A gurney floats by
out of the corner of my eye.
smell of fear;
smell of worry;
smell of death.
Death rattle, roll
with every last breath.
to cover the pain;
No one can see
Even my touch
as I hover
shutting out deaths.
~KendraLynn © 1/9/2021
People talk of the second rise; the third rise; the rise… of COVID19. In my world, there has been no fall or blessed dip. I’m a physical therapist assistant, working full time. Have been – throughout this entire pandemic. I’ve heard every conspiracy theory imaginable. I used to laugh it off. No comment. Let some people believe whatever it is they want to believe. Now? I cringe with the uneducated theory that this is all a hoax.
I cringe at the countless people I see in public wearing their mask wrong (down, around their chin; under their nose; hanging from one ear). I suppose to some, it’s cute. Or funny.
I cringe at over-zealous health care workers who see me for one split second pull my mask down to take in that glorious, free oxygen before I walk into my patient’s room – chastise me … as though I do not know the consequences of such human actions.
Or the Facebook posts that educate with memes, quotes, and sayings – teaching everyone to just buck up, be a good citizen, wear that mask, and don’t you dare bitch about it… all well intended. There is no doubt. It’s all well intended. But some will never know what it’s like to work with an N-95 mask strapped tightly to their face for 8 or more hours. Some will never know what it’s like to put on the various forms of protective wear … N-95, surgical mask over the N-95 mask, face shield, hair covering, gown (thin mesh-like material; to heavy cloth; to plastic), gloves, and shoe covers. For 8 hours. Changing constantly between each patient. Sliding into a hall bathroom – gasping at certain times of the day – sneaking in that oxygen without that blessed mask or face shield. Sometimes. Just sometimes. I need to throw a full-blown fit. Without the fit police of Facebook judging me.
Every day. An N-95 pressing into my frontal, nasal, & temporal lobes… like a weighted sleep mask, but I can’t sleep. I have to stay alert; awake; prepared. My voice comes out muffled. I sound muffled. So I raise my voice. To an elderly patient who has hearing & dementia issues; a patient that is looking at me like I just stepped off a moon shuttle & I might kidnap them. My gear intimates them. It scares them. They have dementia, but they all know what this virus is. I want to cry. But I can’t. Not in front of them. They’re like my babies. If they see me cry ,,, I’m not going there. This mask and face shield,,, wow. I need to breathe. I’ve been mouth breathing into this damn thing all day. My eyes. Are my eyes covered enough? Fuck. They itch. I blink hard. My patient laughs & thinks I’m winking at him. I giggle & really wink at him. We need a laugh. Can that TV be any louder? Do they really need to watch CNN every damn day? Will this damn virus ever go away? Who the hell started this shit? I take a deep breath. It’s almost 4:30. Time to gown down. I finish up and clock out. Gears switch. Emotions change. I pick up my 10 year old son & listen to him. We talk about our day, but I’m careful… my fear could become his panic attack. We’re going to make it through this one day at a time. That’s what I tell him. Just keep plugging away & stay focused. We’re getting through this.
And one day, as I’m driving home from work … alone in my car … Pink Floyd’s Mother blaring as loud as a concert … a string of cuss words & yelling as loud as I can. I feel my shoulders relax a little & I’m suddenly crying. And yelling. And crying. And it feels fucking good. All the fear & worry melts away. All of my countless questions to myself & the Universe melt away .. today? I’m a warrior. I’m essential. I’m not going to let this virus win. I’ll keep plugging away. Every single day.
***if you read all of this rant, thank you. Sometimes this crap really gets to me***