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Health Care Professional
My name is Kerry. I have been an ICU nurse for eight years. I have worked in multiple specialty ICU's throughout New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. When it comes to the current crisis of COVID-19 no experience or training could have ever been enough. I am used to critically ill patients but, those affected by COVID-19 deserve an entirely independent acuity level. As a young nurse, independent of the constraints of a husband and children I feel responsible not only for taking care of my patients but, also my coworkers who have families and don't have the luxury of going home to an empty house. I feel a weight of responsibility that I've never felt before. Not only am I responsible for treating a patient with a virus that is completely foreign to us, I am responsible for maintaining my own safety. Each and every step that you take before you enter a patient's room requires critical thinking so that you keep yourself safe from harm. It feels awful to think of the patients as harmful. I am the patients ears and eyes as they unable to have visits from their family and friends. I am the last person to connect a loved one with their family member before they pass away. I am the last person that a patient sees before they die. That in itself, is as heartbreaking as this awful virus that has changed all of our lives forever. After multiple exposures in the ICU I tested Covid positive. I have been home infected and very sick for 19 days. But, I will get over this and I will continue to do my job. I will continue to follow my passion for people. I will continue to support my patients my coworkers and battling this global pandemic.
Health Care Professional
Being a nurse in Manhattan, the epicenter of the worlds pandemic COVID-19 has given us as healthcare workers challenges we never thought we would face. Our lives have been forever changed, our role in the hospital and at the bedside has forever changed. Our fear is daily while we ask ourselves "are we wearing the right equipment? Did we wash our hands enough? Did we do everything we could to save that patients life?" The answer is "I hope so." The daily struggle of new guidelines for wearing PPE, last minute assignment changes, waking up in the morning and not knowing what we may or may not be doing has caused stress that one can only imagine. The patients are scared and we don't have answers, the families fight with us everyday as they are not allowed to accompany their loved ones, we just do our best and rely on our city to do their best to help us. We at Memorial Sloan Kettering have become more united than ever. Whether we are screening patients at the door, swabbing patients and/or employees for the virus, accepting transfers from other hospitals to lighten the load, being redeployed to other units, we know we are all in this together and I am happy to be a part of that. I am happy I know I am helping to "flatten the curve."
One day my dad came in and told us my mother was sick. We didn't know with what. Her illness had started a few days before with a headache and a sore throat. I sat there, with my own headache and sore throat, and was silent. After a week of worrying, we left New York. My mom seemed to be stabilizing. My worries dissipated for a moment until she was quickly taken to the hospital only two days after we watched Finding Nemo together (a movie which quite, unfortunately, begins with the death of Nemo's mom. Not our best idea.) Once she was admitted, we were not allowed to see her until she got better- or didn't. This was when I got sicker. In some ways, worrying about my own health and whether or not I was going to be hospitalized was a welcome distraction from worrying about my mom. Meanwhile, her fever reached 105 and she had pneumonia in both lungs. There was an unmentionable fear amongst us that we would get bad news. I honestly don't think I was actually alive during those days. I think I merely existed, floating between sickness and health, not feeling anything because how was I supposed to handle those feelings? Then finally, in a hallelujah moment her fever broke. I started to get better too, and we were hauled off to get tested at the nearest COVID center an hour away, where my mom was kept locked up with other "COVIDs" as they were called. The day we got tested, my mother came home. My entire family breathed a sigh of relief. My mother continues to get stronger every day.
COVID-19 has over run Chicago. Although our government officials, hospital administrators, and special task forces had a bit of a head start to attempt to plan for the surge of patients expected, nothing could truly prepare staff for the lack of resources, especially in the form of ICU nurses, that would make our daily patient assignments hardly manageable. As an ICU nurse, I usually look forward to going to work and helping my patients. In this COVID-19 surge mode, I dread it-not only because I worry about not being able to adequately care for the sickest infected patients, but also because I am afraid that if I am unknowingly infected myself, I will spread it to my coworkers. It is a very hard time right now. It feels nice to be appreciated in the public for the work that we as nurses are doing. But sometimes I also feel severely guilty because I wish we could do more to help these very sick patients.
I became sick with covid after the world had "moved on." I was double "boosted" after my first vaccination, and didn't expect to get sick. My family is "high risk" so I maintained social distancing and mask wearing, long after the general population. I, myself, have a number of health problems and didn't want to put myself or my immediate family at risk. Though in school, even with strict covid protocols, I did. I was extremely ill for more than two weeks, unable to breathe and with a high fever. Though I've recovered, I've noticed changes in my physical abilities and decrease in my long term cardiovascular strength. I wanted to share my story because although mask wearing, social distancing, urgency, and media coverage have declined, people should be aware that the pandemic continues to affect lives.