When the Night Barks

And love has no bite

Photo Credit: Luis Quintero via Pexels

If I had a magic wand, my life would not include me saying the following statement multiple times a week: “No, I am not taking any visitors at this time. Due to my line of work, it’s best that I do not.” For those of you who do not know, I am a Patient Access Specialist turned Screener for an imaging facility. My transitional position, due to the Coronavirus COVID-19, places me front and center in surveying patients and taking their temperatures prior to entering our waiting areas. I screen anywhere from one hundred twenty to one hundred eighty-five people per day with a low to moderate percentage of exposure to the virus.

Some family members get the importance of my refusals to their requests, others want to test the waters of me and see how far they can take their reach without me blocking it or shutting it down. I am not one who likes repeating herself but for this, I make sure I am loud and clear.

I will miss out on a few opportunities for gathering with family this summer and it is because I have to take every precaution to ensure my safety and the safety of others. My health is important. I want to be sure it remains intact for the foreseeable future.

I have brothers, cousins, uncles, and aunts who want to visit from various Coronavirus, COVID-19 hotspots across the nation and in my mind, all I can think is, “Why would you want to visit me while we’re in the middle of a global pandemic? Why do you think I want you to?” Politely declining family gatherings and visitations is becoming my forté but I have no regrets. At least, not right now.

But how will I feel when the night barks and love has no bite? What will I do when the yearning for a hug becomes the one prayer I lend to God religiously? Am I strong enough? Will my defiance of running toward “some sense of normalcy” get the best of me? Only time will tell.

Right now, I am in avoidance mode and for several reasons. I cannot, in good faith, slack off in any way on the methods of survival and remaining virus-free if I give in to the simple requests of others.

To an unbearable extent, everyone is antsy. They’re ready to experience life the way they knew it to be Pre-Coronavirus days, but I am faced with the reality of its deadliness every single day and I am in no rush to gain a life back that does not have what I mostly need from it.

I have had the ungodly task of living through sixteen days wrought with worry while a co-worker panted through the depths of Hell and came back from a rigorous bout with said virus and the last thing I want is to be in his shoes. No, thank you.

It breaks my heart to not be able to see, spend time with, and share in the love of my beautiful family, but I love them enough to know I am bad for their health and to keep myself away from them regardless of their pleas. I love them enough to want them to live through this phase of life, come out unscathed, and tell the story of it.

The night does pull at me and oftentimes, I haven’t the strength to conquer it. A few loud barks from its deep voice doesn’t scare me. I don’t even flinch.

But, I will be completely transparent, it’s the absence of the vastness of love and all versions of it I miss the most. It is the intensity of a thing I’ve forced myself to believe I want more than breathing. I want to live through this pandemic and share stories of it with the same loved ones pressing me to open up my door and let them in.

Will I lose their admiration and perhaps the closeness we’ve had over the years? It is a possibility. But, I’d rather keep the potency of love in its full form in my heart than run the risk of losing its bite.


Originally published in P. S. I Love You via Medium.

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if it’s privilege, you will know

Photo by Josh Hild via Unsplash

you are yearning to
go out while I
simply want to stay in

safe from the fevered patients
I screen, often misdiagnosed
pneumonia is a lie
doctors tell them
to keep from testing them
accurately

and I pray for my friend
recently the owner of
results that will
take a quarantine period
to alleviate
away from her family
a mountain of
positivity
is needed

I channel my
extra portion
and send it to her

one of my cousins
found my Great-Uncle
dead in his home,
his flimsy body
riddled with pain
shut-in, cast off
from others, a virus
claiming his soul

you are yearning to
go out while I
simply want to stay in

I see the numbers
I tally the cost
overwhelming hurt
rising in smiling faces
with tearful eyes,

demeanors shattered
and tossed about like
yesterday’s garbage

privilege smells like
piss in a dark alley
day old and sun baked

my cousin does his rounds
at a prominent hospital
in Queens, his colleagues
dying left and right
from the very thing
they’re fighting

I ask God to cover
him just as he’s covering
me. how would our
people take two deaths
at once?

if it touches your family,
claims your friends,
& piles up in every corner
where you turn,

tell me, will you still
be so eager to go
out then?


What I do for a living? I register patients for various imaging scans and invasive procedures and one of the scans we are doing far more of than we ever have before? Chest X-rays. Many patients are being tested for Coronavirus COVID-19, many of them have been diagnosed as having pneumonia. While most of those diagnoses have proven true, some of them have not.

My Great-Uncle was found dead in his home by one of his children while at home recovering from something people still believe doesn’t exist. A good friend of mine recently tested positive for COVID-19. When you see what I see, live what I live, and work where I work, you don’t need the news or a politician or a doctor telling you what’s going on, you experience it for yourself.

All of you, please take care and be well. If I’m not as active on here for a few days here and there, that’ll be because I’m exhausted and flitting between many emotions. Peace.

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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