Management Amidst the Chaos

This has been a post in progress, waiting in my draft box for the right time, one that I have been working on for a while. I guess I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to post it? Maybe it wouldn’t be necessary…here we are, still in the midst of a pandemic. The funny or ironic situation is that so many people around the world simply do not believe that Covid-19 is or ever was a problem. So many times I have been asked,

  • how do you sleep
  • how do you manage the heartache, grief, pain, the daily struggle
  • how do you deal with the anxiety
  • how do you do this day after day
  • how do you do this period
  • and the most often asked, how do you leave your children behind

Well, let me address all of these by saying it starts with the foundation of nursing and who I am as a nurse, nurse educator, mother, and community member. I have always said from day one that I am not, nor did I leave my children, my home, my friends, all of my daily comforts to do what I have been doing for the past 11.5 months. I took an oath as a nurse to do no harm, to show up when and where ever needed and that is exactly what I did. Not a single nurse a year ago ever dreamt of waking up to the news and hearing that our nation was entering or in the midst of a pandemic, I never would have imagined in my lifetime I would see what I have seen and continue to see. That being said, I show up because I need to, I want to, it is what I am called to do.

So, let me address a few of the questions I have had:

How do you sleep: Well, as you can imagine, working 60-72 hours a week I am beyond exhausted by the time I get done with work. Most mornings on the way home from a night shift in NYC I fell asleep in the back of my Uber or Lyft (and for those of you who have driven side streets of NYC that tells you how exhausted I was). I would typically get to my hotel, right on Broadyway Street #hotel99 where my hotel mom would greet me and always ask how my shift was and if I needed anything. She always wished me a good sleep and off I would go. I would pull the darkening curtains, crank up the AC, shower as fast as I could and dive bomb into bed…the rest is history until about 5pm. Now, realize living on Broadway is no joke! Sirens every 30 seconds and people screaming non-stop; when you are THAT tired, nothing bothers you!

The key to sleeping soundly was a freshly made bed; Ashley and Maria always made sure my bed was made and ready for me to snuggle in. I also bought a simple bedding set from #Target that made my room feel more like home! It is the simple things that really make a difference living in a hotel room. To other travel nurses reading this, even your own pillowcase or a simple blanket makes a big difference. Having a piece of your home with you brings you comfort in the craziest of times.

How do you manage the heartache, grief, pain, and daily struggle: This is a great question and a question that I sometimes still ask myself. There were days that I sat and just wept. There were nights that I was on my knees begging God to save my patient(s) simply because I could not stand to lose one more. I could not stand to wrap up another husband, father, sister, mother. There were times of joy; when those who chose to pass peacefully, were allowed to do so and there I was there with them, holding their hand and telling them it was going to be ok. Although it stung, and it still stings to think of all the people I have cared for in their final days, minutes, and hours it is comforting to know that they didn’t die alone. It makes the burning heartache just a little less. The daily struggles are still there, those random thoughts of CPR, random memories of Mount Sinai emergency room when I was holding the hands of two frail, elderly individuals. Both hands were hands that had held their newborns, fed the mouths of others, taken care of family, and now at the end of their life they were holding mine. I was honored to hold those hands, our hands do so much not only for us as individuals but for those around us and to be able to hold their hands, tell them it’s all going to be ok, “you are loved.” Memories help the daily struggles when life seems impossible, this is why it is important to always find a rainbow amidst the chaos!

How do you deal with the anxiety: This is a difficult question to answer, a subject that not many want to address in normal times let alone the midst of a pandemic. Anxiety is something I have always dealt with and to be honest, this pandemic has taught me new coping skills. Coping skills such as appreciation, smiling, coloring, journaling, going outside my comfort zone. Each of these skills listed I have utilized not once, not twice, but numerous times; specifically going outside my comfort zone. While that may seem odd to each of you that I am encouraging you when you are dealing with anxiety to go outside your comfort zone you are reading it correctly, take a leap of faith, try something new, push yourself to new limits! When do rainbows appear? Do they appear just because; no they appear when the light is bent, when the sun shines through the rain. Sure, that may seem easy to us but rainbows don’t just happen every single day! Rainbows take work, everything has to align; so be a rainbow for yourself and bend a little, shine through the rain. Break down barriers and let your light shine! One of the biggest things I did for my anxiety in New York was run; normally I am very self conscious of how I look when running well, guess what, New York City has all shapes, sizes, colors, and whatever else going on that nobody cared about little ‘ol me! I jumped out of my comfort zone and ran, it felt so amazing to be free, to let that guard down! Do it! Do something for you that maybe you wouldn’t normally do, I promise it will feel amazing at the end!

How do I do this day after day: I am often told, “you are so strong, I am not sure how you do this.” Well, most days I am not sure how I do this either. While blogging is often an escape and a great outlet and at times a way to capture memories, I had to take a break. I had to step back and simply focus on surviving because the day in and day out of repeated CPR, calling family members to let them know their loved one was not going to live to see another day had finally hit me. So, I do this because I truly love my job and I love my patients. I will fight tooth and nail for any patient and their family. I will advocate until I don’t have a voice or until I am heard. I will do what I need to do in order to ensure my patients only the highest quality care out there! I can often be heard saying, “pony up and lets do this, there is no other choice.”

How do I do this period: Well it is simple…I took an oath to do no harm, to take action, to care for those that need to be cared for, and when the going gets tough it doesn’t mean you turn away; instead you stand up and you figure it out. It isn’t always easy and to be honest while this country has seen significant turmoil and heartache I fear that there is more to come. Covid is here to stay and for that we must be prepared! It is not the flu, will never be like the flu, and thus each time it rears its ugly head and there is a new variant or strain we are going to face heartache and struggle. Just remember we as healthcare workers are NOT the frontline we are the BACKLINE! If people do what they need to do we wouldn’t be seeing as many; you are each your own frontline! Do the right thing and mask up, socially distance, and respect others!

Emmerson at St. Theodore – Holiday Art

How do I leave my kiddos: Well, I am blessed that the children have a fantastic father and that he has fantastic significant other Sarah who loves our kiddos just as much as I do! We co-parent well and at the end of the day make sure that their needs are met. The kids do a great job of calling and chatting it up, I send letters, they send letters as well. In reality, a nurses work is where the patients are and healthcare is tough. I know in the end that my children will be ok! They are loved, cared for, and not deprived by any means. All the time that we spend together is so fantastic and makes up for the days I am gone! Please remember though that many of you do not know my story or other parents stories and we are doing our best to provide for our children so they can have what they need. To give you an example: I just paid $2000 out of pocket for Adelaide’s diabetic supplies (only 2 months). I paid for their school tuition, I am also paying for my graduate degree. So traveling while there are downfalls there are so many positive for everyone involved and when I lay my head down each night I thank God for all the blessings I have received.

Adelaide – Holiday Art Kindergarten

Thank you all for following! Stay tuned as another exciting update will be rolling out SOON!!

Much love and thanks!

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