Updated: Feb 7, 2022
Last night, I had to visit my local Emergency Department (ED). I had accidentally cut my leg on something rusty that was attached to timber that I was getting ready for a project, so I needed some TLC from the hospital up the road.
I - luckily - didn't have to wait long for anyone. I strolled into the back entrance of the hospital and was checked for COVID symptoms by a friendly nurse, as I scanned the QR code and sanitised my hands. She kindly gave me directions to ED, and a fresh face-mask (in case mine wasn't "kosher"). I knew the way, as I'd worked at that hospital for many years, but it was good that she didn't assume I knew where to go. Great hospitality at the hospital!
I walked through the quiet corridors to the main entrance, and was met by two more kindly nurses, who expressed compassion and concern regarding my sliced-open thigh. The triage nurse, too, was kind and respectful as she examined my wound and asked all the relevant questions. The Clinical Nurse Consultant who gave me my tetanus injection was gentle and professional too.
The lovely doctor was originally from Iraq; he'd come here to live and work, bringing his family. We had a chat, because that's the kind of person I am. It got me to thinking about all the people who are far from home, and worrying about loved ones back in their countries of origin. I know many.
As an Australian, I can take so much for granted. If my business lost money because of COVID, I'd have access to all sorts of grants. If I was working, and lost shifts because of restrictions during a lockdown, I'd have access to jobkeeper monies, and other benefits from the various government agencies. I've got it so good. I'm so grateful that I was born here, and that I live in a regional area, that has the best of city living and coastal space.
I have friends from all over the world, with one or both parents living back in their countries of origin. Friends have moved from Australia to other countries too, and they have restrictions to moving from one country to another - not because of their residency, but because of the countries they'd want to visit. If you're from Iraq or Iran, you might be allowed to fly there (if you have the money for the tickets), but you won't be allowed to fly back to where you're living.
That's a heavy burden on a human, just knowing that you can't go home any time you need to, to hug and support your Mum or Dad.
It's hard, knowing that your children are losing their birth-language and won't be able to communicate with grandparents.
Imagine not being able to go home to bury a parent.
So many of my dear friends have experienced these traumas because of COVID, and I feel for them.
So, I chatted with the lovely doctor last night, because I instinctively knew that he (like all the doctors, nurses, and allied health staff, as well as police and other first responders like paramedics) need to know that the rest of us care about them.
Each person I encountered last night, apart from patients, was wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE). There was a different vibe to the way the ED used to feel before COVID. Much quieter and less busy in the waiting room, but in the consult rooms, there was that feeling that COVID could devastate the human I was meeting, at any moment.
There was a palpable fear, behind the kind and comforting ways.
As we got to chatting, I let the doctor feel like a human, instead of my personal slave. You know, when we go to hospital, we often forget that the person treating us is a multi-dimensional human being with a plethora of worries. Those worries are so compounded by COVID.
If for no other reason, this makes me believe even more strongly in keeping to restrictions and getting vaccinated. If only to protect our medical and allied health personnel. To protect our police officers. To protect our paramedics and ambulance officers.
A lot of people have been mentioning polio lately. I never got polio, but a girl who went to my school did. It affected her physical development. Sharp as a tack, she was smarter than me, and prettier, but she was left with a lifelong impact on her ability to walk. I benefitted from polio vaccination; she didn't.
When I worked in radiation oncology, I would hear every day about P16 and P18 positive cancers. If a person had cancer, and was P16-positive or P18-positive, it meant that they had a treatable cancer that was caused by human papilloma virus (HPV). There's a vaccine for that. Imagine, you could protect yourself from this sexually transmissible infection, and protect yourself from the cancers it causes. Oh, and you could protect the people who love you from the trauma of you having cancer.
The vaccines we have available to us have been tested in so many ways, that we know they're safe. Scientists wouldn't let people use a vaccine if it wasn't safe. We live in a time when scientists have to follow stringent rules that ensure they do their work in an ethical way. Their education includes ethical research principles and practices.
I mentioned earlier, how I'm grateful that I was born in Australia. I'm also grateful to be alive now. If I was born 100 years earlier, I wouldn't have access to vaccines which protect me from diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, poliomyelitis, and measles (which has been reported in my community recently). Last night, there were signs up around the ED for all those expecting a baby to be on the alert for measles, and to let the triage nurse know that they were pregnant. Why? Because measles can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight, and can increase the risk of the baby being delivered pre-term. Why would you risk it??
Have you ever heard of smallpox or haemophilus influenzae type b? Vaccination! What about cholera, rabies, typhoid fever or bubonic plague? Vaccines! How about tuberculosis, scarlet fever and yellow fever? Vaccines! Tick-borne and Japanese encephalitis? Vaccines! Typhus, influenza and anthrax? Vaccines! Adenovirus 4 and 7, mumps, rubella and chicken-pox? Vaccines! Pneumonia, hepatitis A and B and E, Q-fever, Lyme disease and rotavirus? Yep, you know it, vaccines!! Hantavirus and haemorrhagic fevers, enterovirus 71, malaria, and dengue fever, Ebola, and COVID-19 .... vaccines!
In 1980 - in my time - smallpox was declared "eradicated", due to vaccination efforts. That's no small feat. Imagine, we could do the same with COVID-19. But there's more, because scientists worldwide keep working on the COVID vaccines (just like the influenza vaccines), we could be protected by booster shots for the rest of our lives.
Each year, I get my flu injection. I haven't had the flu in decades. And there's proof too, because I complete the Flutracking survey every year, during flu season. Flutracking now includes COVID symptoms, as well as COVID behaviours (getting tested, seeking medical advice), and vaccinations for both. The data being collected will serve health epidemiologists now and into the future.
So, I ask, why wouldn't you?
Next time you have to go to ED, please remember the humanity of the people you meet. Right now, their lives are so very stressed, because they are doing what they can and, often, not taking vacations. They feel they have to be available for any eventuality. They're on-call, even when they're not rostered on-call, because they worry about the possibility of an outbreak. They fret about their loved ones in their countries of origin (because so many of our medical and allied health staff are from overseas). They find it hard to sleep, not only because of shift work, but because they are on high-alert all the time.
Next time you see a doctor or nurse, or paramedic or police officer, consider saying thank you to them, so they know their dedication is acknowledged and appreciated. Consider asking them about their life, and having a chat. Be there for them.
When you do, you open a channel to their heart, and give them space to breathe.
Just ask yourself, "Do I want every aspect of my life to be a 10/10?" Well, it's never too late (unless my diary is full).
All you need to do, to book in for your first coaching session, is choose! You probably know at least 3-4 people, who have come to mind while you've read this post. Why not buy them a gift certificate for their birthday? It doesn't matter where they are, because coaching is actually best when delivered over the phone. And there's the absolutely fantastic 8-Week Breakthrough Results Program, if you are really committed to living your most authentic life.
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