It's no secret that healthcare workers are being run ragged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports of employees being overworked and dealing with heightened psychological duress are unfortunately all too common. With new restrictions and safety protocols constantly being implemented, longer hours, and throngs of patients either being tested or treated for the coronavirus, it's been an exceptionally rough year for those in the healthcare field.
And while there's no shortage of social media posts and reports that reinforce these statistics, it's 28-year-old Kathryn's "how it started, how it's going meme" that's really driving the point home for a lot of people.
The meme shows her initial staff photo juxtaposed with a selfie she took after working a shift during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She followed up the meme with a tweet thread discussing the love and dedication she has for her job. She discussed the particulars of her career trajectory and day-to-day workflow with BuzzFeed, saying "Some shifts are eerily slow and quiet, while others are 12-plus hours of all-out chaos."
Kathryn graduated from nursing school in May, right around the height of the pandemic.
In her thread, she writes, "I love being a nurse. Didn't exactly expect to be a new nurse in the middle of a highly politicized pandemic but life comes at you fast and even in a pandemic, there's nothing else I want to do. Caring for the sickest of the sick is an honor and I treasure my patients."
For Kathryn, one of the hardest parts of her job is the brutal redundancy of some COVID-19 cases.
I love being a nurse. Didn't exactly expect to be a new nurse in the middle of a highly politicized pandemic but life comes at you fast and even in a pandemic, there's nothing else I want to do. Caring for the sickest of the sick is an honor and I treasure my patients.— kathedrals🇺🇸 (@kathryniveyy) November 23, 2020
It is devastating to watch people die when those deaths were avoidable and it's even more devastating when you watch them die the same way, time after time after time. It's devastating that basic common sense and decency has been politicized.— kathedrals🇺🇸 (@kathryniveyy) November 23, 2020
"It is devastating to watch people die when those deaths were avoidable and it's even more devastating when you watch them die the same way, time after time after time. It's devastating that basic common sense and decency has been politicized. [COVID] is a brutal disease and I wouldn't wish the worst of it on my worst enemy. Please understand that you aren't just protecting yourself, you are protecting the people around you."
Covid is a brutal disease and I wouldn't wish the worst of it on my worst enemy. Please understand that you aren't just protecting yourself, you are protecting the people around you.— kathedrals🇺🇸 (@kathryniveyy) November 23, 2020
As for what inspired her to take the selfie, she told the outlet that she wanted to show folks what wearing a mask and face shield for an entire shift while caring for patients all day did to her, "...I was struck by how exhausted I looked. I was drenched in sweat, my hair sticking straight up from the mask and face shield. The grooves left by the PPE on my face were deep and red, and I remember thinking that the reality of being a nurse was nothing like the ideas people seem to have of nurses in their heads, of cleanly pressed scrubs or white uniforms."
She doubled down on stating she wanted to share the effect the pandemic's had on humanity in an attempt to cut down on the politicizing of the virus, "I just wanted people to see what it's really like to take care of the patients that are at the heart of the pandemic that has somehow become a political flashpoint."
It didn't take long for other healthcare workers to share their own "how it started, how it's going memes", with many other people praising the nurse for being so candid about the effects of working such long hours in stringent conditions, no matter how unflattering the uploaded end result was.
Isn’t that what nurses do? Take care of sick people? Did you not know this going in? Or were you hoping to land a doctor for a husband? Try being a teacher these days...— ✌🏼❤️🙂 (@cmiller627) November 23, 2020
Wow . Though many are uplifting some of the tweets I’ve read bear the most hateful, the most cruel energy and emotions I’ve seen . You know who you are . Nurses are human . They have the hardest as well as the doctors. Where did the humanity go?— Kaeli AKA JoJo the Tenno🇨🇦 (@jojoten0) November 25, 2020
Kathryn went on to say that she's been overwhelmed by the response to her post and that she was "touched to the bottom of [her] heart by all those who have expressed their thanks and gratitude for healthcare workers."
She added that the significance of other healthcare workers sharing their own personal stories shows just how many individuals the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted.
Can I just say something #1 I appreciate you and coworkers across America and beyond stay safe and protect yourself and #2 Can you please help me out with this WHY do the American People don't take this Virus seriously because it Bad in East Texas.— Randy Haskins (@MOJ08) November 23, 2020
May God bless you and protect you. My husband (respiratory therapist) had that same expressionless stare and bruised face for all of April and half of May (they ran out of vents April 1st). He worked 85 hrs of OT in April. Be kind to yourself; PTSD is real. 💕 pic.twitter.com/xssbSIOOuj— Nancy Ceccon (@catzenkid) November 22, 2020
She added, "...already we are starting to recognize in each other a certain look you get after long enough in the unit. Something about the eyes. We've seen things that we can never forget."
The human toll of being a nurse working in a rampant pandemic is written on your face. Thank you for your patient care. Please take care of yourself. It is such an impossible time for you and your colleagues. If I could give you strength I would.— Barbara Malmet (@B52Malmet) November 23, 2020
The best way to prevent contracting or spreading coronavirus is with thorough hand washing, social distancing, and wearing a mask or cloth facial covering. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, which include persistent cough (usually dry), fever, shortness of breath, and fatigue, please call your doctor before going to get tested. For comprehensive resources and updates, visit the CDC website. If you are experiencing anxiety about the virus, seek out mental health support from your provider or visit NAMI.org.