55 Word Stories
UMMC COVID-19 Support
I painted this (8X10”) acrylic on canvas to remind myself that the COVID-19 pandemic is just for a short time. Look around you, the trees are lush green and the flowers are in full bloom. The world around us is still beautiful!
Parminder Vig, Neurology
I wish people knew my patients who are no longer here. A 97 year old woman who just moved to an assisted living center, a 70 year old father who attended a family celebration, a cleaning lady who tidied 55 homes a week to pay for her son’s college tuition. Taken by a nasty virus.
*Susan Lee, MD FACP
There's always hope
Let's put on the mask, put the sanitizer in the backpack, let's take the streets with responsibility. Today is a new day of hope. Look at the sky in the morning and in the afternoon, Mississippi has the best sunrise, and beautiful sunsets. Be ready for the best photos, I always have my camera ready!
Iris Dale, Spanish Interpreter
Thanks to our laboratory animals
Their contribution to research is immeasurable. They help us understand surface proteins, aid in ventilator trials, clarify transmission patterns, and shed light on comorbidities. We are profoundly grateful for their part in understanding this virus, and I think they are most grateful for our daily care.
Andrew Grady, Veterinarian
My new dinner companions
Anyone who says "Eats like a bird" has not witnessed my backyard birds...eat.
April Palmer, Physician
Five months have passed since my son saw his grandparents. His hugs would now wrap all the way around their waist. Pictures don’t do his toothy grins justice. They haven’t seen a video of him saying “pacifically” in every other sentence. His jokes are getting funny. Please wear a mask and stay home. Practice collectivism.
Macrocosms in a Microstory
Covid-19 incessantly envelops the globe in innocuous microscopic droplets. The most stalwart of the front-line personnel are prostrated by the experienced frustration, betrayal, and visceral grief. Covid’s manacles touch every nation without discrimination. Paradoxically exposing fault lines of privilege, prejudice, ego, and inequity. The losses are untenable but our collective embraces transformation with gritty resilience.
*Zahra Bardai, Family Physician
The Search Continues - July 2020
Many new treatments being researched! Convalescent plasma? Vaccines? Monoclonal antibodies against this coronavirus ? Possibilities abound but no answers yet. Is everybody wearing facemasks? Washing hands? Socially distancing? New COVID cases increasing but fewer deaths. What’s next? We keep searching, praying and working together, looking out for one another to beat this – and we will!
Gailen Marshall, Physician Scientist
Searching for Answers
Pandemics demand answers. We researchers search for those answers at the bench, bedside and computer to develop effective treatment and prevention models. Answers must come quickly -people are sick and dying - but must be accurate not just fast. Pray for our stamina, wisdom and, most of all, compassion for those who need us most - you.
The Best Rule I Ever Broke
She was 26 the day of the visit (lifetimes from home) God in her heart body traitorous with cancer held hostage by chemo by pandemic We rolled her through hall down shaft out door: “6 feet and masked!” A mama knows though when a hug’s to be her last We closed our eyes and wept
*Erin FitzGerald, DO
Just because I don?t see the dolphin doesn't mean they are not there. So I wait with no expectations for them to surface. This end of pandemic is like that. It is there, but we just don?t see it yet. Our only option is to wait patiently, isolated, tired, and alone, for it to surface.
*Maureen Hirthler, former CBMH employee
"Sir, could you please put on your mask??" I ask congenially upon entering the room. "I'm not really feeling it," the patient replies with hostility. Insulted, I feel my blood pressure rise. "Stay professional," I think as I begin to reel. Luckily, my own mask and shield disguise my disgust. The next move is mine.
*Sarah Smith, DO
Just Another Day
My gaze shifts to the phone vibrating across my workstation. Twenty buzzes in as many seconds. It teeters on the edge, falls. An eerie glow shines from the floor. Graduation canceled. Residency gone in a whisper. The most benign news this week. I turn back to the images. These lungs were fine three days ago.
*LeeAnn Shannon, Physician
Finally home. I shrink back as socked feet pound towards me. My preschooler yanks her brother to a halt. He squirms, but her eyes widen. Knowing. Maybe she saved him.The shower scalds. I scrub skin raw. Dry. Tiny voices slide beneath the door. "Is it safe to hug you yet?" I hope so.
Human after all
My son was born online. At eleven he has friends with odd names like Cheezpop54353 and zipzagcheerio43. Our bubble needs to expand. Three solid months into pandemic sequestering, "Jaxen, Skylar's family is coming over to swim outside," I offer. His entire body elates and the cogwheels turn making real plans with real people.
*Jean Robey, Physician
My daughter asked for a letter for her time capsule. "Dear Jade, Life goes by..."Admitted a husband short of breath, his wife upstairs. She discharged home but he lingered upside down making no progress. Then the stroke that spoke a thousand words he couldn?t. Three days later comfort care. "fast. Enjoy it. Love, Mom."
I studied his fierce tattoos decorating the sterile COVID room double bunked. He stood guard over an elder roommate. His COVID spiral had descended into a coughing fit Mallory Weiss tear bleed out now anoxic. His wife thinking of other exhibited valor now refusing an MRI that would hold up the machine for hours. Marine.
My throat burns, the dryness of the desert behind my N95 mask, desperately needing water, sustenance, anything but the arid air. My voice is raw from hours and hours of trying to connect with patients through a wall of filters strapped to my face, trying to communicate nuances of emotion and connection.
*Andrea Eisenberg, Physician
Colors, bright and beautiful
My spouse and I survived COVID-19 illness over the same two weeks. Since then, I made colorful paintings, which depict my bright and sparkling post-illness view towards life. I checked off my bucket list by getting published. Having survived in the six feet apart era has paradoxically made me more connected to others, and self.
*Asiya Kabir, Psychiatrist
He was so old and frail, but still sharp as a tack. He had spent the whole summer at the remote lake house with his family. Safe, he thought, from COVID. But it was increasingly hard to breathe. One last cigar, out on the deck, at sunset. CPR by his loving sons could not save him. Another needless death.
*Ann F. Beach, Physician
Scrubs, mask, goggles, hand sanitizer, stethoscope. I feel ready. And for the first time in 41 years of practice, I am afraid. HIV and TB weren?t this scary. But now I am in the over-65 demographic and I feel fragile. Vulnerable. Are all my years of accumulated experience for naught? Will COVID just kill me?
Where is Normal?
Two months at home after a shoulder replacement. I spend the time reading COVID news with mounting horror and disbelief. I return to the pediatric hospital to find floors closed, ICU near-empty, and colleagues distant behind masks and goggles. Favorite nurses on furlough. Planned hires cancelled. Is normal lost forever?
What is Most Important
Before mid-March, life was a blur. Hurry to get my kid to school, speed to work, run to meetings, dash to the parking lot (late) to get to practice, church, games, etc… Then the fear set in and it all stopped. Goal now is to hug my baby and savor the moments.
I am both...
Grateful for employment and hurt for those who lost jobs.
Thankful for health and bewildered by disregard for science.
Appreciative of love and disgusted by hatred and brutality.
A citizen and one who will never fully belong.
Smart enough to know this isn’t all COVID’s fault and naïve enough to hope for better.
Anonymous, Project Manager
The Undivine Comedy
You can treat disease, but not willful ignorance. Conspiracy theorists, toilet paper hoarders, lockdown protestors, and other definitions of The American Idiot plastered newsfeeds. But qualified medical professionals? Silenced by misinformation & denial. All those years devoted to practicing healthcare, reduced to mockery by those you’re trying to save. Is this a pandemic or purgatory?
Chelle Licci, Pharmacy Student - PY4
A COVID Haiku
To search not the treasures of
Bishoy Samuel, Resident Physician
How it feels...
I feel defeated. Workloads are piling up, and friends lost their job yesterday. I feel grateful. I’m healthy, employed, and can still support my family. I’m tired. Each day, more of what’s not been completed the days before piles up a work and at home. I’m hopeful because we will beat this. #UMMCStrong
Opposites in a Pandemic
I am okay with wearing a mask and with social distancing. I can roll with the punches through these changes. But not him. He is angry seeing those with masks. He is angry with the shutdown. He is angry with decisions of government and medical professionals. I am afraid this pandemic may end us.
Crying- a daily thing. Sometimes long; more often quick. Sometimes from a fading memory of our past life, a freedom that’s gone. Not freedom in the political sense, freedom from fear. My family doesn’t understand. I have underlying health conditions. I once learned that tears from grief are healing. If so, I’m making good progress.
Walking to my office through the School of Medicine building, footsteps echo in the emptiness, no signs of human habitation. I am a character in a post-apocalyptic story roaming through the architectural remains of a prior civilization. I long for the return of vital signs and vital sounds to our world.
Ralph Didlake, Academic Administration
On the Lighter Side Because Humor=Medicine
It’s OK with me if the workplace handshake goes the way of the dodo, but what I will not accept is the loss of workplace birthday celebrations or holiday potlucks. Because imagining a work world without the possibility of cake... or holiday desserts… I mean c’mon… is inconceivable! #BringBackCake! I hope this made you smile.
Vickie Skinner, Director
Keep the Faith
When the troubles of life dim our outlook on the future, sometimes it's easy to lose heart and lose hope. We must never forget that God is the God of promises. Stay encouraged and keep your trust in Him.
Finding Courage Through Fear
Covid-19 brings fear to my mind. Health care workers courageously care for the sick.Everyday I pray as I put my scrubs on , that I find the courage to look beyond the fear, and find hope and healing. At home I fear again, but courage will come when the sun rises
Michelle Sheth, Physician
5 things I learnt from COVID-19
Nothing stays the same for ever and the only constant thing in life is change. Never say Never! Covid-19 in 90 days changed the world forever. Always be ready. The Boys Scout anthem is as true today as ever. Begin preparing for the next battle now! Our world is fallen, no matter how developed!
Tobe Momah, Physician
Thanks for Stepping Up?
We were asked to step up, be what UMMC has always been and we did! We stepped out of comfort zones, as we were asked. Overcame fears for self, coworkers and loved ones. Now a new fear - will we lose jobs, will our pay be cut – this is the thanks for stepping up?
Our colony is disturbed, The grist split
By the tiniest of beings.
Our smiles are masked, Critical meetings scuttled
By the tiniest of beings.
We fix our heart's hurt, Shore each other up
With the tiniest of things.
The elbow bumps, The yielding of space, Our care for each other.
The tiniest of things.
Kathleen Glover, Physician
a deep connection
During this season I have witnessed our wonderful providers volunteer selflessly to take additional duties so that other faculty (moms of small children) could balance life's responsibilities (school/childcare). Sweet words of appreciation have flowed among group texts. This served as a reminder of the deep fondness for dear friends and colleagues during a difficult period.
My first grand baby is seven weeks old. I’ve held her twice since COVID started. I took for granted that I would be there for the first everything’s. I’ve missed a lot. Even so, I’m incredibly proud to work for UMMC. I work with the best of the best. They are all heroes.
Kim Maddox, Communications Specialist
Everyone is Affected
In pediatrics we naively thought we would be affected less by COVID than others but that’s not true. We may have a lower census, but our patients are very much affected. They are scared and their comforts have been taken away. No playroom, no hugs shared, no smiles seen under masks—I miss them all.
Hard to understand how a gift can include much tragedy and loss, but I consider this experience a gift to know the value of time and intention. Help me not to forget...
I Threw My Pen Away
Don’t touch the door knob. The gas pump! The groceries are contaminated, clean them. Don’t touch your face. Don’t stand near me. Don’t touch your friend. Don’t touch my pen. Don’t cough. Don’t breathe; I heard a cough. Don’t touch your face. I touched my face. Again.
Outsider Looking In
An outsider looking in; sat in on a COVID-19 Senior Leader meeting. I listening to leaders work through challenges and was completely overwhelmed with emotion and pride at their commitment/creativity/teamwork. They weren’t just solving problems for UMMC. They were solving problems for all of Mississippi. Their battle cry-“We Will Not let Mississippi Down”! #SOPROUD #UMMCSTRONG
Rebecca Keefer, Staff
Suddenly full time employee, homeschooling single mom of two, nowhere to go and nothing to distract. Where is the focus? Now where it is supposed to be; quality time for work and home, revamp of perceptions of importance, and overcoming obstacles. Crisis? Or essential life reevaluation for moving forward?
Cassandra Bailey, Sterile Processing
The meaning of alone time has changed. I'm a bit antisocial. People bug me. I like being alone, or I thought I did. No option to see and hug my dear friends, I’m so much more aware that I need people. Not just need – I want people around me. Maybe I’m not antisocial after all.
In God we "Still" Trust
Life and Death are unstoppable. We either live or die for a reason. Trusting, God is in control comforted my heart. I realized that running away from suffering is not a solution and there is no shortcut to overcome that. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. (exodus 14:14)
Anonymous, Researcher III
I am an Pulmonary RN. Covid is a nightmare for our patients. I felt lots of anxiety at first, wondering what's next? If it were not for the physicians I work with the anxiety would cripple me. However, working for calm, capable MD's and faith help me NOT fear what's next.
Bethany May, RN-BSN
Stop and Smell the Roses
Coming to work in the midst of this COVID-19 palaver, my spirit was down. As I passed through SON walkway, I stopped in admiration of a bird clothed in beautiful plumage. Few steps further, I saw a little troll on the window just dancing away. I was amused. These little creatures sure brightened my day!
Anonymous, Registered Nurse
When will it end
Initial worry, anxiety, fear. Will I or a loved one catch it, die? As time progresses, fear turns into frustration turns into despair. The future is nebulous. The world will never be the same. I just want the old world back.
Anonymous, Administrative Assistant II
Distancing in a Time of Pandemic
Co-parenting is never easy, but COVID-19 has brought a new level of stress and misery to the situation. After an initial quarantine apart for nearly a month, I have now agreed to only see my son every other weekend. Going from 50/50 custody to less than 20/80 is a heavy burden and an unexpected loss.
This Too Shall Pass
Wearing a mask is a necessity. For one hearing-impaired person like me that read lips in a crowded situation, I feel more alone in a much busier world. In the words of my loving grandmother, every hardship makes you stronger. Keep your head up, and remember, "This Too Shall Pass".
Amy Easterling, Epic Analyst
Work from home. Don’t work from home. Shuttle changes=come prepared to walk. Online school. Zoom abuse. Tissue/Paper towel shortage. Clorox/Lysol/Pine-Sol/Sanitizer/Wipes=extinct. Online shopping. Estimated shipping dates are wrong. Customer service=AWOL. Malls closed. Retail therapy=not what it used to be. Curbside. Delivery. Social Distancing. Masks everywhere. Coughing=weird looks from strangers. This is now the new norm.
Anonymous, Data Abstractor
I was blind!
I thought I was gifted with sight, but COVID-19 taught me I was blind. I am losing my best friend to COVID, but gaining insight of myself. Before COVID, I didn’t notice the sun nor the singing bird or a cry; I am grateful that now I do, AND I CARE!
Raymundo Hernandez, Manager
Damage Not Done
I’m looking up, gasping for breath. Shielded, PPE-covered faces all around me. Their eyes exhausted, worried, but determined…. Only this never happened. Doctors take an oath to “do no harm.” All I have to do is work from home. We’ll never know how bad it could have been—for us or for them.
The Dawn of a New Day
The whole world is at a standstill! Chaos in every corner! How much longer shall we endure the grief, the pain, the agony of this hour? Then, I remember, ‘tis the darkest hour of the night that breaks forth into the dawn of a new day. So I cheer up, this too shall pass.
Joy Akanji, Nurse Manager
Cultivating Comfort in the time of COVID19
“When’s dinner?” Eerie nostalgic voices, not desperate but determined. Children back home from college, work, for safe-keeping, satisfying adult self-portraits casting child-like shadows and activating instinctual, mothering comfort scripts. But powerless to comfort my professional family, healthcare Heros, from my fortified sanctuary. Only words on a screen—my admiration and gratitude.
Tanja Bisesi, Wellness Officer and Faculty
Walking through days, and then weeks, and soon months of COVID-19 is physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausting. Why? I can’t put my finger on it. But every day feels like slogging through molasses. And so I nap. And I bake bread. And I dream of the day when I walk freely again.
Hardship and Humor
As an Oncologist, I see sadness and loss every day. One particularly hard day, I rounded on multiple patients dying from cancer who could not be surrounded by all of their family. I am relying on humorous moments such as having my 3-year old and 6-year old help cut Daddy’s hair to brighten these days!
Kelly Wilkinson, Physician
Fear of what’s to come, the unknowns, the uncertainty. Who and what will I lose? Who, what and where will I be on the other side of this? Is there another side? Followed by the warmth of gratitude and beautiful sights surrounding me-altruism, fearlessness, compassion, togetherness, love. The ebb and flow of inspiration and despair.
Kim Barrier, Nurse
Ding. Outlook calendar reminders. I’m a planner; notifications are usually welcome. They’re now relics of a past life. Some are faculty reminders; many are favorite kids’ events; others are appointments. All are cancelled. All matter less now. Family members are frontline providers. They matter. Flatten the curve; then we get back to other matters.
Kayla Abraham, MA, OTR/L
Reflection and New Lens for the Future
Dazed, then it hit me. What have I missed that matters in life? • Talking 10 minutes more to mom, kids, grands, my sister-in-law, & husband • Looking at the sky at night and morning since joy comes in the morning • Saying thank you for a job, food, and shelter • Speaking and smiling to everyone I meet.
Initial models said millions to die. Fear. Lockdowns. Businesses shuttered, furloughs, pay cuts, jobs lost, bankruptcies. Great Depression? Children can't play with friends, can’t go to parks. Birthday parties canceled. No Little League. No prom. No graduation. No church. New data, most cases mild, unrecognized. Fatality risk similar to flu. Overreacted. Oops. Damage done.
Fear of Infecting
Twice I went to bed certain that when I woke, I would be fully symptomatic. Both times, I dreamed of being tested, verified, and despite my best efforts, coming into contact with all vulnerable people I know and love, and thinking of the many favorite patients that I unwittingly exposed to the virus.
Thirty-minute phone calls replace two-hour Sunday dinners. Miss you, Mom, Miss you, Dad. Air kisses from my lawn to their car. No church, no yoga, no concerts. No Saturday nights out. Like the man from Twilight Zone, now that I have all the time in the world, I’m not sure I want it.
Not being able to go home and see my elderly grandmother is so heartbreaking, but knowing I am helping to keep her healthy brings me relief.
Confessions of a Teleworker
I got up after 5 hours on my computer, put on my mask, crept to Chick-Fil-A's drive-thru for a cookies and cream shake (Vitamin D - don't judge), then saw two police cars screaming by as I left the line. Followed briskly from a distance, then lost them. That's my external affair for the day. I'm COVID-free and staying (home) that way.
Light Amidst the Darkness
First – I only saw the darkness COVID-19 brought with it. Anxiety, fear, suffering, isolation, death. Once I accepted the situation for what it is and channeled my energy towards helping others - I saw the growing light… of kindness, support, leadership, community, solidarity. We will emerge out of this – brighter and stronger than ever before!
Rinki Desai, Speech-Language Pathologist
Chik-fil-A Almost Every Day
Finding a way to the next right thing is showing gratitude in times of uncertainty and chaos; truly an attempt-worth feat. The alternative is to lie, if not to let something more important and precious die. Together: patient, doctor, nurse, cafeteria server - we will forever see each other all though more gratitude-filled eyes.
Richard M. Wardrop III, Faculty
Telecommuting. More meetings packed into one day, don’t need time to walk across campus. Some people use cameras, others don’t, so sort of connected with colleagues. Alone, quiet, no hallway conversations, no handshakes, no hugs. There is a face on a screen, but I am alone. We are social creatures something is not right.