Wife of a Respiratory Therapist :: COVID-19 Edition

What in God’s name is a Respiratory Therapist (RT)? Simply stated, they are medical professionals who specialize in providing healthcare for your lungs. They are not techs – do not make the mistake of calling them techs (you can thank me later). They are therapists with bachelor’s, masters, and/or associates degrees and can specialize in a load of different things while holding advanced certifications in life saving techniques.

My husband is a Registered Respiratory Therapist here in Baton Rouge. That fact never brought fear to my heart in the past. He works night shifts primarily in the ER at a major hospital, so the worst thing I could think of happening to him was maybe a patient attempted to attack him. I couldn’t think of anything truly life-altering happening – I mean I am not the terrified wife of a police officer or firefighter or a military wife… I’m the wife of a man that loves learning medicine and truly cares about correct and thorough patient care.

As this virus started coming into the picture, he and his colleagues had a feeling of how monumental this would be. I’m here thinking it was the media pumping this up – not actually believing something would cross the ocean into our safe USA and as the youngins say: “nothing ever happens to me here in #Merica”… Then it felt like this huge shift has happened so fast. Even though we have technically known about this virus since November/December 2019 when it was an epidemic, which is defined as a disease that affects a bunch of people suddenly, has now become a pandemic which means it is affecting the whole world. Should we have been more prepared? What happens if we don’t act fast now?

I feel like this past weekend marked the first three days of this virus making its mark in Baton Rouge. It has been in New Orleans a bit longer and longer still throughout the country and world. After working a 12+ hour night shift, my husband, who usually is excited to talk about how he nailed an art line, intubated, got his hands inside someone’s chest to massage their heart, or dealt with lung mucus, instead came home exhausted. Instead of coming home to tell me about his night – as if I had a Ph.D. in more than just being his wife – he brought the sobering message that he will be volunteering to work in the new COVID unit and we need to talk about how our son should leave our home. As a Respiratory Therapist, he is at high risk of being infected and by turn so are we, and we cannot put our child in danger. Yes, from what we understand so far, this doesn’t affect kids the way it affects immunocompromised or older adults, but the little nugget can easily become a carrier and that’s too much of a risk.

This morning I wept as I packed his clothes, toys, board games, books, costumes, snacks. I wept at the thought of not knowing when it will be safe for him to return home. I wept knowing my husband is so dedicated and determined to care for his patients that he volunteered his time to work the next fifteen nights consecutively and volunteered to help on nights for the foreseeable future. It was no surprise to me he wanted to do his part to help with this pandemic. I wept at the thought of the people in our community that do not understand the sacrifices that our hospitals are making for their patients – FOR US! Countless sacrifices from the Doctors, to RTs, nurses, the environment staff, security guards, administration, CDC, World Health Organization, local government, and other staff that are behind the scenes doing everything they can do help – it is taking a village!

Let’s ask ourselves as informed adults – what are we doing to help?

Are we panic buying out all the supplies like masks that our hospitals need to be able to care for our family members in a safe way? Are we practicing prudent and authentic social distancing to stop the spread of this catastrophic virus? Are we taking this seriously at all?

We had to make the informed and excruciating decision to send our child away since my husband is at high risk of contracting due to the nature of his work. I do not know when things will be normal again and when our family can be home together again. It rips me to shreds to think about what my family and other medical families are sacrificing to protect everyone from this rapid moving pandemic. I ache to my core when I think about families throughout the world that have lost their loved ones and it could have been minimized by something as simple as hand washing and social distancing. It is not just us; all medical staff must take precautions for their children and family members as we did today. When you go to bed tonight, think of our local hospitals who are filled to the brim and working to exhaustion to save our neighbors, families, and friends …all while completing the usual day to day hospital tasks.

What if the decision people are making to go on a cheap vacation spreads this virus to thousands? I believe we truly do not have the resources or proper understanding of what hospitals are going through right now. This is a new virus and uncharted territory for everyone involved.

To give you an idea of the lengths medical staff must go through to stay safe, my husband shared with me that before entering each room, he has to put on protective clothing, a special mask, and goggles. This is a time-consuming process. Waiting for the positive or negative test result is a time-consuming process that can take days. Having to change out of the protective gear, clean the goggles in a special solution, discard the mask, getting new gear and a new mask to go into the next patient’s room is time-consuming, all without contaminating his own clothes and equipment around him. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

He will do this night after night.

He will make the sacrifices needed to care for his patients and slow this pandemic.

This is real.

This is happening in our backyard and around the world.

I am the wife of a man, who is one of many trying to spread the message of proper health and safety to protect the public in our town, city, country, and world.

Let’s do our part.

Please, for the love of God and all that is Holy, take this virus seriously before we have to make the difficult choices being made in Italy.

“Wash your hands.” – Ryan Batton RRT-ACCS, NPS

20 COMMENTS

  1. Love you my friend! Thank you for sharing this and know that Mamma Mary and I will be praying for all of you! You make me so proud!
    Peace in Christ
    “Pazz”

  2. At least he has the proper PPE, I work for one of the largest medical corporations in South Louisiana and our providers don’t have proper PPE, much less the medical assistants, nurses and front office personnel!!!😡

    • I have a feeling the proper PPE will be hard to come by for everyone pretty soon. I am very intrigued on what the solution will be when hospitals supplies decrease. We need our medical staff in the proper PPE to care for our patients – but we need our patients to be prudent and do their part by staying home so hospitals do not become overwhelmed!

  3. I am a Mother-in-law to a Respiratory Therapist and worry every night as she goes off to work. I am so proud of her for all she does. Thank you for posting

    • We can be in unity as our loved ones go off to work every night! My mother-in-law is very worried for her son going into the thick of it night after night. God bless them!

  4. Breana–what a wonderful and amazing story to share. A big thank you to your husband and all the medical professionals working during this time. I’m the Communications Manager with the American Association for Respiratory Care and I’d love to connect and learn more about your story.

  5. Thanks for sharing. As a retired respiratory therapist and educator, I’m watching the army of many I’ve helped train through the years. My prayers are with each and everyone of you and their families. I’m so thankful for their professional services, their generous hearts and willingness to serve others. We will get through this…God is in control.

    • Thank you for your service in educating this generation of RT’s! It must be something special to watch them all work in these unique conditions. Thank you for your prayers and please keep them coming!

  6. My husband just spent 32 days in the hospital due to a bad case of pneumonia , while hospitalized he developed a hematoma in his abdomen and blood clots in the vein of his left arm and in his Jugler vein he has been home for a month and a half on oxygen 24/7 I am a patient care tech at the same hospital that he was hospitalized in I have been home with him ever since he was discharged because he was unable to stay by him self , I am about to go back to work tomorrow 03/18/2020 Should I find a place to stay and not come home until this epidemic is over as his respitory system has been compromised he almost died while hospitalized I don’t want to bring anything home to him as he is the love of my life and I couldn’t bear bringing something home to him. What should do as I return to work answers please he is only 51 yrs. Old and not in good health.

    • Oh no! I am praying for a swift recovery and that you have a doctor or specialist you can speak with that can give you some clear answers on how you should proceed in your situation.

  7. My sister is also an RT in Baton Rouge. It scares our entire family to know that she is more than likely treating Covid 19 patients. Many prayers and thanks to all medical professionals and their families.

    • You are most welcome! I prayed that this would bring awareness to how much RT’s are always necessary and important, but especially in a time of crisis/emergency. Praying for you and your family!

  8. Thank you As a Respiratory Therapist still working I understand completely. In my younger days did the same . During the Legionaries and swine flu outbreak. But as Mother of young police officer only 30 years old I too worry about him and his brothers in uniforms. Because of the urban neighborhood their station is in.

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