How to Survive in the COVID-19 Wilderness, via More to Life

As a front line healthcare worker, I spend my days navigating the overwhelming isolation and fear of patients in the midst of this brutal pandemic. The onset of COVID-19 was bad enough the first time around. Now with hospitals full again and re-instituting no visitation policies, patients are faced anew with fighting their diseases alone, the warmth and touch of their loved ones reduced to a one-dimensional blur on hospital issued iPads.

We haven’t even had time to recover from the spring. 

The resurgence of isolation-related blame and anger, frustration and sheer exhaustion overshadow COVID-19 itself, and no wonder. God realized as soon as He created us that we needed companionship, and He knows we need it now. He knows we need to love and to be loved, and that so much of that occurs in the presence of others. We are withering emotionally and spiritually as insidious fear and emotional emptiness slowly but steadily drain joy from our hearts—again. 

How and where can we find hope? CLICK HERE to read the rest of the article at More to Life Magazine.

Weary.

 

*****

The first go-around was bad enough.

This time, we’re out of reserves.

Pandemic burnout hit me quite unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago. An introvert, I assumed I was doing just fine, sheltering-in-place and social distancing nothing out of the ordinary for me.

But I was wrong.

The front lines look different for every healthcare hero, and so does burnout. I reached out to my psychiatrist–and a practice I’ve been with for nearly twenty years–and confessed some unhealthy coping mechanisms. His eyes widened with concern, and the cynical part of me laughed. But really, it wasn’t funny.

With my physician’s help, I’m doing a little better. I’m forcing myself to return to healthy coping mechanisms that have worked for me in the past. Still, my heart feels raw. The scab of last spring is being scraped off too soon, and I just want to curl up with my dog and hide until the pandemic goes away.

But I can’t.

None of us healthcare workers can.

Just this morning, I received an email from our state board of health calling for reservists–even students and retirees–should the need for emergency staffing, even field hospitals, arise.  As nurses, therapists, physicians, aides, we’re trained to be brave. We’re trained to push through pain and fatigue. We’re trained to stuff our whole selves deep inside, so that on the outside, we can take care of the sick and dying. And we’re trained to do all that with a smile.

The problem is, for many of us, there’s no place left to stuff.

All around us, schools are closing again. Stay-at-home orders are being renewed. The numbers are higher than they were in the spring, and those of us who escaped without knowing someone who contracted the virus likely have relatives or close friends coming down with it now. The news predicted a long, dark winter, and it seems to be coming true.

Healthcare friends, listen to me:

Take care of yourself.

None of us will get through this if we don’t switch gears right now and get into a therapist, or employee assistance programs, or make concerted efforts to nurture our souls. Don’t do what I did and wait until you hit that wall of dark despair. Even if you think you’re fine, I’d willing to bet a whole bunch of money that you’re not.

Non-healthcare friends: you can help.

Please pray for us.

Please mask up and respect social distancing.

We’re all tired. exhausted. We all want to see and hug loved ones again. We all want a big Thanksgiving and even bigger Christmas. We all wish more than anything that things could be “just like last year.” But denying or snubbing is not a vaccine against this relentless enemy. Oh how I wish it was!

The battle isn’t over.

For those on the front lines, it’s beginning all over again.

The only way to fight is to lean into the Lord, and to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of the others who are going to need us desperately. Everyone who has ever flown on an airplane knows that if the need for oxygen masks arise, you put it on yourself first so that you have the wherewithal to help those around you.

Put on the mask of self-care, dear friends. Pull it snug around your soul.

And get help now before you really need it.

 

******

Coming soon: 40 Days of Hope for Healthcare Heroes

Renew your faith and focus, and rededicate yourself to the profession you love with 40 Days of Hope for Healthcare Heroes.

Healthcare workers are suffering from their own epidemic of burnout and moral injury as a result of dwindling resources and being overworked. To care for patients, you need to find ways to take care of yourself. In 40 Days of Hope for Healthcare Heroes you’ll find inspirational readings and prayers to help renew your faith and focus, center your heart, and inspire you to rededicate yourself to the medical career you love. This beautiful giftbook combines short stories from the front lines, “Breakroom Boosts” to encourage and energize, space to journal, and prayers that are quick enough to recite during handwashing—something that occurs multiple times a day. Healthcare workers across all continuums of care will want to read this book to rediscover the joy of their calling and as a balm of relief for their caregiver’s soul.

Announcing 40 Days of Hope for Healthcare Heroes

 

My beloved grandmother, Mary Jane, in what was likely her graduation photo in 1944.

Announcing my brand new book, releasing early June, 2021 from Tyndale House Publishers: 40 Days of Hope for Healthcare Heroes! 

I can hardly type without my eyes filling with tears about this one, friends. If you didn’t know, in addition to being a writer I have been a nurse for over 25 years. In addition, my grandmother was a nurse beginning in the 1940’s, and my son is a newly graduated nurse!

My son and I hard at work–together!

As you know, health care puts a very high priority on patient privacy, and so I have always been reluctant to talk about my nursing career publicly. But around April and the height of the COVID-19 crisis, words began to flow from my heart to paper. I began to glean stories from my best friends and co-workers that might be used to bring hope to a community of professionals who were and still are hurting, and emotionally and physically exhausted. 

The results are this beautiful little book. 

But it’s not just for nurses!

Just like the team that we are, nurses and physicians, EMTs and hospital security officers, MAs and pharmacists, and everyone in between are represented within these pages. The devotionals within cover traumatic, heartbreaking scenarios, as well as humorous ones. Each story is paired with a “Breakroom Boost” that provides encouragement, and a brief “Handwashing Prayer” that caregivers can tuck in their hearts to recite during the hundreds of times we perform that task every day. 

I told my editors that I literally wept through writing every one of these stories. While edited and rearranged to ensure patient privacy, these represent over 25 years of not only my heart for healthcare heroes, but more importantly the adoration I feel toward every single one of the healthcare heroes I’ve worked alongside–and there have been hundreds. 

If you or someone you know is a healthcare hero, this book is just what the doctor ordered for their weary soul, and it’s available for pre-order at your favorite bookseller now!

Here’s the official synopsis:

Renew your faith and focus, and rededicate yourself to the profession you love with 40 Days of Hope for Healthcare Heroes!

There’s hope for your weary feet and exhausted soul! Healthcare workers are suffering from their own epidemic of burnout and moral injury as a result of dwindling resources and being overworked. To care for patients, you need to find ways to take care of yourself. In 40 Days of Hope for Healthcare Heroes you’ll find inspirational readings and prayers to help renew your faith and focus, center your heart, and inspire you to rededicate yourself to the medical career you love. This beautiful giftbook combines short stories from the front lines, “Breakroom Boosts” to encourage and energize, space to journal, and prayers that are quick enough to recite during handwashing—something that occurs multiple times a day. Healthcare workers across all continuums of care will want to read this book to rediscover the joy of their calling and as a balm of relief for their caregiver’s soul.

Click the image below to pre-order now!