It’s been a long while. Remember that time a winter ago when we were all rushing around and thinking of what our holidays would look like? Remember a fall before that when I posted about the road signs in Canada and guessed each meaning? I remember all of that well. I remember swimming across the Mackinaw strait and feeling the warm water rush over me as the current got too dangerous even for small watercraft. I remember seeing such strange things welling up from the underwater drop and realizing it was pieces of shipwrecks. That strait has claimed many ships, and many lives. I could see 40 feet down to the grasses and fish once it came up the other side of that strait. The bridge towered over me and I saw parts of things no one else would see. It was thrilling, difficult, and unlike any other experience in my life.
Fast forward and I can barely recall a time when I wasn’t wearing a mask whenever I left the house. It feels so natural to me now that I still feel it when I lay down at night and attempt to sleep. In my mind flash a thousand faces. Not the smiling, happy faces of last year. But the faces that are changing all around me. All around us. This is our human experience and it is raw and tired. This is also unlike any other experience in my life. It used to be I wore a mask when I went into the OR with a patient. Now it is all the time. But our faces are changing.
Our faces are changing. I can’t help but notice. Maybe you have too, friends. Maybe we are going to be a generation that will know what the word pandemic means and be as helpless to it as the Plague of Justinian, or the Black Death. Perhaps we are now living in times like the Spanish Flu. So far we are more lucky. It is not a 40% or more death rate. But all we are is vulnerable. The species that wiped out small pox, put men on the moon, and sent some of us to live in space, is helpless to something no one can see, and no one can predict.
Our faces are changing. I walked in to work today and there before me it was all over our faces. Under our masks might be a tense expression, a gritting of teeth, a frown. But in the eyes is a quiet desperation. A failure to fathom what we are facing and wondering who will be next. Our friends, colleagues, and family are all vulnerable. We ourselves are vulnerable. In caprice we felt ourselves advanced as a species and in avarice we did claim dominance over our domain. But now we are crumbling under the unseen enemy and daily one of our friends or family is positive for the beast of our generation.
There is a new way today to do the same thing we did yesterday. It is a sink-or-swim situation.Marcus Butler, Patient Access Specialist IU Health Arnett Endocrinology.
We carry on in our oath to tend to the sick and dying, heal the ill and clothe those in need. As a nurse I am being confronted with that oath daily. Many of us went into it to help the sick and dying. To care for those in their darkest places. Like Florence Nightingale we throw open the curtains and let the light in for those seeking a view of the sky. But our faces are changing. We try to stay calm, serene, and cheery. For the sake of those around us, we mask the frown of concern and carry on. But in our eyes is that desperation all the same. The desperation that is reflected back by everyone we care for and everyone we meet.
Our faces are changing. This is a terrible time. As healthcare workers and our support staff we are facing a monster and have no weapon to slay this dragon. All we can ask is the same thing we have always asked. But now we beg. Wear a mask, stay home, wash your hands. Help us. Please help us. We are here for you in your darkest hours. We hold your hands when you suffer and grieve and die. We go into the unkown and face a dragon larger than all of us, and we do it bravely, even if our knees shake. Help us. Hold our hands. Do this by wearing your mask. Please help us. Be here for us in our darkest hour. Give us hope outside of our windows. Let in the light so that we can still care for you later on down the road. Help us stop this beast. That is what our eyes and faces say.
This is not the view of any establishment, professional, or organization. This is purely the observation of a nurse during our darkest hour.Bee