To the Editor:
I’ve been doing a lot of extra laundry these days. Not only do my husband (Preston) and I have a 1 ½-year old, but Preston is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) at the hospital near our home in Mineral County.
Given his role as an anesthesia and airway expert serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, his new normal is being extra careful about where (the garage) and how often (frequently) he changes his clothes so he doesn’t risk exposing his family to the coronavirus. My new normal is more laundry than usual, handled with extra care.
Did I mention I’m due with our second child any day now?
So what’s it like to be a stay-at-home expectant mom with a husband who’s helping to battle the worst pandemic most of us have ever seen? It’s been nerve-wracking, to say the least. But like so many others of us who are the behind-the-lines supporters of healthcare heroes like Preston, I just keep telling myself to remain stalwart so he can keep up his strength, courage and resiliency. Each shift at the hospital can be mentally, emotionally and physically draining, especially with all the new risks involved, new protocols in place to mitigate those risks, and the constant changing in and out of hot, uncomfortable personal protective equipment (PPE).
It’s imperative that I’m ready to care for our family when Preston is called back to the hospital in the middle of the night, and that I’m there to support him when he can’t snuggle with me or our daughter while quarantining, especially after a bad day or night caring for critically ill patients. We both have different areas of strength, and we are both playing equally important roles to get our family through this.
When the pandemic first hit, we knew it was only a matter of time before COVID-19 made its way to Mineral County. So we settled on a plan in the eventuality that Preston would be exposed to the virus at the hospital: I would go to my parents’ house with our daughter to keep us and our unborn baby safe, and Preston would quarantine at our house. Having a plan gave us some peace of mind, but the truth is front-line providers and their families are never 100 percent certain about their safety.
Lately, however, our fears have eased a bit because of precautions the hospital has taken to safeguard its healthcare workers. It’s fully stocked with PPE, and it has an intubation pod so patients who show signs of the virus can be cared for without exposing the healthcare worker.
Even though we’re more confident about Preston’s safety at work, like everyone else in the country we know this virus exists everywhere. We venture out rarely, and we’re always on guard. It’s hard, but it’s what everyone has to do right now to stay safe.
As someone who lives with and supports a front-line healthcare worker, my advice to the public is the same message we’ve been hearing since day one. Please be smart about protecting yourself from COVID-19. Even if you aren’t personally afraid of catching the virus and dealing with the impact on yourself, there’s a ripple effect. Think about those around you, your own loved ones as well as the front-line providers and their families. With this disease, getting sick often affects others besides yourself, especially if you are asymptomatic and don’t even know you are spreading it.
The country is starting to recover in fits and starts, but we have a way to go. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m dreaming of the day when my biggest concern really is about staying caught up on all the laundry.