Today is Monday and it feels as though the weeks have forgotten to reset every 7 days.
I want to go home and crawl in my nice warm, safe bed. I want to shut out the world and its violence and disease. I want to eat pizza with my family and watch a funny movie together. I want to walk my dog outside in shadows of purple mountains while a cool breeze reminds me autumn is on its way. But that is not what is in store for me today.
Today, mixed among skilled nursing discharges, home health arrangements and substance abuse evaluations, I will spend time consoling families as their loved ones are diagnosed with COVID, being intubated, or having care withdrawn. I will be in the crosshair for anger and frustration, fear and unpredictability. I will come up short on resources and answers. I will try to explain to deaf, exhausted ears the overly saturated medical and mental health systems. I will absorb opinions, feelings and viewpoints while acknowledging and validating emotions. I will feel the eyes of an angry spouse, parent, sibling, or child burning through me as I tell them the visitor policy.
For the staff, patients and families surrounding me, I will feel I can never be there enough, listen enough, or support enough. I will wonder deep inside when, and if, this will all end. COVID has broken us as healthcare workers, and I will wonder when we will start fixing people again and being able to heal ourselves.
But that is not all today is.
Today, I will proudly walk into the hospital, determined to make a difference. I will be the rock for dedicated bedside staff, encouraging and supporting. I will be the light for families and patients, encouraging them toward their goals. I will be a conduit to resources and support, empowering those who feel there is nothing left.
I will harness my drive to improve and go above and beyond for my patients. I will continue to scratch for every ounce of hope that we will eventually get through the COVID years, and bridle the strength, resolve and satisfaction of overcoming a mountain. I will make mistakes, pick myself up and continue on. I will practice my craft with grit and compassion. After all, I am a Medical Social Worker, this is my calling. This my duty.
And then, I will go home. I will mourn for the ones we lost, hug my friends and family a little longer, and look forward to the hope of tomorrow.
Kylene Davis, MSW, LSW, is a Medical Social Worker, ICU and High Acuity at UCHealth Memorial Hospital North.