The Not-So-Quarantined Quarantine

It has been a frustrating few weeks. Being in limbo about moving to Saudi has not helped my levels of anxiety. I have been trying to find productive things to make it better. I have all my stuff packed and ready to go, but then I have needed to use things in the suitcases. I have been making goals for each day I am off, writing them down, and checking them off as I complete them. It has helped keep me from binge-watching shows all day. It is frustrating that people who are supposed to stay home are not staying home while I still have to go to work each week and risk exposure. th I have been reading books. Yet that always makes me sleepy when I do it at home. In the past, I have read the most books on the beach, in restaurants or on vacations. Last week I was determined to finish the book I was reading by Friday. I had 60 more pages to complete and I finally did, after it was interrupted twice by naps. I have been working on learning French from books and Duolingo. I was planning to bring the French lesson books with me to Saudi, but if I can finish them before I leave, it will be less weight. I am almost done “French for Dummies” and then I have to complete “Learn French The Fast and Fun Way.” The books help explain what I am learning on the Duolingo app. Someone asked me why I am not trying to learn Arabic. Well, I am, but just focusing more energy on French right now. French will be helpful in a lot of countries I still want to visit. I learned some basics in French in an 8-week course last year which has helped with me self-teaching. I am hoping to take an Arabic class in Jeddah. I have been learning a few letters in Arabic on Duolingo. And I bought Arabic for Dummies and a Complete Arabic Learning book. (So, I guess not taking the French books will have their weight evened out by these Arabic books.) I have been busy working my three shifts a week and sometimes picking up extra. I was supposed to be off this past Saturday, but I picked up an extra shift. I got to take care of three babies that I have taken care of a lot this past month. I enjoy teaching and talking with the moms. I will admit I have been feeling guilt since March because as a NICU nurse, I feel I am not on the front lines, in the negative-pressure rooms, face to face with the extremely sick COVID patients. The closest I get to exposure is going to deliveries of COVID+ mothers. But we now have a policy that only a doctor or nurse practitioner goes into the delivery, in their proper PPE with N95 mask, and I will only enter if they need my help with CPR for the baby. I was lucky that every delivery I went to since March, the baby came out crying and I was not needed in the room. Then I feel guilty for feeling lucky. But I listened to a short lecture the other day from Academy of Neonatal Nurses. A lot of NICU nurses are feeling the same. We feel we want to be doing more. (I have no experience taking care of adults, so I am more scared of making a medication or assessment mistake on an adult than of COVID. I would be of no use helping on those floors.) This lecture made me realize that keeping the premature babies safe from the virus is helping. Keeping these new moms safe and teaching them how to care for their baby is helping. Teaching the mom about handwashing and social distancing and not to allow visitors when they take their baby home is helping. Everyone is mandated to wear a surgical mask in the hospital, and we have our temperatures taken before entering. Also, we are the social life for these moms. I was telling a mom that her baby might be able to go home next week, after he has been my patient for the past 6 weeks, and she said she will miss the nurses. We have been her relief during lockdown. We are providing mental health care for these moms in an incredibly stressful time. In addition to the stress of having a baby early and in the NICU, they are dealing with the increased societal stress of the virus and lockdown. I have been worried about my family. I am relieved that my mother has been granted medical leave from her job for another month due to her being a high risk. I feel guilty that I am planning to leave the state and country when she is at risk for some horrible virus. What if she catches it a few months down the line? It is not going away even if the numbers decrease. I have already seen people being laxed around town about social distancing and wearing face masks. I saw people pulling into fast food drive-throughs without a mask. That puts the people working in that window and everyone else they work with at risk. My mom has been staying home, but her live-in boyfriend is still working and goes to the store for them. They both have health issues in addition to their advance age. I am worried about him getting the virus and passing to her. I want to be nearby if that happens, but will not be when, and if, I ever move to Saudi. Another obstacle to my visa: I mentioned before about the hospital in Jeddah wanted more information and a letter from a specialist clearing me for two conditions, pectus excavatum and mild scoliosis. I had to return to my primary care doctor to get a more detailed letter clearing me because the letter I obtained almost two months ago was not enough for the hospital medical board. And now the hospital is insisting I see a specialist to clear me because this new letter does not convince them. After several phone calls, I finally found an orthopedic specialist that will see me about the scoliosis. Most of the specialists that I did reach said they only deal with spinal issues and not the pectus excavatum. I am hoping this doctor could assess that issue also and if not, refer me to someone that can. This might require more x-rays. It is definitely going to require more time. It is so exhausting! If I did not have my household belongings in storage already, I would have told the agency to stop. Just stop it all. I would have canceled the job and the process and the dream of moving to Saudi. It is sort of like taking a road trip from New York City to Los Angeles, the car breaking down in Las Vegas, and trying to figure out if you should return to New York or find a way to keep going to LA. Maybe the universe does not want me there. Maybe I am needed here. But the fact that this is a dream of mine, and all the plans I have been making to save money and travel, and the fact I ALREADY BOUGHT AN ABAYA, means I am going to keep trying. I am on the work schedule until July 18. Will it be possible to make THAT my last day?

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