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  • Writer's picture Gabrielle Elise Jimenez

Collectively Vulnerable

For the past eight days I have been quarantined at home due to having multiple symptoms that fall in line with the virus. It has been a very difficult eight days and unfortunately, I anticipate eight more. Being stuck in your bed day after day invites a myriad of emotions and I can assure you I have experienced them all. Mostly I am sick of being sick. The pain and discomfort is emotional, and not being able to go anywhere or do anything or see anyone is difficult and frustrating. I have many moments where I cry. I think we are all experiencing an emotional response to what is happening in our world right now, whether we have symptoms or not. I know I am not alone.

After waiting five days, I feel blessed to have received a “negative” test result, however this result did not provide me with comfort. Unfortunately I am hearing far too often that a “false negative” is a very real thing, which does not make me feel like I am safe to leave my house, run errands and more specifically, see our patients who are already dealing with their own struggle navigating the dying process. I would never forgive myself if got anyone else sick. Per doctor’s orders I will remain on quarantine until I am symptom free for three full days.

Personally, this experience has made me feel fragile, fearful and lonely. Like everyone else, I worry about my finances and my ability to get through this without too many scars. I worry about my kids and my grandkids and how they will survive this, and my heart aches that I cannot see them now. Our world is collectively vulnerable and that can be very difficult to navigate. We are all experiencing this at the same time, which is unique and new, and we each react and respond to it differently. We were not prepared for something like this, leaving most of us feeling overwhelmed, emotional and numb. There is a hovering feeling of anticipatory grief as we try to predict the next few days, months, and years and it is kicking our ass. There is so much uncertainty.

Despite the empty shelves and the hoarding of the toilet paper, I find myself so full of the warm fuzzies as I watch people come together during these incredibly difficult times. I believe that people in general want to be kind. I think circumstances on multiple levels contribute to bad behavior and while we have seen some examples of that I think the kindness and compassion is weighing the scale heavier on its side.

As a nurse I am feeling such pride for clinicians and care providers all across the world, as they work tirelessly on the frontlines caring for the sick and dying. My own team continues to knock on the doors of people who are fragile and despite their own worries and fears, stay at their bedside providing whatever needed to lessen their discomfort or distress, making their last breaths a little gentler.

I reached out to my neighborhood asking for masks and gloves, and every day since, donations have been left at my door. People say, “I am sorry it’s only nine masks”, but what they don’t realize is that means nine more nurses have protection, and so far, I have received about thirty masks. I have also received fabric mask covers, disposable paper masks and rubber gloves. As I said above, I think people in general want to be kind.

I believe we have a very long journey ahead, and I think it will get worse before it gets better, but I also think that when we get through this, which I truly believe we will, we will be stronger collectively because of it. Communities are coming together in a way that has not been seen in a very long time and I think we really like it. My hope is that this continues, that we work harder to come together, that we practice kindness, compassion and patience for one another. I believe the road ahead is long, but I see us holding hands together as we walk down it.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the people that continue to work, despite their own fears and concerns, helping us to feel a little more safe and supported, and providing us with the necessities we need to survive. YOU are doing the hard work, please know that it has not gone unnoticed and we all pray for your safety and good health. We also thank your families for sharing you with all of us. Please be safe.

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