I have been a nurse for 12 years with a background in pediatrics, urgent care, surgical services and now home health. Home health was always something I turned my nose up to until my life directed me otherwise, raising 4 daughters under the age of 11 involved in many activities. It just fit my life and “works” for now. Until I fell in love with it. Primarily caring for the elderly and homebound, I can integrate my Christianity and my job together. I have found myself building relationships with my patients and their families daily. I care about them and want to help whether on the clock or off. I have shh’d my kids more times than I can count listening to a worried adult child cry over their elderly parent because their concerns are my concerns. I have become friends with my patients and their families through this job.
Then- COVID 19. As it began to hit the news, my immediate thought went to my patients. They are “The at risk” “the most vulnerable”. I became their biggest risk. They are already sheltered in place and when I come into their home- I am bringing with me everything I have been exposed to. This adds a whole level of stress because I love these people. The thought of bringing these chemotherapy receiving, elderly, immunocompromised people something that could kill them breaks my heart. I have become the lifeline, the only visitor, FaceTime with family, and hug for them. Their families miss them and they miss their families. It’s sad. But it’s time for my Christianity part to kick in. I am wearing masks, washing a little extra and keeping 6 feet when possible. But I am also offering some showers, lotioning backs and legs, changing sheets and giving more hugs. Without fear. It’s changed my nursing heart from wound care and IV infusions to more of a “whole picture” based care. Is it scary? Yes, but I pray and trust that this is what God would want of me right now. I go back and forth between my calling as a nurse and my family and my own safety. It’s hard on the heart for sure. It has definitely caused lots of stress and certainly has had a big change on the career of nursing. Would I change paths and back out? Absolutely not. This has changed my work, long after Covid 19 is gone. I see my patients through I different lens now. I see them as a whole more now than before.I just pray I can do my part keep them safe and myself and family at the same time.
What can you do? Write letters or color pictures for local assisted living facilities, call the elderly to check on them, make some crafts to brighten their days, reach out.
To the sheltered in and lonely– STAY HOME. Do your part to flatten the curve so when care is needed for them or us, the equipment and staff is able to help. Until then, pray for those who are lonely and scared and enjoy the time with your families. Who knows, when this passes, you may actually miss this time together with no agenda!
Betsy, RN at Advanced Healthcare