When There’s No Room

photo of a hospital hallway

“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 the caf.”

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.

It was the task I dreaded the most.

Flinging the door open, I shivered. The hairs in my arm stood up. I studied the steel “cabinets” and pulled open a drawer. Then the security guard assisted me to lift the covered body into the drawer. I closed the door hoping that the sense of defeat would disappear.

But it never did.

~ ~ ~

“Wait- YOU brought your patients down to the morgue yourself?!” my husband interrupted, as I recounted my former hospital experience.

“When I’m assigned a patient, I am their nurse TO THE END.”

I paused for a moment, thinking about my husband and his coworkers, my fellow nurse colleagues and other allied health professionals all across the globe, caring for COVID patients, on the frontlines, as well as those working in the community, so many without sufficient PPE. I couldn’t even fathom the kind of mental stress, burden, fatigue, and burnout they were facing (and continue to face) since the pandemic began. (Currently I work in a clinic setting but not in a designated COVID area). And just this realization, I knew I was barely scraping the surface of the iceberg of the secondary trauma that my fellow healthcare workers face.

“You know… our hospital and many others, we’ve had so many patients die from COVID, that we can’t send them all to the morgue,” his voice was tired. “Ours is too small.”

“Where do they go?”

He paused.

In the hallway, the dark surrounded us. I felt like we were drifting into an abyss, battling this pandemic, and losing so desperately. The faint glow of the moon shone in through a window, casting shadows upon the walls.

“Cold trucks.”

~ ~ ~

Please check out other nurse bloggers who share their experiences of battling COVID:
  A Canticle for Lazarus  and  Barely Sane Nurse

~ ~ ~

As a friendly reminder to please keep on:

wearing a mask (when outside your home), social distancing (6 feet), and if you have to meet someone who doesn’t live in your home, that meeting outdoors is always better than indoors.

4 thoughts on “When There’s No Room

  1. This is such an honest, raw account of reality. It never is easy when faced with taking care what is left after someone is left. There needs to be more stories told of what goes on in hospital wards and ICUs in times like today, and then maybe more people will start to take all this seriously. Take care and stay safe.

  2. I had heard the situation had improved? I hope this is a dated account? But man, that’s tough. I really, really don’t know how you both do it. As usual, I love hearing your stories and I hope you and your family are well and good, xo

  3. My heart really goes out to you. You and the nursing staff are the true warriors of this pandemic. My husband is a doctor and I also have many nurse friends… you are all fighting to the bitter end. The light at the end of the tunnel is near. Lots of love from this random reader on the internet.

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