Every time I finish a shift at work, a new timer gets set.
Over. And over. And over again.
I wish it would stop. But I have no idea when it will. Or if it ever will. When time will finally stop relying on timers and, you know, just start MOVING again.
The most bothersome aspect of it all is the fact the amount of time set is unknown. No matter how badly I want to know the remaining time of each timer, I never will.
Because these timers are set with the amount of time I have left before I start presenting symptoms of COVID-19.
And very time I work, a new timer is set. Because every time I work, I run the risk of getting infected.
Over. And over. And over again.
And until I can know for certainty those timers have expired, indicating the end of worry and concern for my well-being, and my loved ones well-being, my mind will never be completely at ease.
Until this pandemic comes to an end.
Many of the same questions run through my head repeatedly. But not out of panic. More out of a morbid curiosity.
Did I become infected today? Did I not? So is my new timer set to zero, or is it set for 2 days? Or 5? Or 14? Or 30?
What could my symptoms be? A slight sore throat? Fever? Muscle aches? Loss of smell? Shortness of breath? Or absolutely nothing distinguishable from every day allergies?
Or no symptoms whatsoever and still healthy as an Indian ox? So am I immune or am I not?
And if I keep going without showing symptoms, will I start developing a false sense of security, only to have one of those timers expire and ring nonstop, mercilessly, and suddenly fall pray to the disease that has taken the lives of so many people, including those my own age?
My friends, colleagues, and fellow healthcare workers all across the city may not describe their thoughts in the same way I do, but those thoughts weigh heavy.
And to add to those worries, many get to go home and worry about the amount of time that may now be set on that day's timer for their spouse. Or child. Or parent. Or sibling.
And unfortunately, even though we want to cheer a one day decrease in the number of new COVID-19 cases, that peace of mind we all seek is not going to come anytime soon.
All these thoughts re-entered my mind three days earlier than expected.
A friend and colleague of mine told me this morning he had symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Which meant he would not be able to come back to work until a certain amount of time had passed. And so, I volunteered to take his shift.
And a new timer for me has been set.
His significant other tested positive for COVID-19 and she takes care of those patients as well. And so they had timers set every day while at work. And set timers for one another as well.
The CDC states home isolation (but not social distancing or good hygiene practices) can end when the following conditions are met: 1. No fever for at least 72 hours without aid of medicine 2. Symptoms improving 3. At least 7 days since symptoms first began
So for my colleague, a new timer was set, but this time for when conditions 1-3 are all met. But then there still is the question of when another timer will expire and his risk of infecting anyone else goes to zero.
These timers have taken control of our life.
But we need to believe these timers WILL expire.
When the timer expires on this quarantine.
When the timer expires and we can congregate safely and hug our loved ones without fear. And have a margarita or ten.
When the timer expires and we can retake control of our life.
When the timer expires so we can return to a time that moves continually forward.
When the timer will be a thing of the past.
And I just hope the timer of my life, or the one of a loved one, does not expire first.