Working A COVID ICU: ‘Today’ Always Comes

“Poignant statement,” I noted.

“Huh?” said my hospital escort (an Emergency Room nurse I’ll call Wanda) while simultaneously perusing the ‘Comm Board.’ The Communications Board (Comm Board), or “whiteboard” as it is informally known, is a communication tool that provides an instant snapshot of the patient. When updating the patient’s family, the care team, and the care team, clinicians use the information.

“Poignant statement,” I repeated while pointing to her clipboard with the words written in red, “Everyone believes in Jesus, but no one wants to meet him today.”

Wanda looked down and momentarily sighed. “When you get here [the COVID ICU], ‘today’ always comes.”

During lunch, I asked Wanda about her comment that ‘today always comes.’ “I’ve lived here all my life [city and area]. When friends were hospitalized for COVID-19, they requested repeated prayers for divine intervention and healing. When they died, family members commented, ‘God called [them] home.’ Everyone rationalizes that this person’s death is God’s will, as if it was somehow God’s intention to have them die struggling for air. Almost to a person, each believed in God, but certainly, none of them wanted to meet Him at that moment. But when you get here, ‘today’ comes for most. It may not be this afternoon, but ‘today’ comes within 2 to 4 weeks (on average). It’s so damn depressing.”

Wanda pulls an empty vial bottle labeled ‘Pfizer’ from her pocket. “I use this [an empty vial] to educate families that this little vial contains approximately six vaccine doses. Two of these, spread appropriately, prevents ‘today.’ I have no idea how much each dose costs …”

“$19.50,” I interrupted.

A ghostly look flushed her face. “$19.50?” she quizzed.

“Yeah.” Following with, “Under pandemic pricing, it was $19.50. And Moderna was $22.50.”

“Huh,” she sat back for a moment.

“Prices have increased a little, but still …”

“Still a hell of a lot cheaper than this shit,” she interjected. “Almost all my patients believe divine intervention will save them. I think it’s their last-ditch effort to believe God will hold off heaven for another day. I believe faith compliments the work of all these clinicians. But ‘faith’ has yet to heal lungs ravaged by COVID. A transplant might, but [I’ve] never seen ‘faith’ do it.”

“In these situations, do you ever feel you’re competing against God?”

“Oh, clinicians have accidentally placed themselves between the patient and God. However, not even the best physician will win a contest against God.”

I noted a few prominent deaths or hospitalizations during the past few weeks. Conservative talk show host Dick Farrel is said to have wished he had gotten vaccinated. Nashville conservative Phil Valentine said the same. Wisconsin lawmaker Sen. Andre Jacque (R), who opposed mask and vaccine mandates, is now on a ventilator after testing positive for COVID-19. Then there’s Stephen Harmon. Stephen Harmon openly mocked COVID-19 vaccinations. Harmon tweeted: “If you don’t have faith that God can heal me over your stupid ventilator, then keep the Hell out of my ICU room, there’s no room in here for fear or lack of faith!” Three days later, COVID won. Harmon died.

“Jacque probably won’t make it,” Wanda mumbled. “I have no personal knowledge of his case or healthcare, but based upon my experience, he’s unlikely to make it. If he does, he’s unlikely to ever be the same.”

Wanda was right. I already know the likely outcome, the moment ‘today’ becomes ‘today.’ The pressure required to open the lungs becomes so tremendous that air leaks into the chest cavity. Kidneys can no longer filter the byproducts from the medication and the body swells from fluid retention. Dialysis is required to help with renal functions. Then more COVID related infection sets in. Fluids accumulate in the lungs. At this point, even the best clinicians cannot prevent complications. The heart is likely to stop, and after CPR, both pulse and circulation might return. However, medical professionals will present the family with the task of making a difficult decision.

Walking back to the ICU, Wanda stated, “In the end, complete faith in religion won’t prolong COVID’s impact. Yet a COVID vaccination can prevent the end. but humans are too damn stupid.” She mumbled while staring distantly into nothing, “Too damn stupid.”

Entering the elevator, Wanda pressed the second floor. “Know what?”

“What?” I asked.

“I don’t believe there is a religion in the world that wants you die intubated, on a ventilator, battling COVID. God wants you live. To love. To give unto others as He did. I don’t believe God gave you life, just so you can die in a COVID ICU. You know where God is?”

“Ah, where?” unsure of the direction.

“God is in the clinicians, medical researchers who created the vaccines. He is in the people who calibrate all the machinery that keeps us alive. We are God’s miracles. And for someone to reject all that because of a … what did you say that was?”

“What?”

“The cost of the vaccine?” she motioned.

“Oh, $19.50 for Pfizer.”

“To have people reject all of God’s miracles over a $19.50 injection.” Momentarily pausing, “That’s fucking insane,” she screamed as the doors opened to the ICU. Exiting the elevator, the room erupted into crisis mode as a Code Blue (Cardiac Arrest) pierced the air.

“Nice meeting you,” Wanda waved while changing from walking to slight job. “Someone’s ‘today’ has arrived.”



Categories: Faith & Doubt, Life Lessons

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: