When the clapping Stops

There is a moment before you enter the room when you pause. You review your PPE.  Do I have a surgical mask over the N95? A face shield over my glasses? Is the gown tied tight enough? You pause. Is this droplet or is it airborne? Does anyone know? Will the PPE work?  You pause.  Wonder if I get sick? Wonder if I pass this on to my vulnerable family members? Why did I change professions, I could be working from home? You pause. 

Then, there is the moment where you stand tall. You remind yourself you are a Registered Nurse. You studied for this. You trained for this. You are ready. There is a courage you feel, you aren’t sure where its coming from, but you embrace it as it gives you the strength to walk inside the Covid Positive Room. 

Your patient’s oxygen drops. You run from room to room, helping patients lie prone, gently telling them its ok, to take deep breaths, you hold their hand while you silently say a prayer and you call for help. You call rapid response teams and codes. You work to keep them alive. To keep them off ventilators. 

You are exhausted. You have trouble breathing because of the masks. You are hot from all the layers. You are thankful for all the PPE. Finally, after 12 hours you can go home. 

The cheering from the community brings you light and hope. The dark place is illuminated by love from strangers. Lunches and coffee are sent. Cards and signs are made. People cheering on the streets. People thanking you for being on the front line. People calling you a hero. They remind you why you chose to be a nurse. They give you energy and strength when you feel so depleted.   

And then it slowed down. 

And then it stopped. 

The signs and cards.

The clapping. 

The bright light, the cheers, the energy from the community has stopped.  

You still have Covid patients. You still wear masks. You still feel tired and depleted. You remind yourself that you are a professional. You remind yourself you are a Registered Nurse. You studied for this. You trained for this. You are ready. You look up at the sky and take a deep breath. The world is huge, the universe is vast, and God is present. There is a courage you feel, you are not sure where its coming from, but you embrace it as it gives you the strength to walk back into the hospital and begin again.  

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