Sometimes I sit on the floor of the hospital bathroom at the end of a shift and will myself to peel off the emotions, along with all the layers of gear, and leave them at the door. It’s far too heavy and not my sweet family’s cross to bear.
Earlier that day I passed an ICU doctor for the 20th time, as we often do running from room to room, donning and doffing the PPE.
“Are you having a better day?” I ask him.
“No. I’m just having another day,” he tells me.
“Well, sometimes that’s all we can ask for,” I reply. “The sun coming up”.
The only problem is, we want the sun to come up for everyone.
I often wonder how many thousands of nurses had the same conversations as me that day; Encouraging doctors and patients alike to keep fighting.
I walk into my patient’s room one last time before shift change. The respiratory therapist has already been paged. The decisions have been made, he just doesn’t know it yet. Our governor just announced we have no ICU beds left and I wonder where they’ll put him. I tell him,
“Hey, call your wife ok?”
Then I hold his gaze until I see the realization wash across his face. In a few minutes, he’ll be one step away from a ventilator.
“O.K.,” he says as he lowers his head.
“Hey!” I tell him earnestly, getting him to raise up his chin once more,
“You call your wife, then you fight like hell.”
And that’s the story of how I came to be sitting on this bathroom floor. Wishing I wasn’t here, but finding it so hard to leave…