Have you ever held the hand of a person who can’t draw breath?
Have you stroked their back and told them, “It’s okay” as they choke on their own blood?
Have you felt and watched a hand turn from warm and pink, to cool and grey?
Have you watched and been with a human, as they shut down?
I hope you never have to. But as a nurse, these scenarios are all too familiar.
Our health system is overburdened, and our country’s most vulnerable people are struggling with the consequences of people like you refusing to accept and adhere to public health advice.
Yes, you are free to make this choice, but you are not a brave disruptor as you seem to think.
After all, it’s not you with cancer.
It’s not your child with respiratory illness.
It’s not your parent awaiting a lung transplant.
But what if it was you, personally impacted? Would your dogged perspective, your faith in conspiracy theories, change then?
I hope you don’t miscarry any time soon, because there may not be a gynaecology bed for you.
I hope you don’t need surgery for any kind of cancer, because there may not be a specialised bed for you.
That much anticipated surgery, tumour removal and staging will go on hold. Again.
Your transplant, your shoulder surgery, on hold. ‘Until further notice.’
I hope you’re not in need of an ICU placement, because there may not be one.
Are you okay with us ramping you in a corridor? Are you okay to hang in the balance, and sleep on an ambulance trolley because there are no beds, and no staff to accept you?
I hope your child doesn’t have any health issues, because their outcomes are far worse statistically, even when they’re otherwise well and free from underlying health issues.
Are you okay with that?
I have tried to be patient and to understand your point of view.
I know you’ll likely be okay if you get COVID, but others won’t.
I know you don’t think this shit actually happens, because you don’t see it daily.
But we do. It’s our job. Our reality.
A sea of isolated, and broken lives, and I’m getting tired of being patient. I’m exhausted by your continued disrespect.
There are no gynaecology beds for women who desperately need them.
Oncology surgery is cancelled.
Organ transplants can’t happen.
Elective procedures have been delayed once again.
Patients needing treatment don’t present because they’re scared, then get sicker.
Only life-threatening trauma gets treated. Do you know how broken that is?
That’s where your choice leads. You’ve wrapped your notion of freedom up in a mask, that can be, let’s face it, taken on and off at whim.
If you think that you can’t express emotion, that you miss out on connection because you’re masked, then think of other ways.
Connection hasn’t been cancelled.
Wearing a mask has not stopped me once from communicating and expressing emotion. I talk about life matters, end of life wishes, serious health issues and post – operative care plans every single day, relaying information to patients and doctors with empathy.
If I can do this, then you can find a way to live life with small restrictions for a finite period. You can find a way to protect your friends, family members, colleagues, neighbours.
Just because you can ignore the facts, the science and the research doesn’t make you right. Just because you can display your empty empathy cup, and lack of regard for fellow humans, doesn’t make you strong. You are not a brave disruptor.
But, while your actions make me livid, you should know this: If you’re the one who ever needs help, we’ll show up for you.
We’ll show up when we’ve worked a double shift.
We’ll show up on Christmas Day.
We’ll show up on our kids’ birthday.
We’ll show up at every single hour of the day and night.
We’ll show up for you with workload concerns.
We’ll show up for you whilst teaching students our highly specialised work.
We’ll show up when we’re nauseas from fatigue.
We’ll show up with sore backs and cracked hands.
We’ll show up without ever having received a bonus.
We’ll show up when we’ve had no breaks.
We’ll keep making your bed, topping up your medication, dressing your wounds and advocating for you every step of the way.
We’ll protect you by wearing gloves.
We’ll protect you by washing our hands.
We’ll protect you by wearing masks.
We’ll protect you by wearing aprons.
We’ll listen when you whinge about the healthcare system, the food, and neglect to be grateful for the fact you’re still alive. Because of us.
We’ll nurse your ignorance, as well as your infusions.
We’ll nurse your denial, as well as your drains.
We’ll nurse your entitlement, as well as your embolism.
We’ll nurse your privilege, as well as your PICC lines.
We’ll nurse it all.
It’s just what we do, brave disruptor.
Don’t forget that your freedom to “disrupt” comes through the knowledge that we will still scoop you up. We’ll still care for you. We’ll still keep showing up if you’re ever in need.
Objecting just because you can, then benefiting from the herd immunity, that we, the community, built for you?
What a brave disruptor.