This is a guest post by Sonali Dhir on the current times and how it has changed us and our lives:–
I have lived and worked in New Jersey my whole life. Covid-19 changed our way of life drastically here since mid -March of this year. Pre-Covid-19, if we did not feel like cooking, we could head less than a few miles from home and find a fast food joint or restaurant open to grab a bite to eat. Our waiter or waitress would ask us what we wanted and we would simply order what we liked on the menu. It was not just the food but the experience that led us out of our homes. It was normal, it was a break from the usual routine of work, school, running errands and then returning home. However, post the eruption of Covid-19, the new normal is cooking at home, going out for essentials, working from home if possible and homeschooling children. There were closures of beloved small businesses we used to frequent when it was actually safe outside or to go somewhere when we felt the need to go. Now everything must be meticulous planned prior to going anywhere. Want a haircut or nails done? Make an appointment. Want to go shopping? Wait in line six feet apart until there is enough room for you to enter.
For me being on the frontlines as they call it, it has been a stressful few months. I am not used to wearing a mask when I going inside a convenience store or to the gas station on the way to work. I am used to wearing PPE when needed because a patient is on isolation and then I take it off wash my hands and onto the next patient. I still order takeout sometimes but it is not the same as before. After a long week of work, I wanted to treat myself only to have food that may have been fine when first cooked but now is cold and unappetizing.
Mentally is has been draining. For years I have been made fun of for my handwashing practices. I have been a nurse for nine years, the last two as a nurse practitioner. Now,I get asked all the time if I washed my hands. If anyone sneezes, everyone else gets alarmed. It was not until late May, over two months after the pandemic hit New Jersey, I was able to get tested. Luckily, I was negative and my family sighed with relief. Sleeping a problem as sometimes I fear I will bring it home to my family because the media has painted numerous theories that mess with the minds of Americans across the country. While some strive for racial equality others have been fighting for the rights not to wear a mask as they do not believe Covid-19 is a real threat. I round in nursing homes every week, and families are desperate to be able to meet and hug their loved ones again. I wish I could give them more hope. My patients feel isolated from the world, some with dementia, not realizing their families did not intend to abandon them. I visited a patient I will call Mr. Drew. He had advanced dementia. One day I arranged with his daughter to speak with him. I could hear how overwhelmed they both were at not being able to meet and him not understanding why he has not seen her in several months. His daughter and I explained it was similar to the Spanish flu pandemic in 1917-1918. He responded,” I had no idea it was this bad.” He repeated these words several times during our conversation.
We all are dealing with this new “normal”. Some expect it will go back to the previous normal in a few months. However, until everyone takes this pandemic seriously, along with a vaccine or treatment being approved, we all are at risk. Individuals from each industry have faced job loss or reduction of some benefits due to this pandemic. The hope is we can as a nation finally come together and fight to make the best of the situation and contain Covid-19 in the remaining months of 2020.
Good to know: Aubrey, A. (2020, March 31). Who’s sickest from COVID-19? these conditions tied to increased risk.
Sonali Dhir is a new nurse practitioner staying afloat in the face of the COVID 19 pandemic.