Non-fiction Saturdays

It Won’t Always Be Like This

And I Take Comfort In That

Photo by Engin Akyurt via Pexels

“It Won’t Always Be Like This.”

I take comfort in that phrase because I have to. There are many changes being implemented at my job. We are not urgent care or an emergency facility and most of our imaging services are elective procedures. However, the great powers that be over our organization will have the facility open to help with the overflow of patients who need certain scans done, who wish not to go to any PUI (Patient Under Investigation for the COVID-19 virus) facilities. As long as we have some volume and patients on the schedule, we will remain open. The moment that volume drops to a number they do not want to see, we will close imaging operations until further notice.

We will close imaging operations until further notice.

That has a pulsating ring to it, doesn’t it? Try saying that phrase five times fast. Trust me, it is not easy to do. I have tried it. I have broken down, fought an invisible enemy with my fists, combatted a wave of depression shortly after, and am doing all of this without the direct aid of my therapist. I cannot see her at this time but have been notified that virtual and email options are available. I will have the time to take advantage of those options during the coming weeks.

Quickly going from a 40-hour per week employee to a “whatever-we-have-available-hour” per week employee is a blow to the gut that will linger. This week, I was on the schedule for 24 hours only. Next week, I am on the schedule for 16 hours only — subject to change at any given time. I will have to use PTO (paid time off) to assist me in gaining my full-time status each week until my PTO dwindles. That will not take long. When my PTO is depleted, the company will allow me to go into a negative PTO bank, but up to 80 hours only. And when that negative 80-hour bank has been depleted and there are no patients on the schedule, I will not get paid.

I have broken down, fought an invisible enemy with my fists, combatted a wave of depression shortly after, and am doing all of this without the direct aid of my therapist.

Knowing all of this, living alone, being alone, and having to rely on myself only for income, has been overwhelming. I am positive, though. I am also grateful to still say that I am working, even if my change in hours is significant. Many are not in my shoes — the hammer came down on them and it came down hard — switching them from gainfully employed to unemployed in a matter of days.

On my days off, I am also given the opportunity to fully participate in the Stay-At-Home order implemented by our Governor so as to flatten the curve for the spread of the virus. I would rather continue to do my part in combatting this thing rather than be a part of contracting it and spreading it to others. This news — the reduction of my hours, is also happy news for The Powerhouse, my mom, and many of my family members and friends. They have been worried about me since the virus touched down in the United States.

I have direct contact with our patients on a daily basis and although, I now wear a mask and gloves too, the percentage of me contracting the virus while at work is higher versus if I were to simply stay at home. I see this as two things: a welcome break that I have needed for years and the opportunity to finish up many of my projects while taking on a few collaborative ventures as well. I am open to every potential lead to being more creative that is thrown my way. I am ready and I am willing.

Many are not in my shoes — the hammer came down on them and it came down hard — switching them from gainfully employed to unemployed in a matter of days.


Far too tired at work, masked photo. “You wear the mask well.” — Aura Wilming

A patient, one whom I delight in greatly, brought a gift to my job for me. He and his wife are patients I register regularly and she thought to give me a little something that would provide us with luck. She sanitized the item and placed it in a tiny plastic bag and ordered her husband to give it to me when he had his next appointment with us. I was at lunch while he was registering with one of my co-workers, however, I came out of our breakroom to get something from my desk, and immediately lit up when I saw him and waved.

He called me to my co-worker’s desk and said with joy, “Tre, get over here! You gotta get this. My wife said I gotta give this to you!” I walked over to him and he was careful in taking the item out of his pocket and handing it over to me. He said sweetly to both my co-worker and I, “It’s for good luck! We need y’all here. We just do. Thank you, girls, for what you are doing. God bless y’all.”

I nearly teared up right then and there, but I smiled. I told him had we not been moved to practice social-distancing, I would come out to the waiting area and give him a hug. I asked him to please thank his wife for me and to let her know that I am most appreciative. I thanked him too before heading back to the breakroom. I am blessed to be able to do what I do. I love the connections I have made and the connections that are probably awaiting me in the future. But, it is deep in my spirit that when this is all said and done, that I may not continue at my facility for the rest of the year.

I am playing things by ear and being mindful of “taking life fifteen minutes at a time,” but my heart wants to move. My mind wants to move. My body aches and everything within me says, “Get out of this field.” That is now. Who knows what my mind may drum up two weeks from today or a month from today.

“It Won’t Always Be Like This.”

No. No, it truly won’t.


Originally published in A Cornered Gurl via Medium.

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Non-Fiction Saturdays

A burst of Spring

Stay At Home

Please, Just Do Your Part

I left my windows open overnight. The chilly North Carolina breeze helps when the warmer months rage forth. Doing this, lent my ears to the songs of the crickets and the various melodies of every bird lifting their sweet voices. On Friday, March 27, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper issued a “Stay-At-Home” order to begin Monday, March 30, 2020.

However, my city’s Mayor issued a similar ordinance and it began yesterday.  Governor Cooper’s ordinance will end on April 29, 2020, and my city’s ordinance is set to end on April 16. 2020. I’ll be following the State issued ordinance, as you probably guessed.

The article states the Governor’s decision came from the urging of many hospitals and healthcare officials fearful of not being able to combat Covid-19 if people aren’t doing what they truly can to prevent the spread of the virus. One of the most essential ways to do this is to simply stay at home. Two others are: practicing social-distancing and proper hand and body hygiene. We also need much more testing done to be able to locate carriers and quarantine the healthier ones versus the immunocompromised.

What I have noticed with many of the changes being implemented in my state is that people are becoming more friendly. Passersby keep their distance, however, they bid me “Good morning” or “Good evening.” They nod a “Hello” or comment from afar on how cute Jernee is.  People hold doors open for each other to keep another from touching them if they’re coming out of a particular building. It’s as if a central love shift is taking place, one we needed, and it’s all coming at the terror and fear of an invisible foe.

I hate to say this, but did we need this wakeup call? Did we need something to slap us all pretty hard on our faces to begin to show a decent amount of humanity toward one another? Some people are afraid of being lonely and most are even more afraid of dying, so it is taking a global pandemic to instill love, care, kindness, and selflessness back into the characteristics of human beings? This baffles me.

We should have been doing this anyway!


Me, at work, nearing the end of my shift yesterday.


I urge all of you residing in various states and countries to abide by the guidelines, recommendations, and ordinances issued by your city/state/country/ officials. Do your part. If your job is not on the essential services or workers’ list, stay home. Don’t go out unless it’s absolutely necessary. And when you do, make sure you’re staying protected, that you’re practicing social-distancing and not gathering up in parties more than 5-10.

Really, to be honest, I’m staying at home. I have not visited any family or friends and the most I do when I am done with a work shift is walk Jernee. That provides me with a greater sense of peace after the types of days we’re currently experiencing at work.

Next week, we begin our reduced hours’ schedule. I am on to work only 24 hours next week and this is subject to change based on patient volume. Now that these ordinances have been announced, many of our patients are canceling their procedures and exams. They’re fearful of coming out and they know that if it’s not emergent, they can simply reschedule. Yes, I am worried about not working enough so that I can continue to take care of myself and Jernee, but I am far more concerned and willing to stop the spread of this thing.

Whatever needs to be done, should be done.


I am offering each of you love, peace, and the fact that you’re not alone in this. Most of us will struggle. We’re doing it together. Most of us will break down. There’s no shame in that. This is a life-altering experience and many, if not all of us, have never lived through something of this magnitude before.

Be careful. Be kind. Be wise. Do your part. Now is not the time to test boundaries and break rules. You’ve got the rest of your life, should you live through this, to be stupid.

Think more about others and less of yourself. I think we should all want to save as many lives as possible instead of being possible contributors to killing them.

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Non-Fiction Saturdays

I Am No Legend

mixkit-view-of-a-night-sky-in-the-city-139-desktop-wallpaper
Art by Lauren Bending via Mixkit.co

I thought I would wake up to a ghost town–to people actually abiding by the suggestions of experts and personnel equipped to follow and track COVID-19, however, restrictions are being avoided and noses are pointed upwards at them in defiance as if to say, “This is my life. To hell with you people telling me what to do with it!” As of Friday, March 20, 2020, the state of North Carolina had 137 cases of COVID-19 and the numbers are steadily rising.

Heading out to work, the roads are still as busy as they have ever been, however, when I pull into my organization’s parking lot, there are fewer cars parked–fewer patients are keeping their appointments. We actually had several walk-in X-rays today and I thought to myself, “Why the hell are you guys even here? It’s not emergent. The back pain that you’ve had for years now can wait for two more weeks.” Then, I thought–“It’s calm now. The storm hasn’t hit. People are getting everything done before they actually aren’t able to do so for quite a long while.”

I understand the rebellion, but I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT, if that makes sense. This is not something people can see, touch, or control–it hasn’t directly affected us with a vengeance yet, so most are testing it. Most want to know if it’s REALLY real. And I am over here silently screaming to myself, but also to these people, “JUST LOOK AT THE NUMBERS, PEOPLE! WE MUST DO WHAT WE CAN TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF THIS THING!” I imagine myself not being heard–a voiceless voice in the crowd, sheltered by disobedient adult-children who fear they will not get their way.


 

SyFy.com

Really, if I am honest, this reminds me a bit of I Am Legend. Of course, we don’t have the undead seeking out our blood, fearful of the light of day or ultraviolet rays, but we have a virus, a contagion, sweeping our nation in droves, and I think acting on the side of caution is wise. At this very moment, there are at least five people outside my building, huddled together, talking and laughing–having a good old time. I have my windows up for a good, night breeze, and I hear them. I wonder how many of them have even done what they have been advised to do. How many of them in their group are preparing for what could be the wildest thing we have ever experienced?

The dog and I cuddle together on my big chair like we do most nights. I turn to a good movie or read a book or we relax in the beauty of the essence of each other and we keep our distance from others. I walk her, speak to my neighbors in passing, and we come straight home. If I did not have to work, I would not leave my apartment, save for the duty of walking the Little Monster. I have my essentials. I have all that I need to survive for two-three weeks without having to go to the grocery store.

As much as I can, I am adhering to the advice and to the restrictions. Due to my job, as of today, I still have to work. We still have healthcare to provide. Our docket is not made up of only emergent cases as we have been advised to have, however, we have pared-down our schedule and many patients have canceled their appointments. I have to work tomorrow and it is a very short day. I will start my day there at the gig at 06:15 am and will prayerfully end it before 13:00 pm.

I have this feeling that when I get to work, not all sixteen patients who were on the docket before I left will be there. I have a feeling the number will be around nine patients. We shall see.

Be safe. Be careful. Abide by the restrictions implemented. Take care of yourselves, people. Peace.


 

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Non-fiction Saturdays

Grief

It Comes When You Don’t Want It

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova via Unsplash

When you’re shopping. When you’re on an important phone call. When you’re at your youngest child’s soccer game. When you’re cleaning up the house . . . It strikes without warning and all you can do is succumb to it. All you can do is let it grab you and swallow you whole and try to breathe in breaks, counting to ten, and allow yourself the chance to be overcome by a force much stronger than you. This is what happened to a patient I was registering for a particular scan on Wednesday, March 04, 2020. A certain phrase triggered her and she shook her head quickly, held up a hand to me as if to say, “Please, just give me a moment,” and then the tears flooded her face.

I respect life. I honor death. I give grief the space it needs. I directed her to the box of Kleenex to her left and advised her to “Please, take your time, ma’am.” She wiped her face, huffed out a regretful sigh, and began to explain to me that her husband died three weeks ago. It’s still fresh, you see. She isn’t used to the frequent interruptions that her heart issues to her because life is still trying to go on, however, she is feeling stuck.

She took the tissue and dabbed at her eyes. She talked while I listened. I went over her medical information, the purpose for her scan, verified her demographics, then gave her a little more time to be in that space. That space was comforting. It was necessary for the moment. And me — this stranger she met at an imaging center preparing her for what’s to come is now apart of her growth.

She apologized profusely and I looked at her with a clear intent to demonstrate that there was no need for an apology. I asked her if she needed more time before we pressed on and she told me that she was okay — we could continue. I finished the registration process, slipped a wristband on her left wrist, and directed her to the waiting room where she would be called for her scan. I asked her before saying goodbye if I could hug her. She nodded yes, and I lifted myself up from my chair, walked around to the patient lobby, and pulled her in for a long, tight hug.

The tears came quicker then, but this time, she did not apologize. I told her that I wished her well — I wanted peace to be something she could gain and soon. She thanked me and we ended our time together. I have never been married. I cannot tell you what it feels like to lose a spouse, but I have lost a grandmother, two-great-grandmothers, a grandfather, an aunt, a few cousins, and a couple of close friends. I know that this type of pain — this death pain comes and goes. It never truly ceases.

We cannot time it. We do not have a map for it. We cannot direct it. It comes when it wants and usually when you do not want it to. It sneaks up on you when all you want to do is find sweet rest, but you cannot and eerily enough, it’s almost like grief knows this. It’s as if it knows you want to move on, you want to be lifted up from the belly of the infected beast, but no matter what you do, you are pulled back into its sweaty grip.

The next few people I registered happened to be in line waiting while I interacted with this particular patient and each of them thanked me for what I did. It must have been the look on my face because I thought and I assumed, most would think this way too, that this is how we are to react when someone needs a moment — to give them the time to step back, lose it a bit, and come back to life. There’s still humanity, people — some of us are truly humane.

Grief does not wait for you to get it together. It does not care who is watching. It does not think about the life you have to live after your loved one dies and will never come back. It moves and shakes and hits you when you least expect it. I hugged a patient today. We embraced until she stopped crying and nothing else mattered to me at that moment. Nothing else could have pulled me from what I thought mattered most.

All that mattered is that she knew I cared and I had to show her — I did.


Originally published in Other Doors via Medium.

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Non-fiction Saturdays

Before I Knew You

Of Vita & Virginia

Two Girls by Egon Schiele-1911

I did not know that pieces of me would fall before you — your hands cradled at the base of my neck, soothing built-up tension — years of me trapped in a soulless body, afraid to seek the light. But, then you came . . . Your wild wonder tempted me — cajoled my heart into order and my mind quickly followed. I will write of you — I will share these words with the world. They must know of your captivating light, of your equally astonishing presence. And, in so doing, I will paint a picture of the moon paired with the sun — the entwining of two bearers of light. Of you. Of me. Of us.

You came, you left your mark/Oh, how lovely is your touch/The splendor of your voice lights up the dark/My love — this heart needs you so much/I know this time of us is short/It’s bleak, at best/But know that with you here, memories become a sport/My days of living, no longer a test.

Your charm, your flattery, how crisp and fresh you were. I leaned into the scent of you and watched my husband watch me yearn to get to know you. Intent — what was it? Was it there? Your writing, ages before mine, popularity could kill the cat with its brute force. You searched for me. Why me? I, this lowly thing of a woman who spent more time with words than with my own species, what lured you to me? Some sort of enigmatic being. Mad. Crazy. Brilliant. Genius. Labeled all these things by those known and unknown to me, yet you sniffed at my feet only once and summed me up in seconds.

Vita, I have no doubt in me, I’ve set it free/Before you, my love will reign/Let’s stick this out, let’s live and be/I have him and you have me, but guide me slowly, please/With you around, I feel supreme, not the same/My mind on pause, my soul at ease.

Caught by your words — by your warm presence. Your skin touching mine, your breath near my lips. I can feel you even when you’re not around. I slip in and out of me, sometimes losing myself to the wind in the trees. I know the walls of institutions — asylum(ed) for the certifiably insane. I know the lies on the tongues about me. I know the truths too. You know what you know, still, you slip your fingers inside my warmth and a world of passion is born. This woman — this woman you found, was not here before.


I came for you in my dreams — determined to make those dreams real. I searched and searched and searched for you. I know what words can do, how they lasso and trap prey. I used mine to call you — to bring you forth. What I did not know, what I could not know, was how easily you would fall into my palms. I have you. You are here. I linger in the lush places of your body — seeping into your skin. I am found in you. You brought me here. In the haven of our restful peace, I am born again. I will never leave you alone, while I travel — my words will keep you company. We will be one. Solidified. United. Us.

I fell for your words, soon fell for your heart/Called you to me, pulled you in close/You came at my beckoning, you knew from the start/My soul caught in the stronghold of yours, permanent pose/We will always be this, we will never part.

I am younger, this is nothing. It will not stop me. My husband knows — he sees us. I tell him of you, of me, of how we can be more. His jealousy is fire but I will not burn. I will run to you, I run to you, I am running to you. At the speed of declining book sales and rapidly spread diseases, I press forward. Unstoppable for you. They threaten the removal of my boys, my money, and my mind, but — I still run to you.

Virginia, it was you, always you/I knew from the moment we met/That night at the party, you stood clearly in view/It’s embedded in my brain now, I cannot forget/I may slip, I may dabble in a few others/But from you, away will never be a thing/We are more than just lovers.

I think it happened. I broke your heart. I am avoiding it, you see. What we need are words — our writing, it strengthens us. I hear it breaking but do nothing. I want you. I don’t want you. I want you. I spiral down quickly and you look for me in the bend of the branches, in the fiber of your clothes. I am in your home, you are in mine. They told me you stood at the rocks, you watched the sea roar. You almost took your life there. I held you in my heart — pulled you out at that moment, you stepped back and away from the sea’s mouth. Not today, you thought. Not today. You lived to love me a little longer.


I became your Orlando. You became my Orlando. I lived on for years. You lived on for years. We are torn apart now. We are torn apart now. We were once whole.

We were once whole.


Author’s Note: Vita & Virginia, 2018, is the true love story of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. I watched this movie and instantly felt a connection to both women. Sometimes, we lean into those with whom we can connect the most. As writers, the two of them understood the depth of words and how to market them. On the subject of their love affair, I feel as though Virginia gained more and loss even more than Vita. If you want to know about their story, you can read the article above and watch the movie too. They’re both worth it.


Originally published in Something Sensational via Medium.

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