Life In The Time of Corona (virus)

During this Corona Virus (CoVid 19) pandemic, I’ve gone through different kinds of emotions. From feeling fearful and panicky during the early days when I first took care of a CoVid-19 PUI with CDC recommending only the the use of regular surgical masks while taking care of these patients which afforded minimal protection as an ICU nurse , to being creative while painstakingly sewing surgical masks and bonnets from old scraps of fabric just to feel useful and in control.

As a parent , there’s additional challenges – making sure that kids are learning something from the distance education modules that they received from school. And there’s ‘how to keep them nicely preoccupied’ during this quarantine period.

This pandemic has really changed our lives. This post is my attempt to document these changes, at least from my point of view.

March 15, 2020

It has been an interesting week. From cancelling travel plans to Italy for the first week of April, to learning that the kids wont have classes for a month, which gave me some anxiety.. what to feed the kids during these coming weeks, LOL. It has been crazy in my part of Southern California. The grocery stores are being emptied of basic stuff- meat, chicken, bread cleaning supplies like Chlorox, Lysol wipes etc. At the grocery store yesterday, people were panic buying, the atmosphere was tense and it was easy to to get affected by the mood. When I saw these flowers, I grabbed a bunch just to feel a little of bit of normalcy.. like it was an ordinary shopping day on a weekend.

March 19,2020

It started as a normal day at work, the presence of familiar faces , the occasional beeping of the IV pump signaling an empty IV fluid bag , even the random PVC alarm in the cardiac monitor were comforting . It felt normal even though the news on the television reported about the long lines at the grocery stores , the empty shelves, the hoarding and panic buying. It seemed normal even though at home, the presence of my 3 school age kids on a week day when they should’ve been at school said otherwise. It’s day 1 of distance learning for them. No school until after spring break. During the latter part of the shift , I was told of an admission ; Rule Out COVid. 32 YO male , with severe SOB , intubated in ER with a history of HTN. After preparing the airborne infection isolation room, I was ready, so I requested for an N95. I had to beg because there was an initial argument : that I didn’t need a N95 for this CDC- recommended Droplet Precautions. Though patient was already intubated, I had to assist the intensivist inside the room to place an access for an emergency Hemodialysis . I didn’t want to prolong the argument, I used the last N95 in my locker stashed unwittingly during the days when the shortage of it was unheard of. Because of the dwindling supply of N95s, like other facilities, my hospital started rationing N95 masks to only those that require airborne precautions and because CDC recommended droplet precautions for these cases and use of N95 is prioritized in aerosol -generating procedures like intubation, CPR, etc; Cal OSHA on the other hand says that a novel virus such as the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19, is considered an airborne infectious disease and control measures such as the use of airborne infection isolation and respiratory protection are required.Cal/OSHA’s Aerosol Transmissible Diseases (ATD) Standard (title 8 section 5199) There’s ambiguity, and I understand that the shortage of supplies has led us to this scary situation.But there’s just so many unknown elements about this virus and if I feel that I don’t have adequate protection to care for these patients, can I refuse a patient? . Do I risk exposure ? What about my family? What about my oath to care for the sick without bias or judgment? Nurses should not even be in such a predicament , but that’s what I felt, scared yet feeling compelled to serve .. Like a soldier being sent to war against a powerful entity with minimal protection, without ammunition .
I know nothing of the logistics involved , but isn’t it ironic, the US is at the forefront of developing and supplying sophisticated ‘ machinery of war’ , yet lagging behind in the provision and manufacturing of N95 masks and other PPEs, in establishing early testing and accessible testing facilities?I would like to serve, but I need protection.And please, stay at home..

March 29, 2020

“A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down” Arnold H. Glasgow

Last week I was assailed by feelings of panic and sense of doom when I realized that healthcare workers like myself are fighting an invisible entity with minimal protection; PPE’s were running low. An old friend whom I haven’t seen for 15 years saw my desperate post, she was moved and offered to make fabric masks for me and my co-workers in the ICU. She sent me about 50 fabric masks.

Nurses don’t ask much. Most nurses don’t get the thrill at being called ‘heroes’, saving lives in the first place is part of the job, but efforts like this: a friend offering support, a family offering prayers of protection, or a stranger taking heed to #stayhome warm the heart and help give us the strength to carry on. If there’s any silver lining in this surreal situation that we’re in now, it’s that. Thank you https://www.etsy.com/people/zakkastudio



April 3, 2020

Two weeks into quarantine now. I feel a bit ‘normal’ . I still go to work, nothing changed except that 3 of the 4 ICU units at my work are now filled with Covid 19 patients. Some remain on the ventilator, some are on High Flow Nasal Cannula and some have succesfuly beaten the disease. At the home front, the trails are utilized for activities that help beat boredom and improve physical well-being.

April7, 2020

The PPEs at work are being rationed, donations from friends help healthcare workers get through this pandemic. It’s amazing how much the community responded. Gloves, face masks and shields were donated. People donated food from day shift to night shift. Even my daughter made face shields. It is a quick 5 minute DIY/mask made of Transparency Film acetate, 12 inch heavy duty rubber band and 1/2 inch Window Door Seal Tape.

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