For months now, the world has struggled to control the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of individuals affected by this virus is high, but the simple fact is that too many people have died from the infection. Accurate knowledge of this novel coronavirus is evolving every day, and national health officials are modifying recommendations accordingly to best protect the safety and health of the public. Everyone is learning in real time. Another reality is the effect on healthcare professionals who work with COVID-19 patients on the frontlines. The intensity of care in hospitals with seriously ill and dying patients may lead to future mental health concerns. Nurses spend the most time with patients, so I wrote a poem in honor of their caring and resilience:
Even though I am scared, duty calls
Separation from family and loved ones I bear
An uncertain outcome awaits many
and the fate of others somberly accepted
A crafty invader has broken our ranks
I must gown, glove, and mask to protect
and then do it all over again and again
Difficult days and nights greet me and
the effort to stay safe becomes a task,
a struggle, a battle, an emotional strain
I call my colleagues to lend a helping hand
I call the officials to look around the land
and boldly give the needed command
I call my countrymen to please follow the plan
I chose this profession and I love what I do
Caring is a part of me, and loyalty is too
No matter the situation, I will be there
I know I am trusted and good at my work
After all, I AM A NURSE!
Staying at home
As summer and warmer temperatures approach across the US, we can only hope for a positive change and some relief. As for those who were not considered essential workers, staying at home provided an opportunity to reconnect with oneself and general humanity. Social media was booming with creative ideas for individual and group activities, fun projects, virtual gatherings, educational aids for teaching young and adult students, and so much more. Social distancing was mandated in public spaces, but within personal spaces (homes), the “stay at home” call was a chance to spend more time with iloved ones. Brief and frequent breathers from listening to news and statistics regarding COVID-19 were welcome. A walk outside, maintaining the 6-foot distance between you and other nonhousehold persons, was refreshing. Even a trip to the grocery store was an adventure, donned in masks and gloves.
During the pandemic and the restrictions on movement, I had several observations reaffirmed. People are basically caring and kind and will help others in greater need. There are innumerable things to do at home—some work and some play. You can find almost anything on the internet but must exercise judgment in accepting the information. You can be sucked into the vacuum that is TV from which there is no escape, especially during a 24-hour marathon of reruns of an old favorite show. The ongoing battle between the need to stay awake and the impulse to sleep is real. Humor and laughter during unsettling times are good medicine to alleviate stress and uncertainty.
As we continue to celebrate the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, thank our heroes on the frontlines in healthcare and other essential services who are working tirelessly to help us all through this pandemic.
Jamesetta A. Newland, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, DPNAP, FAAN