Stepped outside in the middle of my ER shift on Monday, April 13th to take a moment to myself when a passerby with a camera happened to be at the right place at the right time:
I needed to breathe. I needed to know if I was still alive.
A few weeks later and through several degrees of mutual friends, serendipity would have Kareem find me again and send me this photo; a moment which barely encapsulates 8 weeks of COVID-19 related care since my first case in March 8th in Brooklyn.
Since then and within 50 days I’ve worked 35 shifts (all 10-12 hours long) across numerous ERs in mostly The Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn (and a few in Manhattan), added 3 new ERs to my roster, met so many supporters, while also losing colleagues, friends, and my grandfather to COVID-19.
As patient volumes are now decreasing and I have much fewer shifts needing to be filled, I take pause to reflect on the souls and the innocence we’ve lost. And as bury our dead, tend to the injured, and process all the emotions we had held off during the first surge, we also brace ourselves for the possible next wave.
But alas even if there would be no next wave, life is life, and there always will be “a next wave.” Whether it’s more COVID-19 patients, the patients that waited too long for care, the rising mental health toll, the livelihoods lost, the next pandemic, or the next disaster, those of us remaining will keep holding the line so we can all see to another tomorrow.
Until then, channel gratitude for the precious opportunities you still have and don’t forget to take a moment to yourselves right now. Don’t forget to breathe. Don’t forget to live: All you got is right now. This world doesn’t wait for anyone.
Photo credit: Kareem Black
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- At time of posting in NYC, it was 18 °C - Humidity: 21% | Wind Speed: 18km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly cloudy