Doug Bender: You are a nurse practitioner. How has your work or work environment changed since the pandemic took hold?
Holly Bly: When the pandemic first reached the Western New York area, it was an uncertain and scary time. My colleagues and I have not dealt with something like this before and new information about the virus was coming out daily. We saw a shift of people coming into the hospital for cough, fever or shortness of breath. We also are currently not having any family members come into the hospital for that same reason. That has been one of the hardest things to deal with. Sometimes we have patients die without their family members by their side and it breaks my heart.
DB: On behalf of all our readers, let me just send you a big and heartfelt thanks for serving people in need right now. What inspired you to head into nursing?
HB: I believe we are all on this Earth to love our brothers and sisters. I feel a lot of people in the healthcare field also feel this way, which makes it easy to gravitate towards this profession. You realize at the end of the day what truly matters. Although I have always been a religious person and have had a close walk with God, working in this profession has strengthened my relationship with the Lord. Taking care of people at their lowest points in life reminds me how precious life is. Diagnosing end stage diseases, having the tough conversations with a family member that their loved one is dying, or being able to share good news that someone has been treated for an illness; these things have taught me how we need to make the most of our short time here on earth.
DB: Your hospital, like so many others, has struggled at times to equip their workers with proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). What was it like for you when you first realized you'd be stepping into a work environment where you would be at an increased risk of exposure?
HB: I remember the very first day we started to see a surge of patients suddenly coming into the hospital to get evaluated for a cough, fever and shortness of breath. We were not prepared for what was ahead at that time. And I was definitely scared, mainly of the unknown. How would this virus impact our health? How quickly would it spread? Are we going to be protected enough? There were so many thoughts running through my head. And sometimes those thoughts still run across my mind.
But I remember taking a deep breath and praying for peace, guidance and faith. The hardest life situations I have experienced have always brought me closer to God. And what a difference it is having God on your side! My anxiety was at ease with the reassurance that God always has a plan, even though we may not understand it at the time. I always send him a quick prayer before entering a patient's room so he can help guide me and keep me focused.
DB: There's a lot of people struggling to keep anxiety and darker thoughts at bay in these times. What have you learned about facing anxiety through all this?
HB: Just the other night we had to call a mother to tell her that her son had died due to complications of the virus. Telling that news never gets any easier. Even though we are utilizing PPE, the staff at the hospital are putting themselves at risk everyday to take care of some of the sickest patients we have seen. This can be disheartening to say the least.
But this is a trying time that we will get through - God has brought us on this Earth together at this time for a reason. Reach out to the friend who lost their job and has to now homeschool their kids, check in on your elderly neighbor, send a thank you to the housekeeper at the hospital responsible for cleaning the patients' rooms. And if you feel depressed, anxious, or scared-please reach out to someone!
DB: Has this affected your family as well? What has helped you and your family cope in this time?
HB: I am very close with my family. But not being able to see my family as I would like has actually strengthened our relationship. We all realize, especially now, how precious our time is that we get to spend together. I call my family everyday and FaceTime them whenever I can. Not being able to see my grandparents has been hard, but we will sometimes drop off groceries at their doorstep as a surprise. Finding little ways to surprise the family has been a fun way to keep us entertained and gives us a sense of togetherness.
DB: Is there a quote from the Bible that has been especially helpful for you during all this?
HB: Throughout the Bible, we read of the miraculous stories of Jesus healing others. These were people who needed it most - whether it was a physical or spiritual healing. Two verses I carry with me in my everyday work really help me: "My brothers and sisters, you were chosen to be free. But don’t use your freedom as an excuse to live in sin. Instead, serve one another in love.(Galatians 5:13)” and also "But be sure to have respect for the Lord. Serve him faithfully. Do it with all your heart. Think about the great things he has done for you (1 Samuel 12:24)".
When you think of all Christ has sacrificed for us, this verse is an important daily reminder for me that, even when the distractions of life tell us that times are tough and the future is unknown, our greatest purpose here on earth is to serve our Lord and to serve others.
If you’d like to learn how you can live Second and experience the kind of peace that Holly describes in her story, check out more stories like hers. You can also check out iamsecond.com/livesecond. There you will discover what it means to be Second, have a chance to talk with someone live, or download practical resources to help you live Second.