Quarantined on the Frontlines


Taken by me

My parents, my dog and I sitting together before my parents go to work.

As of Oct. 13, it will be eight months since the start of quarantine. The thing is, I strongly dislike quarantine. This means I hate it, but morally, I am not allowed to say that. I believe that if I say, “I hate quarantine,” it is the equivalent of saying, “I do not care for the safety and wellbeing of essential workers and other people.” To me, it is very important to respect any and all essential workers, considering that both my parents are nurses; however, quarantining with two nurses who care for patients with COVID-19 makes it feel as if you are also on the frontlines.

My dad wearing a PAPR (Powered Air Purifying Respirator), one of the many precautions taken by nurses when caring for COVID patients. (Richard Gallespen)

Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely not comparing any of the work my parents or any other nurses are doing to me just staying at home. My mom works as an Operating Room (OR) nurse and my dad works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Working as a nurse is a high-demanding job, both physically and mentally, but that goes tenfold during a pandemic.

As the demand for nurses went up during lockdown, my parents were working longer, more frequent shifts. Both my parents made it a goal to always be home for dinner, whether we were eating in the afternoon or late at night. It was then I would ask about their day and promptly be met with the absolute horrors of healthcare. Admittedly, hearing about surgeries while eating dinner was horrible, but at least it would go over my head. Hearing the descriptions of patients with COVID and the effect it has on their families is just disheartening. Knowing that my parents risk that fate by going to work gives me a helpless feeling.

My mom posing by the trauma room sign in the Operating Room. (Maria Gallespen)

I feel as if I am quarantining on the frontlines in the sense that I am isolated, unable to move or leave, as I watch my parents go off and fight. Every time they come back from work, it is like they were just handling an invisible grenade that may or may not explode. My fear is that they will eventually end up bringing the grenade home, the grenade is passed onto me and I become the cause for so much pain- regardless if it only blows up in my face. It would be so upsetting if I had gotten COVID when my parents are working so hard to save others and prevent the spread. I know it is something very unlikely but not impossible. The stress and anxiety I have with thinking how I could be a carrier or have it in general is so tiring. I feel guilty whenever I hang out with friends or go to practice, but I need to get out of the house.

When I am outside my house and with other people, it is like I am walking around the battlefield. I can see what is going on and it is a bit frightening-. When I am in quarantine, it means I am safe and keeping others safe. It also means I am going crazy and alone with my thoughts. Unfortunately, sacrifice is sometimes necessary on the battlefield.
So yes, I do hate quarantine. I hate the uncertainty of it. I hate awkward zoom calls. I hate being alone. The battlefield is so messy and being on the frontlines gives you a direct, but blurry view of the terrors. Though if staying in quarantine means that my loved ones and those around me are happy and healthy, I will gladly do my best to stay safe in this fight.