from the mouths of
will blessings continuously
f l o w
notice how a child
watches you, they observe
absorb–become a shadowed
f o l l o w e r
on your journey
the yellow brick road
is their golden orb
but they’d happily share
it with you
that’s the power of
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.
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.
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.