Ashlyn Taulbee is a Family Nurse Practitioner and track fanatic living in Vancouver, WA. Before everything changed due to the coronavirus pandemic, she had been looking forward to the spring track season and getting after it in her favorite event, the 3K steeplechase. In the latest of our “A Day in the Life” interview series, Ashlyn shares about some of the stresses she and her husband, an ED nurse, have faced working in healthcare, as well as how her daily life and running have been impacted.
How has the last month been for you?
This past month has been a whirlwind. Between track season getting cancelled, my husband also working a high risk job (ED nurse), and the daily changes at work, it was a lot for the first couple weeks. I worried so much about Steven to the point I made myself sick a couple times. Things have since settled, and I am generally a bit less stressed but not necessarily because the danger is no longer there, but because I have trust in our abilities to protect ourselves and others and recognize what is in my control. Aside from work, running has been about the same. It has only begun to sink in though that track is cancelled. The first couple weeks or so went so fast and I spent so much of my time reading case studies and journals from providers in Italy, China, Washington- I barely thought about it.
What’s changed for you at your place of work?
I work in a family practice setting. I see everything from sprained ankles and sore throats to managing COPD and diabetes. I just started in this role several months ago so my panel is not very big yet. We have implemented Telehealth (phone/video) as much as possible but I still have a more open schedule than usual. This has allowed for plenty of time to catch up on my in-basket and research about COVID-19 to make sure I am as up to date as possible. Which is empowering but also can make me a touch anxious if too much time is spent reading journals and articles! My organization is preparing for ‘the surge’. We are very hopeful at this point that it is not going to be as severe thanks to the physical distancing efforts in Oregon/Washington (Good job everyone!!!).
What’s something others might not realize about the work you’re doing right now?
My organization and others in the area are offering Telehealth, which is a way to still see your provider but without coming into the office. By providing Telehealth, we are reducing our exposure risk as well as our patients but still able to take care of their health concerns. We still do see patients in office when absolutely necessary. This is important for everyone to know because I have had some patients who are so scared they are unsure what to do, and they stay home and don’t seek care when they really need it.
What differences have you noticed in the ways that your communities are operating? (Whether that’s your place of work, neighborhood, clubs, inner friend circle..)
Traffic is much better on my way home!!! In my neighborhood, someone organized a ‘bear hunt’- people place a teddy bear in a visible window in their home so that families on their walks with kids can ‘hunt’ for the bears. I think it was a very nice idea to promote going out for walks and entertaining the kids who are probably getting a bit rambunctious at this point!
Have you had to make any adjustments to your schedule or routine for yourself or other members of your family?
I wear scrubs to work now for infection control. I usually wear Jcrew or Lulu which cannot be washed like scrubs. As soon as my husband and I get in the door- our scrubs go straight into the washer and we sanitize the counters and our shoes. We have a plan in place in case one of us gets sick- which basically means isolate as much as possible, even though we are in the same household. The reason for this is because of the tendency for more severe illness to develop in the other family member due to higher viral load exposure. It’s hard. The last thing I want to do when sick is not be near my husband and I want to take care of him when he is sick, but it is the best way to protect each other if we do get sick with the virus.
How has running/fitness fit into your life with everything that’s going on?
Not much as changed with my running, aside from the race schedule and not running with the team. I am starting to think more about how I want to move forward, but I am still enjoying doing 1-2 workouts a week and I think I will keep doing that for another month or two before going to more of base phase training. I struggled a lot when I moved here with graduating, a cross country move, a wedding, then a new job AND training but lately I feel like I am finally getting to a place where I am more comfortable (less stressed), finding my groove and able to pick up my training more, so I am grateful for that and also excited for the future training and races. We have a pretty awesome home gym, so thankfully my strength training sessions have been uninterrupted which is very important to me because I love lifting almost as much as I love running! Not to mention that it’s key to running healthy and strong.