An area healthcare provider who is typically on the front lines of medicine—and chooses to remain anonymous—shares their personal experience with getting tested positive for COVID-19 on March 25th.
“Want to know how bad COVID-19 is? Three weeks ago, I was a perfectly healthy 40-something soaking up some much-needed sun on a cruise. Now I’m winded—actually gasping for air—shuffling back and forth from the bathroom. Now I’m on oxygen just to breathe with some bit of normalcy. And don’t even get me started with the elephant that may or may not be sitting on my chest at any point of the day or night.
Right now, I should be on the front lines helping out my brothers and sisters in the medical field, but instead I’m trying to avoid coughing fits that are so severe, it causes me to vomit. And keep in mind, I got diagnosed over a week ago and I still feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.
Everyone is affected by this virus differently, I get it—I’ve been in healthcare over 20 years. But, last week when I wrote about being diagnosed, I had no idea it was going to take this long to feel even 5-10% better. That’s why it’s imperative you stay home—because coronavirus is an ugly, unrelenting game changer. It’s completely wiped out my lung capacity.
I’m trying hard not to let it affect my mental health, but it’s a challenge. Once each day, I let myself have a five-minute pity party. I ask what was the absolute worst part of my last 24-hours. A couple days ago, for instance, it was the sheer inability to do much of anything. I probably slept 18 hours. Even trying to sit up was futile. But, for every negative, comes a positive—like my sense of taste and smell are slowly starting to return. I’ve never been so happy to smell a fabric softener sheet in my life. I’ve been spraying essential oils around the room like a crazy person. Salt tastes salty again.
Yesterday was another round of appointments with my doctor and getting signed up for short-term disability. Based on my relentless, gurgling hack, my doctor was worried I’d somehow now acquired pneumonia. An x-ray concluded no secondary infection, but my doctor said—and I quote—“Your lungs look like they have shards of glass in them.” That stuck with me.
While I desperately want to, I won’t be going back to work in the foreseeable future. In fact, that’s likely up to the health department and not my physician. Right now—as my doctor reminded me—my single solitary goal in life is to just get better. That’s it. Period. And—in a bit of good news—she also gave me the green light to let my two tiny furball dogs back into my room. While I was isolated, I couldn’t let them near me for fear they’d somehow spread the virus to my family on their fur. It’s the little things. Better safe than sorry, I guess.
Upwards of 1,000 Americans are dying per day from this disease. Had I been in middling health or had any pre-existing conditions, I have no doubt I may have become part of that statistic. At this very second, I’m just trying to get back to a baseline of not feeling awful. The goal? Easter.
Pro: I sat outside in the sun—before it turned cold—to write most of this. Con: That’s about the extent of what I can do right now. I mustered every iota of energy to get out there. Did it wipe me out for the rest of the day? Yup. But I was determined to get some fresh air in to these lungs instead of wearing an oxygen mask.”