Standring column: Medical workers: Love them by reducing their patient loads
Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
In Paris every night at 8 p.m. windows and balconies thunder with applause and cheers as medical workers leave the hospital. My childhood friend sent me a video clip.
In Milton, Massachusetts, I am recuperating from surgery with witness to the courage of doctors, nurses, aides and all hospital staff. Where would I be without them? On March 18, the removal of part of my lung due to a tumor, was successful. Here I am a week later, greatly improved and no longer on painkillers.
But nothing prepared me for the excruciating, stabbing chest pains, post-surgery. I could barely whisper into the call button, “Can I have my pain pill now?” My hospital care was excellent, there was no need for any Shirley MacLaine “Terms of Endearment” demands. But I could see the fear in the eyes of the staff, being on the front lines of risk from working in the ward.
The next day, I heard alarming sounds of coughing on our floor. When my fantastic surgeon, Dr. Richard Whyte, came to see me, he suggested I go home.
What? I can barely move. Can’t I stay another night?
Nobody was kicking me out, I could stay if I wanted. But the question is can the pain be managed at home with medication? If so, it would be safer for me due to an influx of COVID-19 patients in the hospital. I agreed.
During the first two days of home recovery, I starred in a “Scream” movie, until we got the hang of my pain pill schedule. Lesson: stay ahead of the pain, folks. Don’t be a hero.
Now safely on the other side of surgery, I have gratitude to all medical workers and staff.
It’s frightening how they work with limited protections due to shortages. You know what they need? Less COVID-19 patients. For their sake, comply with self-quarantine and appreciate your blessing that, unlike them, you are not risking infection as a medical angel of mercy. Is staying six feet away from others so much to ask?
In the very beginning, I wondered about overreaction, and chafed at curtailed freedoms, yet I was a complainer who complied.
But then medical experts confirmed that asymptomatic people can be carriers and infect people with underlying medical conditions like me. Post-surgery, if I had contracted a cold, the flu, or COVID-19, I could have died. COVID-19 patients experience their lungs filling with fluid and an inability to breathe. I could not have survived that.
Courtesies are acts of love. Let’s love on all hospital and medical personnel. My daughter said, “We give up our freedom of movement temporarily for the greater good.”
Practice social distancing and limit contact. Do it with grace so health workers can lessen their workloads.
Also, your prayers worked. During moments of indescribable pain, I thought, “Somebody is praying for me,” and I would cling to that like a lifeline. Guess what? You pulled me out. And together, we can pull our country out of this pandemic. Add prayers to practical acts on behalf of our brave medical workers. My heart (and lungs) are filled with gratitude and admiration.
Email Suzette Martinez Standring at firstname.lastname@example.org.