What were healthcare workers doing during the pandemic?
Wakeup, throw some scrubs on, and out the door you go. You’re gonna be late, and you don’t have time for a coffee stop. You only got three hours of sleep and you have a 16 hour shift ahead of you. Come to think of it, you only got three hours of sleep the day before that too. Ugh. You clock in just on time, pull your mask on and lower your goggles over your eyes. Instantly they fog up. You forgot its Covid Tuesday, which means a Q-tip up your nose. Your phone is blowing up, your coworkers are texting you, “You here yet? You’re coming in right?” Once you get your nose swabbed you’re running up the stairs.
“Thank god. I thought you weren’t coming in. Two people called out. It’s just you….” The stairway door opens and a girl you know from another floor walks in crying. She got mandated. She’s crying because she doesn’t know who’s going to pick her kids up from school. You feel bad but you are secretly relieved that she’s here to help you. You get to work. There’s not a moment to spare. There’s people to be washed, to be changed, to be fed, to be treated. You’re running around, doing everything at once it seems. Someone is screaming down the hallway. You pray no one fell out of bed. A family member accosts you in the hall, demanding to know who forgot to put Great Aunt Jean’s TV on channel 7. She only watches channel 7. Oh and while you’re listening why hasn’t the doctor come back to speak with her? You aren’t exactly sure who Great Aunt Jean’s doctor is and its a Saturday so they likely aren’t in the building, but you assure her they will likely be making rounds come Monday. Now to make sure whoever was screaming isn’t in mortal danger.
After hours of nonstop running, who lock yourself in the bathroom for a moment of peace. Your stomach hurts from holding your urine so long, you’re probably getting an infection. You look at yourself in the mirror, and you start to cry. There is a bruise starting to form on your cheek, because someone’s grandma doesn’t understand you were trying to help bathe them. There’s another bruise on your stomach because someone’s 300 lb grandpa kicked you while you were changing his sheets. And your scrubs are wet because someone’s perverted uncle peed on you after groping your chest. Why did you choose this job? Wouldn’t it be so much easier just to go sit at a desk job and make the same wage?
Here’s why you chose this job over another. Because at the height of the pandemic, when others refused to work on the covid unit, you said “I’ll go.” When families couldn’t visit, you became their family. You brought them flowers from your backyard. You cracked the joke that made their day. You held their hand while they cried from loneliness. You held their hand as they were slowly dying. You told them stories to make them laugh. As you left the room you heard them say “I love you.” And after you washed Great Aunt Jean’s hair and put it in curlers, she said, “Thank you so much. Now I’ll feel pretty.” That bruise was worth it. Because even the unlovely need to be cared for. You chose this job because every human being deserves the basic care that provides them with dignity.