One month ago, I was struggling to finish my contemporary Western romance. The demands and pressure of my full time job as a midwife, taking care of the house, the pets, troubleshooting issues with my teenage and young adult children, my husband and my elderly mother are a lot to juggle. I’m overwhelmed by just reading the last sentence.
Creative writing has always been my outlet and I love escaping into my characters’ world. In the last week of normalcy, I had a research paper to edit and finalize, and that was certainly not an escape.
The novel should have been finished by now. I make most of my deadlines, but sometimes they impose themselves on me.
One month ago, the theoretical threat of COVID-19 became real overnight. I woke up hearing that there was a cluster in New Rochelle, which is very close to New York City. The Metro North commuter rail connects Westchester County with the NYC subway system. I knew what was coming.
The hospital started ramping up the precautions, but we were already very low on critical supplies such as masks and gowns. It was a blur after the first containment zone led to social distancing, and then a full scale pandemic with a shutdown of the city that never sleeps. I wondered (and hoped) if the bad cough, cold and terrible backache I had two weeks before, after riding the subway for a week of trainings, might have been a COVID infection.
One month ago, time stood still. One day blurs into the next. I’m used to intense situations and census surges. But working outside my normal scope of practice and making due in life threatening conditions, combined with the arduous task of looking out for oneself, co-workers, family members on top of the normal stressors has caused deep emotional and physical exhaustion. I don’t remember which day it is, only if it’s a day to work or a day off.
I’ve become accustomed to, and thankful for PAUSE, New York State’s social distancing mandate. There is no commuter traffic, which allows me extra minutes of sleep. When I’m self isolating at home, there are no distractions, appointments, gatherings, or events.
There is a low level, ever present fear, that I tame by escaping into fiction. The novel is very close to being finished. It was already heavily based on current events, and now, I have the plot for the second book in the series.