I am going to make this post a quick one as I feel 2020 has already dragged on way too long. I will remember 2020 as a unique year and look forward to my journey in 2021.
If you are still reading this post, let me share a few personal notes about 2020.
This past year gave us an opportunity to recognize the hard work of front line workers.
Along with those directly and indirectly impacted by COVID19, physically and mentally, my heart also goes to all the individuals and businesses who suffered financially.
I have talked about my journey through my deployment during the first wave, and will not discuss it in this post. However, I will re-emphasize the importance of self-care. Since, the first wave, I have signed up for Audible, where I listen to a new audiobook every month. Think Like a Monk and A Promised Land are the last two audiobooks that I have listened and enjoyed. My mind during the drive to and from work is now quiet, peaceful and happy.
I would like to take a moment to thank you for following my blog. Also, thank you to all those who have directly and indirectly supported my online presence!
Respiratory therapy/care is a very rewarding profession. During my journey of becoming an RRT, I experienced joy, excitement, doubt, anxiety, fear, a sense of teamwork, courage, and a better appreciation for life. I have grown, improved, and evolved as a respiratory therapist. If you are curious about this field, feel free to get in touch with me. If you are a new SRT, welcome!
Over the past few weeks, I have spoken to a number of teachers as they prepare for the upcoming school year. Due to legal reasons, I need to clarify that this blog post is based on my personal thoughts and you should follow the recommendations and guidelines provided by your employer, ministry of labour, and the local and/or national health regulatory bodies. I have no comments about how to safely plan, organize and operate a classroom. However, my experiences as a clinician working in the hospital, and the use of PPE, may be helpful for teachers. As a respiratory therapist at a Pulmonary Function lab, I coach patients as they perform breathing tests. Due to the nature of this diagnostic testing, I need to take the appropriate precautions so I not only protect myself, but also the people who are coming for testing. I am going to focus on what I wear to protect myself. A surgical mask, a face shield, a gown, and a pair of gloves. I am guessing that teachers are asked to wear cotton masks, or surgical masks if available. If you have access to a face shield, it would be a great idea. Make sure it curves around to cover your face from different angles. Also, it would be helpful if the shield covers not only the eyes but extends to cover over the mask. Have a bottle of hand sanitizer nearby to clean your hands as needed, especially before and after touching your mask or face shield. While I have access to scrubs and gowns, you may be more limited. One idea is to bring a change of clothes to work so you can change at school. The clothes that you have worn during the day can be placed inside a plastic bag and transported directly into the laundry machine or basket (depending on whatever system you have in place). Since I do not have access to a classroom or teaching experience, these recommendations are based on my conversations with a few teachers. It is not a perfect system. You need to look at things case by case. As always, follow the best practices put in place by your employer and local/national health regulatory organizations to protect yourself.
If you found this helpful, please consider sharing it with others.
I usually write blog posts for respiratory therapists and clinicians who practise in other specialities. Occasionally, I write for the general public and this is one of them.
Masks are a hot topic right now. The view on masks for the public has changed over the course of the pandemic. On a personal note, I have been wearing surgical masks throughout my shift since the start of COVID19. N95 masks were used when directly caring for individuals with COVID19. While they are still uncomfortable for me, I have gotten used to the uncomfortable feeling. Off duty, I wear cotton masks when in crowded and indoor spaces.
There are some cases that exempt people from wearing masks, and this blog is not focusing on that population. For everyone else, wearing masks is recommended based on our current information and data. Some argue that forcing people to wear them is against their rights. I like to encourage those people to look at it from different perspectives. You hold the power to make a difference. I am going to give you four examples. These people come to the hospital I work at for diagnostic testing and other respiratory care. They are NOT based on any specific person or people for legal reasons, but a representation of patients who frequently come to see me for testing.
Kelly is a neonatal nurse who has severe asthma. She has fought through all the limitations caused by her uncontrolled severe asthma despite optimized respiratory care. That has not stopped her. She finished her studies and found a job. She is happy and proud that she can help kids. That’s her passion and she feels blessed. By wearing masks we limit the transfers of the virus, and we protect people like Kelly. If Kelly gets sick, it would be a much tougher fight and a longer recovery for her.
Tom is a retired firefighter. Despite best practices and equipment, he was still exposed to occupational irritants. Tom, a lifetime non-smoker who had to retire early because of a lung condition called COPD. Tom has a few newborn grandchildren. He loves them and wants to live a long life to see them grow. He wants to spend time with them and make memories. People with COPD may have a challenging time with viral infections and may require invasive and supportive respiratory care.
Mary is a single mom with fibrotic lungs. The factory she has been working at for the past 10 years didn’t have the best ventilation at the beginning. That led to permanent changes in her lungs. She is financially dependent on her job. Mary needs to manage and protect her lungs so she can provide for her family. COVID19 may lead to additional negative changes to damaged lungs.
Mike is in second grade. He has been receiving treatments to manage his cystic fibrosis for some time now. He loves visiting his grandfather and watching him fix cars. He wants to grow up and be just like him. Catching a viral respiratory disease may cause a big set back in Mike’s respiratory care.
The people I have mentioned did not choose what has happened to them, but we can choose to wear a mask and use that power to protect others. We are in this together.
The fact that I had to look up the spelling of this sport should give you a clue. I am sure it is a great sport and can help people destress. I yet to try it, but hopefully one day. This blog post is a reflection than an informative respiratory therapy piece. With the start of the pandemic, I was deployed to the acute care side of respiratory care. I had to push through personal and mental barriers, step out of the comfort zone, and help out where my presence was required. While uncomfortable, I was fortunate to have a job. I was lucky to rely on a steady paycheque. Not everyone has had the peace of mind when it comes to income. Many small businesses have suffered. To answer the question I asked at the beginning of this blog post, the common denominator of my blog and IBJJ is people. This is NOT a paid promotion. I have purchased a few of my friend’s merchandise and now I am shamelessly promoting his business. My friend PK opened his business in 2019 ( 1035 Cole Street. Innisfil, Ontario). I am looking forward to the day that he re-opens his gym, and does what he enjoys.
Since the start of the pandemic, I have seen many acts of kindness. Many people donated masks and food to hospitals. Something I benefited and very thankful for. I have also observed front line workers giving back. Respiratory Therapy Society of Ontario (RTSO) recently shared these photos of RTs and organizations on social media (July 6th, 2020):
RTs and other healthcare workers joined to raise money and give back to their communities. #HCWS4FOOD.
Take a step back and evaluate your situation. Is there any way you can give back? Any way you can help out someone in need? Our experience has been different and we may be in different stages and financial situations so this is not put to push pressure on anyone. Giving back could even be volunteering and offering your knowledge and skills. If you don’t have the time or the money to give back, take a moment and appreciate what and who you do have (give gratitude).
This is also a perfect opportunity for me to thank John Meloche from Melotel Inc. for offering his expertise and services to me so I could offer my respiratory therapy blog to those who could benefit from it!