We asked. You answered. As an online community committed to nurses and healthcare providers, we hope that ModernNurse can serve as a safe space to discuss, vent, share and express the wide range of emotions we are experiencing during this unprecedented time.
We want to hear from you! How are YOU doing? How are you balancing work with your family sheltering in place at home? What are your fears? What are you grateful for right now? What has made you laugh?
Thank you to all of our readers that have shared their stories, feelings, frustrations and tips. Below are a few of our top comments. Keep on reading and then share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Thank you to the nurses and healthcare professionals around the world. We will win the battle against COVID-19. We will get through this, together.
I’m an RN with 40 years experience, albeit the majority in labor & delivery with forays into newborn, antepartum/postpartum, and pediatric nursing. I’m also in the metropolitan NY area, which we all know was the hardest hit. My husband and I both work in hospitals (he is an HVAC engineer), are both over 60, and have co-morbidities associated with poor outcomes in the presence of COVID-19. Needless to say, I was terrified of bringing the virus home and the potential consequences.
In mid-March, when the mania of hoarding toilet paper, paper towels, and cleaning supplies started, we both exhibited some symptoms of COVID-19. Our provider strongly encouraged testing due to our medical histories. My husband was tested & 4 days later the results were positive. I was then tested, also positive. Initially when we received the results, panic set in. Then when we realized that we had mild disease & were over the worst of it, relief!
Around the same time, my brother-in-law, Tony, was also symptomatic, tested the day before my husband. He was not so fortunate, with worsening symptoms which sent him to the ER. My sister dropped him off around 12 noon thinking she would pick him up in a few days (there was no visiting by then). That was not to be. His oxygen saturation was 60% (normal 92-100%), his blood work indicated he was septic (overwhelming infection in the body), and he was intubated right away. A few hours later, they informed us that they needed to transfer him to a higher level of care, that ECMO (a heart/lung bypass machine) was his only chance. He was so critical that they weren’t sure if he would survive the ambulance ride.
Around midnight that same day, one of the nursing supervisors) put Tony’s phone next to his ear so my sister & her sons could talk to him. They told him they loved him, that he was strong & could beat this, and prayed with him. He was transferred around 3 AM. My sister was able to stay on the phone the whole time. By 6:30 AM the doctors informed my sister that he improved enough that he didn’t need the ECMO.
Tony was intubated for 11 days, extubated & developed super-imposed bacterial pneumonia. He was intubated a second time for 10 days and extubated. The bacterial pneumonia developed into an abscess in his right lung. He was transferred back to the original admitting hospital on day 29. There he had surgery for the abscess & 4 chest tubes were placed. He was finally discharged home after 61 days of hospitalization.
Throughout this whole ordeal, my sister was able to connect with him through FaceTime. After he was mostly recovered, he remembered hearing words of encouragement & to stay on course. To which my sister replied, “and failure is not an option”! We believe that their connection made the difference in his survival along with superb care. She is not in healthcare but easily recognized those who truly cared for Tony. My point in this is that times like these show a person’s true character. I can attest to the terror & fear first hand and understood some healthcare workers' avoidance behaviors. BUT, the overwhelming majority of healthcare workers gave their all and I feel truly blessed & proud to be part of the fight to combat this devastating disease. -- Eileen S
I have been a nurse for 21 years. I’m 44 years old but feel like 75 a lot of days. I’m not on the front line this time, but I admire that you are and I can relate. For years I ran my body working 2-3 jobs because I was young, felt good and though I’m a Christian I was serving my flesh and things (not intentionally). I had built my house by the time I was 24, had finished my MSN by the time I was 28 and then I turned 30 and it came crashing down. I was diagnosed with Lupus and Raynaud’s. I was in denial for two years searching for everything to find another diagnosis and then I had to accept the fact I did have Lupus. During that time I was diagnosed with Lupus. I currently work as a case manager for one of the largest insurance companies in the world. I work sometimes for 12-16 hours. I work from home and I knew it would be this way. But because I don’t think as quick on my feet, have brain fog sometimes, lots of pain I cannot go back to the hospital. To those on the front I know what it’s like to see death. I worked in Hospice for a while. I saw my sister and took care of her and was at her bedside when they took her off the vent. I was with my mom for 3 weeks in the hospital as she fought pneumonia and saw her last minutes of death. God I have even done pediatric oncology and I never shed a tear. I had to be strong for the families. I didn’t let my family see me grieve my sister and mom’s death. But I still do. I love them so much I would have laid down my life for them. Part of my spirit died when they died. I’m telling you this story to let you know you are not alone. There are nurses not on the front line that can empathize with you and know what it’s like to see death on a daily basis. I pray for you all and your families. --Josie
"I’m fairly certain that my experience of recent has been true with every other nurse who reads this. I have never seen staff as physically and mentally just pushed to this level. Most of us are doing 14 to 15 hour days. Protective equipment is at a premium and under lock and key. Our docs are completely perplexed because of the way this disease is presenting so differently from day-to-day.
Some things I thought were impossible just seem to happen. When I am assigned to charge, the biggest struggle is keeping up morale with staff and patients. Remembering to breathe is my biggest challenge…and maintaining some kind of calm.
God bless us all…stay well and stay safe." --Michael
"I was at home recovering from COVID 19 and at 0700 on March 31st one of my colleagues called me. She said, I am in the parking lot but I just have to call you and tell you that I have been thinking about you all night. I need to pray with you before I get to the unit. I was so touched and appreciated her call so much. There are no words to express how this made me feel. Suffice it to say my spirit was lifted." --Sonia
"I am RN and it all became serious last weekend for me. My onset of severe a sore throat and cough symptoms were consistent with early Covid-19. I decided to be tested as I don’t want to expose my patients and chose to isolate them. Going through a drive-up testing site was a bit difficult as I was alone and that reality that I might die alone really hit me hard. I knew how the advanced stage of this virus would end with ventilation and possible death without family by my side! I spent a five-day isolation with my symbols getting a bit worse but never a high fever or body aches. My breathing was tight but not short of breath. My MD called in an antibiotic believing it was a bronchitis )which I have never had in my entire life), so it was worrisome to think she was wrong! Finally, Friday arrives and of course, I miss the first call with results. I freaked out as this just took me over the edge after a stressful week telling my adult children I might have COVID!
Blessed to say it was negative but please realize even being tested caused such anxiety. I have been a nurse for over 40 years and was never once afraid yet, this virus scared me. Know that even just your experience from being tested can bring the reality of your possible death to the forefront of your consciousness! Please pray for all health care workers who are on the front lines of this pandemic. I was blessed not to be positive this time. The reality is I may need to be retested as I will be back at my job next week. This virus will be ever-present for a few more months and threaten us all until a vaccine can make it stop in its path of destruction! Be safe!" --Nurse Barbara
"Never in my 27 yrs of nursing that I cried and cried, scared, hopeless in this time of crisis related to a virus. Flu season is nothing. Just last week, it hits me and my coworkers. The numbers were up, our PPE’s are limited, I have to transfer my patient to ICU. Then ICU capacity maxed out. The ethics committee has to be involved to determine who will get that ICU bed and ventilator. The MedEvac had flown all day in my hospital to bring the intubated patients to the mothership hospital with dwindling ICU beds. My ears hurt from my masks. My face got all these marks too. I’m breathing the same air from my open mouth the whole time. I made sure I eat and drink to nourish my body to survive my 12 hours shift. I yelled at some nurses who recklessly forgot to wear N95 on their COVID patients. I reassure my patients and their family, they cried in panic. I cried secretly in the corner. I have to be strong in front of everybody. I told my fellow nurses we can not quit, that’s why we are nurses, we are special. We can not abandon the sick people. We can not abandon each other. I know we can get infected or worst die. I prayed every day. The last words my patient say to their family before wheeling him to ICU “I love you”, brought tears in my eyes and we all know what that means…" --Mylla
"Hundreds of daffodils bloomed in my front yard 3 weeks ago and still stand! Very unusual! They are a month early and have never lasted this long. Everyone is out walking and enjoys them. God has a plan. Always." --Debbie
"Just a little tip. Wipe down your groceries before u put them in your vehicle in your own bags. Double bag fruits veggies etc. and discard outer bag. Wipe hand area of inside bag and tie shut. Sanitize you’re hands. Once home , place veggies, fruit etc straight into sink. Leave plastic /paper bags outside in recycle bin. Wash your hands again after washing stuff in sink!" --Nancy
"It was our Grandsons fourth birthday yesterday and my wife and I got to Duo with him and his mother and sisters last night…his Daddy is our son who works on the North Slope of Alaska in the oil industry. His wife has been home alone with the four Grandchildren for 5 weeks during this whole thing. They are holding up but it has been soooo hard on all of them. Our Grandson asked “Grandpa, Is this going to be my last birthday?” He was perplexed and could not seem to wrap his head around it. We about fell apart and his mother told us he has asked her that question 3 separate times and that it was starting to scare her.
His Daddy was devastated to hear that question coming from his son and not being able to be there for him and all of them. We could not pick him up and reassure him…he has heard so much and picks up on everything. He is at that “so literal” time in his young life. We simply had to hug on him through the phone and try to comfort him, his sisters and his mother. God Help Us to love every moment of every day and treasure and be thankful for our families and His help….on the West Coast right now in a place that is not being hit too hard with all of the death and sickness yet. That man, that woman, that person perfect in Christ Jesus right now…our prayers and hearts are going out for and to you all right now…." --Tyke
"Hospital RN here, all our patients going to SNF/rehab must be tested for Covid 2 days before expected discharge. Can’t be discharged till results received. We have our temperature taken in lobby before going to our units, screened for symptoms too. We get a surgical mask that we are supposed to wear at all times and must use the mask for 2 days to conserve supplies. We no longer have VRE and MRSA nares patients on contact precautions, just standard precautions. The N95s are multiple use, ok’d to go between covid positive patients but NOT between positive patients and rule out patients. Everything we learned about infection prevention is not in practice as they are trying to prevent spread of covid while preserving PPE stock.
Communication is essential to prevent mistakes. Stress is taking its toll on everyone. Lots of phone calls from family members wanting updates on their loved ones. Everyone trying to figure out how to protect their families when the leave work. Hopefully positive changes will come after everything is evaluated once the crisis is over, and preparedness becomes a priority. Governor signed order that nursing students with 1 semester completed can be granted temporary 90 day CNA licenses to help during the crisis, emergency licensing rules for out of state nurses to practice in state, and big telemedicine push right now. So many interim measures being implemented to try to keep things going." --Catherine
"I once was a CCRN and CRRN. Now I work in group homes. We have to wear our masks for 2 WEEKS! The most recent admission cohort (re)starts the 14 day cycle! One caregiver per room for the entire shift. That includes meals, housekeeping, disinfecting, etc. No exceptions. Keep the curtain pulled. If the weather will allow, open the window.
The CDC has a great web site! Study it!" --Debbie
I’m an essential worker. I’m a nurse. I’m writing you my story not for accolades or for you to clap for me(although I appreciate those gestures immensely)… but for my own sanity. I’ve stopped sharing my concerns, my fatigue, my depression with my significant other because I’m afraid of scaring him. I dont want my stepchildren to hear me cry because they are already afraid of me. They’re afraid because i work with ‘those people’. I dont hug them – just in case I contracted COVID-19 from one of my patients. I’m living in a nightmare of a science fiction movie.
I’m a nurse that usually works with post-surgical patients. A standard job I’ve been doing now for the last 13 years. I feel I can do it with my eyes closed. I’m rarely flustered. I’ve been an RN for 25 years doing Emergency and Urgent Care before this position, and always felt confident walking into my job. That confidence is now replaced with fear, insomnia, and nausea.
There aren’t many surgical patients to take care of anymore. Only surgeries deemed URGENT may take place for the reason of preserving supplies and decrease the potential spread of COVID-19. Having a decrease in patients meant a decrease in work, so we were encouraged to work in other areas of the hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. I did that. I went to the ICU and saw things that will never leave my mind. Young, formally healthy men and women dying alone. Suffocating through tubes. With no family to hold their hands. Families saying their last good byes over FaceTime. People getting last right over the phone. These imagines are horrifying and real. They are not Fake News or the media exaggerating reality for ratings. These are people dying.
I now work in a Field Hospital. You may have seen the images of Military created hospitals in the NY and NJ area made to help with the overflow of COVID-19 patients. They are mass building with hundreds of ‘rooms’ made by curtains and decorated only with a metal flat cot, thin plastic mattress, a metal folding chair, and a table. I care for these patients in layers of protective gear with my name scrawled in black marker on a plastic gown covering. I hope they can see my smiling at them beneath my N95 mask, surgical mask, and face shield. I pray for them as their oxygen levels dip into the 70’s or 80’s with just a short trip to the bathroom. They’re gasping for air. And they are scared for themselves …. I’m scared for them. I know the next step of our capabilities would mean a ventilator. I don’t like to think about that.
I’m scared. I’m tired. I’m sad. Im an essential worker and can’t stay home. I’m not sure how I’m getting through this. I feel like I’m on autopilot… doing it because I have to. It’s my job. I dont have any words of wisdom about getting enough water, meditating, getting fresh air… I wish I did. My therapist says my feelings are ‘normal’. Another part of the ‘new normal’. I guess I would say I’m getting through this by hoping one day soon this will magically end. I know that’s not realistic, or even possible. But it’s what’s getting ME through. It’s the ONLY thing getting me through.
Thank you to ALL essential workers keeping us safe and functioning. --Randi