by Amelia Montgomery
We don’t see you when the only symptoms you have are similar to allergies and fatigue, and you’re swabbed and sent home to quarantine.
We see you when your eyes are wide with terror as you struggle to breathe and your oxygen saturation is in the 60s, despite every non-invasive ventilation attempt. We see your fear as we yell over our respirators — so you can hear us — that you’re going to have to be intubated and be placed on a ventilator. We watch your eyes close as we push the sedatives into your IV as the doctor prepares to intubate you.
We watch your oxygen saturation take seemingly forever to recover, if it ever does, after you’re placed on the ventilator, because your lungs have suffered so much damage from this virus.
We hold your hand as we tell you to fight this, and that you have so many people who care about you. We watch as you nod and squeeze our hand and tears stream from the corners of your eyes. We listen as your family tells you over the phone that they love you and can’t wait for you to get better and come home.
We watch as this virus kills you despite every fight against death.
We take care of patients who have not social-distanced because they didn’t believe the virus was real. Some of these patients curse us and fight us at every attempt to save their lives; we take it in stride because we know their hypoxia is the most likely culprit for their hateful words and actions. We take care of them with the same intensity as we take care of the patients who are immunocompromised and tried not to get sick, but did anyway.
We take the (once grateful, but now) angry phone calls from family members who are disbelieving of this virus; who request to retest their loved one because they are sure it was a skewed result or a false positive. Angry family members who complain that we don’t call all ten family members because we are busy tending to their paralyzed, prone loved ones. We watch the ignorant opinions that are spouted on TV or social platforms that are just as harmful as the virus itself.
You can’t see what we see every day and even if there was a camera that followed us into the COVID ICU I’m sure there would still be people that would dispute the reality of it or would say: “hYdRoXyChLoRoQuInE wOuLd hAvE sAvEd tHeM!” or “wHaT cOmOrBiDiTiEs dId tHeY hAvE?”
And if that’s you, I hope you can justify that second question to whatever God you believe in, because if it was your loved one in that ICU bed you wouldn’t care whether they had zero or 100 prior diagnoses in their medical history because you’d want them to live anyway.
The numbers are greater than ever and continuing to grow in the Midwest and more and more people are dying.
If you have any respect for your friends, family, at risk populations, or anyone else in society, I implore you to take this virus, and precautions for it, seriously.
(Montgomery is a nurse in the CoxHealth system)