First of all, THANK YOU to every single person for sacrificing and doing their part in flattening this curve! Everyone is sacrificing a lot right now, but remember we are all in this together. This is hard on everyone for different reasons and everyone wishes this wasn’t happening, but it is. For me, it’s hard to come face to face with COVID every night (working only nights during the crisis), bearing witness to much more death and patients dying alone than usual. Of those I know of, 3 of my coworkers have already died of COVID, many hospitalized, and many more of my coworkers have contracted COVID (I have been exposed multiple times now). This is a similar story at many other hospitals. It’s frightening to see people in their 20’s and 30’s requiring ventilators and seeing that most patients need mechanical ventilation for at least 2 weeks (an extremely long time). All hospitals have ventilator allocation protocols (who gets ventilators, who doesn’t), something I never thought I would experience.
In order to begin my assignment in the COVID Unit, I needed to make my peace; I wrote my will, I reflected on what a GREAT life I’ve had), and I talked to my boyfriend and my immediate family about my wishes if I died or ended up on a ventilator as they couldn’t come to see me if I got sick (and that I wouldn’t be in that room alone-my father who passed 5 years ago would be there too). I don’t know when it will be safe for me to see any of my friends or family again, or meet my new nephew due in May. All of these experiences and thoughts have been heart-wrenching.
But I found the strength to endure in this crisis by thinking of a 17-year-old boy who sacrificed so much more than me when he enlisted in the US Navy during what appeared to be the end of days, serving aboard the USS Wichita in WWII. This boy is my grandfather, Leon Casey, a now 95-year-old WWII Veteran.
Unfortunately, the virus is calling the shots right now and we must be guided by science, or all we have already sacrificed over the past few weeks will be for not. The only way to have a slow pandemic (less sucky) is to isolate; this IS the only solution currently. It’s buying time for research and the health care system to not collapse. The USA has endured far worse than a pandemic and is strong; we will recover. Testing is what we most need to focus on in order to safely get back to our lives. We are simply not currently able to test on the scale we need to in order to safely open at the moment (need to do this or all we have already sacrificed will be for not). For all you are enduring and sacrificing, I’m here in solidarity with you every night! Stay positive and flexible; the only way out is through, and the only way through is together. Better days are ahead.
Kim Van Ryzin, MD / Rachael’s First Week Volunteer Speaker