A nurse is trained to work under pressure, and science is our foundation and our blueprint. Navigating through these uncertain times can be challenging for anyone. I am an African American, first-generation college graduate, mother of two, and a nurse. I work as an LPN at Northern Virginia Family Practice with several years of experience in pediatrics, trach, and ventilation care, and emergency preparedness.
The coronavirus has come to place anxiety and stress on all medical professionals around the world, even those with experience and areas of expertise. We find ourselves looking to others for guidance and instead we are finding uncertainty. Physicians and scientists are working around the clock testing existing medications, racing to formulate an effective vaccine, and releasing new data by the minute. COVID-19 has changed our reality and shifted life as we know it. Our children were taken out of schools abruptly with no return date in sight. As physicians, nurses, frontline workers, essential and non-essential workers, we are all affected in some way because of this pandemic. Some people continue to work in stressful environments as millions live the financial uncertainty of unemployment. I want to say take a deep breath; we can get through this.
Sporting events are canceled, and football fields are turned into drive-thru testing sites. You find yourself asking, is this the new normal? Children are learning via zoom and google classroom. Social interactions are limited. We now only see people at work and or in our quarantined groups at home. How did we get to this point, and when will this be over? The management of home and work is becoming a task. I know you are tired, but you are prepared; take a deep breath.
For medical staff around the world, protocols and procedures are being changed before they can be fully implemented. One day we hear,” do not wear a mask”, and the next day masks are mandatory. I get up, put my scrubs on, and adapt. Medical resources such as the CDC issue statements and the news is becoming overwhelming. The cases are rising, and we must be the brave face for so many. To this, I say, take a deep breath, we were trained for this.
The disparities among the black community are noticed. This our community and our people affected the most. Is it the access to resources, is it genetics, or is it just the virus? Questions need to be answered as fear sets in among the black community. We ask ourselves, what can we do to help? I would say take a deep breath, but before you can, the coronavirus is no longer the headline.
This load that is supposed to be getting lighter is getting heavier. Video clips of police brutality and injustice among the black community start circulating. The scars that are supposed to be healing are getting deeper. Suddenly I find myself unable to take that deep breath. How can I fight the disparities caused by the coronavirus and racism at the same time? What training and experience will help me in this situation? The resources available to armor me for the anxiety of COVID-19 and the emotional pain of racism are limited. My fear and anxiety are now coupled with unbearable pain.
“I can’t breathe!”