The uncertainty of our days
The walls, they were closing in around me, like a beating heart with vessels of paint and plaster. I could feel the vibrations of the maniacal beings throb in my head, lighting a fire to my madness. I stifled the scream building in the pit of my stomach. This was not the place to release my insanity. I would not allow the bile its freedom or give voice to the frightening images scurrying around the caverns of my mind. They would carry me away to a far worse place, a place where the walls actually conversed with their hostages. The pit, as they called it, was a far more dangerous place. My survival instincts kicked in and I bolted from the room in terror, knowing I would be required to return at some point.
I lapped at the air the larger space allowed. I could feel the sweat pouring from every gland. The droplets had a texture and their coolness coaxed me back to reality. For a moment, I sat on the brink, ready to give into my insanity. My eyes burned from the salty tears that threatened to blind me. Ripping at my glasses I tossed them into the paper bag in my pocket. I wiped haphazardly at my eyes with the back of my hand fighting to see potential witnesses to my mania. I was alone in my new space. Thoughts of the happenings beyond the threshold of the room I had just exited delivered a rousing bout of nausea. I steadied and chastised myself in the same breath. This one simple action provided the strength to move on and pocket my madness.
I busied myself with other tasks of importance. I needed time to calm myself, but every wall that I passed, seem to echo their sentiments of entrapment. They lived and breathed in my mind like characters from some scary tale. The bumpy surfaced concrete resembled the ogres that had terrified me as a child. I envisioned the swamp monsters of late night television crawling forward and pulling me under. The pictures that hung idly on the walls, with their familiar faces, screamed at me to run and hide. My heart raced from the endorphins flowing through my veins. I planted my feet firmly on the ground in my determination to battle the lunacy invading me.
I had never noted myself to be psychotic. Never had I given into flights of fancy. I was unaware of any genetic mental health issues. My illusions were usually grounded in reality. I was at a loss to explain my current instability. I couldn’t deny the sense of panic coursing through the fibers of my soul. The hallucinations were building up around me with clouds of some impending doom. They lurked at a distance in their foreboding.
One word, horrific and appalling in its nature, traveled on a carousel of painted ponies circling in my head. The mechanical song that whispered at me was repeated over and over again. Pandemic, was the sickly tune that tolled its bell in my ear.
I had diagnosed my temporary insanity. I had seen plenty of it before in another place and time. They call it post traumatic stress disorder, and it can rear its ugly head at any time. I worried that it would send me running again. My dementia could cause the illusions to return or the walls with their fleshy membranes to claw at me as before. If I allowed myself, I could picture the drops of bodily fluids fly through the air, dispersed in their watery and sinewy form. I could feel the watery mixture of snot and sputum, dance like raindrops on the windshield, as they crashed against my mask and goggles. Repeatedly, he had coughed his hacking and sickly cough, insulting me with his airborne secretions. Fears of quarantine sent shivers down my spine. I refused to let my mind tread water past thoughts of quarantine. The virus lives in a dark and dismal land of the unknown. Covid, the beast of our nightmares, resides in the badlands and I wish not to entertain it.
I stepped to the sink and washed my hands, from my fingers to my elbows. It was a task of normalcy in these days of terror. I pulled on my latex-free gloves, doubling up for good measure. I donned the paper mask and the yellow plastic gown. My goggles were sanitized and readied for use. I drew in a deep and fast breath of fresh air. I entered the same room that had so frightened me earlier with my returning sense of commitment. I am a nurse and I have a job to do. Insanity and panic have no place in my world.
I enter the same room as I had a short time earlier. It is the same room that gave voice to my angst. I inform the patient of my reason for the visit. There are vital signs to be reviewed. His temperature is currently 101.1 and gives me a frightening piece to the puzzle. My quivering begins anew, but it is new normal in the virus infested world. The enemy we fight is masked with invisibility The germs are random in their quest for the new host. I implore the man to cover his mouth when he coughs. In his sickness, he pays no heed to my request.
I had to remind myself that being in this room was better than the pit. That was the place where all of the exhausted and overworked medical personnel catnapped. Here in their dreams of slumber, they unlocked the voices of their daily fears and the monsters in their heads were real.
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