This seems to be the word on everyone’s lips. Followed by anxiety, fear, astonishment and uncertainty. We get multiple emails a day with updates but even that doesn’t feel like enough. It’s changing rapidly and now I’m sitting in my apartment for what feels like the 100th hour practicing “social distancing”.
We aren’t canceling events because the virus is incredibly dangerous to the healthy many, but because it poses a threat to those of us who aren’t privileged enough to have strong immune systems. It poses a threat to our capacity as healthcare workers to properly treat and heal, because even though we are the great United States, and we spend almost 18% of our GDP on healthcare, we still have limits. Limits that exist in the form of ICU beds, ventilators, doctors, nurses, and even N95 masks.
This is why we are isolating. It’s not for our own personal benefit, but for the benefit of other humans. Does that make it any easier to swallow?
Even as I sit here, I struggle with the need to do something, the feeling that all will be okay, while also heading the advice of the experts.
On my clinical rotations, I feel like a nuisance. I’m “non-essential staff”, technically they can treat and care for patients without me. I’ve been told not to see patients with fever, cough, or shortness of breath as their chief complaint. We aren’t allowed in the OR’s in order to save masks for those who need them. ED shifts are being canceled and the communication from the medical school administration are too few and too vague. They too don’t know the answers that we all desperately want to have. I feel pushed to the side while the real doctors are overwhelmed with the prospect of pandemic.
This feeling of helplessness when you’ve been training to be the exact opposite is something I’ve struggled with all year. What do we do when we can’t do anymore?
I think the answer is LOVE. We meet people where they are and say, “I’m here with you”.
And while I stand the recommended 6 feet away, we’re in this together.
This isn’t about me, or you, but about us.