School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: ‘Before Times’ & Present Times

Fascinating that Merriam-Webster has  ‘before times’ (or beforetimes) listed as “words we’re watching.” I first heard this expression related to the pandemic through my adult twin daughters. All great pop culture references are introduced to me through these two amazing young women. This one though gave me the chills from head to toe. Beforetimes, I remember thinking, what an eerie, otherworldly term, but so appropriate. 

Words We’re Watching Remembering How It Was in the ‘Before Times’ A word for the long-ago and what seems like long ago.

The Merriam-Webster page ends with this sentiment:

Hopefully the aftertimes will be here before the beforetimes becomes too distant a memory.

Judy Doran, one of my dear school nurse colleagues writes “Maine Points,” a collection of musings from her view of pandemic school nursing from the beautiful state of Maine. She will write to me on an occasional Sunday morning, as she did today. This Sunday’s “Maine Points.” are about before times and present times, a perfect pairing for this snowy Sunday in February. 

Maine Points

by Judy Doran – Sunday February 13, 2022

  • Hybrid was a kind of car
  • Remote was a far off place or you chance of winning the lottery
  • 6′ was a tall person
  • A yard stick was used for sewing and stuff like that
  • Personal space was determined by you, your comfort level
  • Masks came out at halloween
  • Misinformation, disinformation meant somebody was lying to you for sure. 
  • Testing in schools were standardized and needed #2 pencils and proctors
  • Pool testing had something to do with pH and chlorine in the swimming pool.
  • Lunch….yes, swapping sandwiches, chatting, a great break in the day
  • Cohorts….learned about them in research methods class
  • Contact tracing……called the CDC to report the disease and they took it from there
  • Think I saw ivermectin at my friend’s barn once
  • Child abuse. Not what I’m doing when I ask a child to wear a mask properly
  • CDC. Former gold standard. Flubbed repeatedly.
  • A couple of words I have come to really dislike…..Unprecedented. Caveat. Resilience (conceptually fine but the implication of quick recovery is what gets me…). Self care…..overused, diminished. need a new word.  There are a couple more that I can’t think of right now. 
  • Weekends….Sunday night dread started Saturday morning
  • Isolation. Usually in the context of a conversation regarding feeling lonely.
  • Seating charts. Can use one when doing online check in for a flight.
  • Quarantine. Fascinating history beginning in the Middle Ages. Not a typical school health office subject of conversation.
  • Sports rule. 
  • Ventilation, sanitation, isolation, vaccination, information, information, information, information
  • Health equity, health equality
  • Spreadsheet, got em down. Started calling them dreadsheets
  • Test to stay. Test to go. Good to go.
  • Freedom
  • Angry folks. This stuff does not bring out the best in people.
  • Rights. Whose?
  • Inside/outside, school bus, DOT, windows up/down, hatch open, how cold, what?
  • Bleach. We all know how to use it. A former president got it all wrong.
  • This I’m sure is an incomplete list/snapshot.
You get the picture. Where’s normal and what was normal about it to begin with? What is this bit about building the plane while flying it? Further complicated by fabricating parts to build the damned thing. 
I don’t want to go down an easily accessible negative path. In fact two weeks ago I promised to actively seek things that make me smile every day. I’m not a gratitude jounaler, wanted to keep it simple. It was working great, I was enjoying results and then the other day I was hit with that feeling. You know when a stomach bug has sequentially roared through your house, you’ve kept it together, blown up the washing machine, burnt the toast, cleaned the bowls, it hits. And you’re thinking, what in the hell? You’re sick. You may not be barfing but you are fried and finally allowing the grace and space to acknowledge it.
That’s where I am  right now. There are a lot of emotions. I’m exhausted, I’m proud, I’m angry, I’m grateful, I’m frustrated. Sometimes want to scream. I’m scared. I’m scarred. I’m relieved. I’m wary. I’m weary. Sometimes teary. I’m capable. I’m expert. I’m human. 
I learned to become a translator in  multidirectional loops between science, institution and public. Sometimes the information didn’t make any sense. I never saw myself as a bureaucrat and sometimes I felt like one. I didn’t like it at all. I’m hopeful sometimes too. It tempers when I think of how much of the world needs vaccinations TODAY. 
We are not the same crew of people who showed up to work on March 13, 2020. It’s not a doom and gloom flow I’m writing. It’s a here and now assessment. I can find hope and I can see better days. I’m just not writing about that right now. I’m looking at a debris field through my own lens. Just got the feeling that I have barely scratched the surface.


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