Month: March 2020

Not What I Expected

Not What I Expected

As I struggled my way through nursing school, I never expected my first job as a nurse to feel like this; I was too busy dreaming of the day when I could hold the title of Registered Nurse.

I never expected to come home crying. I never expected that, at times, I’d mumble the words “I hate my job.” I never expected many of the challenges I face daily–but here I am, six weeks into my first hospital job, fighting to make it. Here I am, figuring out what it means to be a nurse, learning what to expect.

It is early afternoon, and I have just finished administering my last midday medication. I emerge from the patient’s room to find that five call bells are buzzing; there is no other nurse or aide in sight. I begin to wonder if everyone is purposely disappearing in order to test the new kid.

Put to the Test

Put to the Test

I’m a primary-care doctor in Washington state. I was recently confronted with a ticklish and painful situation.
Here are the facts and the sequence of events:
On a recent Wednesday morning, I saw a forty-five-year-old woman in my office for an earache. She told me that a member of her church had been diagnosed with coronavirus, and that many schools in the area were being closed because of possible exposure. Later that day I started to receive emails and phone calls from families in my practice, giving more information about this situation.

A Bad Dream

Last night I dreamt that New York City was gone–that it had disappeared into a billowy horizon. I was walking on some unknown highway and looked over my shoulder and saw nothing but grey-white layers of clouds. No blue sky. No brown earth. No Big Apple. A real nightmare.

I woke to huge snowflakes dropping from the sky. My family is safe. But I am sad and scared. I can taste the fear, and I don’t like it. 

Corona, Contagion, Confusion

Corona, Contagion, Confusion

My husband Joel, age seventy-six, has tested positive for the virus–the new big C.
Joel developed a low-grade fever on March 1. We were in San Francisco, visiting our ten-month-old grandson and his parents. They’d all had bad colds, and our grandson was still coughing and producing large amounts of sticky nasal stuff, so I wasn’t surprised when Joel got sick. (I figured that I eventually would, too.)
We went to a local urgent-care clinic. A competent physician assistant examined Joel, then assured us that he didn’t have the coronavirus: His vital signs were all good, and except for a 100.5° fever, he had no symptoms.

A Poem a Day for Good Health

On Leap Day this year, I was at the beautiful Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Michigan. In the gift shop, I saw a booklet of 30 postcards featuring photos of the park–nature scenes, sculptures, the Japanese Garden, etc. It gave me an idea for a writing project during the month of March. I bought the booklet and every day this month I am writing a short poem reflective of the photograph on the postcard, working my way through the booklet. I then choose a stamp that fits the scene and put the postcard in the mail to myself.

The Pandemic – A Medical Student’s Perspective

My mom wants to hear my opinion on public transportation. Can she take the subway to see her dentist this week, or should she take a cab? I say to her, “Take a cab if you can afford it, and if you take the subway try getting on a less crowded car. Practice social distancing, if possible.”
Mom asks me because I’m her medical student in the family. The truth is, I don’t have any more information to offer than what’s already found on the CDC’s website. I don’t have much to add, really, unless…

Denial

I first heard about COVID-19 in January. My husband, a fellow physician, read to me about it from a news article. On the third day in a row as he read aloud about the epidemic, I asked him to stop. It was hard to appreciate his daily updates when all I wanted to do was throw up due to the severe morning sickness I was experiencing in my first trimester of pregnancy. After all, it was just in China, right? Too far away to worry about.

Social Distancing To and From China

On recent flights to and from China, I had two different experiences of isolation and contagion.

Flying over, I was upgraded to business class. Cocooned in our own little fully reclining enclaves, my isolated, entitled fellow travelers and I interacted only with the attendants solicitously serving us. It was self-indulgently pleasant, and with the help of melatonin and a hearty meal, I got seven hours of sleep and arrived feeling like the world should continue to cater to me.

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