COVID-19 poem by fearsome Toronto nurse is both inspiring and heartbreaking


Rebecca Gonser can see the excitement of the reopening of Ontario outside the walls of the hospital where she works.

As the pandemic edition of May’s long weekend arrives, many Ontarians feel relieved as businesses and amenities begin to reopen. But in one of Canada’s largest hospitals, where Gonser works as an advanced practice nurse for the acute care resource team, it always feels like there is “no end in sight.” view”.

“The past two weeks have been the peak of COVID for me in terms of activity, stress and persistent fear,” said Gonser. “We are in the hospital, we are preparing and worrying, and we are always at the heart of it all, and my friends and family feel as if we are in the clear.”

This disparity was difficult to accept for the nurse, whose days at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto are long and intense. She has tried many things to cope in the past nine weeks; meditation, mental health support, playing the piano. But this week, Gonser used something she does when the emotions are too strong. She opened her laptop and started writing.

“Insurmountable, heartbreaking fear, fills me and fills each of my peers,” reads his poem. Gonser said it is little things, like worrying about washing your hands after pressing against the nursing station, that feeds that fear. It also comes from intense experiences, such as seeing colleagues tested positive for COVID-19, or one of his nurses holding an iPad for hours so that an isolated patient could say goodbye.

The poem, which she dedicated to Nursing Week and shared on Facebook, touched many people.

“I couldn’t believe it continued to be shared, published and commented on. There have been so many messages, which is amazing because hopefully it has an impact, which is the intent. I think people should have hope with some caution. “

The realization that Gonser lived a life different from that of many of his relatives returned home after a weekly evening of family trivia on Zoom. The home is located just outside Stratford, Ontario, where there have been no new cases of virus in the area for 11 consecutive days. The Gonsers were celebrating the news that the boat could be launched in their beloved family cottage, with rumors (verified since) that Prime Minister Doug Ford would open the marinas in time for the weekend. Queen’s Day.

“My family was so positive, and I am so excited for these small towns and regions because it is huge. But for Toronto and us at Sunnybrook, I still don’t feel that hope, “she said, while fighting tears and joking, they became” part of my routine throughout this pandemic. ” .

Rebecca Gonser, who is an advanced practice nurse at Sunnybrook Hospital, wrote a poem for nursing week during COVID-19.

“As the rest of the world stops, ours looks like a race. Politics and announcements at an unmanageable pace, ”says the poem.

Gonser and his team of nurses are struggling to prepare for what might happen next. She has just spent part of the last month hiring and orienting 60 new nurses to support the hospital’s COVID units. With a long weekend coinciding with the reopening of the economy, the hospital is preparing for a new wave. As his saying goes, “We hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

“The long weekend in May is notoriously the trauma season, and Sunnybrook being the regional trauma center, we normally see an influx of patients,” she said. “But having a whole unit of COVID intensive care patients and a whole room of COVID patients, we are limited in resources. “

Gonser writes from time to time when she feels emotional. His ability to rhyme and write creatively comes from his grandfather, who leaves poems and puns on pieces of wood around the chalet. Even if she won’t be able to join him in the north anytime soon, that is something to hope for.

“For each of us, hope and respite are what we are looking for during this year’s Pandemic Nursing Week,” says the last verse of the poem.

Gonser said the closing line highlights his thoughts on what is generally his favorite week of the year.

“Usually, Nursing Week fills me with this hope and this rediscovered joy. It offers this new perspective on my profession and the role I play, ”she said. “In this week of nursing, if I could wish for one thing, what would it be?”

“I hope it will be over. “

A poem by Toronto nurse Rebecca Gonser

The heroes they call us as we continue to care

While communities encourage sharing.

While the rest of the world stops, ours looks like a race,

Policies and announcements at an unmanageable pace.

Masks off, masks on, now two a day,

Use of N95 only when managing an airway.

No visitors, leaving patients isolated,

Leaving us to accompany them throughout their palliation.

Insurmountable, heartbreaking fear,

Fills myself and each of my peers.

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For each interaction comes a risk of infection,

How can I protect my family?

Colleagues diagnosed and quarantined,

The consequences of this virus are vast and unforeseen.

Redeployed staff being sent to work in new teams,

Every day the measurements seem more extreme.

Fear is felt throughout the nation.

As we watch in despair the desperate countries.

This week, the province breathes a sigh of relief,

As Ford opens phase 1, much to my disbelief.

For us, this nightmare is far from over

As we continue to fight for everyone.

The operating rooms will reopen and long term care is still suffering,

This second wave will hit us, without much buffer.

We celebrate the nurses, this second week of May,

So listen to us, and what we have to say.

As you celebrate and enjoy this vacation weekend,

Wear a mask, wash your hands and stay 6 feet from your friend.

Because the curve has barely flattened, will not be finished for a while,

This pandemic is a marathon, and the curve could climb again.

For each of us, hope and respite are what we seek,

During this year’s pandemic themed Nursing Week.



How can we show our support for nurses fighting COVID-19? What do you want to tell the nurses right now?

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