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. 

Frustrated

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

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?