I live in the Northeast and when we are hit with a hurricane we usually have plenty of warning. It’s both a blessing and a curse because there’s only just so much preparing one can do before a storm blows onto our shores.
That’s how this has felt. We’ve been seeing it everywhere, and in the past week it’s been slowly creeping into our state. Now it’s here. For sure. Some of my clients have it and some of their family members. I’m grateful I went to telehealth when I did. I’m grateful I have that option.
I read stories and hear from other nurses who are having to stay away from their families right now and as one of my son’s screams upstairs while I write this I think of that for an instant with some longing, then I snap back and repeat ‘I am grateful’ in my head.
After two weeks of almost no referrals this week my phone blew up. Thank God. But there’s an alarming trend in my new patients I’m booking. They are all healthcare providers. They all have no psychiatric history. They are all begging for emergent appointments.
While I am still doing telehealth and not on the front lines, I feel like I’m there because I’m hearing the stories all day long. They are bad. Nurses I’ve treated for years who work administration are being mandated to the bedside. No one has enough PPE. They fear refusal or questioning as they will be fired.
At least one hospital system in the state has now implemented new DNR policies. Two MD’s can make a patient (Even a patient without COVID) a DNR at any time based on their clinical judgment. To me it sounded like a way to prevent “Unnecessary” ICU admissions. Save the resources for the patient’s with the highest likelihood of survival.
That was hard to hear and hold. Most of my patient’s tend to like me. They at least know what to expect. I’m direct. I had a client call me hysterically sobbing recently to run a situation by me that they felt they needed feedback on and they knew I would be honest with them. They weren’t sure they were right. So they called me.
That felt like such a privilege to be that person’s lifeline. To hear such horrible crises on the front lines from the people working there- it calls for honest and raw reactions but not enough that I can truly show how horrified I am. Because I have to be the rock in the moment. It’s a lot as a psychiatric provider to hold right now.
I’m making masks in my spare time. I sew. I’ve mailed some to some of my healthcare provider clients. It feels like the least I can do.
I’m generally good at compartmentalizing. But COVID is truly challenging that ability. Not only is my work not separated from my home and family…enter telehealth in my home office…and my four year olds running in and out of the background of my sessions. I try and lock the door but I don’t always remember. Suddenly my many worlds are colliding every second of every minute of every day. I can’t compartmentalize out thinking about my cat recently diagnosed with lymphoma and CHF because she’s literally on my lap half of the day for most of my sessions.
One of my son’s is having some sort of sleep regression so he screams uncontrollably about whatever he decides he’s going to be upset about that night for an HOUR before bed. I never get an escape from them. I am never truly relaxed. I can’t go to hot yoga. I can’t go anywhere and if we do we are constantly worried about exposure.
It’s a story that is being replayed every day with all of my patient’s who do or do not work in healthcare. My patient’s all seem to understand the severity of COVID and they are singing the same song in every appointment I have. Tired. Anxious. Irritable. Sick of their kids. Sick of each other. Sick of worrying about getting sick. Sick of worrying about elderly relatives who won’t listen to stay at home orders. Sick of worrying about newborn babies. Sick of worrying about themselves or their partners working the front lines in healthcare.
The day to day is passing. This is the end of week three of COVID-19 stay at home orders. People are dying still. People are scared still. People are out of work. Worried about paying bills. Worried about homeschooling their kids. Healthcare providers are scared of speaking out for fear of being fired. They are scared to go to work but even more scared to be the whistleblower who gets blackballed from healthcare in the state.
I don’t have any uplifting message to leave you with today. As a true journal entry I will leave you with the true uneasiness and terror that we are living with. The outer edges of the storm have hit and we are now just expecting to be pummeled.
It’s like Book 5 of Harry Potter. Shit’s getting dark. People are already dying. More people will die. And we can only sit back and wait.
****TO any healthcare providers working front lines. Reach out for help. We are here. I see you and I know you are facing life or death every day. I know you didn’t expect this or ask for this. That you didn’t choose to face a pandemic with no PPE and an incompetent federal government. You have allies. Stay strong. You are my heroes. And if anything comes out of this I hope it will be organizing of healthcare providers and demanding improved compensation and improved access to resources.****
“We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” CNBC interview
“The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. … Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” Twitter
“The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power … to inflame the CoronaVirus situation.” twitter
“We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” Meeting with R. senators.
“This is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something that we have tremendous control over.” News Conference
“I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, including my very early decision to close the ‘borders’ from China – against the wishes of almost all.” twitter
“I’d love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.” Fox News
“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go into major hospitals sometimes they’ll have two ventilators, and now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?” Fox News