“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.
“I did… they have a small stash for people who complain I guess….feel like we are gonna get corona today…”
“Be careful when you doff the mask and gown; try not to touch your face at all; is your phone in a plastic bag? Time to report [this] to the union!!” I replied.
Although we worked in different settings, I tried to support my friend in the same way I would have, if had I been working alongside her in the hospital.
If nurses don’t have masks, and get sick, then who will care for our patients?
And who will care for our families?
And who will be left to care for us?
~ ~ ~
“Hola, soy la enfermera en la clinica, departamento de obstetricia [Hello, I am the nurse in the clinic, OB department].” In the afternoon, I called my patients over the phone to check in during their pregnancy.
“Bien…” she replied.
“Has estado en contacto con alguien que tiene coronavirus? [Have you been in contact with anyone with coronavirus? ]” I asked each patient before proceeding with the rest of our phone visit.
“Si.” she answered.
Maybe she didn’t understand my Spanish… I asked her again.
“Si, si, si…” she repeated.
My head perked up and my back straightened. I heard her clearly this time.
“Y tienes symptomas? [And do you have symptoms?]” I asked, naively hoping that even though she had contact with someone with COVID, that she herself wasn’t sick yet.
“Si….” she described her symptoms which were pretty “textbook.” She explained that she had been previously denied testing, because there wasn’t enough tests.
~ ~ ~
Struggling to keep my eyes open, I squinted to read my phone, with only the moonlight shining into the darkness.
“Driving home from the hospital now,” the text read, from my husband.
Anticipating he might be driving drowsy, with so little sleep, I called to keep him awake. “Are you okay driving? I’m up because the baby’s crying. How was work?”
“Well, I tried to leave earlier, but then a patient came in critical condition and I had to stay.”
“Oh… I have to check on the baby, see you when you get home…” I yawned.
“Actually, better not. I’m probably covered in COVID. When I get home I will head straight to shower. We shouldn’t be in the same room nor talk face to face…”
“Did you have a mask this time?!”
“I did, but…”
Hanging up, I retreated to bed…
but I couldn’t sleep.
~ ~ ~
Green buds emerged on the branches of our bare tree. Birds chirped a sweet melody nearby, and our hair brushed our faces as the cool wind blew.
Sitting on the porch the following afternoon, while studying the tree, I simultaneously sifted the emotions from the past few days: the anger, frustration, and anxiety from fighting coronavirus.
Suddenly, I had a flashback to the many years working as a nurse in the hospital.
The beeping cardiac rhythm monitors
alarming IV pumps
bright red blood spilling onto the floor
stampede of feet racing into a patient’s room
compression of hands atop a still patient’s sternum
creaky stretcher’s wheels down lonely corridors
coldness of the hospital morgue…
A gust of wind blew, whisking me back into the present. Sunset was fast approaching.
We will all be confronted by death, sooner or later.
Until then.. where is my hope?
I opened the door, shook off my shoes, and stepped back into the house with a different perspective.
Sometimes all you need is a breath of fresh air to remind you about what’s most important.
“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ Name
On Christ the solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand”
-The Solid Rock