Big Laboratorians Don’t Cry
By Jessica Lawless MLS(ASCP)CM
Times are interesting during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. We are in a new world with many obstacles to navigate. One thing rings true with laboratory professionals, though. We are a resilient, hardworking, and flexible group of people. We have weathered so much already during these times and are continuing to change and improve every day. As a fellow laboratorian, I want you all to know that I see your efforts and hear your words. I want to point out that all of those emotions that seem overwhelming at times are okay.
What do emotions have to do with laboratory work? I believe that emotions play a huge role in our lives in the lab. Most see us as an often weird, nerdy, introverted lot, but what I have found is that so many laboratory professionals are also deeply caring people. Many of us chose the lab because being face-to-face with those hurting and ill is something that affects us deeply. There is no lack of caring in the lab. We are saddened when a baby doesn’t make it; we are nervous when those critical results have to be called; and we cheer when that cancer patient is finally in remission. Emotions are everywhere.
What I see in my coworkers during this pandemic time is a group of humans who are desperately trying to keep themselves together so that they can continue to do their jobs. I observe people show up to work despite fears that they might get sick from handling specimens and being at work. I know people who have their own underlying conditions that make them nervous to many interactions with others. I see those with families who are stressed about taking COVID-19 home with them. I see worry for those loved ones that they know that have succumbed to sickness. I see the strain of an already heavy workload made heavier for those who are covering for coworkers who are being tested and quarantined. I see the frustration when much needed supplies are not available, again. I see the sadness when we have to call the doctors to report more and more positive test results. I observe the begging and frustration on social media of those healthcare workers trying to advocate for what we believe is the best way to handle this situation. I see the struggle to try to get those focused on political ideologies to see the human side of healthcare.
I ask that my peers in the laboratory please remember to put some time into these emotions. It is perfectly fine to cry. It is normal to feel fear and frustration. It is not weak to be nervous for yourself and those you love. It is HUMAN. These feelings are VALID. Find that friend or family member that will just let you vent if you don’t want to do it at work. Managers, I ask that you create a space where feelings are okay. Give yourself some grace during these trying times. When you have vented out the negative, though, please remember to fill yourself up with the positive. Think of something every day that makes you proud to be someone on the front lines. I am proud of you and am honored to be a part of this wonderful group of professionals. Keep doing the amazing work that you do EVERY DAY. You are so important.