My husband, on occasion, will put a tube down a patient’s throat and attach it to a ventilator when they aren’t able to breathe. It’s a life-saving procedure. You see, he is a specialist in critical care focusing on patients with neurologic disease. But as of Monday, he will be on the front lines manning a dedicated intensive care unit, along with many others, in preparation for the inevitable surge of critically ill patients with COVID-19. The problem is, there aren’t enough doctors with expertise in critical care anywhere in the country to take care of the rising number of cases.
My heart sank when he broke the news to me. I surely thought all of us would take the CDC guidelines of social distancing seriously, keep the COVID-19 cases at a manageable level, and life would go back to normal after a few months. Instead, I feel scared, anxious and disappointed, but I also feel also incredibly proud of all the courageous men and women who are fighting this pandemic since the day it began.
As we sit at home doing our part to social distance, I watched my husband diligently discuss the latest medical literature and compare experiences with colleagues all over the country who are being pulled to the front lines. When I looked at his face, I couldn’t figure out what he was feeling. I finally asked him if he’s scared. He said “No. It feels like I’m going to war, and I am trying to get pumped up.” It was reassuring to hear he wasn’t scared, but we both know he’s at risk.
Don’t Be A COV-IDIOT
Hearing that my husband feels like he is going to war gives me an uneasy feeling. Doctors, nurses, EMTs, and many others are stepping up to the plate because not everyone is taking COVID-19 seriously. While half of us are making a huge effort to social distance and follow CDC guidelines, there are people doing the exact opposite. I am seeing crowded weddings. I am seeing young “invincible” kids partying at spring break. I am seeing large family gatherings at home. I am seeing people continue to travel to other countries and potentially carry the virus overseas. People have an “it won’t happen to me” mentality. I cannot emphasize it enough that it CAN happen to you. This is not media hype. This is not a drill. Just ask Josh Anderson of New Orleans, whose longtime partner Natasha Ott was found dead in the kitchen at age 39. And if it doesn’t happen to you, it will happen to someone you breathed on while you were on vacation chomping on your avocado toast. Kevin Liu from Sydney, Australia posted a great flowchart to help clear any confusion:
Is This An Episode of Black Mirror?
We are now preparing a part of our home for my husband’s quarantine. This will be our new normal for a while and we have no idea how long it will last. I feel overwhelmed that I will be a solo parent to a strong-willed daughter who is in the thick of her terrible twos. I feel like I am the main character of a Black Mirror episode. It feels eerie and never-ending. I feel irritated that not everyone is taking social distancing as seriously as we are. I think it’s unfair some of us are making a huge effort to flatten the curve while the rest think the Coronavirus is media hype. I have to give myself constant reminders that I cannot control if others follow the CDC guidelines. I find solace in knowing I am not alone in feeling this way. I know there are other families out there struggling to get used to this unexpected lifestyle of homeschooling, working from home and maintaining their sanity.
Not All Heroes Wear Capes But These Heroes Need Masks
There is s a fine line between hoarding and preparing to live a life of quarantine with month-to-month supplies. The toilet paper shortage is not putting anyone’s lives at risk. The shortage of N95 masks, however, has cost the lives of health care workers all over the world. Individuals who are not in the healthcare field are selfishly hoarding these masks. Some are even resorting to stealing them and selling them for a profit. As of March 15th, 8% of all the Coronvirus cases in Italy were in health care workers, some undoubtedly caused by a lack of personal protective equipment. A friend of mine who is an anesthesiologist and a mother of 3 young children (pictured below) does not have the proper equipment available to ensure her safety. She has made a makeshift mask that has been washed and reused an excessive amount of time, in just one week. Another friend who is an ER physician in California has been on the front lines since day 1, yet she has access to ZERO masks. None. She had no choice but to purchase N95 masks that were significantly marked up on Craigslist in order to ensure her own safety and for those around her. Healthcare workers are even tweeting TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy pleading for their masks, who thankfully have been generous enough to donate them.
If you have any boxes of N95 masks, PLEASE donate them to the hospitals. Sending in the doctors and nurses to fight this virus without masks is like sending off soldiers into war without weapons. Their days are full of uncertainty. They are risking their lives to fight for your families. They are staying at the hospital for you and asking you to stay at home for them. Healthcare workers are truly heroes during this challenging time.