Rochester-area women share their challenges, inspiration and more

By Trish Amundson

Marilyn – Nurse (and new-found basketball player)

What changes have you experienced based on COVID-19?
COVID-19 has changed every aspect of my family’s lives. My college-age daughter is home, and my grade-school kids are online learning at home. My husband, who is essential and self-employed in the livestock industry, is also working from home. The normal activities we all pursued and counted on are gone. 

As a nurse, I work in non-direct patient care — telehealth. My role includes helping patients by answering questions, providing guidance and interpreting plans of care. I’m able to continue this work from my home, but I miss seeing and working closely with a team. We are all very independent but also lean on each other. Now we reach out electronically but feel very isolated.

What is a challenge for you right now?
The challenges can be overwhelming, and I think they are scary. I am taking the isolation of my family seriously and sometimes wonder if going through a grocery store or McDonald’s drive-through was a good idea or not. It makes the trip a lot less enjoyable. The challenge of trying to plan for summer is tough; there are too many unknowns. 

What is something positive that has come from this?
The use of humor has created some good memories for my family, such as all five of us building a basketball hoop that was delivered by Amazon. We yelled at each other, laughed, got disgusted and laughed some more. We got it done, and I would have never guessed we would all be that determined to play basketball!

I am grateful every day for the health of my family and the health of others it is really all that matters. I am using this as an opportunity to tell my children “When you are old, you will look back on this time and realize how much you had and how lucky you were to be with your family.”

How are you supporting others? 
My girls and I decided, as part of community service hours for confirmation, to clean the ditches along our road and to make cards for a local nursing home. We enjoyed doing this to give back in a creative way. 

I also hope my work team knows, in looking back on this time, that I had their backs and lifted them up when policy change came at us in rapid speed. You want someone to make you feel better about things in a realistic way.

What inspires you during this challenging time? 
My inspiration comes from the profession of nursing itself. I see people on the front lines all the people that are not working from home, not only nurses and I realize we can do anything once we figure out how to move forward. Those people going to work every day in the essential areas are taking risks to make it work. That kind of courage was taken for granted in December 2019, but now the bravery and heroism in every role that faces the public is shining.

Can you offer any advice for others to get through this?
Tip 1: NO ONE has ever done this before. Think about it and keep repeating that.

Tip 2: Do not try to figure this out for other people. Figure out what makes sense to you and stick with that you will save a lot of frustration.

Tip 3: It’s still ok to laugh even under a mask.

Tip 4: Keep a schedule.

Tip 5: Give yourself something to look forward to.

Tip 6: Encourage socialization through technology. Have zoom bonfires and happy hours and let your kids have zoom or Snapchat sleepovers.

Tip 7: We are adaptable you get to call the shots on all the things you want to try or change for your lifestyle, to make up for what you are missing GO FOR IT!


Trish Amundson is a Rochester-area freelance writer.