One of the problems with writing a memoir is that eventually the story has to come to an end. I could easily have kept going, but that would not have helped me to get my story out. In the end, I had to pick a date to stop so that I could concentrate on getting it published. As I stopped writing somewhere around August, this process has taken me a bit longer than I expected.
A few of you may have noticed that the world has changed a little since then. As I sit here, I can’t help but think that the circumstances under which I wrote the book seem very far away right now. I still hold to the idea that the book is now more relevant than ever, because the systemic issues not only still exist but have been made exponentially worse by the current crisis. As I state in the book, the biggest problem facing the health care industry today is that the system is run based on the “best-case scenario”. As a result, our system was not prepared for a pandemic, and is now having to play catch-up. Our nurses, doctors and paramedics are all making huge sacrifices as a direct result. So are the other staff members who keep the health care system afloat (housekeepers, security, lab techs, supply people, etc.). Lives are put at risk, as front-line staff struggle with staffing shortages, lack of supplies, and outdated equipment. These are the exact same issues that we had before the pandemic, only now they have been multiplied.
To complicate matters even further, many of the people who work in health care are now being forced to isolate from their families, for fear that they will pass on the virus to those they love. Being exposed to the virus every single day means that most health care workers will probably get sick at some point, so many are now living in hotel rooms or somewhere other than their own homes. I know of several that have not seen their children since this crisis began. At a time when their stress level is extremely high, they have been cut off from their support systems. Just imagine what this does for morale. Not only has physical safety been compromised, but emotional safety is also being neglected. Staff feel vulnerable, uncertain and confused. They are being told one thing by the experts, and then told the exact opposite by their supervisors and managers. This situation further erodes confidence in a system that many health care workers already felt neglected by. The resultant strain will certainly be enough to break some people, leading to even greater strain on those who remain. I cannot help but wonder what we will be left with when all of this is over and the dust settles. Despite all of this, I do not feel the same connection to MY story as I once did. Perhaps it is just the surreal atmosphere that we are all currently faced with, but it just doesn’t feel as important as it once did. It is almost as if it happened to someone else, long ago. I don’t know if that makes sense, but there you have it.
I have also learned a great deal about myself these last few weeks. I was an introvert before all of this happened. Because of the PTSD, I have also become quite the agoraphobe. Needless to say, I didn’t get out much. As a result, I figured that I would be absolutely fine with the isolation. Imagine my surprise when I realized just how much I relied on the few places I did go. That’s because going out for coffee or to the gym allows me to distract myself, so I’m not just living inside of my own head. Now, being forced to stay at home, there are days when my anxiety skyrockets and I have no escape. To make matters worse, my therapist is no longer taking appointments. It has been a long couple of weeks. Anyway, I hope that you will still read the book. As I said earlier, the purpose of the story is still important. The lessons that I learned along the way are also still important. If my personal journey seems far removed now, just remember that it is simply a means to an end. A way to shine a light into the darker corners, as it were. Besides, we are all stuck at home now, so you might as well have something to read.