What it looks like: little to no motivation, insomnia, exhaustion, amplified anxiety, easily triggered. All things I’ve felt recently, also a common theme amongst many of my healthcare colleagues on the front line. Scrolling through social media and all the misinformation/anti-mask/anti-vaccine rhetoric has only perpetuated these feelings of hopelessness, so I thought I’d finally share my two cents while drinking some tea in a cup I was recently gifted. Fun fact: I spilt my tea shortly after this post- as if a metaphor for how the pandemic is going and the response effort that has ensued 🙂
Things you should be mad about:
– Lack of paid sick leave which is detrimental to minorities and low income people
– The chronic underfunding of our education and healthcare systems
– Healthcare workers constantly being asked to do more with less resources (hello lack of PPE and unsafe assignment loads!)
– The fact the government prioritizes privatization, shareholders, and profits over the care our provinces elderly population
– The majority of our population, especially in hot zones, still haven’t received one dose
You know what won’t help?
– Not wearing a mask
– Irresponsible maskless protests which help to increase the risk of transmission and land you or your loved ones in the hands of my colleagues
– Pushing an agenda that is not backed by science or evidence to substantiate the claims being made.
Don’t get me wrong. I recognize I speak from a point of privilege. I have been gainfully employed throughout the pandemic and have had the opportunity to have received both doses of the vaccine. I fully support the idea that people have every right to be upset/angry/frustrated. There are no winners in this. Children, the elderly, minority communities, low income people, and small businesses have taken some of the hardest hits to say the least. The government grossly mismanaged funds and resources which have in turn hurt individuals, small businesses, and our economy.
It’s disheartening to think of all the passionate healthcare providers we stand to lose when this is over all from the trauma and PTSD being inflicted on them at an unprecedented pace. It doesn’t matter if your a senior healthcare provider or a new grad, the pressures that have been put on all of us to adapt at a unsustainable pace has only magnified by our inability to use our normal coping mechanisms. Social distancing has only magnified our inabilities to lean on one another and our loved ones and instead left many of us feeling isolated.
I’ve always wanted to be a paediatric nurse. I’ve also always wanted to help reinvent and improve our healthcare system. Sometimes I lie awake at night thinking of ideas of what can be implemented and take the time to read books on social determinants of health, health inequities, and the works of health critics and reporters to understands new topics and views. I’m not alone in my passion though. Most of us enter healthcare because we care. We truly do. We often give more of us than what we get back. Often coming home so tired that we have little to give to our loved ones waiting at home for us. But the truth is, the demands being put on many of us are insurmountable and inexplicable.
It’s scary out there. If you asked me one year ago would I have thought things would be this bad, I would have simply responded no. That things would eventually cool down and things would inevitably go back to some sort of normalcy. But the things I’ve seen in recent months have me worried about not only my own health but those I care about and the little ones I care for.
As a NICU RN I have had small brushes with COVID compared to my colleagues in ICU or ER. However, the brushes I have had have led to babies being left without a mom or both parents because of a chance encounter with COVID. It’s heartbreaking. The scenes taking place in other areas of healthcare are no better. The packed ICUs, patients dying alone because of visitor restrictions into hospitals, nurses dont only being redeployed within organizations but across provinces, or even patients being airlifted hundred of KM’s away from loved ones for possibly the last time due to shortages of critical care beds in Ontario.
Even as a correctional RN, it can be stressful. Institutions that aren’t designed to handle a pandemic and allow inmates to isolate independently and instead help to only increase the risk that speeds up the rate of transmission amongst inmates and employees. Despite their alleged wrongdoings and people’s opinions, these individuals are humans too and they have their own families and loved ones who care about them. We all deserve to have our health and access to proper healthcare. I won’t even begin to discuss the systematic inequities that often lead to individuals being incarcerated. But hearing their anxieties as an RN about the lack of PPE and seeing the lack of quarantine areas has also weighed heavily on me.
For my healthcare friends, please take time to take care of you. You matter. We all deserve to have our voices heard and even though our work can sometimes seem thankless. Even though it’s hard to not want to beat ourselves up with how busy we may be and how we wish we could spend more time with our patients at the bedside I know there are many patients and their families out there so thankful for the care we are providing. Despite all the stress and anxiety I have felt in recent weeks, however today I am grateful to be surrounded by so many people that I care about, to enjoy my daily Earl Grey tea, and to finally have 4 days off in a row and catch up on a new book (it’s the small things!).
Please continue to do your part, protect your loved ones and my colleagues on the front lines (my superhero’s!) Don’t forget to check in on your healthcare provider friends and family. If we all stay the course there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Wear your mask, wash you hands, stay home if possible, and get vaccinated.