"I broke down and cried today. I cried of exhaustion, of defeat. Because after four years of being an ER nurse, I suddenly feel like I know nothing."
Sydni Lane, a trauma nurse and Instagram influencer is on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus pandemic and she shared a very powerful message with us this week—she's scared. She's scared of contracting this virus and bringing it home to her family, including her asthmatic children. She's scared for her safety. She's scared people still might not be taking this as seriously as they need to be.
Because she doesn't have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) at work. Because her face is bruised from wearing a mask for over 13 hours. Because she fears we may not have started social-distancing as a collective nation early enough. Because even though she accepted a job as a nurse in the ER, the day she'd have to fight a global pandemic likely hardly ever crossed her mind.
And because this seems to be only the beginning for her and her colleagues as they prepare for the peak to hit eventually. She is understandably scared.
"I broke down and cried today.
"I cried of exhaustion, of defeat.
"Because after four years of being an ER nurse, I suddenly feel like I know nothing.
"Because my face hurts after wearing an N95 for 13 hours, which happens to be the same N95 I wore yesterday for 12.5 hours, and the same one from all last week.
"I don't know how many times I've heard the statement 'but this is what you signed up for.' Just, no.
"I signed up to take care of sick patients, yes. I did not sign up to be unprotected by their sickness (although my hospital is busting their [butts] to try to protect us). I did not sign up to be yelled at by angry patients because our government failed to be prepared. I did not sign up to risk mine and my family's health and safety because people wanted to go on their vacations after they said NOT to.
"An ER nurse in New York died today of COVID-19. He was in his 40s and had very mild asthma. That's it. This is not just a tall tale, this is the real risk. I have to go into every patient's room and in the back of my mind I think 'this could be the patient that gets me sick... that kills me. This could be the patient that gives me the virus I bring home to my children or asthmatic husband.' This is my new reality.
"But this is only the beginning. We haven't even scratched the surface of the impact of what this illness is going to make on our country.
"And I'm scared."
Our hearts go out to these healthcare workers who are—no doubt—superheroes. They are risking their lives to ensure the safety of ours. They're separated from their loved ones. Some may even be experiencing personal and even financial hardship right now. They are treating patients around the clock under extreme circumstances and, honestly, there are not enough words in the dictionary to accurately explain our depth of gratitude.
What we can do is help. If you have the means to, donate. Donate to Feeding America. Think of a friend or family member working at a hospital and Venmo them any dollar amount—even just enough for a coffee. If you know how to sew, make medical masks for your local hospital.
More importantly, reach out to them and ask them how they are. Let them know you're thinking of them and how grateful you are for their work. I bet they could use the encouragement right about now.