“My name is Rachael and I am a nurse at a Portland-area hospital. But I am also so much more. I am a single mother of a 9-year-old boy. I am a daughter to a father who is over 65, has had two strokes, and is on blood thinners. I am a daughter to a mother who has had asthma almost her entire life and has had intermittent issues with her lungs throughout life but especially over the last couple of years. I am a sister to a brother who has lost all work due to everything shutting down. I am a friend to many different types of people, some who are taking this seriously and some who aren’t.
I rely heavily on my family to watch my son while I am working 12-hour shifts, three times a week. (But honestly more because I often have to pick up overtime just to be able to get by.) Because of what is coming and quite frankly is already here, I will be working A LOT more than I already do. But I will also be exposed to this virus that some aren’t worried about FREQUENTLY. And because I rely on my parents so heavily to watch my son while I work, I have had to make the decision to leave my son with my parents for an unknown amount of time so I can keep them safe.
Instead of seeing my son on my days off and potentially giving it to him, so he can potentially give it to my parents, I just won’t see any of them. I do this to protect my parents, the ones that I love so much and are at risk to catch this virus and could die. I do this selfishly and selflessly at the same time. I say this because I am making a sacrifice like the many sacrifices they have made their whole lives for me. I am making a sacrifice not to see my son who is my heart and soul. No more hugs, no more kisses, no more sitting next to each other and playing board games- laughing until our bellies hurt. I say selfishly because I don’t want to lose them, it’s nowhere near their time, and we have a lot of life left to live with each other.
But that’s what we do for people we love. We make sacrifices.
As a nurse, I truly worry for our healthcare system and the overwhelming amount of people we are about to see. And the people we may not be able to help because we are so limited with supplies. I’m not even talking about PPE because it’s already been made very clear by the governing bodies if we run out, well, we run out. We have to get creative with how we protect ourselves. I am talking about the machines and supplies and resources we as healthcare providers would need to help keep people alive! We do not have nearly enough because we never imagined something like this would happen.
There are few if ANY working still today in healthcare who have worked during the time of a pandemic or an illness of this magnitude. Everyone is in uncharted waters. What we do have, as Americans, is time. And very little at that. We are following two countries that have had an extremely high death rate because they didn’t know and didn’t act. WE HAVE TIME TO ACT.
We have the ability to slow this down, to give Americans a fighting chance. And for those who are taking this, seriously thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Those of you who are practicing TRUE social distancing and only spending time with those you live with, I Thank You.
To those of you that think, ‘this isn’t even that big of a deal, I’ll be fine, I’m healthy’ and are still having in-person game nights, girls nights, going out around town just because you’re tired of being at home — I implore… no, BEG YOU, to understand this is not about you. But someday when you are an at-risk population, it will be. Think about other people. The people who are actually making sacrifices on the front lines, the people who have lost their jobs, the people who have lost their LIVES. Think about people who have to truly distance themselves from loved ones, not because they have to but because they want to protect the people they love and even people they don’t know. Doctors living away from their families in Air BnB’s, Nurses, RT’s, and Techs/CNA’s stripping down at their front doors and isolating themselves in their rooms, doing their best not to pass this virus along to their loved ones.
People like me who don’t know the next time they get to see their best friend (and whole life) in person until God knows when. After working these long days taking care of these really sick people, I get to come home to an empty house. I get to open my son’s bedroom door and see everything untouched, just as the day before.
The hospitals are eerily quiet right now, like the calm before the storm. But I promise you, very shortly, we will see more patients, more deaths than any of us have ever seen in our careers. It will be overwhelming, physically, mentally, and emotionally. But we do this because this is what we choose to do. Some will probably walk away, but I made a promise to take care of the sick and vulnerable. Even in unimaginable magnitudes like we are about to see. I stand with my brothers and sister in this field. I stand with them to do my part to help people through this. I am doing my part. I am now asking you to do your part, your small part that will have a huge impact.
Please stay home, shop for only what you need every week or two. Only have contact with those you live with. Stay away from others and stop passing this around. And please, give grace and be kind throughout all of this.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rachael Jean Smith. 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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