I’m a Bit on Edge, but She Doesn’t Care

Working from home isn’t supposed to be painful, too. Is it?

Jernee Timid, my little monster. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt
Jernee Timid, my little monster. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

For those of you who have followed me through some recent transitions, you know I changed positions last November. I shifted from working in an imaging facility to schedule patients for their imaging services and invasive procedures instead. The change came with a “Get Out of Hell Free Card” and I happily jumped at the opportunity to be safe at home while still working for an organization that has consumed my life for over three years.

At my previous job, I began as a Patient Access Specialist, assisting patients during their check-in process and showing them to various departments within our facility. My job also included accepting their payments and explaining their estimate printout to them for their services.

And then, there was COVID-19 . . .

And our world changed. We had to prepare ourselves for what was quickly shaping up to be a royal pain in the ass. Our facility needed screeners for Coronavirus COVID-19 symptoms. And since I was my team’s Patient Experience Innovator, I felt obligated to volunteer for this task.

We started off with four screeners. Soon after dealing with a few irate patients and the possibility of contracting the virus, we dwindled down to two. Because of the influx of patients we began seeing for chest X-rays and chest CT scans, it was obvious we needed all Patient Access Specialists at the front desk to assist with the check-in process, but a screener had to remain. That screener was me.

The job . . . was a mind-numbing, heart-crushing, soul-deadening position, but it had to be done. And I am glad my time doing that — screening people in the depths of a deadly virus for the actual symptoms of that virus, is over. But the pain of it all has followed me to the safety of my home.

Although I have no physical contact with any of the patients with who I communicate, I am still there with them. I feel their pain. I try to understand their concerns and their worries. With the Delta variant of this virus scooping up the lives of many, answering the phone to schedule patients for hundreds of imaging scans and invasive procedures is becoming a full-feature film, completely immersed in the lives of others.

Many of the conversations I have with patients now include the following phrases or some variation of them: “I’m sorry, but I have to cancel my appointment. I’ve got COVID,” “Hey! I have to reschedule to a later date. My husband tested positive for the virus,” “I can’t make my appointment. My child’s school sent them home,” or “I’m sorry . . . I’m going to have to bury my mother soon, and I can’t think about anything else right now. I need to cancel.”

And this is my daily interaction — speaking with the sufferers or suffering and my heart is about to explode!

I am often told by my patients who I schedule I make their scheduling experience easier — lighter. I’m easy to talk to and efficient and thorough. My supervisors commend me as their voicemails pile up from little snippets of recorded calls from these interactions. This is all fine and well, but . . . I thought I would feel differently at home.

I don’t.


Keeping watch: Jernee Timid Loadholt. Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

These are the times in which I am glad I am not completely alone. Many of you know of how I have spoken about and still speak about the healing powers of my little Chorkie, Jernee. She has truly been a godsend. I can feel myself cracking — breaking away slightly, but I can take one look at this being in between calls, and something in me settles, sits back, and realigns itself.

The tears stop flowing. The pain slowly subsides. Life feels fresher — freer again, if only momentarily. Those few moments are necessary throughout my workdays.

What do you say to someone who is going to bury their mother amid a raging virus? How do you comfort a worried parent who has to take time off work to quarantine with and care for her child? How do you comfort a wife who will now be her husband’s caretaker as he wades himself through the various symptoms his immunocompromised body will endure? What do you tell a mother/grandmother whose adult daughter had to be rushed by an ambulance because she couldn’t breathe on her own?

Hundreds of scenarios pass by my ears. Hundreds of people hurting, worried, scared, and counting down the days before death slips them a calling card. All of this . . . and then, Jernee. And then, Jernee. And then, Jernee . . . again and again.

And I have to tell you, I am a bit on edge. She must know this. She sees this. And she doesn’t care. The only thing she knows to do is approach me with love.

And right now, during these dog days of living, I need that love — her love. Right now, I am grateful it exists. She’s not judging me for breaking down. She’s not telling me to be stronger. She is simply being here for me.

Working from home isn’t sheltering me from any pain. It only keeps me safe. And really, is that enough?

I hear of stories from my team members who are still at the facilities, still trying to make caring for patients work and people have gotten beyond rude. I am told patients hurl objects at the Patient Access Specialists or screeners who ask them the COVID-19 screening questions. It gets worse when someone questions if they’re going to follow up with their second dose of the vaccine (really, if you knew how many people actually only received one dose and are simply avoiding the second dose, you’d raise an eyebrow, maybe two).

Is this living? Are we living? When did it ever become acceptable for healthcare workers to be abused based on someone’s fucked up sense of “freedoms” and “rights”? I seriously want to know. Do any of you have the answers?

I sit at home, stare off into space in between calls or I say a prayer or two or three, and I look to Jernee to get me through each day. As time plows on, I hope this is enough.

I hope it is. I really hope it is.


Musical Selection: Michael Jackson, The Lady in my Life

Originally published in Age of Empathy via Medium.

Unwell

10 Words

Jernee, sitting near my workstation–my brave girl

sweet, sweet girl
battling digestive issues
ever close to me


Jernee was having a bad day yesterday. The poor girl has a history of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, so her belly had been acting up from the early morning hours until a little after 1:45 pm. I am so happy she’s feeling much better now.

Hearing Nothing

Flash Fiction

“Grampy, the plumbers are here to take a look at the busted pipes!”

Elijah yells toward the back of his grandparents’ shotgun house — screams loud enough for the neighbors to hear.

“You wanna give me my pipe? Yes, boy, that’ll be all right. It’s in the den on the coffee table.”

Elijah shakes his head and cautions the plumbers with his right hand and then directs them to the bathroom on the first floor which is where they will begin their work.

“No, Grampy! The pipes! The busted pipes from the storm. The plumbers are here to fix them!”

“Mice!!! When did we get mice?! Lemme get up and find some traps, boy. We can’t have no mice cohabitating with us. No, siree.”

Elijah presses two fingers to the temples of his head and massages slowly. He then walks toward his grandfather’s bedroom and enters the room with a defeated look on his face. He stands near the window, breathes out, and begins again . . .

“Grampy, the plumbers are here to fix the pipes. There are no mice and you stopped smoking that godawful pipe three years ago.”

He looks at his grandfather, places a hand on his shoulder, and smiles gently.

“Well, if you wanted company boy, why didn’t you just say so? Sure, they can spend the night.”

A look of bewilderment shot across Elijah’s face as he tried to understand exactly what his grandfather was going on about now.

“Grampy, for who to spend the night? This is about the pipes, Grampy. The busted pipes!”

His voice was at a measured shrill with just enough volume to alert his grandmother in the kitchen. She came running to her grandson’s aid.

“Gerald! Pay attention to me, please. Elijah said the plumbers are here to start work on the busted pipes from that winter storm! They’re in the bathroom downstairs, that’s where they’ll begin!”

Although she was shouting, Sue’s voice was just as serene and peaceful as if she were speaking calmly to an infant. Elijah thought to himself, surely his grandfather would not hear her.

“Now, Elijah is going to keep watch over them while they work on the pipes and I’ll finish dinner.”

A brief moment of silence waltzed in on them and Elijah and Sue awaited Gerald’s response.

“Sue, of all the things in this world you could call me, I never thought a sinner would be one of them. And if those plumbers don’t hurry up and get here, we’re going to spend another night in this house with no water!”

Sue looked at Elijah, smiled, and gave his hand a pat.

“Today’s almost done, Elijah. Tomorrow is a new day. Maybe it’ll be a good day for him.”

Elijah gave his grandmother’s hand a gentle pat and smiled back at her.

“Maybe.”


Originally published in The Weekly Knob via Medium.

“It’s a Mild Case” and Now I Must Move Forward

Living with keratoconus and so long to A Cornered Gurl

This was originally published as an informative letter via A Cornered Gurl on Medium. I know some of you are writers and readers of the publication (on Medium only), so I am sharing it here as well. Hello to each and every one of you.

Workspace/Blue light glasses|Photo Credit: Tremaine L. Loadholt

My optometrist diagnosed me with keratoconus at just the right time. Per my ophthalmologist and corneal specialist at the Duke Eye Center, it’s mild in both eyes with no scarring and no advanced hazing. I have a six-month follow-up to assess my status at that time and to have additional corneal images taken. At the beginning of next year, I’ll be fitted for scleral contact lenses. These will help to reshape the corneas in both eyes and continue to enhance my vision over time. This is a lifelong condition, there’s no cure — but using these methods will aid me in the future regarding my sight.

The best thing about getting this in my 40s is there’s a better chance of it not continuing to progress at a rapid rate and slowly easing up as long as I do what I need to. The follow-up in six months will determine if I’m headed in the right direction to keep me from having any invasive treatments or surgery.

My ophthalmologist showed me what corneal transplant surgery would entail by using the eye model in the exam room. Let’s just say, I truly don’t want to have to endure this surgical procedure. I would rather not walk down that scary road, thank you very much.

Not only was I given a great deal of information about my condition and what to do during these next few months to keep my vision on the up and up, I was also advised to get some Pataday eye drops to help with my allergies and keep me from rubbing my eyes when they itch.

At this point, I am relieved there is no cause for surgery or invasive treatments and I will continue to do what I can on this end to help my sight. This break away from A Cornered Gurl and a few other obligations allowed me time to rest and do other things that do not require my focus totally pressed upon, into, or on some technological device far more than I need to be.

I enjoyed it. I relished the lack of responsibility with these obligations and I wish to move forward with that. At this juncture, I am ceasing all publishing in A Cornered Gurl, indefinitely. I do not have the words to appropriately express how loved each of you as writers and readers of this publication are but I fully believe this is what I needed to show me I can no longer do what I used to.

The body has a way of making one aware when one needs to completely change one’s habits.

I am changing mine.

I will leave the publication up. It feels a bit jumpy to disable or delete it, especially when there are so many powerful, vulnerable, and expressive pieces of work here. If I published your work, I was delighted to. If you are featured in this publication, you are meant to be. If you were rewarded in any way, you deserved it.

Thank you . . . Thank you for coming along on this journey with me. Since ACG will be retired, I am deleting our Twitter account as well. A little over a year is really probably all I can stand of “true” social media.

For your time, mind, and eyes, I am grateful and appreciative and I wish all of you well.

Peace and blessings, beautiful people.


A Cornered Gurl via Medium and Twitter are the only two platforms I will no longer host or participate in; WordPress is home. I have to have a creative outlet and I’ll still be on Medium.

A Break From WordPress

Enjoying nature and loving on my plants a bit more.

**Previous letter issued to A Cornered Gurl via Medium . . .

On February 19, 2021, I was diagnosed with keratoconus. In short, the corneas are bulging forward; shifting and moving away from my eyes. I am currently scheduled for my consultation with the Duke Eye Center on Thursday, April 22, 2021.

I am curbing some of my computer/device screen time and doing other things on this end to make things a bit easier on these eyes of mine. Because of this, effective today, I’ll be taking a two-week break away from WordPress. I would like to get back to my creative writing here on Saturday, April 24, 2021.

I hope each of you will continue to create great posts with creative content for the community to enjoy and please know I look forward to reading your blogs upon my return.

I offer you peace and blessings.

Humbly,

Tre