We recently reshared a post from one of the front line workers we feel is needed right now.
This eloquently expressed opinion from Elizabeth Finkbine is one we should all listen and consider as the Commonwealth begins to open up:
I am a Critical Care Staff and occasional Charge Nurse at a hospital in Bowling Green KY. I became a nurse to help people, I became a critical care nurse to help the sickest people. So I immediately volunteered to work our COVID-19 unit when it opened because that’s where I felt I needed to be.
I spend over 12 hours a day in an N95 mask and, to conserve our PPE supply, I only get 2 mask breaks a day. Some days I’m lucky to get 1 break. They’ve made us Tyvek gowns which are very protective but incredibly hot. Some days I spend several hours at a time in the gown as well. Most days I’ve sweated through my scrubs and then end up battling a heat rash, I have a headache by the end because of the CO2 build up and lack of water being in my mask, and I’m tired, so tired. But these things are nothing compared to watching what my patients go through. I have taken care of very sick patients before, but this is the next level. This virus is so destructive. So many struggle to breathe. So many decompensate very quickly, within minutes they go from OK to almost being coded. And that’s just the lungs. I’ve seen more patients end up on CRRT (continuous dialysis, these people are too sick for regular dialysis) because they end up with acute renal failure but it progresses so quickly the survivors likely end up being on dialysis for the rest of their life. The inflammatory response from the virus does enough damage all on its own. Organ damage, blood clots that can lead to stroke or heart attack. The worst part is that the sickest are not just the old and already sick. It’s anyone of any age. The virus does not discriminate.
Days that have broken me have been the days that I’ve had patients crying because they miss their families and they are scared. Days that have been difficult have been the days that a patient we’ve worked so hard on to save dies anyway. Days that bring me to tears have been the days when a spouse gets a chance to FaceTime their critically ill loved one and their cries and pleas for them to get better and come home echo through the hall.
There has been a ton of hero talk about Healthcare Workers recently and Nurses Week starts May 6th, but y’all, I can’t. I work a thankless job, but it never bothered me because I’m doing what I love. It’s so awkward to be thanked or called a hero but it’s to the point that I can’t handle it anymore. I go in every shift and fight the good fight, but come home to Facebook and see more and more conspiracy theories. People using their guns to threaten others. I see so many people complaining about things so small and insignificant. The ignorance and lack of research is astounding. I get that freedom is important, but as the cases surge (we are surging) and as Kentucky reopens, my ability to provide safe and excellent care becomes harder everyday. Call us heroes, send us thank yous and little goodie bags for nurses week if it makes you feel better, but KNOW AND NEVER FORGET that we are now broken.
(P. S. This post ended up being a bit of an unloading from my heart. I’m not looking for sympathy, writing things out is just a way to unload so I can deal and move through my day. Also know that working the COVID-19 unit has allowed me direct cell access to my psychiatrist. He checks in with me, and I can text him if I need him. My mental health is top priority.)
Let’s do our part and stay in place if we can work from home. If you need to go out take full precautions and cover your mouth and nose with a mask. In Stitches.bg fulfilled most donations to health care staff. So if you or your loved ones are in need of a mask, Message them over on their page (linked by clicking their name). They have masks for $5 a mask or 3 for $12. Be safe Bowling Green!