At the hospital things can be surprisingly mundane. Occasionally tension will sharply cut through the peace, but not as often as is shown on TV.
I was charting when I started to hear the buzz of excitement around me. My coworkers were talking about a supposed storm that would be rolling through that night. In typical Texas fashion none of us were that concerned, but it was interesting to think about.
By the time I left an hour later, 2 inches of solid ice coated our cars. I was one of the only ones in the parking lot with an ice scraper and I thanked my lucky stars for my experiences living in Minneapolis and Seattle. After helping others clear their ice-covered cars, I drove home feeling a little more nervous. Little did I know, the next night I would be unable to safely drive home and would spend the night in the PACU.
No one could have predicted the devastation that would shortly follow. Millions without power and water, no stock in the grocery stores, no cell service due to downed towers. It was a nightmare.
The first few days were the hardest - trying to learn to live without immediate water and being a little worried about survival. You know. Little things. Naturally, I had to go to work in the midst of the chaos. Hospitals do not close. As I walked the hall, suddenly I was in complete darkness. The security doors slammed shut and for an instant the hospital was completely silent before it shuddered back to life at half power thanks to the generators. This cycle happened every other hour for days while the rolling blackouts consumed the state.
It got me thinking how convenient everything is in my life. Truly. I know how cliche that sounds - anytime anyone goes through a natural disaster they come out a little different on the other side. But this experience gave me such a strong sense of community. This really struck me due to my life in general. Always on the move, never in one place for long. Feeling a true sense of community is rare in my world. But here, I am surrounded by people who will work for me and with me to solve all sorts of problems. People coming together to make things work even when it seems hopeless...that's the kind of content I'm trying to have in my life.
There was a point that my cousin and I were driving all over Austin trying to find someone with running water so that we could shower. It had been 4 days since my last real shower...and it was obvious. We made it downtown to an apartment we thought would certainly have resources, considering it was a block across from the Texas State Capitol building.
Nope. It did have power, but it was not exempt from the nightmare that was not having water.
So, defeated, we went home and I noted the frustration I felt. It was disheartening to keep running into disappointment. But, we got outside and started collecting snow to melt and boil. And somehow all the small problems, like how bad I looked and probably smelled, melted away.
Though Winter Storm Uri officially only hung around for five days or so, the disaster lasted much longer. When the ice and snow were long gone, the destroyed pipes remained an issue. Grocery stores remained unstocked. Power lines still down. People were injured, and some did not survive.
This event happened in February 2021, but a year prior in February 2020 the world was ending in a different way. I think that through all of this, we are more resilient. More steadfast. More adept to handle challenges. And that, to me, is worth the struggle.
I walked away from this experience with more patience. Sometimes, you just have to have faith that solutions will come. As a severely type A person I can't express how hard this pill was for me to swallow. But when disaster strikes and you are suddenly completely out of control, you just have to lean into the circumstances a little and trust the process.