Hear Their Stories: A Mother and a Nurse's experience of COVID-19

 

Hello friends,

 In an effort to share as much as we can during this time, we’ve opened our platform for people to write and share their experiences during COVID-19. We’re sharing two accounts today: One, a mother of young man who has Coronavirus, and the second, an ER nurse who is seeing first hand the ravaging effects of the virus.  They have both asked to remain anonymous. 

If you are experiencing something that you’d like to write about and feel it would educate and connect with others in our community, please send us an email to: info@suiheartclub.com . As always, stay safe, say inside, and wash your hands.

 

A Mother’s Story:

A note: This was written March 18th, and the certain data reflect numbers from a week ago.

We live in King County (Washington State, the location of the initial outbreak in the United States) and I feel we have been the guinea pigs for the rest of the country. My son has been diagnosed with the COVID-19 and it has been a bumpy road to get to this point. Let me also preface this by saying that at 23 he does not live with us.

Seven days ago, he came down with what he thought was a cold. Seven days ago we were sitting at less than 250 positive and 27 deaths. He cannot stay with us due to my compromised immune system. He called his doctor and I called his doctor, and agreed that because of his age that he would not get tested at this time. It was frustrating, but understandable. There are only so many tests and until he had more symptoms, he could wait. People who were caretakers, at risk people and our healthcare workers had to come first. As the doctor put it to me, "What would we do differently if we knew?" This is true, there isn't a cure there is just management of symptoms. However, the stress level would have gone down if we knew he didn't have it.

 Five days ago he spiked with a 103 fever, very sore throat and his joints hurt. He was put on a list to get tested and received his doctor’s note. My husband drove our son in the back seat to the drive up testing site. For the test they waved his co-pay and did not charge a doctor's visit for the test request. He ended up with a bloody nose from the test. Then, the slight difficulty in breathing started.

 Four days ago he received his positive test results. We did not receive any information as to what to do next. No information as to best help yourself or what to do if symptoms get worse. It was a wait and see game. There isn't a cure. The hospital cannot do anything for you. I did what moms do best - I batch cooked easy to eat food and bought an overabundance of orange juice.

My son has worsened and he is in the hospital. No one can visit him. We cannot get information easily from anyone. I am crawling out of my skin with worry and grief.

Today. We cannot get close to the hospital due to the National Guard being deployed. I understand it is for everyone's safety, and I no longer feel safe. We had delivered an extension cord and a phone charger plus airpods. We have Face-Timed with the doctors as they are talking to him. He is responding to the pneumonia medication and things look positive. He is sleeping a lot. Everyone is in protective gear and he is in a tent. It's like the movies only worse because it is my son.

This has hit our vulnerable population first. My son is not part of that group. He contracted it at work which only has 5 people positive, so far. Please stay home. Please stay healthy. Please know that this can happen to you. 

UPDATE  3/26:

On 3/18 he was released into our care because the hospital needed the bed. We had a nurse come visit our home to make sure that we understood what we needed to do to care for him. The hospital gave him a finger oxygen monitor to make sure that he was getting enough oxygen. I bought a can of oxygen on Amazon and he has not needed to use it. The first 4 days at home he spent almost the whole time sleeping. He has had mono before and he said it was like that except his throat hurt, chest was heavy and he coughed a lot. He has had a difficult time maintaining his body temperature. He swung from very hot to very cold. 
He started feeling ill 18 days ago. It took him 3 days to see his doctor who sent him to the hospital. He is, as of 2 days ago, finally feeling better. Sore throat, headache and fever are all gone. He does still have a cough and has trouble maintaining a temperature, although the wild swings are gone. In 8 days he will have another test given by a lab that wants to test his blood. We are hoping that more people recovering from this virus will help labs figure out a vaccine or a medication that will help the symptoms.

  

A Nurses Story:

Hello. I am an emergency room nurse at a level 1 trauma center in a large city. Before COVID-19, we were a busy department seeing over 100 patients daily: gunshot wounds, motor vehicle accidents, stabbings, psychiatric emergencies, heroin overdoses, alcohol intoxication, homelessness, sexual assaults, burns, prisoners from the local jail who were assaulted, asthma attacks, cardiac arrests, strokes, seizures, sepsis, sickle cell crisis, broken bones, the list goes on and on.

COVID-19 cases are increasing daily. It is important to remember that just because COVID-19 is increasing, all the other issues do not go away. Recommendations on personal protective equipment (PPE) are changing daily: How to put on a gown, and mask (that I have to reuse since there is a shortage), face shields, and gloves. We have to ensure that everything we need to enter a COVID-19 possible-room, because once you’re in, you cannot come out to “grab something quick” without taking everything off and using new ones, which cannot happen because we have limited supply. It is called cluster care, tending to as many people at once in close proximity. 

Here’s what any given night looks like.  I am caring for two patients and then I get another patient who was brought in for alcohol intoxication. It’s imperative to monitor this patient’s respiratory status, since alcohol can cause respiratory depression.

Next to him, I have a young woman who has just found out she’s having a miscarriage and may need to go to the operating room. But because of COVID-19, there are no visitors allowed, so I am the only one there for her to help her grieve.  The ER is too busy, so I can not stay with her and give her the proper time.

On the other side of the room is a non-COVID-19 patient who has been intubated and machines are breathing for him, with multiple IV medications dripping to keep him alive, waiting for an ICU bed to become available.

On top of all this, a gunshot wound comes in and I rush to help the other nurses, doctors, and techs. Later, a cardiac arrest comes in and again it’s all hands on deck.  This is on top of all the COVID-19 patients we are managing. This is a scenario nurses in many emergency departments are facing daily.

So how do we get through it? Honestly, the bond and teamwork between our nurses is what keeps me going. We work together: while I’m with the COVID-19 patients for 20 minutes, a coworker watches my patients on top of hers. Sometimes I have to remind myself to use the bathroom, or run into the break room to grab a bite to eat for 3 minutes.

 So what is my point? My point is the world does not stop because of the pandemic. The ER doesn’t slow down just for COVID-19 patients. The United States is now dealing with a pandemic, but we have been dealing with other problems on top of a broken healthcare system: poverty, violence, lack of psychiatric resources, and drug and alcohol problems.

So please, please listen and stay at home unless it is necessary to go out. This is a community wide effort. Everyone must be on board. By staying home, you are protecting yourself and others.

When you are bored or “going crazy” in the house, just think about this: Your loved-one becomes short of breath, has a fever, and coughing. You call 911 and they rush them to the hospital. You cannot go in with or visit them later. They might have to lie there for a week on a ventilator to help them breathe, all alone. You can call to ask how they are doing, but the staff is so busy they cannot give regular updates every couple hours like they normally would. So you just have to sit at home and pray for their recovery. Imagine how terrified this individual is. Now imagine if it was you. Unfortunately this has been a reality for many people across the world (of all ages), and by continuing to practice social distancing we can hopefully limit the number of people this happens to.

Lastly, please continue to check on your healthcare worker friends, first responders, grocery store employees, and all those who cannot stay home. We are exhausted. Many workers are terrified of spreading this to their loved ones. Some are staying in the garage or at a single friends house that is also exposed and on the front lines to prevent spreading to their children/family. Some are working with no days off. Some have tested positive and are now patients themselves. And unfortunately some have died.

Please take this seriously. Stay safe and wash your hands. Thank you all ❤️ 


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