I was a member of the team that intubated the first two COVID-19 positive patients that required ventilation at our hospital. I remember intubating one patient in our Intensive Care Unit and before I was finished there was a knock on the door with a message that a second patient needed the same intervention immediately in the Emergency Department.
Back then we knew very little about the virus and were constantly learning. We could offer little emotional support to our patients and their families because we were focused on performing the necessary tasks and keeping ourselves safe.
Scared was an understatement.
I returned home after each shift to my family, second guessing whether it was the right thing to do or if I was going to bring COVID-19 home. Some of my coworkers were having trailers setup in their yard to isolate from family members.
My husband and I decided to be extra vigilant in cleaning and keeping cross contamination between work and home almost nonexistent. My regimen includes wearing street clothes to work, changing into scrubs for the shift, street clothes back home and once in the house my work bag goes into the garage and the kids give “air hugs and kisses” until I have showered. This practice has continued to this day because I believe it has assisted in keeping my family safe.
I have experienced every emotion throughout the pandemic. I have been scared, nervous, frustrated, encouraged, proud, overwhelmed, angry and exhausted.
Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRTs) play a vital role in the fight of COVID-19 providing care through respiratory assessments, oxygen setups in patient’s homes, monitoring the virus’s progression and in the event a patient needs to be put on a ventilator (life support) RRTs are there to intubate and maintain the ventilator.
Now in the Third Wave, having supported dozens of COVID-19 positive patients, I find things a little easier as we have a better understanding of the virus and what to expect, but we are exhausted.
Every member of our team has children and/or other jobs. We have been tasked with increased demands in all our workplaces and homes which as humans has emptied our reserves – we just don’t have much more to give at this point. We have shared in our fears and relied on one another for support throughout this experience and have grown together as a team.
We can choose to focus on the negative, but I am trying every day to remember something that is encouraging.
I have seen some amazing acts of kindness over the past 15 months and for that I am thankful. I have never seen every country in the world work towards a common goal. This pandemic has forced us to slow down our lives and reset our priorities.