NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Gabriella Falco is an ICU nurse who is an avid journaler and uses the pages to process experiences in her life.
After volunteering in the COVID ICU unit at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for two months last spring, she learned that no matter what you’re going through, you’re never really alone.
Instead of going right to sleep after a long and grueling day of work as she typically did, she stayed up late on the night of her last shift to write about an experience she had with a patient. “Even though I was exhausted, the emotions were there in the most heightened form, and I thought it was important to honor her that way too and write it as i felt it,” Falco said.
Falco wrote “To Live & Die Alone,” which details her raw emotions and feelings after holding an iPad for an hour for a patient to Zoom with her family and then holding her hand as she took her last breath. She recently shared the entry on her Instagram and the hospital re-posted it on Facebook.
“Even if just one person read it and felt like they had someone else to connect to and relate to that it would be a healthy thing to share, so I just figured instead of typing it up and making it more personal I just took pictures of what I wrote,” she said.
Gabby has worked at VUMC for seven years and works in an elective procedure lab. When surgeries were suspended at the beginning of the pandemic, she decided to work with COVID patients.
“Unfortunately, every single patient I had except for one ended up dying and it was people in their 40’s and 80’s without any previous problems,” Falco said. “The fact that it just really came on so quickly I mean you would see some people sitting up and talking that morning and by the end of the day, they were on a ventilator.”
She says she grew up as a military kid and her mom was deployed countless times. Falco believes that helped her prepare for her career. Having to learn how to still feel connected and feel loved by the most important people in her life. Gabby wanted to write to honor the patient she built a connection with and remind others about an important lesson she learned.
“I think we’ve all felt really lonely at times during COVID and not seeing our loved ones, especially with people in the hospital,” Falco said. “I owe it to that family for reminding me of that because I just heard them constantly saying to her how much they loved her and they are always with her. It’s a good reminder that as long as we have people we care about in our lives and take the time to tell them, that we’re never alone during all of this.”