I’m a charge nurse in a major NYC hospital that has 1000+ COVID+ patients, 35 on my unit, 5 under my direct care. I also live in Westchester, the first East Coast epicenter.
As I sit here, isolated in my second bedroom from my wife and daughter for the 20th night in a row…
…after my first of 3 shifts in a row…
…picking the scab off the bridge of my nose where my mask has been digging in all shift…
…I can’t help but feel numb to the numbers and the overwhelming surge that has taken over the city that does not show signs of slowing down.
Over the last 3 weeks, most of us are beginning to feel that numbness: Numb to the sick, lonely, scared, and dying patients; Numb to the fear of catching the virus ourselves, even though staff is short and we actually have coworkers admitted on our unit; Numb to the fact that before we even discharge or intubate a patient, there’s already a new COVID patient listed to be admitted to that bed; Numb to the daily changes to protocol, to patient ratios, and to the requests of practicing outside our knowledge base and comfort zones.
We have ENT surgeons acting as medicine residents, med/surg nurses training to care for newly intubated patients because ICU beds are full, PACU turning into a MICU, and patients in the main atrium and in tents around the hospital. I’m at work setting up zoom meetings for 85 year old grandmas so they can say goodbye to their families. I, a ortho/urology/plastics med/surg nurse, almost had to take on a COVID patient who just delivered a baby 12 hours ago (thankfully, we ended up not having a bed open up for that patient).
…It’s the first 5-minutes of a sci-fi movie that explains why the world is completely different than what it used to be.
I feel like I’m losing touch with reality. But maybe that’s a good thing?
Update: Wow! What a thing to wake up to! Thank you all for your outpouring of support. It means a lot and I will make sure to share with all my coworkers.
Please remember about your local essential workers, too! Extra tip for delivery workers, a simply thank you in the grocery store, and keep clapping because we all hear you!
For those of you looking in on NYC, please be as ready as possible. Make sure your high risk have supplies they need, keep checking on your elderly neighbors, and start showing your love for your frontline workers now. Also, obviously, stay at home!
And we all have a fear that this will end and normal life will continue for many but the scars we have will endure. Please, let’s make sure after all this happens, that we don’t forget and we make sure to never let this lack of preparedness and protection for the essential workers happen again.
Through these negative times, there is so much beauty and positive that still finds a way to shine. I hope we can drag all that good through the mud and come out with it at the end.
Disclaimer: This is a guest post and it doesn’t represent the views of IWB.