Back on July 23rd I wondered if Oregon was going to have another surge. Recently we just broke our all time record for COVID cases, our Governor has called in the National Guard to help our hospitals, mask mandates are back in place, my hospital is on lock down again, all elective procedures have been postponed, and we continue to hemorrhage RNs. I believe my question has been answered with a resounding YES.

“Oregon patient with COVID-19 makes it to hospital, dies waiting for ICU bed; ‘We didn’t have
enough’”
  The Oregonian Updated: Aug. 21, 2021, 9:11 a.m. | Published: Aug. 19, 2021, 3:26 p.m.

Patients are parked in hallways. Staffing is critically short,” Allen said. “I need to be direct about what’s causing this crisis: a growing wave of unvaccinated patients who have become so sick with the delta variant they need to be hospitalized.”

This is just one story of many. The pandemic of the unvaccinated. Always a strong supporter of personal freedom but all choices have consequences. People die because of a poor choices and will continue to die. This is just reality not a judgement.

Oregon’s per capita infections and deaths are among the lowest in the nation.  As of 8/20, 73.9% of Oregon’s total residents over 18 has been vaccinated but the percentages county by county vary greatly. Generally, we have been compliant with masking and lock downs. Statistically Oregonians have done a good job. Yet, we are in trouble and doesn’t appear that it’s going to get better anytime soon. Recently, the Chief Medical Officer at OHSU announced that by September, Oregon will be short 500-1000 hospital beds. Why should this matter to those outside of Oregon?

BECAUSE: What about the states the have higher infection and death rates? That have lower vaccination percentages? That battle about masking? We already know the answer. It’s on the news, it’s in the newspapers. The obscenity is that this did not have to happen. We have a vaccine—it’s effective, it’s safe, it’s available and it’s free. Listening to the pleas of family members for some  miracle to save their loved one while thinking, there is no miracle but there is a vaccine— the patient decided not to get it. This is what compassion fatigue feels like to me. 

Some of my civilian friends ask me, “Why do you still do this?”  I’m a nurse, if we don’t do it—who will?  I am also a human, all humans have a breaking point. Some just take longer to break than others. After 15 months in the trenches with COVID, just exhausted physically and mentally. The recent physical assault and the threats of violence—added fear into the equation. Logically, I know the threat has past, I’m safe but fear does not have to be logical to be real. It’s OK at work, just too busy to be afraid. But……. this fear follows me home. It disrupts my sleep, haunts my dreams—a hamster wheel in my brain that will not stop. I have been trying to work through it by speaking with a psychologist, it helps but not enough.

It might be time for medication, a few my colleagues have joked that if it wasn’t for Zoloft, there would be no COVID CCU nurses. I have found an MD, he has helped a number of my colleagues. Just waiting for a call back, he has interview me first. Wish I could end with “I am at peace” but I am not—not yet.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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