COMMENTARY

'You'll Always Be Right Upstairs'

Yvette's Story

Yvette Logan; Jeffrey B. Teitler, MFA

Disclosures

August 31, 2020

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Yvette Logan: In Her Own Words

I'll never forget that ride. As an EMT, I work at the emergency department, and my sister Kimberly was only floors away. She'd been that way for a month, on a ventilator.

I remember when Kimberly was admitted to the hospital. At that point, she still loved to paint, joke around, and talk about old times. She called me "stupid ass" and laughed, even as her oxygen fluctuated between 88% and 90%.


 

Her lungs were bad. They looked like cotton balls. Soon after being admitted, my sister actually asked to be intubated. We spoke briefly. I could hear the fear in her voice, but she tried to hide it. She knows I'm a worrier.

"Is it going to hurt? Can they intubate me while I'm awake? Will I wake up again?"

All I could do was say, "I love you. You're going to be okay. You got this, sis."


 

Even though she was only feet away, I wasn't allowed to see her for a month. A lot of times I'd think about what I'd say. Maybe I'd whisper in her ear and talk about old times. I'd take her back to the park where we sat together as teenagers.

This one time, she picked up a pencil, looked at me, and started moving it on a sheet of paper. I didn't realize what she was doing because she was moving the pencil so quick. Then she turned the page around and showed me. It was a beautiful drawing of me. I can picture it in my head.


 

For a month, I'd go to work and feel closer to her. I remember that call from the ICU doctor, telling me that my sister's oxygen was at 82%. In my stern voice, I told him to bag her and to repeat the ABG.

That's when I started to run to the elevator. I knew I couldn't see her, but there were things I wanted to say. I wanted to be there holding her hand. I ran so quickly, wanting to tell her that I love her one more time.


 

Sis, I'd hold your hand and talk about your singing voice. I'd remind you of how I cheered every time you stepped up on the karaoke stage. You got everyone to sing and clap along.

And you'd also laugh at the worst of times. Like when I was bringing out that beautiful pillow cream cake at our niece's baby shower, but it went flying off the plate and splatted right there on the floor. Panicked, I picked it up quickly before anyone could notice. But you did. I looked up and saw your face — you were laughing so hard. And you called me "stupid ass," with that beautiful laugh of yours. We laughed so hard we were crying. But that was a great cake.


 

The elevator doors finally opened, but by the time I reached the floor, she had expired.

God swept you away before I could tell you these things. I love you, Kimmie. You'll always be close to me. My rock. You'll always be right upstairs.


 

Editor's note: In an effort to preserve the experiences of healthcare workers on the front lines, Medscape developed a set of artistic portraits of hospital practitioners who worked (and are working) through this pandemic. The aim is to offer a diverse representation of healthcare practitioners of all levels on the front lines.

These images are accompanied by a short essay written by the participants that give us a glimpse of their experience. It is a privilege to capture these stories, and we do so with the hope that those who risked their health, lives, and families in the service of others are not forgotten.

Jeffrey B. Teitler is a professor of filmmaking at Central Connecticut State University and the director of Envision Films. His scripted and nonscripted works have been presented nationwide, including at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United Nations, and he has been an official selection and/or winner at a number of film festivals .

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