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.