I spoke with a respiratory therapist the other day who intubated 4 patients a day for months (maybe a year) in the ICU. He said that 90% of the people he vented went on to die. I asked him if he was OK now. He said he was perfectly fine. I said that I took care of only the mild cases for six weeks and I was still “processing” the whole thing. He answered that he was really good at compartmentalizing and that when he vented people, they were already unable to talk to him and so it was not as if they formed a relationship. I said I thought the care was better if you didn’t fully compartmentalize (even with patients who are unable to respond), but then you always lost a bit of yourself in the interaction.
I’m trying, trying to shift my thinking to the pandemic “not ending”. That I can live with the pandemic in the background (or foreground). How I will miss seeing the faces of strangers. How I will miss meeting people. It’s already so hard to meet people! I don’t really miss going to the movies, but I miss the possibility of going to the movies. Are there going to be parties? Like are we having a 40 person Thanksgiving? There is always an early-ish moment at a party where I know only a few people (where I met my goal of small talking to at least 3 people) where I want to leave and then I kind of sneak out, just tapping the host on the shoulder and giving a small wave and hug and easing myself into the cold, dark night. I did not know I would miss that interaction, but I kind of do. I don’t actually enjoy the party (usually, though I’m trying to learn, but man, it’s hard to do without practice), I enjoy having been at the party and leaving.