As the ball falls and the darkness of December fades into the light of January, a new year is born. With that comes a new found clarity, a rebirth and the opportunity to wipe the slate clean to start again. After 2020 isn’t that what we all want? Hope for better times ahead.
2020 began like any other year for me. When Covid-19 pulled the rug out from under us and excreted its venom upon the world, like everyone else, I found myself swimming in a sea of uncertainty. Would I get Covid? Would I lose someone to Covid? What is going to happen to my world as I know it?
I can’t look at 2020 as the year of suck. Instead, I choose to embrace it. There were plenty of things that sucked in 2020. 2020 taught me how to accept what is, let go of what isn’t and be grateful for what’s in front of me. On the home front, my husband and I quickly adopted that mantra as a coping mechanism, means of survival and a way to keep our young adult children physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. With each new issue or disappointment that arose in our daily lives, we were diligent with that mantra. The social isolation, the frustration, the hopelessness, the beginning of virtual high school and university education, my daughter’s lost senior prom, senior track season and high school commencement, my son’s lost December college commencement. The things that were not meant to be for us in 2020 only made us a stronger family unit and more grateful.
On the work front, I am an RN of twenty six years. For the past eight, I’ve been working in the pre-op unit of my hospital, preparing patients for surgery. Before that, I spent thirteen years as an emergency room RN. When the world shut down and my state’s governor cancelled elective surgeries, even though the only necessary surgeries were being done, the preoperative units were left scampering to find work so their employees didn’t have to go on unemployment or use all of their paid time off. They sent us to screen people as they entered the hospital and satellite locations. They sent us to classes. My boss told us if we had skills in other areas we could expect to be called to use them. Former ICU RNs were sent to the ICU. I was one of several veteran emergency nurses selected to be activated in the emergency department if the surge reached our hospital. On Nurses’s Day in May my father posted a picture on social media of me in my PPE, stating that I was on the front lines, “fighting Covid”. I was so embarrassed. From my Dad’s perspective, he was telling the world how proud he was of me. Deep down inside, it irked me for about six weeks that I didn’t feel like I was doing my part because I wasn’t on the front lines in the Emergency Room. Each of us in the group of ER RN veterans only worked one shift in the ER because our hospital didn’t get the surge some of the others in our city did. During my day in the ER, I took care of symptomatic Covid patients. I transported Covid patients to the ICU. The hospital was like Sombertown. The ICU looked like a war zone. I was as terrified as I was as a young nurse in the early 1990’s, taking care of full blown AIDS patients.
As time went on, my fears were replaced with caution and a new level of awareness. When elective surgeries returned and my department busted our asses everyday to get these patients into the OR, I realized that I am doing my part. All of us who work in healthcare are doing our part regardless if we are on the front lines or not. The custodial staff who clean and sanitize the hospital. The food service who feed us. The people who stock our supplies and take care of the equipment. The command center who direct us. The chaplains who pray for us.
I enjoy listening to XM Sirius Radio on my way in to work in the morning. One morning before Thanksgiving, there was a little greeting blurb from Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac. He started out with some humor about how he was learning the ukulele and how he wasn’t very good at it. He said he missed making music with his friends. He wished the listeners a Happy Thanksgiving and not in so many words stated that now was the time to be grateful, to learn, to go within. I wish I could hear the blurb again because it did resonate with me.
It has been over a year since I have posted anything in this blog. In the midst of life I have somehow lost my writing voice. The words are swarming around in my head from time to time but can’t seem to make it to the tip of my fingers, the keyboard and this page. I am hoping to find my writing voice again this year.
Happy New Year