‘I didn’t sign up to walk into every shift with gut-wrenching fear I may take a death sentence home to my immunocompromised child.’: Nurse says ‘give us some grace as we navigate these uncharted waters’

“I’m so tired of hearing, ‘People in the medical field shouldn’t complain because they knew what they signed up for.’

Yes, I signed up to be a Nurse.

I signed up to be compassionate, caring, and empathetic. I signed up to use my skillset to assess and treat all types of illnesses. I signed up to learn the intricacies of disease processes, titrate life-saving drips, administer routine medications, assist in procedures, and insert tubes in all kinds of orifices. I signed up to celebrate with those who are healing and comfort those who are mourning. I signed up to be an advocate, a medical-jargon translator, and a voice of reason. I signed up knowing I would always go to work with the possibility of coming into contact with well-known but incurable diseases such as HIV and AIDS. We face hepatitis, c-diff, MRSA, VRE, ESBL, and Tuberculosis while knowing that contracting any of those could severely alter our personal health. Yes, I signed up for those things.

Let me tell you what I did not sign up for.

I did not sign up to fight a global pandemic while wearing a bandana as a make-shift mask. I did not sign up to provide care for patients diagnosed with a newly developing illness without appropriate personal protective equipment to do so. I did not sign up to defend myself against a disease that the CDC is still studying the transmission mode of. I did not sign up to practice Nursing during a time when our patient’s visitors are stealing supplies that are already on a nationwide shortage. I did not sign up to walk into every shift with the gut wrenching fear that I could take a death-sentence home to my family…especially my immunocompromised child.

Yes, we all know what we signed up for, and I can assure you, this isn’t it. We still show up, but we are allowed to be scared of the uncertainty, too. Give us some grace as we navigate these uncharted waters.”

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