Grandma: “I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together! Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the rollercoaster. You get more out of it”
I always loved the movie “Parenthood” from 1989 with Steve Martin. It cracked me up when the Grandma gives this fabulous quote about the rollercoaster as a a metaphor for life and then proceeds to get in the wrong car.
I think I have certainly experienced every emotion possible in the last 6 weeks or so. I don’t know about you all, but I have travelled through each emotion multiple times each day since Covid 19 started. Initially, I have to admit that I was rather cavalier about the virus, compared to flu statistics and sort of wanted to blow it off. The first wave of reality hit when I went to pick up my daughter from school after one of her first softball tryouts. She came running out frantically to the car. I was ecstatic assuming she must have made the team. Instead she revealed that school was shut down for the next few weeks due to coronavirus. That was the first wave of realization that this shit was getting real. We suffered thru some e-learning growing pains and managed to get into a groove. I even made a daily schedule with a Pinterest flare that quickly made me feel like a failure when we deviated.
The next realization was that I was going to be exposed and then bring it home to them. We started doing 2 week rotations of seeing patients in clinic and then doing virtual visits for the following 2 weeks from home. This was exciting because I can’t imagine a time that I would ever be able to actually work from home. But I had to get thru the 2 weeks without getting sick in order to have that priveledge. Then there was guilt. I thought I should be doing more and offer to work on the inpatient Covid unit. But, if I did that then my kids would have both parents working with Covid patients and then we certainly both die and leave them orphans (yes, a little catastrophic thinking is always where my mind goes) So we agreed that one of us was ok to stay back until it became a necessity.
I said goodbye to my partners and coworkers and we begin the rotations into clinics that were unknown and tried continue to see our own patients via video and phone visits and those for acute visits that were screened “safe” to come in. I had a few patients that had tested positive but were doing well enough to stay at home. I video visited with them and we did supportive measures to help them through. This was the new normal that I settled into until the REALITY hit. On of my patients turned for the worse. He was in his forties and on about day #8 he tanked and wound up on a ventilator. His wife was at home with kids and grandkids and couldn’t even talk to him. She got reports from the physicians and I called her to give her emotional support. I was powerless and he was declining. It was then when I realized how this virus devastated. It creeps in and then changes the symptoms without warning, separating family and leaving patients scared and alone. I sobbed alone, got incredibly anxious, and got irrationally mad. I snapped at my kids and was just downright bitchy. My emotions were all over the place for a few days. I started stress eating and threw in the towel on my daily exercise. I was binging movies since the insomnia had crept in. Then, I immersed myself in Covid world. I read studies on treatment, listened to every daily update from my institution, talked about it constantly and went a little insane. More horror stories emerged, another patient of mine wound up ventilated after contracting it from her husband. Her husband actually passed away while she was in the ICU and her son couldn’t be there to deliver the news after she was extubated. Horrifying!
I don’t share these things to scare anyone. It’s just my journey over the past few weeks and I’m not even including all the gory details of what a rollercoaster this has been. I have so much gratitude that I have a job and realize that so many are out of work right now which makes this all so much tougher. I know you are all going through similar emotions and hope you feel free to reach out to friends, family and physicians if you need help. Feel free to share your experiences here as I really think there is so much to learn in our stories.
As an update, all my patients so far have made a full recovery and continue to improve daily. I can only pray that we are trending down and this won’t surge again. My family continues on a high speed carnival ride of emotion but we are dealing a little better. The nicer weather has helped as we are back to exercising outside. We found some projects around the house and have tried to do some healthy meals again (less comfort food and door dash)
Hang in there everyone!!!