I believe the national day for poetry has come and gone without me posting anything – mostly because I’ve been in a mad rush to stock up on DIY materials before all the stores are shut down.
And with each day, my sense of dread and doom increases as I see no escape from the rising wave of COVID-19. We’re all gonna get it. What’s more scary, we might already have it and are asymptomatic. We might have given it to someone by touching a handle. We might have inadvertently caused someone to give it to their elderly nana or their young’uns.
So I’m clapping at all the people who self-isolate, who can stay the fuck at home, who are responsible enough not to touch anything all while scrubbing my hands every chance I get singing “Staying alive” by the Bee Gees.
Life is surprising in all ways and meanings. We can’t foresee the future or all the stories we will get to live, and regardless of how much we try to prepare for any eventuality, life will take us by surprise – by the way we feel and by the way we live.
That first brush with death
shook loose her confident grasp
of all she held dear.
We can’t tell how hurt we will be or how big our joy will be in the next moment, how much love we’ll get to feel for certain people when we feel far away from them or when we lose them from our lives, how much fear needles into our soul or how angry certain situations will make us.
Each day, each experience will change us, will leave a tiny nugget of wisdom behind and we’ll never be the same people we were before.
And it’s good to express this somehow – either through music or through poetry – what we feel. This can be healing, cathartic and will allow us to find an outlet for our artistic expression.
We discuss the soul,
ponder death’s postlude, then choose
the happy ending.
So I’ll tell you all the things that made me feel warm inside this week:
- A six year old is drawing pictures for her local nursing home as they can’t get any visitors now
- A ten year old is sending them jokes and stories
- Another ten year old used his allowance to buy food and masks for people who needed them
- A pub who was forced to close is now cooking meals for the village for £7 a full warm meal and people can come and collect it. They’ve ran out recently
- Pubs in London are donating their fruits and veg to the NHS workers
- Communities are banding together to help those who can’t help themselves
And a few sad things:
- Doctors crying in the hallways as there are too many deaths and critical cases and they have to priorise who they treat (and who will die)
- Nurses working 40h shifts who haven’t seen their families in over a month
- Many of the health workers getting sick themselves and being unable to get tested (hospitals are refusing to test)
- Pay cuts in NY for on-the-floor staff as hospitals are trying to save money now
- Insufficient PPE (protection) – a doctor died shortly after he operated with no gloves and contracted the virus
- Overflowing hospitals in Italy and so many sick that they no longer choose to go to the hospital. People know they are going to die and they chose to stay at home and do it in their own world rather than in a sterile environment
- The horrible horrible nature of the virus left me shaken after reading an article from a respiratory therapist in Italy. People struggling to breathe and fighting in a delirious fever against the respirator. They have to be restrained.
“It first struck me how different it was when I saw my first coronavirus patient go bad. I was like, Holy shit, this is not the flu. Watching this relatively young guy, gasping for air, pink frothy secretions coming out of his tube and out of his mouth. The ventilator should have been doing the work of breathing but he was still gasping for air, moving his mouth, moving his body, struggling. We had to restrain him. With all the coronavirus patients, we’ve had to restrain them. They really hyperventilate, really struggle to breathe. When you’re in that mindstate of struggling to breathe and delirious with fever, you don’t know when someone is trying to help you, so you’ll try to rip the breathing tube out because you feel it is choking you, but you are drowning.
When someone has an infection, I’m used to seeing the normal colors you’d associate with it: greens and yellows. The coronavirus patients with ARDS have been having a lot of secretions that are actually pink because they’re filled with blood cells that are leaking into their airways. They are essentially drowning in their own blood and fluids because their lungs are so full. So we’re constantly having to suction out the secretions every time we go into their rooms.”