By Angel Johnson, BSN, RN, CMSRN®
Since the start of the pandemic, I have cared for patients with COVID-19 at Moffitt. It was scary for my peers and scary for our patients. Patients were fighting cancer and now they had a new, possibly deadly, virus to deal with. There was so much that was unknown in the early days of the pandemic. We really didn’t know what we were fighting – no one did. Every day, doctors and nurses were learning new ways to treat the virus, what would help ease the symptoms and what was not helpful. We now know more about what symptoms to look for, what to expect and when to worry. It now feels a little less scary.
For a long time, we had to limit families, visitors and caregivers from coming with the patient to their appointments. This left people separated from their families and support systems. To fill this gap, we stepped in as nurses. We strengthened the emotional support system for our patients even more so than we normally did every day. Trying to fill the role of support was difficult as our faces were covered and our voices were difficult to hear, muffled by two masks.
Our normal method of showing care using facial expressions and touch was gone. We had to make our care known through our deeds and our eyes. The caring touch that so many nurses possess became different after COVID-19.
It became important to find ways of dealing with the stress of the pandemic. I know some of my peers took up new hobbies such as baking and some redecorated their homes. I started a type of meditation called transcendental meditation. Twice a day, I take quiet time for myself. It lets me drown out the noise and chaos of the world. It has proven to be a great tool for dealing with stress.
As difficult as the pandemic has been, being the sole caregiver of my patients due to COVID-19 restrictions has made a more personal and caring bond between us.
If you have a loved one who is unable to attend your outpatient appointment or visit you during your hospitalization, there are options to connect virtually. The Caregiver Virtual Support team can assist you with setting up a video call and making sure that you have technology to connect with your loved ones. For more information, contact 813-745-4710, then select option 1 or email PXCaregiverVirtualSupport@Moffitt.org.