Access Now: AORN COVID-19 Clinical Support

Archive May 2020 XXI, No. 5

Editor's Page: Home Alone, Together

A nurse's selfless sacrifice taught me to appreciate the isolation.

Daniel Cook

Daniel Cook, Editor-in-Chief


“I’m done,” said my wife, sliding her chair back from the breakfast table on a recent Saturday morning. Or was it Wednesday?

“Great, I’ll start the dishes,” I said, getting up.

She cooks, I clean. It works.

“No, done with all this,” she responded, waiving an arm at our kitchen-office-school.

“Ah, OK,” I said, sitting back down.

She vents, I listen. It works.

My wife is a teacher who’s done helping our son with his third grade school work while trying to teach her own third grade class through Zoom, done with social distancing, done with not being able to escape our house arrest. She craves a leisurely trip to Target with every fiber of her being.

I totally get it. I’m a proud introvert and dedicated homebody, and even I’m getting rammy. The first few weeks of our state-mandated lockdown were spent trying to figure out how our family would cope. We eventually settled into the routines of our new normal. Now we’re longing to interact with the world beyond our closing-in walls, but life and work continue in insolation.

This month, our editorial team decided to recognize the surgical professionals who voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way in unfamiliar clinical settings because their colleagues needed help caring for COVID-19 patients. We highlighted a few of these amazing people on the cover. They represent thousands of healthcare workers who inspire us with their brave sacrifices of service at the forefront of the nation’s coronavirus response efforts.

One of the nurses I spoke with was Heidi Manzanares, BSN, BS, RN, CNOR, an orthopedic service leader at Denver Children’s Hospital. When one of her colleagues tested positive for COVID-19, she made the agonizing decision to self-isolate from her husband and three kids, primarily to protect her nine-year-old daughter, who has severe asthma.

Heidi has moved out of her home and is living a few miles away in a basement apartment at her parent’s house. After spending every single waking hour with my kids for six weeks and counting, I could stand to be away from them for a night. Maybe two. OK, three. But no longer than a four-day weekend.

I jokingly told Heidi that her living arrangement sounded amazing. She laughed. “I totally get that, but being apart from my family has been really, really difficult.”

Heidi video chats with her kids every evening and tries to help with home schooling from afar. She lauds the efforts of her husband, who’s on constant duty keeping the homefront in order while she heads to the frontline. She goes to her house often, standing a healthy distance away in the driveway to watch her daughter spin circles on a bike.

“Stopping by is almost harder because my children want hugs, and I can’t give them,” she said, her voice cracking. “And then I have to leave. Again.”

Heidi has no idea how long she’ll need to stay away, but hopes to start catching up on all those missed hugs at the end of this month.

“Healthcare workers and their families make sacrifices every day,” said Heidi. “We chose our career to help people who need us. You can’t walk away when things get tough.”

Spoken like a true nurse. I thanked Heidi for her selfless service from the comfort of my home.

“I appreciate you saying that, now go hug those kids of yours,” she said, her voice catching again.

“Of course,” I managed to promise over a lump in my throat.

My family is alone, but we’re together. Funny how life’s cosmic energy sends perfectly timed reminders about what matters most. OSM

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