Turning the Tide of the Pandemic: A Monumentally Difficult but Worthy Task

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This nation needs to be inspired to help turn the tide of this pandemic. There's not much left to say to get people on board with this endeavor that hasn't already been said, but let's say it anyway. Saving lives is always worth fighting for.

Specializes in Nephrology and Psychiatric Nursing. Has 15 years experience.

Saving lives is always worth fighting for

Turning the Tide of the Pandemic: A Monumentally Difficult but Worthy Task

This essay has turned out to be one of the most difficult ones I’ve ever written and, hopefully, will ever have to write.  It has been difficult not only because it requires ruminating on the devastation that is the Coronavirus Disease 2019, but also because of the amount of time it has required for me to get my thoughts and words onto the page. 

Each time I began typing I was forced to reckon with the memories and experiences that I formed and endured during my year and a half as a Covid nurse.  To write about this topic, I had to relive every one of those moments of heartbreak, despair, and death. This is not something I've honestly allowed myself the time to do before.  It’s a challenge to recall my experiences as a Covid nurse without breaking down.  Hence, this essay contest became a time-consuming project.  I would type one line, contemplate one thought, and then got lost in the trauma.  What I have come to realize is that I haven’t processed any of what I witnessed and experienced and writing this essay has forced me to reckon with that.

Thinking about those first few months of the pandemic brings me to tears.  The entirety of the pandemic is tear-worthy, but I mention the first few months because that was the time before it became my new normal.  I see the faces of my patients now passed.  I recall their names, their fears, their beliefs that they would be okay, their beliefs that they were going to die.  It’s actually been hard to stop this article from being a rant, each paragraph starting out contemplative and wise twisting itself into a not so gentle admonishment of the public, especially of those who have refused to wear masks and get vaccinated and purported the notion that Covid was a hoax or not as bad as the press was making it out to be.  I have had the painstaking task of reconciling that these are the very people who need to be reached and encouraged to take action.  It is the nonbelievers and the fainthearted that need to get on board to turn the tide of this pandemic.  So as much as I’d like to rant about Covid through this essay, I want more to encourage the public to help make a difference. 

What can one really say to the public that hasn’t already been said?  Honestly not much.  But I feel that as nurses we naturally lead the way through healthcare crises. Nursing is the most trusted profession after all, and the public looks to us for the truth.  I can't even count the number of random people, who after finding out I was a Covid nurse, asked “What is it really like?"  The public values our opinions and believes that we will deliver information at face value.  They are not wrong.  And that is why for every person who says to me “It’s not really as bad as everyone says it is, right?"  I say to you "No, it is not…It is worse!” (The audacity to ask to a Covid nurse if it’s not as bad as people say.  Honestly.  It is not a hoax people).

I’ve vacillated between, being empathetic, straightforward and politely informative, and straight up shaming when discussing with people whether or not they should wear a mask or get vaccinated.  Unfortunately, shaming does not turn the tide, nor should it.  So what I'd really like to tell the public is to find your empathy.  Stop being self-centered and self-righteous.  Be strong, not strong in your selfish convictions but strong in your ability to fight for your neighbor, to fight for those weaker than you.  Entertain the notion that you could be a protector of human life.  Consider being the kind of badass that gets in the ring and fights.  Don’t be the wimp on the sidelines, letting other people do the tough work for you.   Evaluate what is your "bad enough."  What scenario is bad enough to make you want to have a part in turning the tide?  Because right now ¾ of a million of our countrymen dead doesn’t seem to be bad enough for this nation to take the action we are profoundly capable of to turn the tide of this pandemic.  The United States is historically a world leader, but the only thing we are leading the world in right now is the number of Covid cases and the number of Covid deaths.  We are topping the charts.  Countries almost 4 times our size can’t touch us. Let’s take responsibility. Let’s be the powerful nation that protects human life, that fights desperately with grit and determination to battle the illness and death that are devouring our country.  Get inspired and turn the tide.


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Kate Delaney Chen has 15 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Nephrology and Psychiatric Nursing.

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2 Comment(s)

toomuchbaloney

Has 43 years experience.

Ain't nothing convincing my politically conservative Midwestern family to vaccinate or wear masks if not required.  Definitely not words.  They are still stuck in the covid belief system that they built with Trump in the Spring of 2020.

Brenda Montoya

Specializes in OB, OB surgical tech, nursing education. Has 21 years experience.

There is nothing more persuasive than reading about your trauma and perspective from the depths of this pandemic. I too began my article with somewhat of a rant and realized that was not going to change minds.  I love your advice to employ empathy for our weaker neighbors. Nicely written.