September 29, 2021
Wasn’t gonna talk about COVID-19, but since I am a Registered Nurse, taking care of people coming to our local hospital, let me share what I know and then move on with my Blog on mentoring and other important topics.
Let’s say you get into an accident while on a bus or a train or driving a vehicle and you end up in a hospital. Or you are on vacation with your family and develop severe belly aches and it turns out one of your little organs in your belly is the cause and you go to the hospital after trying your favorite drugstore pain killer but got no relief. Or you are in your pool or on the beach or walking several miles in the sun to your destination and develop sunstroke, requiring hospitalization!
No big deal, your family or friends go into the hospital with you and talk with the nurses and doctors as your advocate in order to help you out since you are in a great deal of discomfort. Then, they go up to your room with you as you settle in for the few days you will be spending at the hospital.
While at the hospital, you are treated by a number of professionals entering your room, often to check your temperature or your wound, or give you pain medication, or help you get out of bed to use the bathroom, or sometimes to bring you a pitcher of ice water, or often just to check on you to make sure you are doing okay. You interact with the staff, perhaps take a walk out into the hall, maybe visit the outdoor garden, or visit with friends or family who stop by. Maybe your outside support system bring your favorite drink or meal or stay awhile and chat, sitting at the edge of your bed holding your hands as you deal with the discomfort or distress your body is experiencing.
Oftentimes, a family or friend will spend the night in your hospital room, wake up the next morning and go to work, then return at the end of the day to visit again. A family member might bring your young children to visit and they might spend most of the day with you. Your son might bring your elderly wife in her wheelchair, and she might visit until her bedtime when they both will kiss you good night until they return another day.
A few times a nurse or doctor might ask your visitors to step out of your room for a few minutes while a certain procedure gets done; a family member might ask to stay in the room with you in order to comfort you through. Your coworkers might send flowers to cheer you up and let you know they’re thinking about you and might also stop by your hospital room.
Maybe you all are vacationing and you end up in a hospital close to the beach you are visiting. So, you tell your family to continue with some of your preplanned activities, and they visit you at the end of each day to share all the fun stuff they did, and they bring along food so they can eat dinner with you. You hate being in the hospital, as your life has been put on hold while you receive treatment!!
Well, this has been the experience at many hospitals before Covid-19.
Since Covid-19, the treatment for these common hospitalizations I described at the beginning of this post and most others conditions, has changed drastically. Most of the things allowed above cannot be permitted anymore. When the number of Covid cases drop and plateau, patients start to get one to two visitors, when the cases go back up, the restrictions return. Patients have begged to have a loved one stay overnight after they’ve had surgery for common conditions, but it cannot be permitted and they have to go it alone. You really don’t know what that feels like until you become a patient and at the mercy of health care professionals to provide care and you have to go it alone.
Your experience is less than desirable because of the increase demands of staff and their sheer exhaustion and fatigue, not only with the work, but the additional protective gear they must wear!
You think wearing a mask for a few minutes or hours is difficult, try wearing it or the more restrictive N-95 mask along with goggles over your eyeglasses, a head covering, paper/plastic gown over your uniform, shoe covering, and gloves, changing in and out of them often since you might have a combination of Covid patients and non-Covid patients, push a 50lb computer in and out of 4-6 patient rooms, a medication room, a nourishment room, a supply room, a dirty utility room, answer or make phone calls to pharmacy, doctors, case managers, dietary, your family, give medications to 4-6 patients, dress any wounds, reposition those that cannot move, feed them if they cannot feed themselves, assist them to the bathroom or walk them, or respond to a bed alarm of another patient who will fall as they’re trying to get out of bed.
Did I mention staff wear their protective gear while they also draw blood, interview new patients or discharge patients, taking them down by wheelchair to the hospital entrance, respond to a patient who is becoming aggressive/violent, document on your computer everything you’re doing, drop everything you’re doing if you hear a Code Blue and run to a patient who lost their ability to breathe or their heart stopped? And there’s more, but I’ll stop here.
Wait, one more thing, when you show up in the Emergency Room, if your condition is life threatening, and not from Covid-19, do you know that the necessary equipment you need to save your life might not be readily available? Why, well because they’re already being used by people just like you and I who are there for Covid-19 rescue treatment!!
Now, let’s talk about the hospitalized Covid-19 experience. That experience is a totally different experience than the one I described above. Here’s how; the minute you are determined to have Covid-19, you are separated from your loved ones and will not have them present again for weeks and maybe months. No one gets to go up to your room with you. You are in a room by yourself and staff enter only to perform assessments and treatments and stay only long enough to carry them out, because they have to protect themselves from you, and the longer they stay with you, the greater chance they might get infected and then infected their loved ones when they get home. Chances are you will only see their eyes peeking from behind clear shields. The rest of the time they will monitor you through a window.
If you were lucky to plan your trip to the hospital and packed an iPad or Tablet with you, then you can see and talk to your loved ones. If those are not items you had access to, you are cut off from your support system, your friends, your neighbors, your family. You think that’s easy, especially when you are incapacitated from this nasty viral attack on your body? You cannot breathe, and that makes you exhausted, your body is hot from fevers and many other parts of your body struggles to defend itself but cannot. You want to stop fighting because it is too much to bear. And, you are going it alone, no familiar face to help you through it.
For fleeting moments, you begin to wonder if the hundreds of thousands they say died is maybe true!
That’s all I will say on this subject.
More to come…