Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog for Ashley’s Anatomy. If you’re searching for 2020 content you won’t find much. The worst thing that could happen to a person that makes a living from treating patients with deadly respiratory viruses happened. So, here’s a short recap for the first blog of 2021.
2020 began with me landing a great position as a Registered Respiratory Therapist at one of my dream hospitals. This was a huge milestone for me because I was unable to work the previous year due to my frequent hospital admissions. I started my new job in January. It took some time to adjust to working 12-hour shifts again, but it felt good to be back in my career and doing something that I love. Being a patient myself, I make sure to give the patients I treat the utmost care and respect because I know all too well how it feels to be on the opposite end. I struggled with the physical aspect of the job; my assignments included a lot of walking, but I knew the hardest part would be getting through orientation.
Finally, orientation ended and that meant I would be treating patients alone and allowed to work at my own pace. Life was good and I’d been on my own for less than a month and my managers began to give RT’s protocols for treating coronavirus patients in isolation rooms. Pretty soon N95 masks were disappearing along with the personal protective equipment (PPE). I went home and Covid-19 warnings blasted on every major news station. In a matter of seconds, we’d gone from an epidemic to a global pandemic.
A lot of people outside of patients with chronic conditions aren’t familiar with who Respiratory Therapists (RT’s) are and exactly what they do. I’m always happy to inform people that if you watch Grey’s Anatomy or any medical show, the RT is the person at the head of the patient’s bed bagging and making sure they’re breathing. RT’s treat patients who have respiratory and heart-related issues. This means that they are a vital part of the care team for covid-19 positive patients. It became very clear quickly that working as a therapist wasn’t wise for a person like myself who is immunocompromised. My doctor agreed too. My line of work became a hazard to my health and wellbeing. So, what did I do? I quit.
I’m no stranger to isolation or limited social interactions. I experienced a quarantine life before the Covid-19 pandemic. The effects of pandemic living still blindsided me. I was scared out of my mind about a Covid-19 infection. The fact that I’d seen firsthand as a healthcare provider what a respiratory virus could do, only aided in how serious I took this virus. I remember going weeks without leaving my house. I left all my social media accounts, dropped my paid collaborations, and essentially disappeared from the world. All I could think about is that normal people who didn’t have autoimmune diseases were dying from Covid-19. I could only imagine the type of damage it would do to my immunocompromised ass. Seriously.
I lived in a constant state of fear. I was also mad. Mad because I couldn’t do a job that I loved because of circumstances that were beyond my control. Mad that I couldn’t enjoy the hookah bars and brunch spots with the girls. I wasn’t in control of anything. So, what did I do? I stepped away.
I stepped outside of myself to find healthy ways of coping with these emotions. I realized that my feelings were valid. I’m allowed to feel sad about losing a job. I’m allowed to feel anxious about going into public spaces during a pandemic. I can stress about not having the income to pay my bills. It’s okay to feel these things and acknowledge them, but I no longer allow them to consume me. I created a little list of strategies I used to climb out of my sadness and maintain my sanity during a pandemic 9 Tips to Remain Sane During a Pandemic. If you’re interested in finding out how I managed to rise above those circumstances check it out.
2020 was a curveball but it did have some positives. Although I lost my job, I was able to receive assistance from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD®). NORD is a patient advocacy organization dedicated to people with rare diseases. This organization launched a Financial Assistance Program for Rare Diseases in April of 2020. The COVID-19 Critical Relief Program made it possible for me to catch up on some overdue bills including my rent. I can’t begin to express how thankful I am for their help. If you’d like to support NORD’s mission head over to Donate to NORD. If you also live with a rare disease and want to know more about assistance from NORD visit NORD’s Financial Assistance Program. I’m so grateful that organizations like this exist to advocate and assist people like myself that live with rare conditions. Thank you so much NORD!
I also became a business owner at the end of 2020. I spent months cultivating and planning my very own candle business and Ashtrology Candles is the result. I find candle-making very therapeutic. It takes me back to my favorite days in the chemistry lab. Candle-making is kind of like science when you think about it. You’re required to measure, calculate, read temperatures, mix, etc. The outcome is a beautiful-smelling candle that you can share. I love it! My candle business is my job right now and I enjoy doing it. Please support my small black-owned business by purchasing a candle. I appreciate it! Use the discount code ASHTROLOGY10 for 10% off your purchase. Shop here
If I were to use a quote to describe my 2020 experience it would be:
“I was served lemons, but I made lemonade”
Literally. I didn’t write about my experience because I was too busy surviving it. I’m ready to share and hopefully, I can help someone out there going through the same situations. Thank you to all the concerned friends that have reached out. This year will be amazing! I’m wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2021!