The things we know about it changes. Stop blaming the people who are doing the best they can to treat patients and to keep the public safe. 

I promise you, this virus is so much worse than you believe. Wear your mask. Stop bitching. Try to follow social distancing rules. You do not want to see what happens when your entire city is overrun. You want to have a hospital available to care for you. You want to have your minor heart attack treated so you do not end up with permanent damage. You want to get treatment for that stroke before you permanently lose the ability to speak. You want to get that cut sewn up. Trust me. We need our hospitals to be functional. They won’t be if we get hit by this tsunami. The people of NY did not expect it to be this way. They did nothing to deserve this. We don’t want to be next. 

So, today I will go back and work another 12 hour shift. I will wear a mask sent to me by friends. (These healthcare providers are only given one a week.) I will wash my hands and try to remember to keep my hands out of my eyes. I will continue to try and keep 6 feet away from everyone. I do not want to spread the virus to people who do not already have it. I am counting on the rest of you to help by using common sense and a little decency. If you can’t do that, I will still take care of you. My friends and I will still put our safety on the back burner even if you cannot try to protect others. We won’t even hold it against you. So, please just remember who you are accusing when you share those hateful videos. 


Laundry day. I hate doing laundry. I hate folding and sorting. I hate emptying out the pockets I should have emptied as soon as I took the clothes off. You would think I was doing laundry for a caravan as much as I complain. It is literally two loads, and since I am at a hotel I can do them simultaneously. It still drives me bananas. I guess it could be worse. I could be somewhere without laundry facilities. 

Got my new Bose speaker, and my heart is happy. Amazon sent me some some cheez-its. PPE was delivered to my hotel from some amazing friends. This is better than a birthday! The front desk guy is concerned about my shopping habits. 

Two nights down and two to go before I get a 24 hour reprieve. Night shifts are an entirely different day than working during the day. If it was not so hard on me physically I would prefer them. Making friends with the ER is proving to be smart (it helps that they are awesome) and I was shown the break room and dinner last night. The pasta salad was fantastic! Remember it is always best to get to know the people you are working with. These are the people you can count on when you are far from home.

Sometimes I find myself being standoffish and sticking to myself. It is usually when I am nervous and afraid people will think I am weird, which I am, but I don’t want them to know that yet! I think I am better off just getting over myself and trying to be friendly. Who knows? They may even like me. 

Now for the biggest problem. I have no idea what anyone’s name is!!!! I would never recognize them and it makes me feel so rude. The masks and hats and face shields… ugh. I wonder if they suspect they all have nicknames. There is the badass ER NP. The ballsy manager. The girl I am pretty sure is a charge nurse. The nicest lab tech I have ever met. The cute little shy nurse. The nice bald dude that acts like we have met, but I am not sure where and it is too late to ask now. 

I probably will not be here long enough to get all these people sorted out in my head, but I hope they know how much I appreciate them. I got here after the whole disaster was already getting better. I cannot even imagine what they have been through. I only hope I am helping ease some of their burden. 

Healthcare workers are a special breed of people. We like to believe we have it all under control and we do not like chaos. When hospitals are overrun with patients we have no choice but to figure it out and find ways to take care of our patients. We do not get to close, and we do not get to run away. It would have been easier for me to stay home and wait for a safer, more pleasant job to come along. I would rather be at home with my family. 

However, I am grateful to have the ability to offer something to this community. I am learning so much.

Plus I get to hear cute accents all day. Have you ever heard these people say coffee? 

Day Dreaming

Today I managed to sleep most of the day. Still having terrible nightmares, but I am feeling better during the waking hours. A friend texted me to keep writing and connecting with other people and I think that is probably the best advice I could have been given. Got another box of presents! Tide, masks, an umbrella… plus Amazon sent me granola bars. I would say that is a good day. Especially when I also got some goodies from a friend last night. 

I never would have dreamed that people thinking of me and reaching out to send me stuff would mean so much. It makes me wonder why we don’t correspond more by mail these days. Maybe we should start. Just a postcard. Or a little note scribbled on a scrap of paper. What if we actually invested in nice stationary and spent some time writing letters? Anyone want to start doing that? Just a thought. 

So, I bought a Hobonichi planner for this year and I am using these daily pages as a sort of artsy journal. Not that I have a single shred of artistic talent, but I smear some watercolor on the page or tack down a momento or a photo in the mornings before work. Nothing special, but I am enjoying it. One reason I do not like to scrapbook is there is too much pressure on making everything perfect. There is nothing about my life that is perfect. It is all wonderfully messy and I like it that way. Does anyone else do something like this? 

I have decided that once all this is over and I take some time off for some R&R I am going to the beach. I plan to sit by the pool under an umbrella with my stack of books and drink the cocktail of the day. I will make no decisions except which swim attire to wear. I will only read novels and short stories. I do not want to think about anything important. I just want to relax. 

Tonight is day 10. Hoping for a good night. Maybe I can make some new friends and find someone to have some laughs with. So, my goal for tonight is to find at least one person with an incredibly sick sense of humor and to make friends with them. Wish me luck. 

Day 9

Seems like the hospital I am in is slowly going back to normal. I wish I were slowly going back to normal. I am not usually this homesick when I am working. I guess I got spoiled for the past few months with so little to do. I will be fine, this is a normal part of traveling for work. This also happens when I am working without concrete plans for the future. Right now I only know what I am doing until June 1. So, I feel a bit untethered. It will be okay soon. 

One of the perks of this job is I rarely have time to get bored anywhere. I am always being challenged by something new. So, I feel funny when I complain about having to learn new things all the time. 

The past couple of days have been spent sleeping and working. Today I am back to days for one shift, then back to nights for several. Day shift has one set of problems and night shift has a completely different set of problems. Physically I like days better. I sleep better and feel better. I like the routine of night shift more. Night shift people tend to have sensibilities more like my own. Night shift is also harder overall. I have more anxiety about the patients. I worry more about whether or not I am doing the right thing. I wonder if other people experience it that way. 

I would not say I have learned much more about COVID, except I am starting to see signs of the chronic problems it is going to cause. The recovery is going to be long for the patients I have seen with the virus. I guess that is true for many illnesses. I am still worried what will happen if we have a big surge of patients at home. So far we have been lucky. 

I think my experience at this hospital will give me better experience for dealing with this at the places I usually work in. Critical care is very different from hospitalist work. There is more focus on the things that will kill you today, while once you are on the floor, I am trying to get patients prepared for discharge. It is hard to tell when a patient is ready for the next step in their recovery. It is especially hard if they have other chronic health problems like intellectual disabilities or dementia. Throw in some psychiatric disorders and it is a perfect storm of issues preventing recovery. So, I try to address each issue to the best of my ability and hope we find a solution for each road block standing in the way of success. Sometimes I have to change my definition of success. All we can do is keep trying. 

So, today I will go into work and look for ways to help. I will keep an open mind, and I will offer support to whoever needs it. I cannot save the world, and thankfully that isn’t my job anyway. I will be flexible and see what the day offers. I may even surprise myself and find some ways to have some fun. Maybe that is the point. To make it as good as you can. Let’s see what today brings- shall we?

Different Days

Lovely physician I am working with- improvising a scrub cap. I think it is adorable.

Today, well actually tonight, I am working my first night shift. Hoping it goes well. 

I forced myself to stay in bed today so I can be at my best tonight. Going back and forth between days and nights is awful, but it is what I need to do. I think it will be okay. 

Mail is exciting when you are far from home. Today I got a package from Amazon. I was excited to open it. It was Downey wrinkle releaser. Still exciting. Not quite as exciting as my Scribe delivery or Magnolia deliveries that come to the house, but still it is like getting a present. (Presents are nice even if you send them to yourself. Some friends are sending me some PPE and some masks and caps. I can’t wait to get them. It makes me feel close to people even when I am a little isolated.) Still kinda wish I could get a hug from someone- but that will come eventually. Maybe when times are better. I did order a small Bose speaker to have for when I travel. I got the email that it is being shipped today. I can’t wait for it to arrive. I need some quality tunes! I miss live music. My memories in FB are full of fun adventures. I guess April is always a good month for me. I miss Jazzfest. 

Time for the real stuff. I am having terrible nightmares. I read somewhere this is common for lots of people right now. My dreams are excruciatingly bright and vivid. I wake up with my heart pounding and feel like I have been beaten in my sleep. They are all about running and hiding from something unseen. Guess that is not surprising given the current state of our world. Trying to remain optimistic and to keep this all in perspective. Times are hard for us all. 

I am lucky. I am in New York, but a bit outside the city. I have a hotel room that is bigger than my first apartment. I think that is helpful. I do not feel closed in. I have enough room to relax and have separate space for sleeping and all the other activities of daily living. 

This is a hard assignment. I feel a little lost and do not get much feedback, but I think I am doing okay. 

These days are hard and not knowing how all this is going to turn out is even harder. I suppose going into NYC and working ICU or something would have been more exciting, but they need help in lots of places. I can leave the exciting jobs for other people. 

I miss getting to know my patients and their families better. That is one of the perks of being a healthcare provider. Now the patients are isolated and their families are barred from the hospital. I know it is safer this way, but it feels wrong. In trying to keep ourselves and others healthy we have to keep more physical distance than I am used to. Remember back when Princess Diana was photographed hugging the lepers? I have always been quick to hug my patients and their families when they needed it. Now, I do not even shake hands or touch them if I can keep from it. I do not like it. I do not like being afraid to touch people. 

Distance is hard when you are trained to care. 

These are different days. 

Doing my best to keep my spirits up and to be useful. 

Hope you are all doing well. More later. 

Day 7

Had a good dinner last night, and would like to say I slept like a baby. I did sleep until the alarm, so there is a small bonus.

Mom sent me some scrub caps and I forgot how much I love having my head covered. I am definitely a hat, scarf, do-rag kind of girl. I don’t know why. It could be laziness. I hate doing my hair.

This morning I am listening to Amanda Shires and wishing I had my little Bose speaker with me. TV is depressing these days. I don’t want to watch the news and I don’t want to see life back to normal on reruns either. I just want to hear some soothing melodies. Oh! And for some reason I fell down a rabbit hole yesterday and started watching interviews and videos of and about Townes Van Zandt. He fascinates me.

People want updates. Not much to say. I do not know how this hospital runs during normal times, but now it is chaotic. I have not found a routine, but I am working on it. I think I will figure it out. Today my goal is to find a list of the floors and their names and phone numbers. Keep your goals specific, measurable, and attainable, isn’t that the advice?

I cannot lie. I am the last to know most things at these hospitals. If information is disseminated on a need to know basis, I guess I am one of the ones who does not need to know. One facility sent me the most “current” information on COVID, and it was literally a copy and paste a viral FB post. 

If you want further proof of the level of my cluelessness, let me tell you about yesterday. I was sitting up in an office working on my notes and desperately trying to figure out this new EMR. I am sitting there, my eyes are squinty because I have a headache, and I am steadily muttering to myself about how stupid all of this is and why can’t things just be easier, when I start hearing the loudest sirens. I thought maybe it was ambulance or something coming into the ER. You can’t get mad about that. Except it just kept going. FOREVER. After several minutes I exclaimed “What the hell is going on???” The doctor working in the office turned and told me to look out the window. There were like a million cars and firetrucks and police officers all driving by. It was like the loudest parade I have ever seen. I have to tell you that was the second time I got all misty eyed and emotional yesterday. 

Every time we discharge a COVID patient they play Rachel Platten’s Fight Song overhead. It is similar to the song they play at some hospitals when a baby is born. I think we are getting fewer COVID hospitalizations, but there still seem to be a lot. 

I wonder what hospitals are going to look like once the surge is over. Are our rural hospitals going to get patients again? Am I going to be able to find work? Are we going to have to keep COVID floors from now on? Or will this just die out? 

We don’t know. I suppose we just have to watch and see. 

For now, I want to say thank you to my friends and family who are sending me supplies, masks, caps, and good wishes. You guys are the reason I can do the job I do. Even when we are not in the middle of a crisis I need the support from the ones I love. I am lucky to have the freedom to be able to travel around and try to help where I am needed most. I am lucky to have a supportive family who take care of my day to day life. I would not trade my people for anything. I am so grateful and appreciative. 

Day 5

Day 5

Of course I woke up an hour before my alarm went off. It only makes sense for me to be awake while the rest of the world is tucked away in their beds. I don’t know what they are dreaming of- but I am haunted by anxiety and images of a post apocalyptic world where we never see a smile again.

These masks are hiding the fastest way for us to share our social distancing humanity. I suppose I can only hope my eyes are sending kind messages.

I am struggling a little to figure out how to best be of use. I am doing my job to the best of my ability and I am struck by feelings of inadequacy and fear of missing something important. This is the hardest part of working in the healthcare field. I don’t have any magic answers and don’t believe anyone else does either.

I guess this is the problem with a “novel” disease. It’s brand new and quite frankly I think he is an asshole. I do not think he is a wild animal to be domesticated, and I can only hope he mutates down into something akin to our less virulent influenza strains. Do the virology experts have nightmares about these boogers too? Maybe their knowledge gives them some peace, although I suspect they know more about these microscopic demons and have this feeling of dread as well.

So, even though I am pretty much wracked with a sense of unease, I have to focus on what I can do. I can take care of my patients and the people I love. I can look for solutions and educate myself. I can be a good example for others to follow. Hopefully that will be enough.

I try to dedicate my life to being useful. I want to know I have done my best to be a good citizen and member of society. I do this by doing my job. I look for ways to be of service. I try to the best I can with the tools I have available. Maybe that is all any of us can do.

In the words of the Red Hot Chili Peppers … “these are the melancholy mechanics of my mind…”

Running Into a Burning Building


Well, it has certainly been awhile. Maybe this is what I needed to start writing again. Oh, I have been scribbling in notebooks and working on story ideas, and in general succumbing to paralyzing feelings of inadequacy. 

Now the world is on fire. We have a pandemic and it has essentially shut down many of the opportunities I am so lucky to usually be able to utilize. So, what is the best option? Run head first into a burning building and go work in a COVID19 hotspot. 

Sure, that sounds like a great idea! Am I nervous? Of course. Do I think I will most likely be okay? Probably. 

The most important thing to remember is I want to be useful. I want to help. I want to do my job. So, in the morning I am venturing out to do exactly what I am meant to do. 

I will keep you updated. 

It’s All A Song

Some girls need Wide Open Spaces. Others need to see the yellow moon through the window of a Downtown Train. Maybe I will live Life in the Fast Lane in Detroit Rock City

I am the girl who is always Leaving on a Jet Planeexcept I usually know when I’ll be back again. I know I won’t be Under the Bridge because all it takes is one phone call saying Mama, I’m Coming Homeand even at 3 amthe porch light will be left on. Friends will Wish You Were Here and others will say Go Your Own WayI’ll probably still be looking for the keys to Paradise City seeking Success as I am a Real Wild Child with a Lust for LifeI’ll find Trouble when I Drink Alone.  Even if it is only One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer you will find me on a Road to Nowhere hunting for St. Elmo’s Fire in a Small Town full of Little Pink Houses until the locals tell me Don’t Come Around Here No More

I’ll come to a Crossroads and claim it’s just One More Ride under the Blue Sky with Melissa, Amy, Little Marthaand a Drunken Hearted Boy straight to the Whipping Post where I can sit next to the Bougainvillea basking in the Soul Shine with Nancy and Angeline thinking about all the Things You Used to DoWhen I am On the Road Againremember I am a Good Hearted Womanbut I had Georgia On My MindDon’t stand under Blue Skies on an Uncloudy Day wishing for Blue Eyes Cryin’ In the Rain or a Whiskey River to drown your sorrows. Imagine me with the Highwayman, or even Pancho and Lefty meandering across the Mendocino County Line looking for Seven Spanish Angels.

The winds sweep across the plains of Oklahoma and Deep in the Heart of Texas.  If I manage to find a Lucky Star while Fishin’ in the Dark, I should probably act Like a Virgin, and when I stumble across a Desperado from the Streets of Bakersfieldyou won’t like him. I may think I have found Paradise By the Dashboard Light, when he talks about my Angel Eyesbut in the end I will be begging him to Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around. It will be Ironic that he can be so Insensitive and leave me Torn. I will be Blinded by the Light when he tells me I look Wonderful Tonight right before we venture out Dancing in the Dark.  A Broken Promise can be written on Pretty Paperand it’s still just a tale of Faded LovePieces of You will be Blowin’ In the Wind until I realize these are the Games People Play and sometimes people are just Under Pressure and Working for the Weekend. I’ll hop on my Wrecking Ball and tell The Joker “Bye Bye Bye” at The End of the Road. I was simply looking for Heroes, or maybe Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves. Can you envision my disappointment when all I found were Everyday People?

Love is a Battlefield and I am The WarriorI was Born to Run and I won’t settle for living like a Refugee. Against All Odds I will Learn to Fly and declare No More I Love Yous will be uttered from these Lips that Bite. I will hop off the Crazy Train and stop asking “Should I Stay or Should I go?” I can buy Two Tickets to Paradise or Take it Easy and hitch a Free Ride to Where the Streets Have No NameGirls Just Wanna Have Fun and hopefully it won’t be The Final Countdown to Closing Time because We’re Not Gonna Take It anymore. There are Raised Right Men who just happen to live a Semi-Charmed Life and are simply Waitin’ Round to Die. Brick by Brick they build their walls and hide from The Greatest Love of All. 

Lightening Crashes into Fake Plastic Trees as I Run-Around screaming a Rebel Yell searching for the Champagne Supernova in the River of Deceit at Possum Kingdom. Did I mention I Come From the Water ? I’ll Shake It Off and Set Fire to the Rain while wearing a Poker Face and humming a Fight Song about a girl named Sweet Caroline while I swing from the Chandelier. The Cat’s in the Cradle and I Don’t Wanna Grow Up just to leave the Glory Days behind me as I tumble down a Landslide into The Waiting. Everybody Hurts if they think too hard about all the Yesterdays. Instead of feeling like an Outsider and whining “I Just Want to Have Something to Do,” Remember Baby, I Love You. It’s a Hard Life, but we’ll Breakaway, because Your My Best Friend.

You like a Masquerade, with your paper faces on parade. You hide from Whatshername and we go out Walking in Memphis. I like to go out Walking After Midnight, just Lookin’ for Love in All the Wrong Places. Charlena and I will ring up Donna on the Payphone just to tell her “Come On, Let’s Go” because everyone knows We Belong Together, not sitting Alone,(Crying, Waiting, Hoping) while Lonely Teardrops fall. Let’s Dance the La Bamba and the Mambo Number 5 at the Love Shack while we scope out some dudes that are Pretty Fly (For a White Guy). We will toss Glitter in the Air, talk about our Beautiful Trauma, and look into our Crystal Ball and think about being Sober. So WhatI Don’t Believe YouIt’s All Your Fault. We Could’ve Had Everything, but you had to be a Bad Influence and so damn Mean.

I’ll find an American Woman or maybe just a Brown-eyed Girl to teach me to Hold on Loosely. I might even Bang a Gong (Get It On) with a guy like Tom Sawyeryou know the modern day warrior with the mean, mean stride? We all need a Pinball Wizard who loves American Music and is so Unbelievable. I was Losing My Religion with the Shiny Happy People when I realized it all Smells Like Teen Spirit and they never drank the Pennyroyal Tea with the Angel of the Morning or even the Long Cool Woman in the black dress. As a Last Resort I can always pretend to be a New Fool at an Old GameI could be all Fancy and go Commando at Rockaway Beach or I could just tell you the whole, honest truth. I Wanna Be Sedated. 

*** This was just for fun- obviously all the bolded parts are song titles. This was fun.