Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Yes, Cancer Still Goes On in a Pandemic.

Just a few thoughts.

I've been plagued (no pun intended) with people posting things to my social media pages and sending me memes about God Bless Nurses, nurses are angels, heroes, etc. People send me all kinds of thank yous and stuff about nurses on the front lines and risking their lives in the current situation.

I wish they would stop. Not only does it show that they don't understand the wide range of work that nurses do, it borders on the obsequious when they send that stuff to me personally.

I'm not on the front lines.

I don't have to worry about wearing a mask at work, because I don't work in a hospital anymore, or in direct patient care. I work in my home office, a tiny 100 square foot space where the dirtiest thing I have to deal with are muddy paw prints in the spring. So please, don't call me a hero, angel, or any other superhuman. Save that stuff for the nurses who deserve it, or want it (I doubt 99.9% of them are in it for the praise), and who are out there daily, risking their lives, health, sanity, and dignity to keep working for a system that doesn't care about them or the patients they take care of.

Not only does it tug at my sense of guilt about not being there helping out because deep down I really do feel like somehow I still have that bedside nurse in me (with my decade-long absence from ICU to boot), but it's really not deserved. I haven't started an IV in seven years and I haven't touched a ventilated patient in ten.

I chose to leave hospital nursing in 2013 because I felt the conditions were abusive, disrespectful, a waste of human talent, and I wasn't willing to subject myself to a bunch of lying, gaslighting, insecure, self-enriching, mediocrity-enhancing people with low self-esteem thinly disguised behind suits. I still experience some PTSD-like symptoms, or responses, to certain stressors as a result of it. As much as I hope I will never ever have to go back, there is still this deep down pang of duty that I feel when I hear how hard they are all being worked.

But seven years later, here we are. It's all being exposed. Daylight has finally broken through, and unfortunately, it took a pandemic to do it. And I cringe, shudder, and feel nauseated when I think about the healthcare workers who are on the front lines of this situation, now, and the toll this will take on their mental health. Our country hasn't done a good job in the past of caring for veterans who came back from active combat, physically or mentally. And I have no doubt that the mental and emotional toll this pandemic will take on healthcare workers will become a crisis in itself.

I am still an oncology nurse now. I now work in research and technology around oncology care and treatment. And I have no desire to take anything away from the nurses who are working at the bedside in this horrible situation, saving lives and comforting those they can't save, to the best of their abilities.

But cancer still goes on. It doesn't stop because there's a public health crisis. And people with cancer, even if they have been treated and have no evidence of disease, are very vulnerable to infectious diseases. The disease process of cancer, depending on what organ systems it's attacking, as well as the treatment, not to mention the associated stress, goes on. So I hope all of those people with cancer, who are out of treatment, currently or recently in treatment, know that there are people out there who have your backs. We're not all dropping everything to work on COVID-19.

Right now it's hitting home in our family, my stepbrother is just getting started on a very scary and nebulous path to get treated for a blood cancer that rarely has good outcomes. His treatment was already delayed because of waiting 8 days to get COVID 19 test results. And he's getting the runaround of the healthcare system, which I strongly suspect would happen even if we weren't dealing with this pandemic.

So remember, please, yes, this is a dangerous time, it is a dangerous disease, especially for those who have additional health issues, but there are other things that are too important to lose track of.

Cancer still sucks as much as it ever has. And it's just as important now as it ever was.

So please save the accolades for the front line workers. I'll happily stay on the back end of this and keep plugging away at cancer. I'm don't want to be anybody's hero or angel, and I'm not.

Please, if you're looking for something to praise or adulate, go above and beyond in a different way. HELP NURSES! Do everything in your power to support those front line healthcare workers and don't forget them when the dust settles and we get to go back and resume our lives. Three things you can do:

1. Write your representatives in Congress, and your Senators, and tell them how important it is for healthcare workers to be taken care of both now and after this crisis is over, and that this should never ever happen again. And tell them you will vote accordingly.

2. And then, keep your word and stick by them after this crisis is over, so we can reform healthcare and make going to the hospital a less deadly experience for everyone, whether you are a patient or you work there.

3. And dammit, wash your hands and wear a mask when you go out! (Thanks to a former ICU cowowrker who reminded me to add this in...)


Saturday, April 4, 2020

We're all Zoombies Now: Hellfire and ZoomNation

Not having to go out sure saves a lot of time. This morning even though I have to work for a few hours, I feel unrushed and able to relax and enjoy. I made berry-chocolate chip muffins. I hung out with Dennis and the girls on the stairs this morning, having a group hug. It was so refreshing to be able to stop and enjoy the moment.

I hope that's what other people are discovering in this break from our insane pace of life in this country. And I also hope people are realizing that when the virus threat is minimized and we are all allowed to start easing back into our normal lives, that we intentionally try to make our new post-pandemic world much less stressful and chaotic.

I started my new job orientation this past week and that was a great distraction from everything else I've been focused on for the past several weeks since we all started staying at home. I'm a bit mentally overloaded with the learning curve but it's actually not bad. I look forward to resuming work next week and starting to get into a routine.

Since all of my work is remote and using Zoom, and my social life has also been on Zoom, and prior to this, my business work was on Zoom, I'm turning into a Zoom-bie. Or a Zoom-bot? Not sure what to call it. We live, work and play on Zoom now.

Before I started my job this week, I was focused on all the bad things about our world, and angry about all that's going wrong. I care a lot about healthcare and I am still beside myself with the way healthcare workers have been treated and neglected in this crisis, but that's a whole other blogpost, or even a whole other blog. I will deal with that later, I am hoping to be able to collaborate with grassroots nursing leaders and start planning and organizing a response to this. I think ZDogg summed it up very well in his recent video, which I'll link here. 

Here is another link to one of the better articles I've read during this debacle.

After reading this short article above, and watching this 8 minute video, let's all take a moment to step back and contemplate why what is happening now is just an outgrowth of a flawed and broken system. This is what I've been bitching about here since the beginning of this blog, but especially since around 2012. Now it's to the point of being done out in the open, shamelessly. They don't even try to cover their tracks, healthcare leaders have been getting away with this bullshit for so long, they think it's business as usual.

And healthcare workers bear some of the blame. They (we) deserve it, the people who won't speak up, who won't have each others' backs in the workplace, who say nothing when they see something wrong, dangerous, or unethical, who run away with their tails between their legs, afraid they will lose their jobs. Their precious jobs, that undercompensate them, exhaust them, make them sick and fat and old before their time, abuse them, allow them to be sheep for their fat cat masters? Now do you see why I've been saying this?






Yes, I am yelling. Anything that is happening, regardless of the CDC changes, regardless of what you've been told is the new policy, that goes against what you know to be right and safe and scientifically sound, go home and write it down. Document everything. Because when this is done, we need to hold these people to account. I hope to see massive resignations and firings of high level healthcare executives and top "leadership".

We need to burn our healthcare system down. TO THE GROUND. People who use fear of socialism and socialized medicine as an excuse for not changing, if you're so opposed to that, then don't cash your relief checks from the government. Because that is called a social safety net.

If you take advantage of free testing or waived copays for any medical attention as a result of COVID 19, you're using government healthcare-because that is called socialized medicine.

OMG! Socialism! The horrors! That people would actually be protected from being kicked out of their homes, utilities being shut off, starving in the streets. If a safety net horrifies you, go hang out in a megachurch and pray with thousands of other idiots somewhere down south. Do us all a favor. We could greatly improve our national gene pool that way.

Okay, I'll stop now because I said this was for a whole other blogpost.

Right now I am so glad to see people out breathing fresh air and moving, walking, as long as they are social distancing. It's exactly what everybody needed. Time to slow down, take a time out from our insane pace of life in this country, our addiction to consumer goods and services, and just be the human beings that we are.

Let's not go back to normal. Ever.