If you’re an OG reader, you remember a time when I referred to my husband as My Main Squeeze. After our wedding–nearly 7 years ago!–he got an upgrade to The Hubster.
I did this mainly to protect him from my entertaining wit and marketing shenanigans around these parts. He has one of those proper, button-up jobs. I felt very protective over him too, it’s one thing for me to run a copywriting business that encourages dropping F-bombs or maybe even participate in a lip sync battle in my IG Stories; it’s another to drag him into the fray with my antics.
Giving him a pseudonym provided anonymity.
Humanity gets lost in anonymity though.
As we watched the death count slowly tick up, then rapidly pick up at a heartbreaking pace, it’s important, vitally important, to know there are names and faces behind these numbers.
Names behind the lives lost.
Names behind the bravery.
Names behind those heading in when others are staying home.
The Hubster is an ER physician in the last few months of his residency. We certainly didn’t imagine the glorious end to 13+ years of hard work would look like this. In the final months, we were supposed to be celebrating and packing our home to move. A hard-fought move; one that brought about equal parts panic and excitement.
A move I had already written about to be published on here. A move that may be delayed or on hold, like the rest of our lives.
It all seems so trivial now, even if my heart pangs a bit thinking back to our light and fun celebration as the job offers for after residency started rolling in. That little notch in my gut yearns for the innocence of not knowing what the next few months would look like for us. We were robbed in so many ways.
Including not being given the proper time to grieve over seemingly inconsequential things.
Over the course of a few frantic days that turned into weeks, The Hubster went from typical 10-12 hour shifts in an emergency room to epitomizing the phrase, “All hands on deck.”
Non-stop conference calls lasting all morning and afternoon on his days off.
Hours spent sourcing PPE for himself and fellow residents.
Late nights reviewing the latest statistics and how that may impact his hospital.
Unending changes to procedures, shifts and scheduling.
A constant barrage of calls, texts, group chats and emails from worried residents looking for some semblance of structure or comfort.
And then he went into work.
For the last month, I started a new tradition where I watch him leave for shifts from the front door and wave as he pulls away. Some days are harder than others. But every day I feel like I’m watching him go into battle with an invisible, cruel, ruthless enemy.
If there’s anything I want you to take away from reading this, it’s to believe things that may be hard to understand. No matter how hard that reality may be to wrap your heart around. No matter how much you want to stick your head in the sand. No matter if the truth is a sick certainty.
When you doubt what doctors and scientists are seeing, when you question what they are saying, you are carelessly telling them what they’re experiencing isn’t accurate. It’s a futile mission created simply to comfort your own mind during this uncomfortable time.
The Hubster was meant for the Emergency Medicine specialty. His cool-as-a-cucumber mentality is the one you want with you in the stark, sterile confines of an ER. The guy who puts his head down, mitigates trauma and rallies the troops. As much as I don’t want him there right now, I know he’s the person you want by your side.
There are a few patients over the course of the last 4 years that The Hubster will never forget; some who have impacted him so much he’s even gone to their funerals, a cruel by-product of choosing emergency medicine.
When he speaks about his patients, he does so with a slow, methodical and clinical cadence. He doesn’t mention them by name, but will walk through what he did for them and how it helped.
In the early stages of this pandemic, he spoke to me about a woman who needed to be intubated. Her lungs had become so cruelly squeezed by COVID-19 that not even the oxygen given to her was helping. She needed to have a machine breathe for her in the hopes of saving her life. They needed to give her lungs a fighting chance to battle the vicious virus and hopefully someday breathe on her own again.
Intubating patients is an uncompromising procedure with little room for negotiation.
Patients need to be sedated. It can be a frightening process for those of us not in healthcare and lacking the ability to whip out medicine acronyms with abandon.
She was nervous and painfully alone. Families are not allowed in hospitals.
She asked my husband to hold her hand after he discussed the need for her to be intubated and how it would work. They talked for a while about their lives, sharing different stories, in an attempt to make her comfortable, my husband holding her hand the whole time.
She was successfully intubated that afternoon, eased into a slumber, allowing her body to give a fighting chance.
He came home and told me how he desperately hoped his face wasn’t the last face she ever sees.
I asked him to tell me her name so I could think about her, take care of her family in my heart. For weeks, I’d ask how she was doing and he’d dutifully check on her when he was at the hospital.
He seemed cautiously hopeful.
She seemed to be getting a bit better, a fickle side-effect of a merciless disease.
He opened her chart at home one evening on a day off, wanting to check on her.
She had died earlier that day.
To her loved ones, her name was Auntie.
His name is Tom.
I’m forever mindful that the verbs in those sentences are different.