An Immunocompromised Nurse During the COVID Crisis

This has got to be some kind of cosmic joke, right? An immunocompromised nurse working on the front lines of an unknown virus? Makes sense.

After having some discussions with friends the past few days, I decided to just write a blog post. Everyone knows about the COVID-19 crisis going on in the world right now, and healthcare providers are being lauded for their commitment to being on the front line of this.

I am a nurse. I am currently working at an assisted living/memory care facility on the weekends with going to grad school full-time. I am working with a vulnerable population, definitely. It is not just the patients/providers in the hospital who need protection. But, is it completely strange that I feel guilty for not working in a hospital? I worked in a hospital for 2.5 years on an acute-care floor after I received my nursing degree. I know what my hospital nursing friends are facing. The enormity of the situation is sobering. However, this battle is being fought in many other medical arenas as well.

My struggle is in the fact that I am actually immunocompromised. My MS drugs are immune-suppressants, not to mention the fact that I’m also type 1 diabetic (although well-controlled). I am definitely in that “at-risk” group. So, technically, even if I was working in a hospital, I would seriously be putting myself in danger of contracting the virus.

I would gladly go to a hospital to work to help out with the crisis, if/when the need arises, despite my own health concerns, truly. But, at the same time, there is a real sense of danger with that. And, if I get sick, what good am I to patients? It’s just a strange feeling, being immunocompromised and feeling the societal pressure to be in the thick of this medical pandemic as a nurse. I am thankful that I am not working in a hospital environment currently due to my health, but at the same time I want to be there. If, heaven forbid, a patient at the facility fell ill, that would very quickly become a hazard. But if anything happened at the facility, I would still be right there in the midst, without hesitation.

My main point here is this: I’ve realized in the last few days that it has been hard to reconcile the kind of nurse I want to be with the limitations of my body.

I have long since faced and overcome my fear of my illnesses, because God rescued me from that. So, it’s not that I have any fear about ending up in the hospital with COVID, although it’s something that is in the back of my mind. But, I’ve been wrestling with wanting to truly be on the front line and feeling guilty that I’m immunocompromised and wanting to protect my own health.  “But, it’s not your fault, Morgan! You can’t help your illnesses,” you say to me. And, I do know that. But the nurse in me is struggling with wanting to be out there, dealing with this directly, where some of my fellow nurses are.  This whole situation is not about me, and sometimes it kills me that I’m not out there working endless hours alongside my fellow healthcare workers to deal with this.

The reality of the situation is that I’m still on the front lines, working with a vulnerable and elderly population, trying to keep them safe. With my own life endeavors – attending graduate school and getting my NP degree – I don’t have the time or energy to be working anywhere full-time along with that. However, if the need should arise and more nursing staff is called to the hospitals, you can bet I will be there. Same as if I will be there if something happens with the facility I’m working at currently. I will be there when needed, but a part of me wishes I wasn’t so vulnerable in the face of this. And that part of me is sorry that I can’t do more. There aren’t many times where I feel guilty for having illnesses that I couldn’t have prevented, but this is definitely one of those times. I’m faced with the conundrum of wanting to keep  myself healthy so I can be of use, and being right in the thick of the battle.

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Is it not the same with faith? I’m constantly trying to reconcile the kind of Christ-follower I’m meant to be with my human nature and life’s difficulties (and the resulting negative implications) that I’ve faced. Most of the time, I’m pretty good with putting my trust in God’s timing and purposes. I’ve failed miserably at that a few times – specifically after my MS diagnosis – but it’s just a crazy parallel that I’ve drawn during this tumultuous time. Please continue to pray for our healthcare providers (doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, CNAs, lab workers, medical assistants, pharmacists, cleaning services) who are working towards the resolution of this. Also continue to pray for our President and the leaders of this country as they face this craziness. Continue praying for those who have been so severely affected by this economic downturn. There is so much to pray for. But, also sit and consider what God is trying to teach you during this time. I’m not quite sure what it is yet, for me, but I’m going to take it as it comes.

 

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

-Proverbs 3:5

 

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

-Isaiah 26:3

4 thoughts on “An Immunocompromised Nurse During the COVID Crisis

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  1. Thank you for posting this, it is very much how I am feeling. I am also an immunocompromised nurse on DMT for my MS. I am waiting to return to teaching in the classroom with our school of nursing. I would love nothing more than to be with my peers on the frontlines but scared to immerse myself into an environment that likely has Covid 19 patients. Most of the time I put my MS dx aside and carry on my nursing career knowing that I will never be able to work FT on the frontlines in acute care, but during a pandemic it has become emotionally and spiritually challenging.
    I thank you for sharing your story, it really hit home for me and I dont feel so alone. It is a strange paradox – a nurse who is immunocompromised and had MS. I was dx less than a year into my career.

    Like

    1. Hi there, I apologize for replying to this just now, it’s so rare that I get a comment! Haha. I’m glad my post helped you feel a little bit less alone. It’s absolutely a struggle, and know that I am here for you! I’m so thankful that I’m not the only one going through this thought process. But, your efforts as a nurse, no matter where they are, are absolutely needed and appreciated. And thank you for teaching future nurses! That’s amazing.

      Like

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