I remember when he first called me. Asking if I was ok.
Yes. We are ok.
We had been staying in the house for over a week. My son’s school was closed. My husband now working from our bedroom. My job now stopped.
We are fine. We are safe. We are home... But, how are you?
It's now almost 18 months later. My cousin is a fireman, his wife, a nurse. They too have school age children. Kids who are ineligible for the vaccine, regardless of their choice. Their protection reliant on the adults that surround them.
A firefighter and a nurse who both still have to worry about infection with now a new variant that is effecting more and more children. A variant they see and access everyday. That they watch ravage the unvaccinated. A variant they have to worry about bringing home and infecting their own children with after every shift. Wondering if they inhaled it. Wondering if they caught it. Wondering if they are asymptomatic. Wondering if they will know.
Every time they greet a sick patient or answer a 9-1-1 call. Every time they come home, stripping off their scrubs after a 12 hour stretch on a Covid ward. Every time they throw those clothes in the laundry fearing the possibility they could be contaminating something in some way. Spreading the germ. Bringing in a microscopic bomb into their home. Fearing there is an unknown to this variant that seems to have taken everyone by surprise. That might have more hidden beneath it’s microscopic shell.
How are you...18 months into a pandemic taking care of those who have gotten critically ill while half the country still denies its seriousness? That half the country refuses to believe that the same mask you wear everyday, all day, for your only protection against a virus is constricting their breathing. Is harmful. Is stripping their freedom as your hospitals fill. As your wards are overwhelmed. As you run out of beds. As you tirelessly work shift after shift dealing with their misinformed decisions. Those same decisions you have to deal with so they aren't inconvenienced. Or uncomfortable. As the rest of the world adapts for humanity. For the common goal of ending this global pandemic. That the rest of the world has managed to unite in a fight against a common enemy as they only hear Americans continue to argue and complain about. Believing conspiracy theories over science. Or over reality.
While you wear the same mask to survive. Constantly. For hours on end. Surrounded by the unknown and an invisible enemy that can infiltrate with any question, under any breath, every cough, any sneeze, every denial. That is constantly mutating in every individual it contracts, possibly turning into something we can no longer fight. That the vaccine could not be effective against. Because that is what viruses do. They adapt to survive. They grow stronger to spread as we grow weaker in division. While we leave you to pick up the pieces and place an expectation to "fix" us. To make us better. To deal with it.
How are you arriving on a call unprepared to tell them how long they’ll be sick or IF they’ll get better. How are you when they ask how long this pandemic will continue to go on? How are you when a child asks how they got so sick with a virus their parents told them was a hoax? That their parents told them they didn't need to protect themselves against with a mask? That they would be fine because they had an immune system they assumed could fight it. As these kids are on oxygen, in ICU beds and developing a syndrome of inflammation of multiple organs, a disease called MIS-C, that still remains an unknown to why only some children get after contracting this virus. That, as of June, adults are now mysteriously getting the symptoms as well.
How are you after telling them they can’t have many visitors. How are you when you tell some patients they might have to die alone? How are you being surrounded by death? While beat with exhaustion and only being expected to continue. How are you while watching your colleagues get sick, being over worked as governments argue about choices ...and those choices landing solely on your lap? To keep going as the politicians continue telling people not to mask up. Not to lose their “freedoms” while robbing you of yours. For 18 months. Without a break. Without a consideration.
How are you dealing with this with the confidence and bravery to leave every day to face the uncertainty?To face the ridicule? How are you when you come home at night? When you’re laying your head on your pillow or read a bed time story to your child unsure of whatever you encountered that day? Of what might be in your breath. Whispering sweet dreams to your child after seeing so many suffer throughout the day. How are you looking into their eyes and hoping for the best? As others brush off the “what ifs” while you know the “what is”.
How are you being affected? How are you going to deal with the lasting effects of being ignored? How are you not knowing how long this will go on? As the surges happen around the globe as Americans seem to think they are the only ones being inconvenienced against a disease we have a vaccine against. A vaccine that you know keeps them out of your ER or ambulance, that they spout and believe will kill them? Or make the infertile? A vaccine their previous president took back in January. A vaccine many other countries are begging for. As they watch others die. Who don’t have access to N95 or even more than one cloth mask. Who would gladly wear it if given the chance as their only protection.
How are you… on the front line witnessing the divide deepen. Watching the unity of the United States dissolve?
How are you feeling about protestors yelling in your face that this is fake. With no appreciation for what you do on a daily basis. Over and over. Month after month. That would rather take the chance infecting you and others than protecting their fellow American. As they refer to themselves as "Patriots" but refuse to do the common good for our country. To wear a mask. To stop the spread. To end a pandemic. To open an economy. To end all of this. Who preach from articles they found on the internet or heard in a youtube video or from a fox anchor who a federal judge has found not credible, while accusing you of spreading false information all while you are trying to protect them from the same thing you heroically face everyday?
How are you... still doing?
So, yes, we are fine. We are safe. We are home...But... how are you?