The past 31 days have been a mixed bag of emotions… said everyone ever. 31 days ago, my husband and I realized just how much our world was about to change. Whispers of a COVID Shutdown hung in the air like a bad odor you can’t get rid of.
This sentiment of needing to change wasn’t equally shared with many we knew. And then it happened. We all have our own versions of this story. Some have been in the thick of it a lot longer, others remain relatively unaffected. There is no better or worse version, simply different experiences. We started separating ourselves, stopped attending events, stocked up on canned goods, flour, paper goods, and soap (didn’t think about hand sanitizer at the time! OOPSY).
Dan started to ask questions at work. Would his department have enough PPE? How were they prepared to handle overflow? What was the expectation for resident interaction with COVID positive patients?
The answers came in waves and still… change daily based on the constant/new information that pellets Emergency Departments (ED) across the nation. Across the world.
24 days ago I was laid off. The small print shop I partnered with back in September had steadily been loosing revenue due to growing restrictions and fears of the virus. At least 80% of their business was tied to the event industry. With weeks of lost revenue and no foreseeable way to recoup the owners made a tough call. They released the entire team… all 4 of us. Leaving just the 2 of them to float the shop for as long as possible.
I Got Hit By A Train
22 days ago I got hit by a train. Emotionally. All the feels of loneliness, uncertainty, complete lack of control, worry for my husband’s physical and mental safety, worry for my physical and mental safety, worry for my friends and family who are immunocompromised and elderly… terror. That’s really the best word to describe the fear that gripped my heart and mind and took me spiraling. My faith was nowhere to be found. There was no strength to be found. I was a puddle.
16 days ago the state of North Carolina issued a Shelter in Place- except for essential needs. **Which honestly still seems to be everything and everybody for the most part. Except bars/breweries. And salons. They’ve really taken a hit because their line or work leaves zero loopholes to jump through for the classification of “essential”.
14 days ago I was convicted of my lack of faith. I began to commit my first daily thoughts to His word, to ask for His peace, to trust in His plan. I stopped confronting family and friends about their conspiracy theories, stopped reading articles that were clearly marked as triggers, pulled myself off most medical forums and platforms, and stopped reading the news every time an alert popped up. I began to rest my mind and my soul, and although the world around me has yet to change, my heart and hope are being glued back together!
13 days ago I went grocery shopping for the first time since 31 days ago. I wrapped a scarf around my face, threw the last small bottle of sanitizer into my purse, and purchased enough food to last us through the end of April. Groceries for 4 weeks. 1 of 5 persons had some sort of personal protection. Everyone else was just living their best life. It was totally bazar. I got so many weird looks and eye rolls. It didn’t feel like I had expected a COVID Shutdown to feel.
Just In Case
11 days ago Dan was switched off his current rotation and brought back into the ED. His program had decided to pull every resident back into the ED for the months of April and May just in case. Every male resident was asked to shave for mask fittings. Overnight… across the world of Emergency Medicine, a field known for facial hair, every Intern, Resident and Attending went baby face.
Over the next 3 months Dan will be actively working with COVID patients in the ED or ICU- in direct contact multiple times a day, day after day. Based on the volume he was admitting, it became abundantly clear that this COVID Shutdown was here to stay.
We talked about what that would mean for us. For our risk of contracting the virus. What to expect from each other. Should he move out? Should he sleep in a different room? Should we still have physical contact? Together, we decided to tough it out. He wasn’t going anywhere and we would change nothing. EXCEPT for extra precautions like a separate hamper, stripping outside before entering, showering right away before anything, bleaching and cleaning everything always.
A New Normal
11 days ago I also realized that my life would not be returning to “normal” as quickly as it might for some. Dan’s repetitive exposure to COVID not only puts him at high risk for transmission, but places me at high risk for transmission. Which basically means I’m looking at a state of physical distancing until July… or longer. That was quite the pill to swallow. Still is. How long would a COVID Shutdown actually last?
6 days ago I chatted with a friend who really encouraged me to get back to this. To documenting life, sharing my heart openly, and writing down recipes. She asked me why I had stopped blogging? Why Instagram had all but disappeared? I had been “busy”. Filling my life with lots of things to help me cope with the fact that Intern year has sucked. That residency has been yet another strain on our marriage. A strain on our health. A strain on our attempts to conceive. A strain on our faith. I was searching for distractions- not purpose. The sting of that realization was, well, painful. For however pulled together I sometimes feel, I am constantly reminded of my need. My need for a Savior who kindly extends abundant mercy and grace. For without it, all would be lost.
Day 1 ago… I’m writing words as they pour from my heart. There’s nothing in particular I’m hoping to accomplish. This is exactly how I would be taking with you if we were sitting at my kitchen table. Except there would be some chocolate banana bread, fried in butter, slathered in cream cheese with a pot of tea between us.
And while I’ve re-learned some lessons, endured some new heartache and been challenged to grow, it’s still not easy. Even with a new found level of faith… THIS is not easy. There are daily battles between my heart, my mind, and my soul. Walking through these moments is exaughsting. I’m still concerned for the health of my loved ones, and angered by XYZ.
Yet, I am so grateful for the FaceTime dates, VHHs (Virtual Happy Hours), Zooms, countless texts, and long phone calls with friends and family. My silver lining has been reconnection. Past the surface of “How are you doing?”… “Great! And you?”… “Great! We should talk soon!”… “Yah we should!”…. and then silence. No. I’ve cracked that wide open and couldn’t be more thrilled for the reminder that I truly do have the BEST of people in my life. COVID Shutdown or not.
We all have a story to share. I’d encourage you to take a look back to when this virus started to change and challenge you.
What rocked your world? How are you dealing -not just handling- how are you dealing with this? What are you grateful for in the midst of this struggle?
Hugs, because handshakes are awkward~