I’m a Nurse—and These Are the Things I Won’t Do Even After Lockdown Ends
Life will never be the same again, and neither will our habits.
Photo: Amy Duran
I’m a registered nurse and a nursing director for a global healthcare company. At the moment my job is to oversee training for nurses that are coming into a hard-hit area to help alleviate staff shortages due to the pandemic and need to be trained quickly in COVID-19 care. This means that right from the beginning, I have been able to see a broad overview of the illness, how it’s progressing, and the treatments being used for it.
This doesn’t mean I’m just sitting in my home office running training modules, however. I have to travel all over and help train nurses where they are. A month ago, I had the opportunity to work in New Orleans as a floor nurse which really put this disease into perspective for me. I saw more people die in my first two days than I had in my prior 10 years of nursing altogether. It was a huge shock and since then I’ve witnessed some really desperate situations working in intensive care units (ICU) that I’m still trying to emotionally work through.
If you haven’t seen it up close, it’s hard to understand how truly devastating and horrific COVID-19 can be and how quickly it can overwhelm medical facilities. This virus likely isn’t going anywhere until we have a vaccine and/or herd immunity. That’s why it’s so important to practice prevention and mitigation tactics—not just now, but even after the lockdowns end.
Quarantine has to end eventually
I live in Jefferson County, Colorado, and we are under shelter-in-place orders through May 8, after which there will be a partial reopening of businesses. Now that our lockdown is ending I’ve had to come up with a plan to go back to “normal,” while still helping to flatten the curve.
Even though I’ve been incredibly close to the detrimental effects of COVID-19, and I agree that some pretty drastic measures needed to happen in order to curb the spread, I still feel conflicted about the real and detrimental effects of lockdown. For instance, many people, including my nine-year-old son, have suffered greatly from not being able to get routine medical care. Yet while I’m glad that things are going to be opening back up, I realize that I’m very privileged to be able to have my life mostly go back to the way it was before. My loved ones are healthy, and my husband and I both still have jobs. We will absolutely do our best to abide by any government guidance or laws to keep others safe, hoping those laws are coming from a place of collaboration and inclusivity.
What I won’t do even after lockdown ends
I try not to ever live my life from a place of fear. That said, there are a few quarantine rules I’ll still be following after the lockdown ends—probably not forever but at least as long as I’m still working with COVID-19 patients.
I won’t go out in public without a mask
Even before face masks for everyone became commonplace, I knew my risk to transmit this illness to others was high due to my frequent exposure to COVID-positive patients. Realistically, I’ll be treating COVID-19 patients for the rest of this year, if not the next couple of years. So to reduce my chances of unintentionally spreading the virus, I’ll wear my surgical mask any time I’m out in public and will continue to do so until I’m no longer exposed to it at work. (Make sure you’re not making any of these common mask mistakes.)
I won’t run non-essential errands
My husband, Gage, has been doing the grocery shopping and other errands and he will likely continue to do so for some time, again, to minimize my risk of spreading the virus. I’m not complaining—fewer errands mean more time with my kids! We have two boys and we are foster parents so our house is always full of chaos and fun.
I won’t share drinks with my kids
I’ve never worried about sharing food or drinks with my kids in the past but I started avoiding it during quarantine just to be extra safe. As long as I’m still being exposed to the virus, I’ll continue to not share utensils, cups, or drinks.
I will never look at a doorknob the same way
I’ve become a lot more thoughtful of the places germs live and now routinely disinfect doorknobs, the fridge, light switches, and any high-touch areas. A fear of germs doesn’t stop me from doing things but it has definitely changed my cleaning habits. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to look at a restaurant table again without wondering if it’s been disinfected.
I won’t leave home without disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer
We now keep our car stocked with items we can use to quickly sanitize our hands and other items. I’m not going to be wiping down the swings at the park or anything but it’s nice to have them available for on-the-go cleaning. These types of small changes are low cost and are easy to do but still provide big benefits.
I won’t skimp on sleep
With the emotional and physical toll of working in the hospitals on top of my regular director role, I’ve had to be more intentional about taking care of myself. If I’m sick, that’s one less nurse out there who can be helping. One way I’m really trying to improve is getting enough sleep every night as it helps reduce stress and strengthen my immune system.
I won’t give up our new bedtime routine
One of the biggest benefits of quarantine has been some really tender moments with my kids. For instance, I just finished reading the Harry Potter series to my tween, who will shortly find snuggling with his mom and a book at bedtime less exciting once life goes back to “normal.” This has been so good for both of us, I’m not giving that up.
I will never take my community for granted again
Before COVID-19, I felt that people were generally friendly, but the way the community has shown up for me and other health care workers has fundamentally changed me for the better. Sometimes life gets so busy and I’m so self-involved I forget the power of a village. The “thank you” cards in my mailbox, the masks my neighbours made for my family, the meals brought over on nights we were taking foster kids—I could go on and on. Now that I have all these people who love me, I don’t want to let go of it.