My superhero friend, the nurse!
Do you have one of those friends that has always been next to you in important events. Someone who cries with you and celebrates with you? The friend with whom you cry and celebrate. I do, and I get to share one of her beautiful stories with you today.
Let me be honest for a minute, if you are like me, Covid has not really impacted your family all that much. Sure, we had to take some lost business, stay home, and work with our children on virtual schooling. But, we have not found ourselves in the trenches –in the middle of the battle.
Like John Krasinski, though, we have been touched by the beautiful acts of bravery, kindness, and love that have arisen from these last 10 L. O. N. G. months.
My beautiful friend, Lori, has been one of those women in the trenches. With littles at home and a husband who has been telecommuting, Lori joined the front lines as an ICU nurse in the Covid-ICU the day that it opened and has been working there ever since.
Recently, she had the opportunity to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. It shocked her to find herself overwhelmed with emotion in the moment. Did we not realize that we had sunken so far that we didn’t even know we had lost hope? She didn’t. Now, she has graciously agreed to share her story here:
This Covid ICU Nurse’s Emotional Experience with the Covid-19 Vaccine:
I experienced a profound moment in my life today.
There have been many – my wedding, college graduations, the births of our two precious children, deaths of loved ones.
Today’s moment was different because I didn’t share the moment surrounded by friends and family but with strangers.
Surrounded by nurses, technicians, doctors, chaplains, and senior adults from the community, I arrived at the hospital for my appointment with hope.
I put on my mask, followed the tape arrows, and rolled up my sleeve as another nurse readied my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. And then I wept.
I hadn’t expected such a visceral, emotional response to receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, but as the nurse hesitated, eyeing me with confusion and concern, I found the words to articulate what was pouring from my soul in that moment.
“I’m just overwhelmed,” I told her, “at the thought that
something could finally be getting better – that we might actually be at a turning point.”
I accepted the gauze pad that she apologetically offered as a tissue and took a shaky breath.
“I’ve been through so much with my patients, for almost a year now, and this feels like hope, like there is going to be an end to it. And I’m just so, so grateful that you’re here to do this. Thank you so much.”
So that’s how I ended up bare-shouldered, sitting on a plastic chair, dabbing my tears with surgical gauze, and sobbing my thanks to a kind, misty-eyed older nurse on this lovely Saturday morning. But, let’s back up.
First in my life, I am a child of God. Second, I am a wife and mother. And third, I am an ICU nurse. I say “third,” because I firmly believe that vocational ministry is secondary to my everyday ministry to my family. But in truth, the Lord called me to be a nurse years before he called me to be a mother, and it has been the fire in my blood ever since.
So, when a new and deadly virus threatened to invade my hometown and my workplace, I was faced with the decision of whether or not to stand with my fellow nurses and face it.
Of course, there were difficult discussions with my husband and parents. There were moments when I wondered if I should quit my job – if trying to save another person’s life could take me away from my children. I took comfort in the knowledge that I was not alone – that there were mothers and fathers around the globe who faced the same choice, and chose to stay on mission.
We were encouraged to read early statistics showing that the novel coronavirus rarely made children very sick, so we stayed.
We stepped into the fight.
The first Covid-19 patients were admitted at a trickle pace, but it quickly escalated. The numbers doubled, doubled again and again until we were running a full Covid ICU. The medical details are best saved for another outlet, but I can tell you that every corner of my life was soon affected.
As I picked up more and more extra shifts to help cover the increasing need, my husband had to adjust to full-time parenting while working full-time remotely.
Desperate to reunite with my children, after every shift I had to rebuff their affections because I had to do a methodical decontamination routine. So, my husband and children adjusted further. My 2-year-old daughter would ecstatically run to the door, see my green scrubs, and stop in her tracks.
“I’ll wait for hugs until after your shower,” her little voice recited.
Dodging the hugs I so desperately needed was particularly awful. Forgoing the cuddles and dashing straight to the laundry room and shower was painful. I cautiously withdrew our immediate family from social interaction – isolating us from family and friends.
And in that decision, I had to simultaneously reconcile myself to the possibility that I may have already seen them or hugged them for the last time. Yet if I didn’t choose to separate from them, I could be the one who gave them a fatal disease. I cannot describe the ripping sensation I felt at this dilemma, and I know that so many others felt it too as
they made the same decision.
We all did the best we could.
That was March 2020. Now in January 2021, pre-pandemic reality feels like a different lifetime. The cliché phrase “New Normal” doesn’t begin to describe everything that is changed. We caregivers – and we as parents – have ridden the roller coaster up and down along with the endless deluge of graphs and statistics.
I held hands and walked through hell with the men and women under my care and learned to give comfort to patients’ family members over the phone. Then we went home to the solace of our own families.
Wading all day in so much darkness and death, I looked outward and saw the closed schools, closed daycares, layoffs, depression, and deaths in families that threatened and grieved so many.
The Monster came to fight, and it would not go willingly.
I had methodically and incrementally climbed deeper and deeper into a hole where I thought no light could shine.
That is what I realized in the moment when I received the vaccine. I was gifted with even the possibility of immunity. This possibility was so profound and beautiful for me that it rekindled my hope. My hope in this world, in people, in health, in freedom, and opportunity.
After ten months of horror in the ICU, watching God’s lonely children suffer and die over their weeks of fighting the virus, I was now looking around at the masked faces of two dozen people who would hopefully be safer, who could have many more years with their own children. I could be at the threshold of being a little safer from infection myself, a little less likely to pass infection to my loved ones –to my beautiful children.
I and my children – and so many others – could again gather with friends and embrace loved ones with abandon.
And the wave of gratitude for all the people who were working seven days a week to get this help to us so quickly… it was too much for this mama’s heart to hold. The relief, the gratitude, the hope welled up in my eyes and rolled down my cheeks, and I allowed it.
Although this Covid-19 vaccine may not be the panacea that so many pray for, Lori’s story and experience are reminders of the resilience, strength, and tenacity of so many. We both trust that this will bring hope in your life as well.
If you want to read more stories of hope, let me suggest this one or this one!