The important thing to keep in mind as you dig into the numbers surrounding COVID-19 is that each data point represents a human story. Each statistic is a person. Each hospitalization requires an entire team of nurses and doctors and respiratory therapists. It helps to see what they’re going through.
Our sister publication, People Newspapers, solicited this first-person essay from a nurse at a Dallas hospital that does exactly that. It’s an intimate look at what it’s like to treat these patients and the emotional toll our caregivers are working through.
It’s the 11th hour and the monitor alarms for a heart rate of 160 and oxygen of 60. I go to the room to help, and see a man’s body lifeless in his bed. I stand by his side to hold his hand and recognize him as the patient I took care of last week. He struggled to find a mask each time I entered the room to prevent me, in all my gear, from being in his place. He had something funny to say each time I entered, always saying thank you as I left. He has chronic back pain and would prefer a warm pack on his back over pain medicine. His point of contact is a niece, whom he loves very much. His belly is also red because, he too, wants to get better.
And here he lies with tears in his eyes, and a new tube in his throat. I want to scream. His nurse is doing everything she can, but there are better ways, faster ways, more efficient ways – but she does not know them. It’s not her fault. She is new and has found herself in the midst of a virus that has stolen hospital beds from every other ailment and new nurses from the shade of a “new grad” umbrella. I help her make the patient comfortable and teach her things that I had two years to learn.
Read her essay and then wear your masks.