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My Memories of the Pandemic 20 Years Down the Memory Lane

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As a nurse, dealing with increased pressure was nothing new. As a nurse, I have been trained to maintain focus, take instant decisions, and perform complicated procedures while responding to heart attacks, and patients coding. Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a new challenge for which I feel helpless and ill-prepared. 20 years down the memory lane will the fear and the stress be the only things I will remember? Or, will I cherish the positive effects this pandemic had on me and my family?

How Will I Remember the Pandemic?

My Memories of the Pandemic 20 Years Down the Memory Lane

As I recall the fear and anxiety surrounding the onset of AIDS decades ago, I wonder what would I remember the most about the current pandemic plaguing the globe. How will I remember this pandemic 20 years down the memory lane?

Will I remember the fear and uncertainty, the moral and ethical distress of infecting myself and my family by being an essential worker? Will I remember the stigma of working with COVID-19 patients, the abuse and aggression from the members of the public, including the extended family members?

Will I remember the childcare challenges faced by the healthcare workers as their jobs were deemed essential while the uncertainty of their children’s safety loomed large on their minds?

During times of crisis, people have often risen to the occasion and have overcome obstacles they would never have thought possible otherwise. Covid-19 will not be any different. I am sure. But for now, I deal with the added stress of working as a mental health nurse. I keep waiting for a wave, a wave of unknown height and unknown force to hit the hospital, bringing chaos and confusion all over. As a nurse, I have been trained to maintain focus, make instant decisions, and perform complicated procedures while responding to heart attacks, and patients coding. Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed a new challenge for which I feel helpless and ill-prepared.

Each person will remember this pandemic differently. They may or may not remember the stimulus checks or the unemployment benefits, but they will most certainly remember the stress, the fear, and the uncertainty pertaining to the future. Nurses most definitely will continue to remember and honor the memory of their co-workers whose lives were lost during this crisis. We will recall with pride that they never gave up but chose to serve until death took them apart. I know I will most certainly remember the anxiety and the over-work, the burnout, and the mental fatigue as I wake up in the middle of the night, with nightmares of dying patients and overflowing morgues, having given in to PTSD and lack of mental support.

Or perhaps these memories will change down the memory lane. Our brains will have molded the experience, just like they usually do after childbirth; remembering the Year of the Nurse 2020, as the most heroic experience of our lives, the memories of how each one braved the storm. Perhaps we will have that rosy, idyllic glow as we remember using our critical thinking to implement alternative strategies to protect ourselves and our families during the pandemic. Certain behaviors adapted during the pandemic will soon become a habit, including changing out of work scrubs before entering our homes, meticulous hand washing, showering immediately after work, and maintaining safe boundaries in the name of social distancing.

However, for the sake of my family, I hope I’m the only one who remembers the fear, the pain, and the horror. I hope I am the only one who panics at the thought of someone dying a lonely death, of having to reuse a disposable mask for days together as we hoped to get a new supply somewhere in the uncertain future. I hope I will be the only one to remember the tear strained faces of my co-workers struggling to maintain a work-home balance while dealing with their own personal demons. I hope that my children will continue life with bittersweet memories of the lock-down, the video conferencing bedtime stories from grandparents from across the globe, the barbecue family dinners in the backyard, and an extensively decorated home with 'happy birthday' signs all around, to make up for the peer parties with their buddies.

I do sincerely hope that they remember the blooms we had during the pandemic, hours spent getting their hands dirty in that garden while the world was shut down, and the movie nights at home as they delved deep into the Netflix and Disney worlds. The memories of continued economic suffering, the news reports threatening increased poverty and isolation, and the conservatives fighting for freedom from wearing masks would soon be forgotten. The insanity of hoarding toilet paper and the empty racks at the local Walmart and Target will be a story for household gatherings and dinners.

Yes, we will choose to remember the happier times. We will continue to remember the silent heroes of our community. And, those who sewed masks for us, those furloughed from their jobs and who chose to deliver groceries and essential items for the essential workers. We will continue to remember with fondness those businesses who delivered sweet treats to the hospitals to keep our morale strong. And we will continue to remember members of the voluntary organizations who served selflessly in trying times.

We will continue to hold on to all the lessons the pandemic has taught us and to appreciate every little moment that we have; making the most of it. We will practice gratitude and love and remain in touch with our neighbors. We will show love and concern for our long-distance relatives. And, we will remember that tomorrow is never promised.

Even as I write this, we have grave decisions to make. To continue with online schooling or to opt for a blended version. Or, to plan for day trips or to research some safe vacation practices. No matter what choices we make, we will continue to hope. We shall rise again.

Anitha Sara D'souza, PMH RNBC, MS., is a mental health nurse of 20 years and a recent blogger. In her new website, she advocates for the promotion of mental health and to alleviate the stigma associated with it. She is also passionate about mentoring and supporting the newer nurses who choose to delve into mental health nursing.

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3 Comment(s)

As the biggest political scam ever pulled on the American people. Intentional overreaction and mismanagement by so many. Lies and more lies to make it look worse than it was. That’s how I’ll remember it. 

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 42 years experience.

Yes, ambitious nurse, we shall rise again!