The pandemic was the first time I questioned if I could do this. I spent days upon days crying, not sleeping, struggling to keep myself together. It changed my nursing brain forever. We are trained to save lives, and while loss is inevitable, not to this degree. Instead of saving and fixing, my focus became how to help these patients comfortably and gracefully transition to death, without family support, we not only became their caretakers, but their families too!
I cried more than I ever have in my career. I worked more hours/week and just kept going. I felt like I couldn’t stop. THIS is my job, it’s what I chose, and I’m going to continue to do it to the very best of my ability.
Its hard being in the “real world”, seeing everyone in masks, seeing signs instructing us to “please stand here”, empty parking lots, no live music... This is not the world I want to live in. My heart breaks and I pray this is not “the new normal “ that everyone keeps claiming, because it is not normal at all!
I wrote this poem shortly into Covid when asked what it’s like to be on lockdown.
I don’t get to be on lockdown, I’m a nurse. So the sounds that have invaded my past few weeks are breaking my heart. It’s my job to save lives, and we are losing.
The sound of those deep breaths, that’s what I encourage my patients to do as I look in their fearful eyes and hold their hands, “take a deep breath for me.... good.... another one.... you’re OK”. These are the words I say in hopes of avoiding replacing the sound of their natural breath, with that of an artificial one.
My sounds are alarms, monitors, codes over the intercoms, “respiratory STAT”, doctors giving bad news, phones ringing with yet another admission.
My sounds are patients crying, alone, missing their families, afraid of what awaits them. My sounds are of putting on gloves, the echo of my own voice coming back at me from a mask and a shield.
My sounds are the tears of another coworker, voices trembling in fear, yet doing it anyway, becoming a team we never imagined we’d have to be.
How I wish I’d hear the birds chirping, the wind rustling the leaves. I miss the simplicity of it all.
My sound is pure exhaustion! But my heart beats louder still.... “just breathe....take a deep breath for me.... good.... another one.... you’re OK.”
I don’t want a new normal, I just want normal!