Real Talk from the (people who are sleeping with the people on the) front lines.

pixelated Daddy Nurse by PJ
We are in day nine million and five of quarantine, and while I am exceedingly thankful for our safety, good health, and home to hunker down in, the weeks have been on the tough side. We are acutely aware that this is not a vacation- I am still working and my son, PJ, still has school, even if it is within the confines of our little home.

I joked in my title that I am sleeping with the people- er, person. I am sleeping with ONE PERSON- on the front lines, but that is actually kind of a lie. It is true that I am married to an Emergency Room RN, but we are not sleeping together. Thanks to a combination of Coronavirus and a lack of the equipment my husband needs to keep him safe while he treats patients, we are not sleeping together, in any sense of the word.

To keep our family safe, Pete changes out of his scrubs before he gets in the car to drive home from a shift. Shoes stay outside. When he gets in the house, the clothes go straight into the washer, where they are washed in hot water with detergent, Borax, a white vinegar rinse and then rinsed again. Pete goes straight into the shower, where he scrubs down, his skin already drying from washing his hands over and over during his shift. He works nights so he sleeps during the day and when he gets up to go back to work, the bedsheets get treated to the same routine as his scrubs. Everything gets wiped down and reset to do it all again at the completion of his next shift. Starting today, Pete is sleeping in our spare bedroom to keep germs in one spot and decrease the chances of either PJ (who still sometimes sleeps in our bed) or I getting sick.

Pete is tired. He's an excellent nurse in the best of times, and I know that he's even better now. But, he is tired. He's sad, stressed, and worried about what he is seeing- increasingly sicker people coming into his ER, the ICU at capacity, and the coworkers that he refers to as "his" dropping like flies to quarantine. He's picked up extra hours to fill those holes, and there is no hazard pay. He has ordered his own masks from Amazon because his employer can't keep up with the demand (and that order may or may not get filled). There's no physical touch to take comfort in, as I am a germaphobe  we are doing our best to adhere to distancing guidelines. Family time looks different now.

We are grateful that we are able to pay our bills and feed our family and that is, of course, thanks to Pete's job. He is not working for free. But the cost of his job, which is high at good times, is astronomical now. The costs are the risks to his health and sanity, the loss of family time, and the precarious nature of getting paid to do something that could leave hims sick and not getting paid.

So when health experts advise you to stay at home, listen to them. Stay. The. Fuck. At. Home. That story I just told you about my husband? Multiply that by thousands, and throw in the doctors, desk staff, techs, custodial staff, and security. They are all out there fighting against a virus that is freakishly communicable, exacerbated by every numbnut that just had to go to the beach/store/movies/party/whatever. Remember how hard these people are working and don't make this harder for them than it already is.

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