“To the nurse who was fired for wearing their own mask.
To the nurse who has been told they’ll be written up for not adhering to hospital policy.
To the nurse who has been told they can trust policy because it’s based on ‘CDC guidelines.’
To the nurse who has worked 4, 5, 6, 7, consecutive 12-hour shifts.
To the nurse who is supposed to get married soon.
To the nurse who has a spouse also on the front lines.
To the nurse who was verbally assaulted on their way to work.
To the nurse who was physically assaulted by a patient when they got there.
To the nurse who hasn’t hugged or kissed their family in weeks.
To the nurse who has no childcare but must report to work.
To the nurse who is pregnant and feels guilty for not accepting COVID cases.
To the nurse who is immunocompromised but can’t help but feel like she’s failing her coworkers.
To the nurse who watches some people on the outside defy social distancing recommendations.
To the nurse who now has skin breakdown from prolonged mask-use.
To the nurse who just graduated and is in their first year of nursing.
To the nurse who has been denied COVID-testing.
To the nurse who is a single parent and has had to send their kid away to live with relatives.
To the nurse who only sheds tears in the shower so that it can drain with the water.
To the nurse who has had no food or drinks their entire shift.
To the nurse who is diabetic and now their glucose is low.
To the nurse who is skilled in operating the ventilators.
To the nurse who wonders what the point of all those ethics papers were back in nursing school.
To the nurse being bombarded by the media to make statements about their experience.
To the nurse who works on a unit that does not have pulse ox cords in some of the rooms.
To the nurse who was told they no longer need an N95 ‘per the CDC.’
To the nurse who filled out their Advance Directive Medical POA after a tough shift.
To the nurse who must find their voice and now use their patient advocacy skills for themselves.
To the nurse on the floor who has been canceled for the 3rd time, displaced, or redeployed.
To the nurse who knows deep down, this is not just droplet and contact.
To the nurse who’s 25-year-old abdominal pain patient was found to have ground-glass opacities on the CT.
To the nurse who realizes none of the team wore PPE since abdominal pain was not part of the criteria.
To the nurse who is hiding their pre-existing condition for fear of retaliation or coming up short for their coworkers.
To the nurse who was just handed their one mask and plastic bag for the day, for the week.
To the nurse who has been living out of a motel to avoid infecting their family.
To the nurse who is running out of sick leave and PTO.
To the nurse who found out their patient was COVID positive via word of mouth, through the grapevine.
To the nurse who didn’t pack lunch today because their work schedule does not permit time to buy groceries.
To the nurse who stayed up last night sewing together pieces of fabric so that they’d have a mask.
To the nurse who wonders when that mysterious tent that was put up outside will be put into use.
To the nurse in charge who has received 3 CPRs, a stroke, and a trauma, back to back.
To the nurse who searches anxiously for a new mask; they’re locked up now.
To the nurse who is thinking about putting in their resignation.
To the nurse who wonders well what about the ANA Code of Ethics, you know, provisions 5 and 6?
To the nurse who has arrived at a shift with 8 call outs.
To the nurse who catches a glimpse of the freezer truck parked out back that is being used as morgue overflow.
To the nurse who stands alone in their PPE next to their intubated patient, as they silently have an anxiety attack.
To the nurse who just gave themselves a Cardi-B pep-talk so they can get back out there.
To the nurse who has been told to cohort the cancer patient with the suspected COVID patient, because there’s just no more space.
To the nurse who was told they signed up for this.
To the nurse who is active in the union and spends off days writing up Demands and Calls to Action.
To the nurse who just performed the last round of CPR on their 30-year old patient.
To the nurse who stepped outside to catch their breath but instead ended up pulling an unconscious man out of a car.
To the nurse who is on a travel assignment and nowhere close to their loved ones.
To the nurse who just risked their job by sounding the alarm and exposing their hospital.
To the nurse who knows there are no more ventilators left and their patient will die by morning.
To the nurse who just received a lab call notifying them that their COVID patient’s blood work has hemolyzed.
To the nurse who has been made to feel like their life does not matter.
To the nurse who realizes the public did not truly know what nurses ‘do’ until now.
To the nurse who is being reassured by leadership shift after shift that PPE stockpiles exist…somewhere.
To the nurse who woke up to a text message that another one of their coworkers has died.
To the nurse who can feel their spirit breaking.
To the nurse who is not being offered mental health support.
To the nurse rushing to don their PPE as their patient de-sats.
To the nurse being told by higher-ups during huddle to abandon all they’ve ever known to be true about appropriate infection control and safety precautions.
To the nurse who muttered under their breath, ‘Yeah, but I bet you wouldn’t go in there without an N95.’
To the nurse who just wrapped themselves in a trash bag before entering the room.
To the nurse who was abandoned by the same system they dedicated their life to.
To the nurse who woke up in the middle of the night with a fever and cough.
To the nurse who has tested positive for COVID-19.
To the nurse who can no longer breathe on their own.
To the nurse who has been admitted to the ICU.
To the nurse who was just intubated by their own colleague.
To the nurse who did chest compressions on this nurse with tears streaming down their face.
To the nurse who backs away for the last time as time of death is called.
To the nurse who has been referred to as ‘just a nurse.’
To the nurse who wonders if this is how they treat ‘heroes.’
Every day, we write our names and the date on our face masks and eye shields. Every day, we show up stronger, more capable, and braver than the day before. Not just for our patients, but for one another.
My name is Aída. I am an ER nurse.
To the nurses all around the world, I feel you.
I share your pain. I have your back.
I WILL show up for YOU.
You are me. I am you. We are each other.
Let’s show them our truth.
This is the Year of the Nurse.
Never again will you be ‘just a nurse.’”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Aída Kranzburg. You can follow her journey on Facebook. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more from nurses:
‘I keep hearing, ‘Stop complaining, this is what you signed up for.’ We did not sign on to care of others without being properly protected ourselves.’: Nurse urges ‘understand the risks we’re taking against this illness’
‘I didn’t sign up to walk into every shift with gut-wrenching fear I may take a death sentence home to my immunocompromised child.’: Nurse says ‘give us some grace as we navigate these uncharted waters’
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