2021 was a rumbling, steaming, forceful train that sped towards us and collided into 2022. As a healthcare worker family, we battled burnout, lack of childcare, and chronic sleep deprivation, but sought joy in the small, seemingly mundane moments. Let’s recap!
Despise, Despair, Depletion
Despised fall until 🍂
Winter’s despair: Covid surge 🦠
Let’s rewind back time ⏮Continue reading
Heads shaking side to side
Hands together, lips shut.
They declined a life saving vaccine
My head hung low in defeat
The Nights that Haunt Me
Masks 😷 goggles 🥽 Enter.
“I feel sick cuz…(sigh) COVID.”
All the unslept hours
The moon flickered into the dark hallway. The kids tucked asleep.
“How many minutes were you in that room?” he asked.
“An hour.” I answered, from upstairs.
“How many patients?”
Release that Dam
Whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh
Hearing the baby’s heartbeat from outside the door, I stepped into the exam room to check the patient on the monitor.
“Hola, soy Soapie, una enfermera (Hello I’m Soapie, a nurse),” I introduced myself, while looking at the curvy lines on the gridded paper.
“AHH!!!!! Soy yo! (It’s me!)” she exclaimed. Her eyes widened above her mask and grinned in the corners.Continue reading
When There’s No Room
“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.Continue reading
Departures and Reunions
Riding his bike, an elderly man approached the intersection. His military green cadet hat and faded jacket looked familiar.
“Pbu! Jum reap sua! (Uncle! Hello!)” I crossed the street to meet him, placed my palms together, under my chin, and bowed my head. In Khmer, we call our friends, and our patients, family.
But he didn’t always feel the same way about me.
“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
What is That Sound?
Over a month ago
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
How to Cross the Canyon
Picking up the phone, I took a deep breath, then dialed the number. One of the benefits of being multilingual is that you can communicate and cross barriers to connect with others. But one disadvantage is that you might also have to do the very thing that no one else wants to do… deliver bad news.