At the beginning of the pandemic in the U.S. I was working in a rural Emergency Room with a large international presence in the community due to several universities. I had a deep and terrible feeling months previous to this pandemic and had started looking for nursing work in different areas. I had started interviewing in November.
I had worked in Emergency Services since 2006. Fourteen years is a long string of being in fight or flight mode for twelve hour shifts, most of which I spent on the night shift. My life was shortening. I was feeling like I was getting more sick all the time. My ability to maintain relationships was getting weaker. Simply put, working in emergency areas can give you PTSD that you don’t even realize you have. Front line workers shrug it off and keep going because that is what expected of us.
This morning, before getting out of bed, I read an article at The Atlantic which my friend in Alaska had posted which talked realistically about what this pandemic means for America and how it won’t be over in a few weeks. This recovery and even stabilization will take more than a year. Economically we can’t afford to have everyone lock down. People will starve, but it will be hard to determine how to bring services back without creating areas that breed infection.
These are all things you know if you’ve been on your phone or computer and at least reading non-hype postings. This pandemic is something that our generations have never experienced before and I think we never prepared for because we, as Americans, have a false sense of invincibility. When things get fixed we have a tendency to smooth them over and forget they happened. We move on. In some cases this is what makes our country great, but in others, it leaves us looking ignorant of the truth.
I’ve been thinking about how to live my life in this age of pandemic and isolation. I am not feeling too bad as I started out an introvert, but this forced isolation made me realize, despite whether I socialize with people or not, I spend a lot of time out in my community watching life move. As a writer, I am a natural born observer. It is a comfortable place for me. The shelter in place order made me a little insane the first week because I was thinking of all the things I was missing instead of all the things I had gained.
I have plenty of time to write, finish art projects, read books, cook beautiful, healthy meals for me and my child, to make my house look nice, and to spend more time reaching out to people than I would if I weren’t in this situation. What I have learned is that I had taken my little world for granted. A walk in the sunshine feels so much different than it ever did before.
In order to survive the next year to eighteen months, you will have to shift your perspective to look at the things you could gain. Can you find free online courses through Coursera? Can you be a citizen scientist over at Zooniverse? Can you start that novel you always wanted to write? This is the time to fill your life with creativity and reduce your concentration on fear based tactics in the media.
I’m still in healthcare. My child is also an essential worker and all we can do is take the proper precautions and stay positive. I hope all of you are doing your best. You are doing enough. Take care.