I’m a nurse.
So I get it.
More than most folks in this country right now, I dare say my co-workers and fellow nurses around the country, we get it.
It’s not new to us, the nagging, lingering anxiety that in our efforts to heal, we will succumb to the very diseases we treat. Working at the bedside is a bit like the old Hotel California … we clock in any time we like, but we never really leave.
So last night I had to shut ‘er down. My TV, my facebook feeds, my Twitter news lists…anything that reminded me of the chaos, the politicalization, the breaches of protocol, the talking heads … most of whom will get nowhere near a single strain of Ebola ever … and the way the media spins sick nurses and hospital administrators overwhelmed with the unthinkable … things which in fact, each of us in this profession think of, whether consciously or subconsciously,
I had to shut down the fear, because fear won’t heal.
Fear won’t stop the spread of a disease.
Fear won’t help me get through my next 12 hour shift.
Fear won’t win.
Unless we let it.
So today, I choose hope.
I choose to believe in what I know from over 20 years of bedside, administrator, supervisory, and even executive level nursing work. And what I know is this:
First, we do no harm.
Like our partners–physicians, aides, therapists, housekeepers–we keep on working. We lean in toward the pain, we don’t run from it. We hold up the frail ones throwing their guts up and wipe down the ones oozing stool and hold on to the ones gasping, alone, as they take their last breaths.
We garb up and glove up and mask up.
But we do not give up.