COVID cases are rising all over the country, and one of the hardest-hit spots is El Paso, Texas. A nurse named Ashley, who goes by @TheBlondeRN on Twitter, recently shared a thread about her experience in a COVID unit in El Paso, specifically with one patient who denied the seriousness of the COVID crisis, even as he struggled to recover in the hospital.
Ashley writes that she usually doesn't talk to patients about what she's seeing broadly or how bad things are, but something in her snapped, and she just had to make this man see how bad COVID is. In her thread, she explains that she resigned from her job last week. She doesn't have a single "breaking point," but this experience was one of them.
On my last shift I had a very eye opening experience. El Paso was in the middle of its hardest hit time with covid hospitalizations and cases. I was working in covid ICU and at the time checking finger stick blood glucose levels on the entire unit, about 25 patients 2/— Ashley in the OR😷 (@TheBlondeRN) November 16, 2020
One of my last rooms to go into the patient was awake and alert. He was being transferred to a lower level of care in the next hour or so. The news was on, El Paso in the national headlines again for needing more freezer truck morgues. The patient makes small talk. 3/— Ashley in the OR😷 (@TheBlondeRN) November 16, 2020
He mentions hating “fake news”. He says, “I don’t think covids is really more than a flu.“ I clarified, “Now you think differently though?”— Ashley in the OR😷 (@TheBlondeRN) November 16, 2020
He replies, “No the same. I should just take vitamins for my immune system. They (news) are making it a big deal.”
I’m shocked. 4/
Even though he was in the hospital, even though he saw on the news horrifying stories of freezer trucks being ordered because morgues were running out of room for bodies, this man still believed that COVID wasn't any more serious than a flu.
He thought the news was blowing it out of proportion and that if he'd just taken more vitamins, he wouldn't have ended up in the hospital. Ashley just couldn't believe what she was hearing.
I’m at a loss for words. Here I am basically wrapped in tarp, here he is in a Covid ICU. How can you deny the validity of covid? How is this possible? Misinformation is literally killing people in mass, I think to myself. 5/— Ashley in the OR😷 (@TheBlondeRN) November 16, 2020
Typically as a nurse we usually put on a face. We don’t tell our patients another patient just died. We don’t tell them what we just saw. We walk in to care for that patient as they are. We give them our full unbiased care.— Ashley in the OR😷 (@TheBlondeRN) November 16, 2020
I make a choice. Something I’ve never done. I say, 6/
Nurses are so strong, and Ashley usually puts on a stoic face when dealing with patients. She doesn't often break down in front of them or talk to them about what she's seeing. But the fact that this patient was so mired in misinformation just broke her, and she felt like she had to say something.
“To be honest this is my last shift. You’re the only patient of 25 that has been able to speak to me today or is even aware I’m here.”— Ashley in the OR😷 (@TheBlondeRN) November 16, 2020
He’s surprised but doubtful and asks if other people are doing as well as him. I tell him I’ve never seen so many people SO very sick. 7/
“Really?” He asks if a lot of people have died.— Ashley in the OR😷 (@TheBlondeRN) November 16, 2020
I’m brutally honest. I tell him in 10 years of being a nurse I’ve done more CPR and seen more people die in the last 2 weeks than I have in my entire career combined. 8/
Ashley gets extremely honest with her patient, telling him that she has seen more deaths in the last few weeks than she has in an entire career. She has to tell him that he's the only patient she has who seems to be getting better and even knows that she's there.
It is only at this point that her patient seems to start to understand that COVID isn't just a flu. It's so much worse than that.
His tone changes, he seems to have understood the gravity of what I’m saying. He apologizes.— Ashley in the OR😷 (@TheBlondeRN) November 16, 2020
I cry. The hot tears roll down my face from under my glasses, onto my mask, my respirator, from under my face shield and onto my gown. I apologize for tearing up and compose myself 9/
A few hours later I had the opportunity to transfer him in a wheelchair to a lower level of care, a medical COVID floor. He sees the other patients in the ICU as we are leaving. We arrive to to the floor and I’m waiting to give report to the nurse 10/— Ashley in the OR😷 (@TheBlondeRN) November 16, 2020
He says one more thing, “Thank you for telling me what you told me. Thank you for being a good nurse and about me. I saw a lot of the other ones when you were wheeling me out of ICU. It’s much more than a flu, I was mistaken.” 11/— Ashley in the OR😷 (@TheBlondeRN) November 16, 2020
Ashley actually changed this man's mind. So many people have been so deeply poisoned by misinformation that getting through to them can feel hopeless. It took this man being in the hospital and being willing to listen to the firsthand testimony of a nurse on the frontlines in order to believe it.
Ashley ends the thread by saying that she thanked the man for listening to her and told him she hopes he recovers fully. He said, "I will tell everyone that denies how bad this is about my experiences."
This isn't the first instance of a nurse dealing with patients who don't believe in the virus that they are suffering from. Recently, a nurse in South Dakota, Jodi Doering, shared her experience in a viral thread. She has treated several patients who don't believe that they could possibly have COVID, even as they're dying from it.