Nurses working on the frontline in our communities are constantly putting the needs of others before their own. But being a single mom, homeschooling her children, and working as a nurse right now is something most of us can’t even begin to imagine juggling.
This is an everyday reality for Tricia Terkuc, a nurse in Toronto who spends the entire day selflessly pouring her energy into caring for others — both at the hospital and at home with her 13-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son.
Terkuc’s sibling, Heather Myers, who nominated Terkuc as a healthcare hero, says that her sister spends long hours working at the hospital, only to return home to educate her children, and then also make face masks for her patients at the hospital.
“She is a force unlike many have seen,” says Myers. “We come from humble beginnings, and she has worked harder than many people I know to provide for herself and her children.”
She says that although Terkuc already has so much to deal with, it’s the added physical distance COVID-19 has forced her to take with her children that’s been one of the hardest things for her to deal with.
“Her priority is taking care of our vulnerable citizens, her patients. I’m hoping this all settles soon so that she can love, nurture, and embrace her children as they were used to once again,” says Myers.
Terkuc says that although the media portrays the pandemic as “sweating behind masks and shields,” the added protocols have actually been the least of her hardships.
Instead, Terkuc, whose work puts her in close contact with patients, says that the biggest change she’s witnessed is in everyday human interaction. In addition to having to wear face masks to and from home and during treatments, her patients can’t spend time together like before. They’re also not permitted to bring in any personal items.
“What used to feel like a community, a family, now feels somewhat colder and more rigid. And the people who care for them, the staff here, are now hidden behind masks and plastic,” explains Terkuc.
Due to the heavy restrictions, she now goes to extra lengths to keep spirits up at work. “I worry so much and work hard to make sure they can see kindness and patience in my eyes,” she says.
Terkuc says the recent school closures mean she’s had added pressure at home, too. As another stressor, juggling her recent divorce means she’s the sole caregiver to her kids.
But although Terkuc’s family has dealt with a lot lately, she’s also found a joyful outlet (albeit one that still serves others) in making fabric masks. After hearing about a shortage on the news, she started making them for her patients at work in case they ran out — and ended up making 100.
“I love when I see them on some of the people I have come to care so much for,” she says, adding that it gives her a sense of something to offer at a time when there is so little control.
When asked if she has any advice for others who are going through hardships right now, Terkuc says that there’s always something positive to be found even in the darkest times.
“If I were to search for the positives today, I would have to say that this will bring us all a little closer. We have learned to value and love those closest to us and also to appreciate those we have missed,” says Terkuc.