Three days after I stopped coughing,
I got dressed to leave the house.
Put on my oldest sneakers
Certain they'd be burned at the end of the night
Along with every other surface exposed to the virus.
Your scrubs are inside out,
My wife said.
Prepared with full battle regalia:
Bonnet, face shield, N95 with another outer mask
Goretex suit, shoe covers, two pairs of gloves
All hopes pinned on extra layers of skin
Keeping bad things out and good things in.
Don't take your gear off under any circumstances,
I instructed my team.
We spent 13 hours afraid to drink water.
Sweat soaked, I stepped into rooms
To get phone numbers, call loved ones
Yellow gowns, blue tarps, red blood
Are all I see of those first shifts.
We remember not knowing how this will end
And we don't want to go back.
My heart races with every mention of a surge -
There are two things I tell all my patients:
It gets a little worse before it gets better,
And your wounds heal from the inside out.
By Carmen Fong