This was written by Patricia Bain, NPS-RRT, EYRT. Patricia is a Respiratory Therapist in Las Vegas, NV.
It was posted on Facebook on April 16, 2020 on the Respiratory Therapy Breakroom page. With Patti's permission, it is reposted here.
I’ll tell you what the worst part of this pandemic is. A patient getting rushed through the ICU doors and recognizing the sheer terror in their eyes. They are alone.
They have decompensated so quickly they might not have called their family to say what could be, “goodbye.”
They are surrounded by a room of masked people. By machines.
By the shrill ringing of the monitors reminding them their O2 is tanking.
They say they understand what’s about to happen, but do they? They just know they need to let it happen and fast.
And we tell them, “I will take care of you,” and hold their shaking hand with our gloved one.
And we sedate them, and we intubate them. And we titrate to keep them comfortable.
Work is becoming more like some sort of war zone. More tears. More death. More frustration.
More “why?” and wondering when it will all end, but seeing no end in sight.
Sometimes we are terrified. And sometimes we feel like, “we’ve got this” and we are superhuman!
And most of the time teetering on that line between being grateful for a job to go to and the honor of taking care of humanity, but at what cost? The price tag of potentially infecting family?
Family not always understanding why you aren’t there because of your fear of bringing it home.
Or of potentially having PTSD? Or of your 18 year old asking you if you could die from this?
But we go back. We are dirty. We sweat through our scrubs. Through our gowns. Through our masks.
Through our goggles. Through our hair bonnets. Our hands are raw & cracked from scrubbing them.
Our faces are bruised & red. They hurt and they ache from the metal and the elastics digging into our skin for 12-13 hours at a time, but don’t hurt as much as the image of our scared patients face etched in our vision, heart and memory.
They are alone. And we are their only human connection. And when we say, “I will take care of you,” we don’t know whether we mean until we make you better or until we hold your hand when you decide to rest.
But we will take care of you with all our heart! Nothing’s more human than that.
And then we go home. Literally strip on our porch. In our garages. In our driveways.
Sanitize our shoes, hair, arms & every exposed part.
And unlike true war time heroes, we’re not welcomed home with outstretched arms.
Because our hug could be hurtful. So even in our homes, or our safe space, we distance.
Because our safe space is not perfectly safe.
It makes your heart ache to not be able to snuggle or hug your kids, or partners, but you don’t.
We crave human touch, because we are human too.
We go back the next day, and find solace in the fact that we are one day closer to this all being over even though we have no idea when over will be.
I find myself storming heaven, pleading and praying, to keep my family safe and help them understand and to make this all end.
God and I have had our arguments, but I truly believe He is working among us and keeping us strong-
Helping us take on more than most of us ever thought humanly possible.
“You are here, moving in our midst. You are here, working in this place.” 🖤