I guess you noticed I haven’t been sharing as much lately on the blog. Honestly, I’ve been overwhelmed. Not just overwhelmed with my work as a bedside, critical care nurse on the frontline of COVID-19, but also with my emotions. I have had all the feelings over the past couple of months, and many of them are ones I don’t enjoy having. It’s been kinda heavy, and I’ve spent much of my time not saying anything rather than saying something I regret. Too bad more people don’t practice that restraint.
I’ve felt sadness for the many, sick patients I’ve seen battling this pandemic, and my heart has broken for their families. I realize that I have firsthand experience with a disease process that many others do not. It’s unknown and scary, and perhaps that’s why it’s easier for so many people to have the luxury to be flippant or apathetic about the virus. After all, it is more comfortable to claim it all a hoax or government-inflated theatrics, than to admit the frailty of human life.
I’ve oscillated between frustration and red, hot anger, melancholy and disappointment at the selfishness of my fellow man. I have seen some of the most ignorant comments, and I’ve witnessed some pretty heinous statements on social media. Why does the ability to type an opinion trump the decency of treatment of others, or why do we put on blinders to the plight of another, in favor of our own inconvenience? In other words, why are we such a selfish lot?
Do you know what we’re missing in this unprecedented pandemic? Compassion.
We’ve replaced it with selfish ambition. We’ve allowed our perspective to become quite narrow, seeing no further than our own front door.
We see how uncomfortable wearing a mask can be, how difficult it is to breathe. We become angry at someone mandating we wear something to protect ourselves or others. It’s all about “my comfort and my right to refuse.” I suppose we’re refusing the right to protect the elderly and immune compromised from the virus we could be carrying. The fact that it makes you hot should definitely precede expert opinion that it prevents the spread of germs.
Why do healthcare professionals wear them, based on hundreds of years of tested research, if they don’t really work? Perhaps we should tell doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologists it’s not necessary to wear them anymore in the operating room. While we’re at it, let’s get rid of all those pesky seatbelt and car seat laws. My body, my right to fly through the windshield!
Our perspectives have become so skewed, whereas we only see how a situation affects us personally. We forget that things could be worse, and even that they definitely are for other people.
We see that we can’t work for weeks at a time. We never consider the families who have lost their primary breadwinner forever, to death by COVID.
And I know that financial stress and income loss is serious! But fifty days in the Intensive Care Unit, waking up to a hole in your neck, and muscles so wasted you cannot move, well, that’s pretty darn serious too. We don’t think about that, though. It hasn’t happened to anyone we know personally, so the news is probably making it up. I’ll go tell that to my patient’s family. They haven’t even seen their husband/father in over a month, since he was admitted.
We are such a spoiled society in the United States. We get mad at slow internet and red lights, so naturally we’re up in arms over having to stay at home. We have to stay within the four walls of our sturdy, comfortably thermostat-adjusted dwelling. We’re protected from the elements, stuffing our bellies with an abundance of stock-piled food, and all we can say is, “I miss going into a restaurant to eat!”
All over this world mothers are crying because their children are starving. Fathers feel helpless that they cannot put a roof over their families’ heads. Families are running barefoot, with a pack of meager belongings slung over their backs, and they’re running to escape real bullets of persecution. Not the figurative bullets we think we are enduring from being forced to stay safe at home. Our inconvenience is the stuff some people dream of having, but we will never consider that.
We miss going to the mall, never thinking to thank God we have such things normally. We get angry over our children missing school activities, or our seniors not walking on stage at graduation. Do we ever consider the families who have lost children to this virus? They will never see them walk across any stage. The number of deaths by Coronavirus under age 18 seem low, until it’s your child.
Pictured above is Skylar Herbert who passed away in Detroit from COVID-19. Her father was a first responder.
Do you know I’ve even seen comments that COVID-19 only strikes “nasty” people with bad hygiene? Hmmm. I don’t even know where to begin. I could say this virus is no respecter of persons, hitting all races and socioeconomic levels, but instead I’ll ask a question. Since when is it acceptable to say one type of person is more understandable and acceptable to die? Like, it’s their fault where or what they were born into, and therefore they are less. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Gosh, we’re not much different than Hitler if we’re judging whose life matters more.
This pandemic has been really hard for me. I’ve dealt with the stress of caring for patients with the virus who nine times out of ten don’t get better, but I have tried to never let it escape me how well I have it. When my face hurt from the mask and I couldn’t breathe, or when I got tired and frustrated with the hectic environment, I would remind myself that I wasn’t scared, alone, and/or dying in a hospital bed.
Do you know the saying about trying to walk in another’s shoes? Maybe we should all lay in another’s hospital bed. It’s easy to dismiss the statistics if they’re far from your town/city, or if you tell yourself that they’re exaggerated. It’s not so easy for my Chaplain who lost his father, my friend who currently has four family members fighting the virus, or the nurses like myself who have seen more patients die with it than they can ever forget. It’s the same as the flu for someone who sits safely behind their smart phone screen on social media, sharing YouTube videos of conspiracy theories. But for the fifty year old man struggling to breathe in my hospital bed, being told to turn upside down and lay on his stomach to try and breathe better, well, this man knows it’s not like the flu at all.
It’s easy to blame the government or even Bill Gates for everything that’s going on when you’re sitting in front of your computer, but do you know who doesn’t have time for such extracurriculars? The weeping wife, pleading to God to save her husband, as she prays into his ear through the hospital room phone, hoping he can hear her, even though he won’t open his eyes. Yeah, that was hard for me to witness, but I simply joined her in prayer.
Perhaps that’s what we should be doing. Instead of complaining, let’s try sympathizing. Let’s join people in prayer, let’s offer them hope. Heck, at least offer them your hoarded toilet paper. But don’t lessen their grief and horrible situation by petty, selfish complaints. Instead of coming up with theories of why the numbers aren’t as bad as predicted, let’s thank God for His mercy, for answered prayers, and that flattening the curve and social distancing were successful. Let’s be grateful for life, not grumbling that it’s not as perfect as we believe it should be. Let’s take a moment and recognize that all the stuff we get frustrated about in this situation (like lack of toilet paper and bored children) are way better than an unexpected funeral that you can’t attend.