With ringing in a new year comes a time of reflection and, normally, a ton of gratitude. Today hits a little different. I’m still thankful for a ton (I got married this year, after all!), but professionally, it’s been nothing short of brutal. A few days in particular stand out most; each one feels simultaneously like yesterday and forever ago. My top five, in chronological order:
- February 28, 2020: The day I was quarantined. I had returned from a trip to Rome four days prior when our company issued a new policy: any recent travel to Asia or Italy would warrant 14 days of self-isolation. Even though I’d been back at work all week, I was out of luck (being away from the community for so long is my nightmare). Our weekend in Italy was coincidentally that of their infamous outbreak, and truthfully the first time I’d ever really heard about/looked into COVID-19.
- March 11, 2020: The day we decided to ban visitors in our community. It wouldn’t have been right to make it effective immediately in case anyone planned on showing up that afternoon, but we knew time was of the essence. We stayed late that night to call every single family member and alert them of the precautions we’d be taking, effective the very next day. One of my favorite residents had dinner plans with her son that evening but wasn’t in the mood to go out (it was freezing!). I begged her to take the opportunity, explaining that I didn’t know the next time they’d be able to see each other in person. To this day, I’m so glad she went.. and grateful for the others that took my advice and snuck in one last embrace. We knew the ban wouldn’t be as short as they were predicting (two weeks, HAH!), but we could’ve never anticipated it’d last this long.
- March 12, 2020: The day of our COVID-19 open forum. It ended up becoming the first of weekly update meetings (though those were in much smaller groups and at a safe distance), but we hadn’t yet stopped large gatherings – little did we know, it’d be the last time we were all together. I remember typing up a coronavirus FAQ list to distribute and it was the first time most residents had ever even heard the word. They had questions, I did my best to provide answers, and we were all a combination of scared/confused/aggravated/skeptical.
- April 8, 2020: The day of our first positive. I’ll never forget answering that call from the hospital. A resident had gone out for seemingly unrelated symptoms, so when they called and told me “the test was positive” my immediate response was, “What test?!” As if life hadn’t changed enough in four short weeks, the rug was really pulled from under us on April 8th.
- April 10, 2020: The day of the FaceTime funeral. One of my residents lost her adult son suddenly (unrelated to COVID), and her poor family couldn’t even grieve appropriately. From what I recall, only eight people could attend his services, and bringing their mom in the midst of an outbreak was not a risk they were willing to take (I still don’t blame them). I helped her join them via FaceTime and it was nothing short of devastating.
Wow, my most memorable days (professionally, at least) all happened in the span of a month and a half. The rest of 2020 has been a complete blur – a terrifying, sad, helpless, rollercoaster of a blur.