“For me it wasn’t really a choice. Nurses were being called out of retirement. Others who work on medical or surgical floors, were being called to the ICU to pitch in. I work full time in clinical research but I figured I could do two 12-hour shifts per week on top of that. I try to take Sundays off so that I don’t burn out but, it was a no-brainer — I’m young and I’m healthy and I am trained to do this job.
Most of the patients in the ICU are intubated on ventilators. They can’t talk and you have to be their voice.
We find ways to detach or to find some humour in our days but you know everything about that one patient. You do get invested.
Nurses will bring in their own phones in a plastic bag so that a patient who’s awake can video chat with a family member. My patients are on ventilators for a really long time. It’s a slow recovery. You can tell which families would be glued to the bedside, if only they could be.
We have families who have dropped off tape recorders of their voices — talking, singing, saying prayers — anything that might provide some comfort.
I live in a 600 square foot condo with my husband who has been following physical distancing measures to a T. My biggest fear is making him sick when he has been doing everything right. We know what we’re signing ourselves up for, but in a way our immediate family gets signed up too.
We hear that Ontario has hit the peak of COVID cases but I can’t shake the feeling of ‘is it going to get worse?’ As nurses on the frontlines, we don’t have any special information, so we’re waiting too.”