| Betsy Pua’ala Mount (left) and Mylene Peralta
Editor’s note: Betsy Pua’ala Mount is a registered nurse at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital who posted her thoughts on Facebook after returning from work Monday. We are republishing her essay, with her permission.
By Betsy Pua’ala Mount
Monday was the busiest night I have had since COVID hit. It’s a war zone.
It’s so disheartening to see ages across the spectrum intubated, paralyzed and proned, one by one like a domino effect. One day you had them the next day they’re tubed. You can feel it in the pit of your stomach that it’s inevitable; maybe not today, maybe tomorrow.
It takes a lot of guts, patience and energy to care for these patients. You have to build a wall or else you will break, so many of us have just had to take a moment — a break — and it’s okay because the never-ending admissions are coming, with no end in sight, as we see the endless cars below us lined up to get COVID testing, a conveyor belt of potential patients.
God has placed a select few of us nurses to care for these patients, including my buddy Mylene Peralta. She is the ray of sunshine with her beautiful smile everyday. But we are tired and it shows.
We are in rooms sometimes for up to two hours, fully dressed in hoods, weight belts with hepa filters, gowns and two pairs of gloves. We load up with our meds and linens and enter. We battle the endless low oxygenation saturations of our patients when they turn, cough and talk. We ask them to “breathe, take a deep breath” constantly, while hoping they will recover with our treatments. They look up to us, we are their only cheerleader, their ray of hope, their coach and their encourager. It is a constant conversation we have to have with them. We tell them “yes it will be okay, breathe.”
Our patients are hungry but they can’t eat because the oxygen flow is too much and may cause them to aspirate their food in their lungs, so they lie in bed hungry until we can slowly titrate, or lower the oxygen rate. Too weak to move, eat or breathe, and no family with them at their weakest moment. That is what a patient feels like.
I do not wish this disease on anyone. Believe me, COVID is real. It is Torture. It is Misery. And it can be Deadly.
We have been nursing this virus since March and we are tired.
I share this with you to help you make a decision when you are invited to that dinner, get together, sleep over, party, baby shower, or whatever it may be. The long drawn-out sheltering in place, remote learning and outrageous daily deaths are occurring because of our inabilities and impatience to deal with the acceptance that We Must Wear a Mask. We must wash our hands. We must social distance. Or else you must and inevitably will get COVID. It’s invisible. Presume that everyone has it. Protect yourself. It will be over sooner if we change our habits now! I share this with you not to be critiqued but to share with you inside of the battlefield, with hopes that you have a better understanding of what could potentially happen to you and your loved ones.
Stay safe, everyone, and respect and protect your frontline workers who are working tirelessly for you all. Keep us in your prayers.
We pray for you all tirelessly.
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