You can’t escape the feeling you’re not doing enough, because there’s too many of them. While you’re medicating one, another one of your patients codes. All day long. For 12 and a half hours.
There’s not enough nurses and docs to take care of them because the nurses and docs, one by one, come down with it. You look around for support, but all you see is terror in their eyes.
The daily death toll just keeps mounting, and there’s no where to put the bodies because the morgue is filling up. You cover them up with a sheet and just roll the stretcher wherever you can.
There’s no space left to put the sick, so we stack them anywhere we can – hallways, chairs if they can sit, two to a room. There’s a tent outside but I’ve never had time to see it.
The ICU and floors are full, so the critical ones stay in the ER, and the nurses and docs taking care of them just keep getting more and more patients. You can’t drink because you’ve got take off your PPE to do it, and that’s dangerous.
You might go 9 or 10 hours with no break, because there’s no one there to relieve you. You start getting angry because you’re so hungry, thirsty, and beat up. You feel shitty because you realize you’re starting to lose it.
There’s not enough PPE, so you just hang what you have in your locker and reuse it, shift after shift, being REAL CAREFUL how you handle it, wondering how long it will last.
Wearing your PPE for 12 and a half hours is painful – you feel like you can’t breathe, mainly because you’re breathing the CO2 you’re exhaling. You keep it on so tight it breaks down the skin on your face. And still they keep coming.
The demented or delirious ones keep tearing off their masks and coughing in the open – and you’ve got to put in their IV’s and treat them. Haldol can help.
All the while you’re thinking “I’m not going to get this, I’m not going to get this, I can handle this,” but realizing that’s unlikely. The experts think it won’t peak for another couple of months. You can’t let yourself think beyond getting through this shift.
You might have 3 or 4 die on you in a single day, and you know it’s going to get worse before it gets better. You have discussions with the docs about who’s most likely to survive.
You think about your wife at home.