I make no secret of my dislike of the holiday season. I enjoy, nah… joyously love Halloween. From there, the year might as well be over. Thanksgiving is okay but I feel like it’s almost overlooked in the rush to get through to Christmas. I don’t like Christmas. I don’t like the commercial gloss that is smeared over it all. The fake cheer. The saccharin sweetness of it all.
I also don’t like how dark it is in the winter. The days are short, empty, and dead. I am already the walking embodiment of anxiety. I’m prone to depression. I work with a doctor that tells me often that I have seasonal affective disorder so maybe there is something to that…. As far as I’m concerned, we ought to just end the year after Halloween. Follow the day of the dead with the celebration of the new year…Seems perfect to me.
Santa, you should know that this is my third attempt to write a letter. My last letters were so angry because I am really struggling a bit. I know it’s a gloomy topic but Santa, as a nurse, my heart has broken. My heart already started off tired and jaded before this. Then COVID rolled into town. My figurative heart fractured, the edges sharp and jagged. Catching in my chest when I breath. I first listened to stories as my colleagues across the country sacrificed their lives to help others. There was a public veneer of goodwill towards healthcare workers while internally, many facilities could not maintain minimum safety requirements or provide basic personal protective equipment. As my fellow healthcare community members across the country went to work each day battling a virus without proper protection or support, they also had to endure physical and verbal attacks from the public for being “dirty” or “carrying the virus”. Doctors, nurses, and support staff died while neighbors were assaulting us when we went to buy groceries or pump gas. In other places, business refused to serve us.
Healthcare workers watched as people ignored science. Refused to wear masks or wear them properly. People continued to throw parties and travel without caution. They engaged in high-risk behavior that increased odds of exposure and then have the gall to be angry when the pandemic continues. Santa, I am tired. I do not ask for you to solve the pandemic. I do still have a tall request. We need reinforcements. We need supplies. We need hospital administrators to remember that we are treating living human beings. Real people with lives that can end. Healthcare is not just a business. Staff are not just replaceable commodities. We are tired. We are facing burnout. If we make it out of this alive (not hyperbole- we are dying), so many of us are leaving healthcare. We need change and quickly. Santa, please let our patients and others communicate with compassion and kindness. We need understanding and patience from all involved.
Santa, despite all the terribly awful things that we have been through and the MANY things that I have been forced to go without, there are still many positives that I must remind myself of.
1)More restaurants are utilizing delivery services in even my small town! Con: I miss the option of declining to eat at restaurants.)
2)More stores are utilizing grocery pick up services in my area. (Con: Ridiculous substitutes you get. Even more ridiculous if you decide to run in and find that they have the item that you want in stock.)
3)Many major movies are being released directly to streaming services. (Con: I haven’t seen a movie in a theater in a year. Some subscription services attempt to charge fees on top of what they are already charging you. I see you Disney+)
4) When wearing a mask, you no longer must pretend to smile politely at people. (Con: I have no idea what my new co-worker looks like since she was hired after the onset of the pandemic. Plus, masks make it difficult to whisper.)
5) Decreased commitment to attend school activities. (Con: I might get to skip out on booster meetings, band concerts, etc. However, my children are missing many opportunities for extracurricular activities and to expand their skills.)
6) I have been quarantined once so I got to spend two weeks at home spending time with my families (Con: worrying about my sick family member, my income, and helping my children stay caught up in their virtual learning.)
There are some things that I would like fixed if possible:
1) Change Walmart’s hours back to 24 hours. For one thing, it’s more crowded now because everyone has to fit in their shopping between set hours. And secondly, how am I supposed to be able to run into the store to quickly grab something before work. I don’t like this at all. And if you are wondering I I pick Walmart specifically, well, that’s basically all we have.
2) Schools! Stop making my life difficult. My children want to do the virtual option, but you seem to think they can be at the campus for band class with less than 10 minutes in between class periods while I work a full-time job in an entirely different town. Thank you for making me choose between my children’s safety and their education.
3) Hospitals and medical clinics, stop putting in policies that require staff to work while sick if fever is controlled with medication, were there will be consequences if they have been exposed to a COVID positive individual, or instituting policies that state employees will have to pay for the testing after exposure especially when the employee is symptomatic. You are bulling your employees. You are creating an unsafe environment for not just employees but for PATIENTS as well. We did sign up to care for the sick and dying. We did not sign up for this, you asshats.
4) I hope for my son’s sake that “normal” life returns. They are missing out on major social milestones. I want my oldest son to attend prom and graduation.
5) I miss my friends. I haven’t seen Tiffany and Colt in over a year. I still haven’t got to record a podcast with Brodie. So many concerts and conventions have been cancelled. I haven’t seen Richard and Ashlee in months, but it brings me comfort to know that you both live close. I see Katie often on her surrogacy journey. I love this but it’s not the same. I know we have not been able to dedicate myself to the magazine or to Random Evolved Media publishing as we had planned.
6) I miss traveling for a weekend trip with my family. Date night with my husband. Seeing my extended family for Christmas.
7) Most of all, I hope I can let go of the pain and sorrow I feel in my heart for what has been experience in the medical world this year. As well as for the citizens that have suffered such horrors. I hope that I can find my way going forward because no number of 10% discounts from random websites or signs that say “heroes work here” will ever repair the damage that has been caused to the morale within our healthcare community. Better mental health coverage might be a step in the right direction.
Santa, I don’t think that you’re a miracle worker, but I do appreciate you listening.