Life · Nursing

and the third waves come crashing in

This past week has seemed like something crazy out of a sci- fi movie to be perfectly honest. A year in to this pandemic, and despite our optimism and positive outlook- it truly feels like we are moving in the wrong direction.

I’m going to be straight up that this weekend (Easter weekend) I took the full weekend off from work. I probably should have picked up some shifts to help out with call volume (and goodness knows I could have used the money to pay for many things in my life) but … It just wasn’t worth it. I needed a full on break from life, and what feels like a bit of impending disaster.

Over the weekend, the Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU) posted that there was an increase of COVID19 cases in 48 hours to over 240 cases.. over 50% aged 18- 22 years old…. and if that doesn’t terrify you let me tell you why it should.

Our ICUs in the province of Ontario are in big trouble. The number of patients is going to soon surpass the number of available beds – and yes, while field hospitals have been set up, etc. this does NOT mean we have an adequate number of staff or resources to face this pandemic head on. I think we have a false sense of security because of last spring that our first wave “wasn’t so bad”… but those of us who worked on the front lines, going into hospitals each day not knowing if there was going to be adequate masks to even protect you for your shift- those feelings are resurfacing. I have been vaccinated now, but one of my concerns remains the possible mutations of this virus- scroll back up to that 240+ person case count in less than 48 hours. More young people are being infected, and are symptomatic. The variants we are seeing of this virus are deadly.

At the institution where I work, patients have been accepted by centres in other parts of the province that have been hit hard and are struggling to stay afloat. More isolated areas (think Thunder Bay, Owen Sound, etc.) which have a smaller capacity are praying to the universe that they can keep control of current case numbers. And I’d just like to remind everyone- opening “beds” – physical beds… does NOT mean those are staffed by the people you will need when you’re sick. The doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, occupational therapists- they won’t necessarily be available to care for you if you require admission to hospital. And forget being admitted for some other reason- if you end up in an emergency situation like a car accident… where do you go when the beds are full? Who looks after you then?

This is why you need to stay home.

There is a lot of disdain right now around the provincial lockdown in Ontario – and frankly, rightfully so. People are sick and tired of doing the SAME thing over and over without any results. I am still completely baffled how we continue to do the same thing repeatedly which has not worked for over a year now… and secondly our numbers are at an ALL time high right now in this province, yet almost a million doses of vaccine are sitting in a freezer currently (thank you Premier!) which could be used to protect people.

Make no mistake, this is not like a year ago where we didn’t have access to adequate PPE and had to procure it- the vaccines are in the possession of this province and have not been distributed to hot spots to tackle the soaring case numbers. Furthermore, the current vaccination strategy (which let’s face it, is NOT currently working) hasn’t been addressed or adapted to combat growing case numbers… people who are seeing hundreds of people (essential workers, young and old) are not protected, and expected to keep on keeping on, without paid sick days, burnt out, exhausted, and perpetuating spread because the appropriate structures haven’t been put in place to support people who are facing this virus head on.

Those of you who have a choice to stay home- just stay at home. It’s really not that hard, and it is extremely difficult to understand from the perspective of essential workers who do not have a choice to put themselves in harm’s way each and every day.

It’s absurd to me that malls are still open (with little to no regulation) and yet small businesses like aestheticians, salon owners, etc. are being shut down. Not only does this strategy burden the WRONG people but it is counteractive to stopping spread. My very close friend still works in retail and many of the security guards in the mall where she works don’t even follow the regulations themselves. Who is keeping these people accountable? When they’re supposed to be modelling the rules and protecting people in the building… not to mention that is NOT essential to go pick out your clothing in a store. In case you didn’t see this and think I’m just being dramatic.. this is what Yorkdale Mall looked like over the weekend….

Can someone please explain to me why ANYONE needs to be going to the Eaton Centre or Yorkdale mall right now? I am sure there will be many people who disagree with what I’m about to say, but if you do your reality is very skewed and you likely have privilege that some people in this province (the majority of those marginalized being hit hardest by COVID) could never even dream of.

It is NOT your right to risk the health and well being of others.

You are fortunate to be able to stay home. You are fortunate to be alive.

Your liberties are not being infringed on, and this is not some game of control. It’s a matter of life and death. Each and every time you say this or you violate public health guidelines- you disrespect each and every one of the 7000+ individuals who have died in this province as a result of COVID19.

This might be a bit of a wakeup call to some of you, but you actually don’t have a right to condemn the life of someone else. And your life is not more important than theirs. The moment those decisions start affecting the safety & well being of other people- you lose that right. Not because people have control over you- but because you are selfish, irresponsible, and ignorant. End of story.

I am certainly crossing my fingers, toes, and really all of my appendages in hoping that our provincial government will take a stand and address these extremely serious concerns before it’s too late… like last time, and the time before that. It’s no secret that if we had done lockdown “right” either of the first two times, we wouldn’t be where we are now… but there has been little to no enforcement, weak understanding and education on the rules by our government itself, and the vaccination plan has been thrusted upon Public Health Units with almost no direction.

I know many of us are feeling burnt out, exhausted, desperate for some kind of normalcy and some relief from all of this. On top of that, those of us who are seeing the surge mount in our workplaces slowly but surely are internally terrified of what we are about to experience in the health system. I know and am pretty mentally prepared that there is a good chance I will be redeployed back to the bedside or to a unit where I can provide some support to my fellow colleagues fighting the good fight. To all of my essential working pals reading this- thank you for being brave, strong, and keeping on keeping on even when it feels like many (if not everyone) has forgotten about us. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to tread water and “stay afloat” as long as we have. Please take a few moments to disconnect from the chaos and spend some time for yourself. We are all incredibly overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, and beyond exhausted- we can only give to others when our own cups aren’t empty.

The video below is one that was circulating the past while from the New York Times… it takes a look at what some of our colleagues in the ICU are experiencing caring for COVID19 patients.. and what that actually looks like for those who may not even be able to imagine if this is out of your realm of context. Worth a few minutes to watch.

What can you do to help save lives in this third wave?

  1. Call your MPPs – Tell them to advocate to get doses of the COVID19 Vaccine out of freezers and into arms.
  2. Advocate for change to be made to our current vaccination process- ALL essential workers should be vaccinated regardless of age, as they are being exposed and coming into contact with possibly infected individuals
  3. A TRUE lockdown- close malls and big box stores. Rigid public health measures to make this an effective lockdown and hopefully the last one needed so that we don’t have to do this a fourth, fifth, or sixth time.
  4. Implement paid sick time to keep people home and reduce spread
  5. Hold your family & friends accountable for their safety & wellbeing.

Stay safe, stay well, stay home.

xo- C

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