Jul. 14, 2020

Nurses: From Hero to Zero

Exhausted.  Overwhelmed.  Belittled.  Mocked.  Contaminated.  Doubted.  Unimportant.      Sacrificial lambs… Nurses went from Hero to Zero in 3 months.  Before the “Political Agenda” went viral, nurses were seen as heroes willing to put themselves at risk to help save the lives of all patients, including those with COVID-19.  We were hailed as some of the most insightful, caring people on the planet.  We received calls from friends and families asking for our professional opinions. We had people stopping by for house calls and assessments.  We were respected.  Who would have thought that all of that would change the minute we asked you to wear a mask?  A mask.  A stupid mask.  Why is there so much doubt over the efficacy of masks? Five months ago, if your surgeon would have presented herself to you before your surgery and proclaimed that she and the rest of the OR staff weren’t going to wear masks during your operation, you would have cancelled your surgery.  You would have said that they were putting your health at risk by not wearing face coverings while they were cutting you open.  You would have reported them to hospital administration and the department of health.  But the minute a politician tells you to wear one in the interest of infection control, a mask is no longer something to keep you safe.  That politician asked you to wear a mask because the medical community urged him to do so. That little mask is the answer to reopening our economy. Unfortunately, a mask has now become an area of contention.  A mask is now a way to control you. A mask is now an infringement upon your constitutional rights.  

How many laws are already in place for the greater good? Driving while intoxicated…Seatbelts…Vaccines…Attending school as a child…Catalytic converters… The list could go on and on.  But wearing a mask during a pandemic seems to have pushed everyone over the edge.  All of these stupid, fake articles on social media have turned everything upside down.  

If I hear one more proclamation that the death rate isn’t high enough to warrant all of these precautions, I might scream.  There are fates much worse than death.  This virus is taking away people’s lives even if they aren’t dying.  I know a 20-something RN that contracted COVID while caring for patients.  Yes, they are alive, but they now need a lung transplant. Of course, they will never get one because many of you think that every single death is being counted as COVID-related and thus there will be no applicable donors from which to get the lungs. (People with infectious disease cannot donate their organs.) Do you see how ridiculous that sounds?

Every day I read posts about people refusing to wear masks. The interesting thing is that soon after, the same person is posting about a medication their doctor has placed them on for blood pressure or cholesterol.  Why is the medical community trusted on one hand but not the other?  It is truly maddening.

I wish that politicians were able to stay out of the business of healthcare, but they can’t.  We cannot rely on the decisions of our fellow citizens to keep us safe.  Apparently, it isn’t enough to know that YOU wearing a mask can prevent ME from getting sick. That just seems so selfish to me.  I would personally do anything that I could to keep you safe.  I love my fellow humans.  I used to love being a nurse. These days it seems harder than it should.  My face is tired of being covered at work.  I can’t speak.  No one can hear me or understand what I am saying.  I cannot truly make that human connection that I so crave through my practice.  It’s difficult to assess my patients because I cannot see their faces.  I now have to act as sole emotional supporter for my patients.  (They don’t have their family at the bedside, reassuring them, supporting them.) Nurses are the ones filling in those gaps.  We are being pulled at from every angle while at work.  We have to wear gowns that are essentially shower curtains with ties. We sweat all day.  We have doctors that won’t enter patient rooms because they don’t want to be exposed.  Nurses don’t have that option.  

After work, it is impossible to escape the backlash from our acquaintances, friends, families, and the media.  Everyone knows more than we do.  Everyone is now a nurse, a doctor, an epidemiologist, a fact-checker, a protestor, a lab technician…everyone knows a friend of a friend that got a positive test result but was never tested.  (Insert eyeroll)  On that note, please let me inform you that people are absolutely still dying of cancer, heart attacks caused by cardiovascular disease, trauma, and strokes.  No, the medical examiners aren’t padding the data by labeling all deaths as COVID. That is completely ludicrous.  If they were, can you imagine how high the death rate would actually be? There are roughly 8,000 deaths each day in the US alone. That would be approximately 1.2 million deaths since March caused by COVID in the United States.  I urge you all to try to find a balance between conspiracy theories and truth. 

People want definitive answers about this virus.  The sad thing is that we really don’t have any answers.  We don’t know how to treat it.  We don’t know what the final repercussions will be for those who have contracted it.  We don’t fully know how to prevent it from spreading.  The important thing to know is that we are working around the clock trying to figure it out. Please be kind to us during this grueling process.  It is personal to us and it is personal to us because we are living it.  While you are sitting at home wasting your days on social media reading conflicting articles, we are watching this all unfold first-hand.  While you are worrying about a face-covering, we are watching people suffer with each breath like a fish on the banks of a river.  It is not a hoax.  It is real.  Please be patient with us.  We will figure it out. Until then, my prayer for you all is that you keep yourselves safe. My prayer for you is that your only contact with COVID is through your social media platforms.  

Sorry to infringe upon your constitutional rights.  I just wish you would wear a mask…But hey, if you don’t and you end up as one of the critically ill, so be it.   Guess who will be there to hold your hand through it, pray for you every day, and do everything in their power to give you the treatment you need to survive…Your Nurses.  

 

“Nurses should chart in the patient rooms.  Nurses should leave the computers at the desk for the doctors. We need to limit their (Doctors’) exposure.”  -ER Doctor

“For the first time in my career, I’m not proud to say I am a nurse.  I feel belittled and mocked.” - RN

“Healthcare professionals are not alarmists- We don’t want you to get sick.” -RN

 “You’re afraid of a virus so you want me to wear a mask?” -Anonymous

 “It’s none of your business if I wear a mask or not.” -Anonymous

 “Wake up people.  Masks aren’t filtering the virus.  The particles are too small.”- Anonymous

 “I have never hated being a nurse until now.”-RN