‘Why are you guys smiling? Don’t you take this seriously?’ We have no ‘normal’ at work. Every protocol we know is thrown out the window.’: Nurse urges ‘hug your healthcare providers, when hugging is safe!’

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“‘Why are you guys smiling in that picture? Don’t you take this seriously?’

Do you know the awkward giggle at a funeral? This picture is basically that giggle. We don’t know what else to do but smile. We are trying our best to embrace this new reality-to keep our cool. Underneath, we are scared to death. We are scared of death.

Have you ever been in a car accident? Do you remember the jarring feeling of impact? Now, try to think about those few seconds before. The moment that you know the accident is inevitable. Your fight or flight response activates. Your entire body tenses preparing for impact. Without being aware, your brain triggers a cascade of hormones that are prepared for protection. That feeling only lasts for a few seconds but feels like it’s going in slow motion, forever.

Every healthcare worker dealing with Covid19 has felt this. We are stuck in either the ‘pre-impact,’ ‘impact’ or ‘post-impact’ stage.

My coworkers and I are currently stuck in ‘pre-impact.’ Our body and mind are bracing for the inevitable. We wait with anticipation. Feeling lost, helpless and scared. ALL. THE. TIME.

We see the waves of the tsunami building. China — the waves rolled and wrecked but were too far for us to truly see. Italy-the waves are getting closer and more real. They are just beyond the horizon, but we are certain they will die down before hitting us. New York, Washington, California — the waves have risen and endured. They are close enough to see the peaks and power. We sit waiting, both in shock and fear but trying desperately to prepare.

As healthcare providers in this ‘pre-impact’ stage, we wait. We read every article we can, desperately trying to learn from those who have already been hit. We are learning to sew; in case we need to make masks for protection. We have no ‘normal’ at work. Every protocol we know is thrown out the window. Everything we thought was made to keep us safe, is no longer available. We look around at our coworkers and wonder, ‘Who will get it?’ ‘How bad will it be?’ ‘Am I going to be okay?’ ‘How many patients will we lose?’

For myself, I don’t sleep. I pick up every shift I can because I want to be a part of the preparation. When I’m at home, I am overwhelmed with a sense of anxiety that I could be doing more to help. When I’m at work, I’m focused on my patients, but I’m also on edge.

This is our reality as healthcare providers. We know that it’s hard sitting at home during this social isolation. We know there is no normalcy to your life. Please know, WE GET IT! We are starving for normalcy, but we are also scared. Hang in there. Be patient with us. Stay in! Stay away! You are making our job easier by respecting these boundaries. YOU are making the waves smaller and weakening the impact. Hug your healthcare providers… when hugging is safe! They are going through a lot for you and your family.”

Courtesy Tracey Taylor

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Tracey Taylor. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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