A death in the work family

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

At an early age, Tasha remembered looking up to her mama dressed in a crisp white uniform and a nursing cap placed perfectly upon her head — one bobby pin at a time. Tasha learned what sacrifice, responsibility, and dedication were all about.

She also knew her mama’s love for the nursing profession.

When Tasha was four years old, she used to say: “One day, I will be a nurse just like you, mama!”

Tasha excelled in academics. She loved chemistry, biology, microbiology, anatomy, physiology and psychology. By the time Tasha finished all of her academic requirements in college, she proudly held up the letter that came in the mail. The letter of acceptance into nursing school.

Her dream came true.

Tasha proudly displayed her BSN diploma. Her true love was behavioral health. She wanted to help people in a time of distress and dysfunction — a time when patients felt their life and desire to live started to unravel.

Tasha knew how to deescalate the one in a rage. She knew how to calm the sobbing tears of a lost soul. She could comfort and listen with a calming spirit. If she wasn’t holding their hand, her eyes told them that she cared. And sometimes, that’s all these patients needed — someone to listen, someone to care.

Tasha and her mama were a team. Joined at the hip, and as Tasha’s mom grew older, Tasha was there to take care of her.

Tasha also took care of her behavioral health unit. She considered the staff her “other” family … her second family. The staff grew to love her. Her endless generosity often meant providing the entire staff with a full course meal. Sometimes it was on a random day, sometimes an Easter dinner, Christmas or New Years’ Day. Tasha was full of love. And her staff loved her dearly.

Tasha put her scrubs on. Day three of 12-hour shifts.

She felt a little “off” on this day. Lots of “indigestion.” She felt weak with some shortness of breath. But she knew her ongoing indigestion well. Her weakness and shortness of breath had to be attributed to her third day at work.

Tasha clocked in. Ready to go, looking forward to a nice long weekend off.

She told a fellow RN, though, that she wasn’t quite up to par on this day. But she knew she could make it through these next 12 hours.

At 17:30 (5:30 p.m.) Tasha was outside of the behavioral health unit talking to a patient’s family member and giving them an update. As Tasha was talking, she stopped, slumped over and fell to the floor.

The family member frantically screamed for help. The staff arrived, a code blue was called, and CPR was initiated immediately.

The code blue team hooked her up to the EKG monitor. Ventricular fibrillation.

A nurse yelled out: “Shocking … all clear … shocking again!”

And after almost two hours of coding Tasha, they couldn’t bring her back.

The physician on the code team pronounced her death.

Our Tasha: Our vibrant, spectacular Tasha was not coming back.

The staff felt lost and broken.

EAP and chaplains set up counseling sessions by Zoom. A poster was placed in the unit by a fellow nurse with pictures of Tasha at restaurants with her staff “family.” Pictures of Tasha at the full-course meals she’d bring into work and of her laughing till her belly hurt. Of Tasha and her mama.

But our behavioral health unit felt as if Tasha’s death had sucked all of the energy out of everyone.

Many people attended her funeral. Nurses, psychiatrists, technicians — her second family. Sullen. Sad. Lost. Broken.

And on this crisp, clear blue sky day, tears flowed from all.

The mahogany casket stood still, shining in the sun with brilliant purple flowers on top. Her favorite color.

And her mama in her wheelchair watched as they lowered her only child, her only daughter, into the ground.

One friend strummed slowly on his guitar.

“How great thou art…”

42 years old.

It won’t happen to me.

It’s just indigestion.


Cardiac arrest. 100 percent LAD.

We bowed our heads as the preacher stretched his arms out, looking up to the heavens:

“Thy Kingdom come.

Thy Will be done.”

Originally published on KevinMD.com

A beloved COVID ICU patient turns to comfort care

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

Everyone loved Mrs. Maria. She was everyone’s mom, grandma, teacher.

Maria grew up in poverty. Though her family was poor, she knew her parents and siblings loved her and loved each other. But the one thing she knew her passion was at was school. Every morning she couldn’t wait to go to school and learn more. And she knew one day she would be a teacher.

Throughout the years, Maria excelled in school and became the valedictorian of her high school. Her grades and civic participation landed her a scholarship to college. She became that loving teacher. The one we all remember. The one that challenges you to do your best. The one that charged you with energy that you didn’t think you had.

Through the years, she married, had three children, and eventually became a grandmother. Her children and grandchildren loved her. She was their comfort, their love, their wrap-around teddy bear. The neighborhood loved her. The community loved her. And she progressed to a master’s degree and then a doctorate in education.

She led her community as the supervisor of the county schools. COVID hit this community hard. This city. This state. And though Maria wore her masks and encouraged all to wear masks and social distance, the country’s school systems became difficult. Virtual/Zoom courses were created and soon the established school system became riddled with gaps and unsureness on how to continue keeping school open.

Maria came down with a cough. A persistent cough. And then a temperature. And when she became short of breath, she knew. Her family drove her to the hospital. Her oxygen saturation was dropping progressively.

As she entered ICU, the intensivist had a careful talk with one family member and with Maria. They would choose to intubate her. Ventilator, central line, arterial line, then came the Levophed and vasopressin drips for her blood pressure that kept dropping. Every day, every hour was a new evaluation of her oxygenation. Her O2 would vary. One day was good; we’re gonna make it. The next day was horrid. FiO2 increased, Ativan and morphine added. Wrist restraints to avoid potential extubation.

And the nurses came in, gowned, gloved, face masks and face shields. Turning and repositioning Maria … and all of the other COVID patients.

The nurses knew. They knew it was a matter of time.

When they had to prone Maria, they knew it was a last-ditch effort. Her kidneys were failing. Dialysis was started. And Covid ravaged her body. Her organs, one by one, shutting down. Lungs, kidneys, brain bleeds …. gasping, asynchronous with the ventilator … and Maria could not be helped, no matter what we did.

We also loved Maria. We have loved them all. They are not a number. They are a person, a mom, a dad, a sister, a brother, a grandmother, or a grandfather.

The neighborhood showed up at Maria’s house. Candles lit. Showing their love and respect for a great leader. A great mother and grandmother to all. A great teacher. A great doctor of education.

The nurses gathered around Maria as the ventilator was pulled. The family via video said their goodbyes.

“We love you, grandma.”

“We love you, momma.”

Comfort care. Occasional morphine for pain. And we held Dr. Maria’s hand with our latex gloves on. Masked and faceless … but our hearts were there. Melting. Tears.

Fly high, our angel.

Fly high.

Originally published at KevinMD.com

Getting old and the truth about Alzheimer’s

By Debbie Moore-Black, RN

Her son went to visit her at her house of 52 years. The sound in the bathroom indicated that the faucet in the tub was running…. And overflowing onto the floor. A series of events piled one on top of the other. A totaled car, candles burning in the house haphazardly, repetitive questions mentioned 5 minutes apart… The same questions over and over again… Hugging her granddaughter but not remembering her name….

And we knew it was time to place her in a safe, secure atmosphere as An Assisted Living Center. Ruthie went on the tour and loved it! Lots of ‘happy people’, helpful people, energy, serenity, projects, cooking, dining, church, outings, friendship, exercise, tomato gardens….it all seemed like a country club paradise!! And Ruthie told the man in the suit and tie, ‘I’m loaded, sign me up’.

She was ‘loaded’ for 1970’s standards, but Assisted Living Centers easily cost $3500-$5000 per MONTH. And her lifelong saving would easily become diminished after 2+ months. After her son did much homework and inquiring, he found out that Medicaid could kick in, depending on the facility and help after her bank account dwindled down to $2500.

Her son, Terrence, made it happen.

Her last day at her home, suitcases packed. 52 years of living in the same house, lots of memories in this two bedroom, one bath house…. Raising her two boys, middle school, high school, proms, watching her one son go off to college during the Vietnam War, watching her sons walk away from their strict Baptist teachings, One son, married twice, the other son married three times, her husband, of 22 years, walking out that door for another woman, one son ending his life…. Lots of emotions in those walls…. If those walls could talk….

And Ruthie teared up, this was her home, her safe place, her castle, and she had to walk away from it. She searched around desperately seeking her trinkets that were reminders of her life, pictures of yesteryear, cups, plates, clocks, all to be minimized now into one bedroom in this country club estate she would enter.

We all choked up, and I couldn’t help but reflect, all the times I’d sleep in her empty bedroom from nightshift because my little kids wouldn’t let me sleep at our home! And I’d wake up to a tomato sandwich and homemade vegetable soup and the famous ‘Granny Ruthie’s tea….

It’s hard to say goodbye, and to start a new life that tells you that you are near the finish line… She finally put her shoes and socks on, after we asked her to do so six times, she took one more look in her family room, her favorite chair, her fancy living room that was reserved only for the church folk on Sunday’s… And she took her final framed photographs with her… Her pride and joy… Her two sons… One still attentive and alive, the other one .. Gone forever….

We loaded everything up in the car and sadly walked away from that life.

Maybe one of the saddest things I’ve had to deal with, because the truth is… This is all way too close to home, too close to my truth, one day.

(Photo credit: http://www.dojo Image Stream via Google Image search)

A child’s cry through haunting eyes

By Debbie Moore-Black, RN

The emergency department.

A haven for cardiac arrests and gunshot wounds and respiratory distress and overdoses and auto accidents and children’s sniffles and fever and coughs that won’t go away. The ED was easy access to many. And at times, it was an easy fix not to pay the bill upfront or to be anonymous with your problem.

As much as I loved emergency nursing, it was always the children that left me tormented. Buddy with his fractured hip that his parents said he was getting rowdy and fell off the bunk bed. In reality, he was thrown down the stairs by daddy, as his hip fractured.

Jasmine with her beautiful but disheveled hair and her tiny arms dotted with cigarette burns.

Trisha, malnourished with those large eyes black as coal and empty from lack of love. And lack of nutrition. Starving for love. And starving.

Little Susie, sexually assaulted at the age of eight by her momma’s boyfriend. Her souls snatched from her forever.

We kept social services busy. The parents had their situation all explained and planned out. Another accident. Not my fault. He deserved it. Punishment. She flirted with me. The children all had a typical trait. They did not talk. They had no eye contact with the nurse or doctor. They were sullen and withdrawn. And they broke my heart.

They wouldn’t speak, most likely out of fear. But their eyes told everything. The sorrow. The pain. The fear.

This was before the advent of large hospitals having a designated emergency department for pediatrics. We had to be well versed from baby to geriatrics. You can mend the body parts with stents and dialysis and ventilators and medications and surgeries. But you can’t mend the soul of an innocent child who lost his or her voice through abuse. Through neglect.

The social workers and police were our strength and the children’s protection. The parents would scream and shout, “That’s my child! Give him back to me!” as the child would be taken into protective foster custody.

The anguish of a child wanting and needing love from the only person they knew. Their mom. Their dad. Even with incredible abuse, the young children still craved that simple love from a parent. Simple love that they would never have. And a life sentence of pain and anguish and heartache.

My nightmares would not end. I’d wake up in a sweat and a repeated dream of a small child’s hand reaching out to me but never able to grasp his tiny fingers.

Originally published at KevinMD.com

Image credit: shutterstock.com

Create a positive light in nursing

By Debbie Moore-Black, RN

I was an assistant nurse manager (ANM) in a 24 bed ICU in my younger, energetic years. Before that, I was a manager in a very small emergency department. I must say, I loved it. I loved the thrill and the challenge. I was able to work with the Joint Commission; I ordered EKG monitors and defibrillators, any equipment needed for the emergency department. I worked with the health department and social workers. I helped develop protocols and talked to leading cardiologists in the city to create new protocols. I created an information pamphlet area for patients and visitors. I did evaluations and planned scheduling.

I went to the intensive care unit from the emergency department and found my true love. Before long, I graduated to the ANM. I was everyone’s friend. But I was also a rabble-rouser. Should an intensivist not follow a protocol properly, I reported him or her. Should our manager on call be missing in action for 24 hours, I reported her. I was an advocate for the underdog. An advocate for my nurses and nurse-patient ratios. An advocate for the patients.

I sounded the alarms no matter what. I didn’t “pick” my battles because almost everything was my battle.

I learned through the years what was worth fighting for. One of my managers was once deemed “an unassigned leader,” and “this could be good, but …”

Eventually, I was demoted to a staff nurse. I was told that I was not “one of them.”

So now I’m a little over a year until retirement. I don’t want to be a charge nurse; I don’t want to be a leader. I want to do my job as a staff nurse and then drift away into the horizon.

In my 35 years as an ICU nurse, I can sadly say that I have had only one good manager.

But what values did this manager have? She was fair and honest. We respected her greatly. One minute she’d help us with a code blue doing CPR, or passing out emergent medications during the code. Other days in her “spare” time, she helped us clean up a patient, bowel movements and all. If there was bullying in the unit, she squashed it. If a nurse was not up to par, she’d bring him/her into her office. She knew our names. Our children’s names. She’d ask about our sick grandma. She was smart and professional. And not only did we respect and cherish her, the Intensivists and hospitalists loved her also. Our ICU was a well-oiled machine. Sadly, this type of manager has happened only once in my 35-year career.

A new manager comes in with all of his/her titles and degrees. She has a bullwhip in one hand and a microscope in the other. She’s going to kick ass and take names. Every day we hear how terrible we are. How awful we are. That we don’t know our roles. That we perform below mediocrity. There is no light. Morale drops, job satisfaction is at an all-time low, and then comes the nurse turnover. Negativity does not promote a positive reaction. It festers and brews.

So how can a leader, a manager, turn herself around? How do you create a good workforce? Good camaraderie.

Professionalism and accountability? Good question.

We are a family. There’s no way out of it. We live and breathe each other for over 12 hours a day. Besides knowing your clinical skills and critical thinking skills, planning, and budgeting. Evaluate yourself. If you are in this managerial role for control, power, or self-gratification, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Start with staff relations. Learn and know your staff. Keep communication open. Be honest. Answer your emails. Encourage positive behavior. Give kudos to those who go above and beyond or even those steadfast in good quality nursing and patient care. Encourage education. Ask about their children, their mom or dad.

When you beat us verbally with constant negative ridicule, we crawl under the bed. We underperform. And eventually, we disappear. Delegate, be honest. Open communication. Have goals. Positivity. Correct poor work in privacy. Make nurses want to work for you and with you.

After earning your master’s degrees and PhDs, please take off your mask and remember we’re all human. We’re all in this together. And create a positive light through the tunnel of a very difficult profession called nursing.

Originally published at Kevin MD

COVID doesn’t matter to them. Until it matters.

By Debbie Moore-Black, RN

As I take the pups on their daily walk around the neighborhood. I come upon eight adults outside their houses, near the street, laughing and coughing and sneezing and smoking their cigarettes and huddled up close together.

They didn’t say hello to me, nor did I to them.

But I listened: “I ain’t gettin’ the COVID vaccine, I ain’t going to the hospital. If I get the COVID, I’m staying at home and taking NyQuil, and Robitussin and Ambien … and whatever I can lay my hands on.”

I don’t go out much. Except for my walks, to the grocery store or to work. The local grocery store states mandatory masks, but there are always those that don’t care. As I stood in line recently at the grocery store, distanced myself at the cash register, mask in place, a man comes directly up to my face and coughs on me. And then he begins to laugh.

I don’t know what happened to genuine respect for each other. Common courtesy during this pandemic. Apparently, some people have been convinced that Covid is not real. Or not a big deal. And laughing in the face of science, medicine, and facts.

I guess they don’t know we’re running out of ICU beds and ICU nurses.

And I guess they don’t know we are running out of propofol and dexamethasone. Propofol for intubation and sedation and dexamethasone for the lungs’ inflammation due to the COVID virus attacking the lungs before it makes its way to all other vital organs.

I guess they don’t know about masks or social distancing or the COVID vaccine.

We are running out of basic tube feedings for patients. Running out of plasma. Some city hospitals are full. Our hospital has turned our ICU rooms into two Covid patients to one room. One room that use to be for one patient. Gift shops and conference rooms are converted into COVID beds. Hospital tents are being installed in certain cities.

We are running out of body bags.

The critical care nurses gown and glove and masks and face shields for 12 hours straight. There is no 30-minute break. It is lifesaving ICU room to ICU room. Lifesaving. Or surrendering to another death.

I guess they don’t know that our America now. Today has 356,000 dead people due to COVID.

I guess it doesn’t matter to them until it matters.

Originally published at KevinMD.com

Schizophrenia: They are on an island of their own

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

I knocked on his door. It was 8:30 pm. Medication time. Jerome slowly opened his door. He was easily over 6 feet tall.

Towering over my 4ft 11,5 “ self. Naked. Eye to eye with his penis.

He chanted “you ain’t a bitch. You ain’t a ho….. you my wife”

Ok Jerome, take your medicine.
I’ve entered a new dimension of nursing.

After 30 plus years as an ICU nurse, I thought I’d ride out Behavioral Health until my retirement in one year. I thought it would be easy.

What I didn’t realize was that we have a most complicated mind. All of us.

I smiled during my interview. Told them what they wanted to hear. And I was in.
Day after day. This was the psychotic unit. Psychotic, schizophrenic, bipolar…. all of the above. Medication was sometimes our only hope.

It’s cold outside. Winter time. The homeless know what to say. On the streets, our hospital, our behavioral health unit is like the “Hilton”.

New scrubs, private rooms, breakfast lunch dinner and snacks. A shower. And medications to calm you down, to help you sleep to make those voices in your head disappear for a moment.

The voices that say kill… kill… kill. The voices that tell you you’re no good. Cut yourself deeper faster. Jump off the bridge, run into traffic…. anything to make the voices go away.

Marlene is 52. She likes methamphetamine. She has multiple husbands and she’s pregnant with the baby Jesus. And screams a bloody chilling scream in the middle of the night.

We rush to her side. She bangs her head repeatedly against the wall. It’s hard to deescalate a psychotic. Medication is your only friend. Haldol, zyprexa, Ativan, Thorazine. Take your pick.

Our heroes are Public Safety. We push a button, or call the number stat, and they are there. All of them 4 and 5 of them rush to our side to protect us.

This is not a prison. This is a Behavioral health unit. And each day we say a prayer that there won’t be violence. That there won’t be an assault. That we won’t have to put someone in seclusion. That we aren’t forced to use 4-point restraints.

These are the misfits. The homeless. The non-compliants They know when it’s cold outside. They can no longer cope. We are their friend. Their protector.

Schizophrenia. A strange and exotic disease. They are on an island of their own.
What have I gotten myself into?

Originally published at https://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2020/12/schizophrenia-they-are-on-an-island-of-their-own.html

During the pandemic, many health care workers won’t be home for Christmas

By Debbie Moore-Black, RN

He was a healthy 36-year-old paramedic with a loving wife and an adorable little boy.

Jim loved his job. The rush, the adrenaline, the blaring lights through downtown hurrying to get to the major hospital. Cardiac arrests, gunshot wounds, tragic auto accidents, respiratory arrests, CPR, compressions, starting IVs. Speaking to the ER physician en route to the hospital to give stat meds for V-tach, SVT, delivering a baby. Anything and everything. Jim was there and ready for the next life-saving event.

COVID was rapidly spreading throughout the country. Standards and compliance with wearing masks were not always a priority. PPEs were also not readily available to health care workers. Jim was aware of the risks involved. But he was young and healthy. And in a hurry.

It couldn’t happen to him.

Jim developed a cough. A dry, persistent cough. And then he lost his sense of taste and smell. His energetic self became weak and lethargic. His temperature rose to 101.6. His manager said he must be tested for COVID. His test was done and processed urgently.

Jim tested positive.

Jim had to be quarantined from work from his squad. At home, Jim stayed in a separate room. Away from his little son and wife.

Within one week of testing positive, Jim continued with his cough, but he became short of breath. His wife found him gasping for air in his bed, and she immediately called 911. His fellow paramedic partners picked him up. Put him on a stretcher, added oxygen, started an IV. His O2 sats were 82 percent. Jim was pale, gasping, and barely able to talk. He was rushed across town to the ER.

His O2 sats continued to drop. His wife held his hand. We love you. She said.

Jim was brave. And he replied: I’ll be home for Christmas. As he squeezed his wife’s hand.

Stat ABGs showed the need for emergent intubation. O2 sats now 76 percent.

Jim was intubated, a central line inserted. Nimbex (a paralytic) started along with a propofol drip. He was transferred to the ICU. IV steroids started along with his first dose of remdesivir. His blood pressure dropped dangerously. Levophed drip was started.

November slid into December.

Week after week went by. Jim’s kidneys shut down, and now dialysis was started. The ICU nurses and physicians worked endlessly. There were no breaks—12 to 13-hour shifts. Jim’s nurses enter his room. Day after day. Shift after shift. Isolation Gown, gloves, N95, face shields, shoe covers. Grueling and hot and suffocating.

His wife, Mary, calls up. Needing a report of her husband. Her voice quivers. The nurse allows FaceTime with Jim’s wife and four-year-old Timmy. We love you. She says. And all she sees is Jim on the ventilator with a distant stare of no comprehension. She leaves pictures Timmy drew for his dad at the hospital’s front entrance. Jim’s ICU room walls are covered with pictures of Christmas trees and Timmy’s handprints and hurry home, daddy.

The intensivist calls for a conference with Jim’s wife. We’re sorry. We are not making headway. He’s deteriorating. COVID has destroyed his kidneys, his lungs. MRI shows minimal brain activity. Despite everything we have done.

His wife bows her head. A tear stings her cheek as she remembered his grasp of her hand: I’ll be home for Christmas.

Internationally, 7,000 health care workers have died from COVID. Physicians, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, housekeepers, technicians, plant engineers have perished as they heroically face this silent killer.

Originally published at: Kevin MD

Don’t Wake Me Up Again

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

After 33 years as an ICU RN, I had finally decided I couldn’t do this anymore.

It was my last nightshift. The last shift that convinced me I had made the right decision.

The CNA and I went door to door to turn each ICU patient that was not capable of turning themselves.


Mrs. Thelma was 86 years old.

She laid in her bed slightly restless. Restrained. On a ventilator. NG tube for tube feedings. Levophed drip for a low blood pressure.

Mrs. Thelma was not able to turn herself.

The CNA and I knocked on the patient’s door. Her son was asleep on the side bed provided for families.

Her son woke up. “What do you want”? Why you waking me up”?

We explained that we had to turn his mother.

His poor gray haired mother. Attempting to extubate herself. Attempting to pull out her NG tube. Too weak to turn herself. Restrained to prevent her from extubating herself and pulling her NG tube out.

The family wanted everything done.

We turned and repositioned Mrs Thelma. We cleaned up the bowel movement in the bed and changed her sheets. I gave her a small amount of morphine ivp for comfort.

I held her hand and silently apologized to her.

I was sorry her family was not rational.

I was sorry her family thought she’d live forever

I was sorry that they were the reason she suffered so.

There was a family conference. The ICU MD explained she was going through multi system organ failure. She’s 86 years old.

That they could allow her to die peacefully.

But they wanted everything done.

And so we did. Painful day after painful day.

Every 2 hours we had to turn and reposition her or decubitus ulcers would set in. Suction her mouth and ETT, rub her back. Clean her body.

Her eyes were hazy. A living hell.

We left the room after we tucked her in.

The son announced: “don’t wake me up again”

I prayed for a peaceful death for Mrs Thelma…. but not this way.

My last night, clocking out to people who refuse to allow their loved ones to die peacefully.

I tried. I educated.

Many refused.

I could no longer deal with the torment that lies in the ICU.

To family members: We do the best we can.

We are not your servants. We are not your waitress/waiter.

We are caregivers. Professionally educated to treat your sick loved ones.

Please work with us.

We are strong…. but we are tired.

Respect and Empower.

The Prison: Covid ICU

By Debbie Moore-Black, RN

By: Debbie Moore-Black, RN

I enter the hospital to work again. I must work as I have 3 small children and a husband presently out of work d/t Covid. He is “non-essential.”
There’s a violinist playing at the employee entrance. I know they do this to lift our spirits. But it’s a slow sad string that reminds me of the titanic. And yes every day I clock in, I feel as if it’s a sinking ship.

By now we should have plenty of N-95’s, plenty of face shields and gloves and disposable gowns to enter that covid room, that Covid patient that never goes away. That continues to multiply.
It’s a painful job. I thought I would be saving lives as a nurse, but instead we are prolonging death.
This ICU is 24 beds. All Covid patients. 24 strong. I gown and glove and put my N95 mask on and face shield to enter that patient’s room. That patient with Covid… he’s 40 something, and he refused to wear a mask anywhere. Said it was a hoax. Said it wouldn’t happen to him. Spread his infection to his mom and grandmother and anyone else that potentially came in contact.
He had come gasping for air to the ED. It didn’t help that he was an everyday 2 pack of cigarettes smoker. That everyday he downed several cheeseburgers with fries and a milkshake. That every night he drank many cans of beer.
He said it was against his rights of freedom to wear a mask. He said it was a muzzle. He said he wasn’t going to be one of those sheep that follow a ridiculous rule of social distancing, washing hands and wearing a mask.

The muzzle he said suppressed his right to speak.
And now he contacted Covid. His O2 sats were in the low 80’s, he had co-morbidities like being over weight, high cholesterol, cigarette smoker and now his lungs were failing him. As Covid easily attached and infected his lungs.
It was only a matter of time for Johnny to earn dialysis, multi-system organ failure crept in. Kidneys failing, blood clots to his brain. And no matter what we did with those miraculous drugs of remdesivir and steroids, it wasn’t working. His breathing became asynchronous with the ventilator. We called it “guppy” breathing. Like a fish without water. He couldn’t follow commands. Family held tight for hope. For a miracle.
The MRI showed no activity to his brain. Anoxic injury with blood clots.
Covid rapidly ate through his body.
I pulled my work phone out, heavily encased in a protective plastic, so I could face time his family.
No holding hands. No final kiss on the cheek.
Just a final vision of Johnny.
We pronounced him dead at 0515. Notified the family. The morgue was notified. Make room for one more dead person to be stacked on top of another like multiple bunk beds.

Gave him his final bath. Toe tied him for his identity. Wrapped him up in his morgue plastic zip up bag. And we sent him off.

Clocking out we all face local police and administrators and firemen and medics cheering us on. Congratulating us. Calling us heroes.
Free pizza and ice cream for us.
And we bow our heads low.
Because we don’t want the cheering and balloons and the violinist and the pizza and ice cream and clapping hands.
We don’t want to be called heroes.

What we want is respect for each other.
What we want is for you to wear a simple mask.
What we want is for you to social distance and wash your hands.
What we want is for you to allow us to clock out and go home to our families safely without feeling that we potentially could infect our loved ones because of you being so incredibly careless.
Pay attention to science and medicine or else you may be the next careless victim.
Wear your mask.
Deal with the truth and get over your ego.