I turned 22 on April 9. I live in Westwood. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, all my roommates had left. But one of my best friends, who lived next door, moved in with me. She works on the same hospital floor as me, so we have similar exposure levels. We hung out, watched New Girl and had a dance party in the living room. I guess you do what you can do.
This was not what I expected when I was preparing to graduate [on June 13]. So much of this has been heart wrenching. There have been really happy days and really sad days.
When the news started getting crazy, I was in my public health rotation, visiting different areas around Los Angeles, like Skid Row. I loved being at UCLA because of the diversity of people I met.
When the pandemic started, I was not in an acute care setting, so it did not sink in. But I had read The Hot Zone by Richard Preston [about Ebola and other viruses], and I was paying attention to the news. So I knew it could get bad.
I’m from a family of doctors in Davis, California. When I was in eighth grade, I had to go to the hospital, which was when I realized how important nurses are. I loved my doctors, but they were only there for minutes. The nurses, who were there for 12 hours a day, made the difference.
They are trained to run toward danger, to care for people. But then they are told they can’t go into a room because they don’t have the right mask — it must be so challenging, the total cognitive dissonance.
Everyone has been quoting Mr. Rogers: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” And I hope there is more trust in the helpers than mistrust in the system.
I have been frustrated on behalf of the people whose employers have not provided enough protective clothing. It’s not the fault of one person or organization, but it makes me think very carefully about where I will end up working.
One of the things that has really upset me is the idea of people who are dying alone. I just can’t imagine a patient going through everything and then not being able to be with their family at the end.
I don’t think I have felt super scared for myself at any point, but I have felt really scared for my cancer patients, because their immune systems are compromised.
And I have worried a little bit about my family — like my twin brother, who is on the pre-med track at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo — but they have been all right.
At the hospital, I worry every time someone walks into a room — like, what if the person is carrying something? You just can’t know that stuff. But everyone is doing the best they can, wearing all the best protection they can.
When you wear the N95 masks for long periods, they really cut into you. Even a surgical mask makes me break out. But nurses are known for their ingenuity and have been finding creative solutions. I got some headbands and buttons to help with my mask.
The nurses who teach and work with me are so patient, so strong. They have always been badass, but now the world knows it.
People ask me how it feels to be entering the profession at this very tense time. It makes me feel proud to be joining the ranks of people running toward crises and those who need help the most. These days, I feel more acutely the weight of sacrifice that the individuals I will work with are experiencing — they are being called above and beyond the line of duty. It makes me scared for them, almost protective over them. But I’m honored to be joining the type of people I want to become.
It’s been a battle for the people in my generation, who now know more about what they can handle, and who now remember what is important. I hope that the people who get groceries for their elderly neighbor will carry on visiting them. I hope we can hold on to the positivity we’ve shared.