I’m a bit not ok. But, really, I am ok under the circumstances. I had another two kind-of-terrible shifts on Monday and Tuesday. And then I had two days off and I’m headed back tomorrow. At about 3pm this afternoon, I had to give up on the desk job and crawl into bed and scrunch in under the covers to blot out the daylight and thought seriously about calling out tomorrow. Never have I ever called out. I am sad and tired. At 3pm I thought I was getting sick. But I took a nap and then Jeremy made me a cheesesteak for dinner and I’m feeling better. I don’t think I’m sick. Actually, I’m sure I’m not sick.
We’ve been watching Bon Appetit Test Kitchen as a family. There are about 9 cast members and we each have one that is like our doppelganger. Jeremy is Chris, I’m Sohla, Vince is Brad and Edda is Gaby. Check it out.
I’m feeling much better than I did at 3pm. Sometimes you just need a nap and a cheesesteak. It’s going to be a terrible shift tomorrow, but I’m ok with that. I’ve lived through all my other shifts, I should be OK through tomorrow’s. The numbers in Maryland are not good. I can feel it at the hospital. We’ve been in lockdown for six weeks now, I’m not sure what it’s doing infection-wise because the numbers keep going up, but you can tell people are starting to get restless. When I walk/run in the neighborhood, I can see people starting to gather in parks and on corners.
Vince put down the housing deposit for college. UC Davis is still holding that they are guaranteeing housing for fall. UC Irvine and UC Santa Cruz had both sent emails rescinding housing guarantees for freshmen. We have no idea what is going to happen there. UC Davis has a late start – classes start Sept 30. That’s five months from now. We’ll see.
We are eating well here at the house. Our CSA just started and we got a delivery of fresh greens which less than an hour later, Jeremy turned into a mid-day lunch special. We subscribed to this CSA though a connection to UUCR. They are dropping off at the church usually, but today was special and they dropped off on our porch. As per the usual protocol now, it’s a contactless drop off, we don’t see them, they don’t see us. It pains me to think that I might never see the people who grow the food – it’s part of the fun of a CSA.
Eric has also been baking bread and we got surprised by a sourdough loaf earlier this week.
I was at the hospital on Thurs and Friday. Thursday went well (even though I was floating), but Friday was a doozy. I haven’t had a shift like that in a while. It was non-covid related (mostly.) You have to have a terrible shift every so often and I haven’t had one in a long time. The frequency is right, about one out of every 6 or 8 shifts is going to knock you to the ground. I gave away many of the cloth mask’s that Vickey’s mom (my quilting teacher) made.
This is Astra – my favorite charge nurse. At least she was charge on Friday when I had the terrible shift.
This is Audrey, the person who taught me how to be a nurse during a seven week orientation on the unit.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Edda and Kitachi are plowing through online special needs school. There are zoom meetings being set up.
Lessons about Greta Thunberg (you see her teacher in the little video corner)
Sometimes school doesn’t get done until the end of the day. And then all that Edda wants to do is go to sleep. lol.
UC Davis seems like such a wholesome school. After watching countless vlogs, it seems like the thing to do on the weekends is to go to the farmer’s markets. And their big annual party is called Picnic Day which you can attend virtually this year here. They race hot dog dogs as part of Picnic Day. It was suppose to happen this past week. I’ve revised my dream. Remember my dream was to be able to drive Vince across the country in the fall and drop him off at the his dorm in Davis and get a boba and a sweatshirt at the school bookstore? I mean, I’d still like that dream. But if I can’t have that dream, I’ll revise it to be able to be at Picnic Day next year with Vince. Maybe we won’t be able to watch the hot dog dog race in person, but maybe there will be a Picnic Day where we’ll be able to milk cows and have a burrito while maintaining six feet distance from everyone else. Vince just told me that he posted on the official Facebook UCDavis Class of 2024 group. (I was excluded from this group. Yes, I tried to join. Yes, I was rejected. Vince said, please mom, try to not stalk me.) Yesterday, he was just looking at it saying that the people posting were 90% female and all non-science, non-engineering majors. He wasn’t sure that he wanted to post anything. But he just said that he did and hopefully someone will talk to him. We’ll see what this virtual college thing will be like.
Jeremy went to the Chinese market yesterday because Vince wanted some ingredients to make Korean food and spicy ramen. Of course, my mom had a list as well. I don’t think they’ve been to the Chinese grocery store since early January when the coronavirus news started trickling out of Wuhan. This resulted in text messages of various Chinese vegetables and cuts of meat. Jeremy’s only outings have been to the grocery stores. Jeremy has been struggling a bit with Edda’s care & school meetings and the cooking and trying to work. Edda’s seizure activity has also picked up in the last few days with the accompanying falling to the ground events, so it is with great relief that our regular caregiver Kitachi will be back during the work days to help us out for the foreseeable future.
Instead of graduation, prom, finals, ap tests, actually learning chemistry, etc. etc. – we got this sign from the PTA for Vince’s senior year. Vince was very excited to put it up in the yard. When I think of what his future college experience might be, I get very sad. I got emails from my alma maters saying that all activities through the end of summer have been cancelled. I’m resigned to thinking fall will be online. What is college if it is online? Last night, at dinner, I asked Vince – what happens if you are on campus for only a month and a half the entire time? He said, no worries, I make friends fast – it’ll be ok. I have to remember that it won’t be a bad experience, it’ll be a different experience. Vince is so excited, he is just beaming. After he put the deposit in, he tried to put the deposit down for housing. The server kept crashing and has been down for days. I said, ah, welcome to the UC system. 😛
As for me, I’m trying to get enough sleep. There is enough time to get enough sleep and I’m in bed for at least 9 hours, but sometimes it’s impossible to sleep well.
I spent the weekend at the hospital. Now I’ve been exposed to covid patients for over a week, so I’m like – do I feel feverish? Do I need to cough? I coughed! uh oh. No, I’m fine. Mostly likely just tired. All covid, all weekend. Most of my patients are doing well, hanging out on supplemental oxygen. I actually prefer the covid floor (Sat) because you have fewer patients and I know I’m not going to get a person sick by moving from one room to the next. I had two patients most of the day and then three and then none and got sent home early! On Sunday, I was on a supposedly non-covid floor where 60% of the patients had covid and then I’m worried that I’m going to get my non-covid patients sick from traveling back and forth. And because it’s considered a non-covid floor, I had like 4.5 patients. Half a non-covid patient, two rule out covid and 2 covid. So that’s like so much dressing and undressing. I’m still floating (which is incredibly stressful on top of the fear of dying stress) and I’m being recruited by the other units I’m floating to – that’s fun. Maybe after this pandemic is over, I should start floating – then I can learn the other stuff, cardiac, neuro etc. and make a bit more $. We’ll see. Maybe this will never be over. I (still!) would like to work in the ED someday. I see those ED nurses come up to the floor with their N95 masks on with a bandana tied over it (even though we have totally enough surgical masks) and think, man, you guys are crazy down there and I hand them a surgical mask.
Jeremy makes me all my meals now and brings them up to my office.
Vincie paid the deposit for UC Davis and posted this on his instagram. I am sad that it’s probably not going to be the four-year on campus experience that I had imagined. (When is anything like we imagined it would be? Though right now it’s a little extreme…) We talked about what would happen if classes were online in the fall. I think we are just going to roll with it and see how it goes. Maybe we’ll save a bit of $ and be able to fund a 5th year? Who knows if we are going to have to do repeated rounds of shelter-in-place? But I know it’s not just us, it’s everyone.
I haven’t been back to the hospital since March 11th which was the day the WHO declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic. Other than the news on people’s TV, the unit was completely normal. I had a normal patient load, the patients were normal (normal meaning crazy), the hospital was doing its regular thing. Then I broke my foot on the 12th at the gym (one of the last days the gym was open) and I was off for a month because of my foot and also because I had been scheduled to be off for our spring break. Since the 11th, the hospital cancelled all of the elective surgeries and the census on my unit plummeted enough for them to close the whole floor down. This was last Thursday. Then they combined my unit with our sister unit upstairs and then based on cryptic group chats, it sounded like they were dispersing the staff on our floor throughout the hospital.
When they were making the next 6-week scheduling block two weeks ago, I changed my once-a-week appearance at the hospital back to full-time (three-shifts a week). At the time I made this decision, I had the idea that I would just need to help out for 6 weeks and then it would be over and then I would go back to my once-a-week appearance and we would all go on with our lives. But I don’t think this is going to happen in that cut & dried sort of way now. Anyways, I’m trying to not think about it too much, otherwise my head hurts and I get weepy and depressed. I’m taking vacation days that I built up and sadly probably will no longer use to cover my desk job, at least for this next 6 week block until I reassess.
I was deeply unhappy on Sunday, the day before my first shift. I’m almost always unhappy the night before a shift, even in non-pandemic times, but I’m almost 100 % happy after the shift is done – even with all the crazy crap that goes down. Unhappy patients in pain, screwed up orders, confused family members, annoying coworkers – there is so much drama in a shift. So much living that goes on, it’s always fascinating and there is almost always very meaningful moments during the day even if it is buried in ten thousand frustrations. I don’t like starting a shift and I’m always slightly unhappy as I’m doing it but at the end, I know I will be happy that I did it.
Jeremy took my photo on the way out the door.
So I show up early on Monday morning and I get sent over to 6 East (which is a whole different section of the hosptial) and I go on over and I know no one else working the unit. But I quickly find out that almost all the patients on the unit are covid positive. This is not an ICU floor, so no one on vents. I get a quick tour of the supply rooms, med rooms. There are 2-3 other float nurses around so I know I’m not the only new one. When you start a shift, you get handed a cell phone for the day. Jeremy would never be able to find me (I don’t carry my own personal cell with me while I work) so I call him on the work cell phone to give him my number for the day and to tell him that my exposure will be high. (We had discussed that maybe my exposure would be low and we wouldn’t have to implement our full quarantine plan in the house, but this is not the case). He gave me a quick pep talk that I needed to start my day.
There is enough PPE for the hospital. The hospital admin says we are “green” on PPE. They will replace anything if you ask, but they usually want to see the broken one. The N95 mask is supposed to last until it’s broken or soiled, but they will hand you a new one anytime if you ask. Surgical masks go over the N95 masks and get replaced like 6 times a shift. And then the face shield is used forever and wiped down with a wipe. You have to ask for bleach wipes, again they’ll give you as much as you want, but you ask and they give you about 4 squares. If they left it out, people would just take way more than they needed. All the gowns were one use only and we doubled gloved which was also one use only.
It was a stressful morning. I had to ask the other nurses exactly how to put on the PPE, what they were doing to clean everything. I had to relearn all my routines about nursing. Usually I have a computer on wheels that I roll into a room. It has a little table I have my notes on and the pulled medications and I scan the patient’s wristband and then I scan the medications and I feel free to go in and out of a room as much as possible. With covid rooms, I had to do all the computer work outside (to not contaminate the computer) and bring in only the medications and/or supplies I needed and plan to not enter for another two hours. So then you have to think a lot more about what you’ll need, scan all the meds outside – I wrote a mini to do list on a scrap piece of paper on the outside to make sure I’d do everything I need to do on the inside, make sure I had all my supplies because you can’t be running out to get gauze or a connector or an alcohol swab. And then you get all dressed up. Because they wanted to minimize exposure, I also had no tech helping me. So all the ancillary things that they do for me – vitals every 3-4 hours, blood sugar checks – I had to do. Dietary wasn’t delivering food trays for me either, I had to bring those in as well and I had to take dirty trays out of the room. Whatever blessings I had on Monday came from my patients themselves. They were all doing well, still on supplemental oxygen, but headed to discharge. They knew this too and they were all mostly happy. (Still coughing! But happily coughing…) Can you be a cheerful covid patient? You sure can. They were all capable of taking care of themselves, feeding themselves, going to the bathroom themselves. This was the blessing of day. I did not get the positive covid patient who was completely incontinent, or with dementia, or trying to escape the floor. This was all happening on the unit around me.
On Tuesday, I ended up on my “home floor”. I know I said my unit was closed, but they combined my floor with the floor above and at least half the staff are familiar to me. I think they are trying to do 1 float day followed by one non-float day. The layout of the unit is the same as our unit, so it felt more comfortable than the first day, but still the supplies are all in different places. Out of 30 beds, there were about 8 covid positive patients and each nurse had one or two covid positive patients. I felt I was lucky on the 2nd day because my 2 “positive” covid patients were really rule-out covids who test results came in during my shift with negative results. Woo hoo!
Both days, I wore my double mask all day. Even on the 2nd day with which I had all non-covid patients. It makes me feel better to wear an N95 all day at the hospital.
My face at the end of the day. And I was right, at the end of the 2nd shift, I felt exhausted – but good. It’s like real work. Though I haven’t slept well in three nights. It’s hard to get that adrenaline feeling out of my system enough to sleep well.
Now we have a few days here to start getting used to quarantining in the house. I’m trying to stay six feet away from everyone and touch almost nothing in the house. I have my work space and the guest bedroom. Jeremy is doing all of Edda’s care which is a lot and now has doubled since I’m not doing any of it. Vince is helping by making dinner and feeding Edda lunch. We had a bit of a tough day. I’m tired. Jeremy went grocery shopping which takes hours and is stressful for him. And I’m not using the kitchen so I have to ask Vince to bring me a snack or Jeremy to make me lunch. I usually do not have to ask anyone for food in my own house, so there is irritation around as we learn these new routines.
Shopping for my parents as well.
I cut my own hair today. I miss Linda, my regular hairdresser. I texted her a photo of me using office scissors to cut my hair.
Not too bad. Now I’m just waiting to see if I’m going to get sick. Fingers crossed hopefully not. I’m going to try to sleep now.
We are really enjoying the Bon Appetit channel. I’m learning things all the time. I’m learning so many things! Like cracking eggs on a flat surface and not on the edge of a bowl. This I adopted right away. I have not yet started putting an enormous amount of salt and butter into all my dishes. It’s breathtaking to see 1/2 a stick of butter being referred to as – a little bit of butter. The sauce is so glossy! Yeah, because you put a whole stick of butter into it lol.
Jeremy went grocery shopping yesterday. Lauren’s been trying to get us to do Instacart or delivery from Whole Foods. She insists that it is easy – but Jeremy and I find it frustrating. OK, Jeremy finds it frustrating. There are no delivery times available and when I realized she was waking up at 2 am to get the delivery times, I was like – we can’t do that. I’ll leave it to the people who can’t go grocery shopping. (Lauren had pulmonary concerns, so I’m happy she’s getting delivery.) Jeremy usually enjoys going grocery shopping, but it’s stressful for him now. We go every 4-5 days. He says he finds something and takes it off the shelf and then finds something better but doesn’t want to put the first thing back on the shelf because he’s touched it and he doesn’t want to put something he touched back on the shelf.
My 30-bed unit at my hospital closed last night. No one is there. The census dropped so low, that they closed it. Did they send all the nurses home? I don’t get it. I’ll just have to see.
Last night, after I thought we had clearly explained, we had to re-clarify dental dams to Vincie. He was like – are they the things that pull your lips apart so that your lips are in the shape of a huge oval and you see all your teeth. And then we laughed and said – nononono. And Jeremy showed him the CDC (the source of all good information) picture about it.
This week, UC Davis is hosting a web conference (maybe the adjective web is no longer necessary, a redundancy that can be eliminated) everyday for incoming freshmen and their families. Each day is centered around a different theme – Monday was Campus Communities, Wed is Living and Dining, etc. etc. Anyways, I mentioned this to Vince over the weekend while I was bleaching his hair and he groaned and Jeremy (who was fixing his bike in the vicinity of the bleaching) said – ah, you have to go with your mom, it’ll make her happy. It’s true, I still want to go to college. I think I’d major in Spanish this time.
Anyways, here is the first session right here. This was about Campus Communities – from the Student Community Center where there are organizations for like: Student Recruitment and Retention Center, LGBTQIA, Center for African Diaspora, Native American Success Center, Chicanx and Latinx Student Success Center, etc. It’s great they offer these students these support services, I’m quite happy about that. There is something about unabashed student enthusiasm during a pandemic that is both jarring and comforting. There was talk about getting free condoms and dental dams. Vince was like – what’s a dental dam? And then another organization was like – we offer free condoms, STD testing, lube and produce. And then we all looked at each other and said – are they giving out lube and vegetables at the same time? I guess so. Of course, there were no Asians in the video and no Asian organizations (Davis is 42 % Asian) and I’m like, this is why I’m confused on whether or not I’m a person of color. I think I’m not a POC. Other Chinese people might be POCs, but I’m not one of them (am I? I dunno.) I’m impressed, less than 15 minutes into the student presentations, they were talking about dental dams and condoms. Do you think MIT led with that? Probably not. Maybe? Do you think they led with here are all the support systems and organizations in place so you will have help to graduate? Again, probably not. I’d be curious to watch MIT’s welcome week.
Max, the dog, is having a mental breakdown. All day Sunday, she was having a panic attack. Her legs were shaking, she was hunkered down in weird places, her tail was between her legs, she refused to eat lunch. Monday, she was much better, but she still was acting weird. Joined me and Edda during a shower?!? She’s never wanted to be in the shower stall before. She hung out there for a while. I clarified with my parents if they wanted to be on a ventilator. My mom (classic mom) said – we aren’t getting sick. I said, OK I know you aren’t getting sick, but that’s not the answer to my questions. They said – of course we want the ventilator. I said, OK. No problem. What about dialysis, chest tubes, feeding tubes, etc? They said no dialysis. I said fine, that’s a plan. I said that I do want a ventilator and the whole kit and kaboodle. My parents think that recovery from 10 days on a ventilator will bring them back to where they are now. I tried to tell them that that probably won’t happen, they would be alive, but diminished. But I think they didn’t believe me. Heck, if I was 10 days on a ventilator and recovered, I’m pretty sure I’d be severely diminished. But who am I to say in what form of diminishment one wants or would tolerate. I would have said that having Rett Syndrome would be intolerable, but I think Edda would disagree, she is mostly happy with her life. I have many patients with incredible struggles that have many pleasures and satisfaction. I dunno.
Vince cleaned his keyboard with Clorox wipes yesterday. I nearly killed him.