Life Amid the Pandemic: A Permanent Transition

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Original story posted on: May 29, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: This essay by Denise Coleman is in response to a recent Saturday Morning Post column written by Rose Dunn.

I am now working for home – permanently. Our health system decided that 600-plus of us could continue to work from home. We had been home since March 13, when Nevada went into lockdown.

Now, we have been going back into the office with masks on and cleaning out our desks, taking down our pictures, and gathering up the supplies we need “in order to have everything at home” like we do at work. Computers, reference manuals, paper stackers, etc. I really wanted my desk chair, but I was told that had to stay. I see that my workspace was already claimed by a person whose name is on a pink sticky note on the wall – just waiting for me to vacate. 

I am a professed introvert. We nurses fought for the chance to work from home about four years ago, and we have been doing that 50 percent of the time: two days from home and two from the office. So, why is this professed introvert having such a hard time with this “YOU WILL WORK FROM HOME PERMANENTLY” commandment?  

I found out that I really miss my work friends, and the freedom to work from home when I want to! I miss the interaction with Maria in the bistro, who talked with all of us at breakfast and lunch. I miss walking around and seeing different faces and hearing different languages and accents. I miss the stories and laughter I shared with my coworkers...all those old nurse war stories, and all the new information one of us had heard or read about and shared. I miss hearing the stories about everyone else’s kids and grandkids. I miss my morning Sirius XM radio program that fed my soul when I drove the five miles to and from work. 

Mostly, I realized that my identity was found in my job. As the mother of six grown children, five of whom have flown the nest; grandmother to 12 (boys outnumber the girls, nine to three); the wife of a husband who works 36 hours a week (three 12-hour shifts) at the VA hospital as a respiratory therapist; the daughter of 82-year-old parents who live 70 miles away and I only can see them on Zoom or FaceTime; and the oldest sister to three other siblings who we also see only on  Zoom and FaceTime – I have other identities. Now, I have more time to nurture these identities, and nurture myself. 

Although I am tired of my coworker, Maizie the dog, who just sleeps on the job all day.

Denise Coleman, LPN

Denise Coleman studied practical nursing and graduated from Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Neb. in 1979. She has three years of study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in various subjects. Denise currently works as a clinical chart auditor, and her main focus is Recovery Audit Contractor (RAC) response, targeted probe-and-educate (TPE) audits, and any other denials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) – she argues appeals before administrative law judges (ALJs). Her logical and methodical arguments make her husband crazy.

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