This graphic recently posted on social media. The source was undocumented and I’m not sure where it originated; but it finally described my conflicted position on COVID-19.
Over the past several weeks, you are aware of conflicting reports as we navigate this novel virus known as COVID-19. Unless, of course, you isolated yourself from all forms of media including TV, radio, internet, newspapers, and magazines, etc.
Like you, I have heard many of the theories and read others. Employed as an RN has provided an abundance of information. Between the daily (or hourly) changes occurred in policy and practice at the hospital. And, access to what medical theories have been proposed by the medical community added to the data dump we have all experienced.
I have come to appreciate details in many of the positions taken…all of which adds to the chaos of the moment. All this uncertainty merged beautifully in the Venn diagram and I am STUCK IN THE MIDDLE…and “believe it or not, it’s actually ok to be all three.”
As a nurse, I interact with my peers on the frontlines fighting this invisible enemy. The devastation seen unrivals similar challenges we face. Personally, I have been around for SARS, H1N1, HIV, Ebola and yearly influenza epidemics, etc. PPE and pharmacological protocols as well as basic instructions including handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes is nothing new. This pandemic also led to social distancing on a scale previously unknown to us.
One of the issues leading to our despair is the tip in balance of patient variety. In the past, patients were recovering from routine scheduled surgeries and other medical conditions and outnumbered the critical patients. Now, only urgent or emergent patients are admitted which means our patient load is less, but more acutely ill. In the hospital, we see the sickest of those fighting this disease. Certainly, some were already facing other medical issues (co-morbidities), age and/or issues. Yet, otherwise young healthy individuals defy these categories and face the same critical measures for treatment. Sadly, some do not survive. Medical professionals are familiar with death despite our best efforts and using everything in our arsenals. We don’t see the vast majority who aren’t admitted with minimal symptoms and those recovering. Many hospitals, including mine, recently started to celebrate those discharged because we, as medical professionals need to know that we do win this battle.
I admit, I was one of those who weeks ago believed the warnings were blown out of proportion…until our area was affected. Hospitals can become overwhelmed with admissions when many people become infected at once. Now, I understand and support that we must take this virus seriously and do what we can to limit exposure.
As in the past, I am sure the medical community will resolve the issues about testing, antibody resistance, immunity, treatment and/or vaccines. Meanwhile, the medical community is showing up to work and some are living apart from families until this is over. We treat those infected and ask the public to follow the guidelines such as handwashing, covering coughs / sneezes, staying home when sick and using social isolation for a time.
These measures, however well intentioned, have a flip side. Unemployment is up, businesses are temporarily closed (some may permanently dissolve) and the stock market reacted with a vengeance.
My family was not immune from these effects and it’s likely you, or someone you know, faces new struggles that seem insurmountable. Even if those out of work return soon, bills mounting in the interim must be faced. The fear of a new virus joins worries and anxiety about economic survival.
Those deemed “essential” continue to work and get paid; but not without facing fear, worry, and anxiety of a different sort. Those working with these patients face personal infection and bringing it home. With schools closed, they now homeschool their children and struggle with childcare while they work. Grandparents are supposed to isolate and most daycare / childcare options are closed. Vacation and furlough days for some and working from home are two options that solve the problem…for a time. If this situation continues for weeks or months (depending on the news report), even these may fail.
Finally, the measures implemented by federal, state, or local authorities intended to save lives threaten our independent American pride. Unless you know someone fighting this disease, everything in you fights against feeling “grounded.” With warm weather returning and people tired of cancelling celebrations (birthdays, weddings, proms, graduations) and unable to gather for funerals…rebellion may rear its’ head. Conspiracy theories have always existed, but they now feed on the fear and anxiety that accompanies enforced restrictions.
And I… well, I find myself falling into all three circles of concern. I’m stuck in the middle…and “believe it or not, it’s actually OK to be all three” because no matter what circle I’m concentrating on, God meets me there.
(to be continued)