With the door ajar, I heard a voice. “Love you, see you in the morning.“
She walked out the room and headed towards the elevator. “If there’s anything, call me,” she waved at me.
“Your mom is so sweet,” I handed over a cup of pills. As a new nurse, I tried to juggle both- caring for my patients, while getting to know my patients. “How are you feeling?”
“Hi Soapie, it’s good to see you again,” she tried to smile. “But my chest feels tight.”
I checked her oxygen level, listened to her lungs, then ran a marathon: rushed to the medication cart, back to my patient to put her on a nebulizer, and reassessed her breathing. I repositioned her, raised the head of the bed, called respiratory and her attending, and gave all the PRN and STAT meds.
But her breaths became more shallow. The pink in her lips disappeared.
Please don’t die… you are too young to die… Before I knew it, my legs pushed her bed out the room and sprinted down a long hall.
3. God is just. The death of George Floyd was horrifying, exposing the inequality and continued systemic racism in our country towards the Black community. In addition, racist attacks against Asian Americans during the pandemic also increased. As we wrestle with our imperfect justice system, and continue to “seek justice, defend the oppressed” (Isaiah 1:17), I am reminded that God is the ultimate Judge.
When the sun rose on Thanksgiving morning, I inhaled a deep breath.
It was a holiday like never before.
As a family with a baby and toddler, no relatives nearby, no help with childcare, and both of us as healthcare workers, we had been running on empty since March. How our chests ached, yearned to see our family! But we chose not to travel, and told our family not to visit us, for everyone’s safety during the pandemic.
“Did you eat today?” In Asian culture, asking did you eat yet is another way of asking how are you?
He tossed his dirty scrubs in the hamper. It was part of our decontamination routine. “For once, I actually ate. I had a short moment to run to thecaf.”
I grinned. “Remember at our old hospital, how we would get pizza in the caf before I worked a night shift, and before you went home from your day shift?”
“Those were good memories,” he smiled, like it had been a past lifetime, pre-covid era.
I remembered the sounds of plates and chatter, and I envisioned the people buzzing to and from the cafeteria.
Then I remembered walking those long basement hallways and turning a corner. My brows narrowed and my grin faded.
~ ~ ~
Suddenly I was transported back in time, and I felt this heavy weight upon my shoulders. It was a crushing pressure that drained every last ounce of my strength, after all my energy had already been emptied from working so hard to NOT go there. Pushing the stretcher up the hall was the most impossible task, like pushing towards Mount Everest.
“I threatened to walk out unless they gave me a real mask… it’s a tourniquet stapled to the mask. I barely pulled and the staples tore away.”
“That’s totally unacceptable!” My jaw dropped open, reading the text from my former classmate, the maternity nurse. “Did you get a real mask?!?” Anger filled my throat; I swallowed it to try to calm down. My breakfast sat on the table untouched. Continue reading →
Thump, thump! Staccato steps hurried down the hall.
“She is wearing a mask,” my coworker whispered. Seeing the patient in the hallway, she ducked into our office to distance herself.
In the setting of a pandemic, I thought it’d be normal to see people wearing masks.
But I understood. We were all a little scared.
~ ~ ~
Forks dropped against porcelain plates in the sink, as my husband washed dishes at home. “What if one of us gets sick? Who will care for our kids?” He worked in the hospital, and they were preparing for the worst. Continue reading →