I work in a Kansas City emergency room. I know who’s to blame for COVID frustration

·3 min read

COVID-19 is something we are still learning about. We health care workers are trying to perfect how we respond to it and make people as safe as possible.

I’m not angry at those who aren’t yet vaccinated, and I’m not angry at those who have put so much faith into the vaccine.

Who and what bothers me …

Is the person in the hospital lobby coughing, trying to refuse wearing a mask because “I don’t have COVID. I was tested thee months ago.” (And new test results come back in 30 minutes revealing that the patient is, indeed, positive.)

And the person who says, “If they aren’t vaccinated, they might as well just die. They’re stupid.”

There is so much attitude of superiority on both extremist sides.

I’m not innocent. I’ve caught myself being quite judgmental as well on certain days when traffic in the emergency room is heavy. Then, I sometimes find myself speaking more negativity into the environment than is even close to being helpful.

The enemy isn’t those who are pro-vaccine. The enemy isn’t those who haven’t yet gotten it. The enemy is COVID-19, and those who don’t care or just don’t understand are to be pitied. Not hated or despised.

I understand the frustration of those who are anti-vaccine and those who are pro-vaccine. Both sides’ anger and exasperation come from fear and exhaustion. And maybe even from PTSD.

The important thing is to keep an open mind, to continue to do research and maintain a humble attitude that acknowledges there are things we are still learning about COVID-19, and, I hope, will continue to learn. Maintain a hunger for more understanding, for new information.

Maintain compassion for the fact that so many people are utterly terrified and have suffered loss.

Maintain sympathy for those who are around COVID 24/7 and may be a wee bit grumpy at times.

Maintain humility that says, “I’m not sure I have all the answers, but I will try not to spread the virus personally. And I will do my best to help in this season.”

I do feel blessed to still be alive, breathing without effort and walking around outside in the sunshine.

My disorganized self left my apartment so spick-and-span for the whole first part of the pandemic, just in case I died and my family had to come get my stuff. (I can’t say the same for its current state. I’m not that dedicated long- term, although I should be.)

I’m not saying I couldn’t still suffer a tragedy because of COVID-19 — anything is possible. And I realize that, and appreciate every day every moment that I do have. Every day is a gift, a gift that isn’t really even deserved, to be honest.

I’m not a “hero” for working with COVID patients. I’m lucky to have a job, grateful to have enough masks to wear a new one daily, and thankful to be close to equipment that could possibly help me should I ever become sick and need it.

I’m going to work on checking my attitude more often. Because, as I said, I am very guilty of being crotchety about all of this. I’m pointing the finger at myself, first.

That is all.

Tasha Miller is an emergency room nurse in Kansas City.

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