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Battle Against Covid-19 Hits Home for RN

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Specializes in Emergency Room and PACU. Has 32 years experience.

Have you had to battle COVID-19?

Understanding our shared vulnerability can be a frightening thing, but we should strive to stay connected and show each other kindness and support. This article describes my battle against Covid-19 and quarantine.

Battle Against Covid-19 Hits Home for RN

COVID-19: The Battle Begins

It started with an excruciating headache like I hadn't experienced in years. 

The pain just wouldn't go away, so I called in sick.  I had no choice but to call in sick due to the pain. As a Registered Nurse, I work on the front lines of medical care. but it still never dawned on me what was really going on. I was shocked when a routine test by my employer showed that the disease that has ravaged millions of Americans had hit home for me.

I had Covid-19. 

I wondered to myself-for a few more moments-where I could have contracted the virus.  I had always felt fairly safe as my employer furnishes the medical staff with protective gear and the few businesses that I visit make sure that employees and customers wear mask and practice social distancing.

Then I realized that it didn't really matter where I had picked up the coronavirus. There was no way to know, and stressing myself out wasn't going to provide any answers. 

My thoughts turned to others.  Who had I been around in recent days?  Had I unknowingly passed along the virus? Mostly, I worried about my precious mom and dad who are at high risk due to their advanced ages.

I felt blessed that neither my parents nor anyone else close to me became infected, and my own health didn't suffer any dramatic declines. 

My symptoms never progressed beyond headache and fatigue.  I basically self-isolated for the recommended 10 days and per my primary physician's advice via telephone.  I rested and took over-the-counter medication. I stayed in touch with my hospital's occupational health department until I was symptom-free and could return to work.  

I Know I Was Fortunate

Many people that I have talked to or read about have developed multiple symptoms at different stages of the novel virus.  They have been very ill, even hospitalized. They have suffered grave conditions that range from dangerously high blood pressure to damaged lungs.

Of course, we know that millions have died from COVID-19 around the globe, including 500,000 Americans. While the numbers of new cases and the death toll from the coronavirus have dropped in the United States in recent days. As health care professionals and citizens, we need to make sure to follow Centers for Disease Control guidance to help us and others stay safe.  

CDC Recommendations

We probably all know the CDC recommendations by heart but they bear repeating:

  • wash your hands often for 20 seconds
  • stay 6 feet apart
  • cover your mouth with a mask in public
  • cough or sneeze into your elbow or tissue
  • clean and disinfect surfaces
  • avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces

The CDC recommends that coronavirus patients who don't need hospitalization but live with other people create a "sick room,"  and use a separate bathroom if possible.  During my illness, I lived in my bedroom which fortunately has its own bathroom. 

My Recommendations

I recommend that you make sure you have ways to occupy your time for your own mental well-being.

Personally, I read books, streamed numerous shows (thank goodness for streaming services!), and frequently communicated via text and phone with friends and family. If possible, I recommend a small refrigerator or cooler in your quarantine space.  I frequently had food delivered to maintain my quarantine.  

I was fortunate to have family members who work in health care who were able to assist me during my quarantine.  

The COVID-19 Aftermath: Still Vigilant

Even though I have recovered, I know I can't let my guard down.  No one knows for sure if those of us who survived Covid-19 can infect others or be re-infected.  So, it is best to use universal precautions just as we do every day with our patients for other diseases.

We need to keep in mind that these times are trying for all. Understanding our shared vulnerability can be a frightening thing, but we should strive to stay connected and show each other kindness and support.

If possible, try to develop a strong support system just in case the coronavirus hits home to you. It made a world of difference to me. 

Make sure to keep up with the current recommendations from the CDC and local health agencies as they see to change constantly.

References

CDC.gov

I have my Bachelor's degree in nursing fro Florida State University, and a Master's degree in Health Services with an Emphasis on Wellness Promotion. I have my CAPA certification for peri-operative services. I have 30 years of nursing experience with most in Emergency Room and currently in the PACU. I enjoy education fellow nurses and patients on health and wellness.

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11 Comment(s)

ccharlonne, ADN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med/Surg Tele. Has 14 years experience.

Glad to hear of your recovery. I, too, recently contracted Covid-19 and had a "mild" case but I still don't feel back to "normal." I work 12 hour night shifts and after I work 2 in a row I find I sleep for 15 hours, not my normal. I have no idea how I contracted the virus, I notified people I had had contact with and no one else got sick. It has sporadically broken out on different units in my hospital, but with so many overtime shifts, people who work 2 jobs, everyone feeling tired and stressed I haven't been surprised. One of our nursing supervisors passed away the week I went back to work, she had gotten sick before I did and got very sick.

Yes, continue to follow the guidelines, but don't take anything for granted. Take care of yourselves and your families. Try to keep your immune system strong. Hopefully the vaccines are the light at the end of our tunnel.

I worry about the aftermath. When we can finally 'return to normal' we are no longer normal. Will employers work with staff to support their mental health needs? I wonder how many will be affected by PTSD, depression or other disorders.  How has the past year changed us? How will it affect our ability to move forward? Will we heal stronger? Nurses do so much to care for others, now we need to care for ourselves and each other to promote our healing.

spunkygirl1962, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Room and PACU. Has 32 years experience.

I'm also glad to hear that you have recovered!   Im so sorry for your loss of one of your supervisors. It has been a long hard road for all especially in health care. Many of my fellow nurses and healthcare workers have contracted the virus also -some with mild symptoms and others severely sick.  I too am concerned with all you have mentioned. These are very good questions that we all should be thinking about and working together to find solutions for.  I am concerned with the long term effects of the virus on our physical health as well.   Thank you!  

gere7404, BSN, RN, EMT-B

Specializes in Emergency Services, Cardiac Step-Down. Has 5 years experience.

Had a week no smell or taste, had a headache one night, then a little more than a week of a dry cough.

back to work after the 10 days was up, had a residual cough but employee health said it was fine. 

Edited by gere7404

spunkygirl1962, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Room and PACU. Has 32 years experience.

Glad to hear your doing better!  I have friends who had it and still have a cough also. 

Danirenee2009, ADN

Specializes in LTC. Has 12 years experience.

I contracted COVID in December.    It was the worst headache of my life for 3 days. Body aches and malaise for 10 days.  Lost taste and smell which still haven't returned totally.  The joint pain was bad for about 3 weeks after.   My mental health has been the most difficult to deal with.   I have been slowly changing things around to help my emotions heal.    I work in LTC and it has been debilitating to watch my residents suffer.     

spunkygirl1962, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Room and PACU. Has 32 years experience.

I’m sorry to hear that you contracted Covid and had quite a few symptoms. I was very lucky and only had a few symptoms which resolved totally in a few weeks.  Hang in there and stay strong! 

SweetLizaBeth, BSN

Specializes in Hospice. Has 7 years experience.

So happy to hear that you have completely recovered, but as you said you can never let your guard down. I tested positive January 5. I was at work, and I wasn’t feeling that great so “to ease my mind” I asked to be tested. Because I was having “symptoms” (just a vague sort of headache, fatigue, no fever or anything specific) when I was told that I tested positive, I was immediately terminated from my job for not telling my supervisor that I was feeling ill, and doing patient care with Covid symptoms. I was completely shocked, because it was so ridiculous! I got tested before I even entered a patient room, and I got tested because I was worried— which was the right thing to do.  I don’t even remember being walked out of the facility. By that night I had a severe headache, fever 103, muscle aches and joint pain. My focus shifted to taking care of myself. I live with my grandchildren and daughter, so we all quarantined, I stayed in my bedroom with a bathroom attached. My daughter only had a very mild case, and my grandchildren didn’t have anything except a headache for a couple of days, but we all stayed inside for 10 days as required. Day 3 I lost my senses of taste and smell. On day 10, they were fine— I was not. I woke up at 2am with the room tilted to the right and spinning. I was nauseous and dizzy and slept in the bathroom for 2 days because I couldn’t get back to bed— I was so dizzy and fatigued. I went to the ER, and they gave me 3L of fluids— which helped tremendously, but it didn’t do anything for the spinning, dizziness, and severe headache that linger. I am officially a long hauler, I am told. 
I’m still trying to get back to work. I would much rather be working than doing this.  I am much better now, but now I am dealing with high blood pressure and heart rate 180/120 and 150bpm. I still can’t taste or smell much except salty and sweet, and sometimes things smell like bleach or gasoline. Occasionally I smell electrical wires burning, too, that of course aren’t real. I lost my insurance at the end of January so I don’t have a lot of resources for medical care, but my doctor has been very helpful, not charging me for Zoom appointments. I was approved for unemployment, which has been my saving grace. I’m still very dizzy and nauseous, but the vertigo has eased up. The blood pressure and heart rate, though, are out of control. 
Stay safe, everyone. 

Edited by SweetLizaBeth

Kitiger, RN

Specializes in Private Duty Pediatrics. Has 42 years experience.

My heart goes out to you. ((Hugs)) I'm so glad you have a helpful doctor and that unemployment benefits have been approved!

I hope you feel much better soon. 

spunkygirl1962, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Room and PACU. Has 32 years experience.

23 hours ago, SweetLizaBeth said:

So happy to hear that you have completely recovered, but as you said you can never let your guard down. I tested positive January 5. I was at work, and I wasn’t feeling that great so “to ease my mind” I asked to be tested. Because I was having “symptoms” (just a vague sort of headache, fatigue, no fever or anything specific) when I was told that I tested positive, I was immediately terminated from my job for not telling my supervisor that I was feeling ill, and doing patient care with Covid symptoms. I was completely shocked, because it was so ridiculous! I got tested before I even entered a patient room, and I got tested because I was worried— which was the right thing to do.  I don’t even remember being walked out of the facility. By that night I had a severe headache, fever 103, muscle aches and joint pain. My focus shifted to taking care of myself. I live with my grandchildren and daughter, so we all quarantined, I stayed in my bedroom with a bathroom attached. My daughter only had a very mild case, and my grandchildren didn’t have anything except a headache for a couple of days, but we all stayed inside for 10 days as required. Day 3 I lost my senses of taste and smell. On day 10, they were fine— I was not. I woke up at 2am with the room tilted to the right and spinning. I was nauseous and dizzy and slept in the bathroom for 2 days because I couldn’t get back to bed— I was so dizzy and fatigued. I went to the ER, and they gave me 3L of fluids— which helped tremendously, but it didn’t do anything for the spinning, dizziness, and severe headache that linger. I am officially a long hauler, I am told. 
I’m still trying to get back to work. I would much rather be working than doing this.  I am much better now, but now I am dealing with high blood pressure and heart rate 180/120 and 150bpm. I still can’t taste or smell much except salty and sweet, and sometimes things smell like bleach or gasoline. Occasionally I smell electrical wires burning, too, that of course aren’t real. I lost my insurance at the end of January so I don’t have a lot of resources for medical care, but my doctor has been very helpful, not charging me for Zoom appointments. I was approved for unemployment, which has been my saving grace. I’m still very dizzy and nauseous, but the vertigo has eased up. The blood pressure and heart rate, though, are out of control. 
Stay safe, everyone. 

I’m so sorry this happened to you. 😞 I’m glad that you are starting  to mend and are going to receive unemployment! 
hang in there! 👍😄

SweetLizaBeth, BSN

Specializes in Hospice. Has 7 years experience.

Thank you! I was started on a beta blocker Friday, and my blood pressure is normal today. I also feel more clearheaded. I feel like maybe (?) this is all over. I’m starting to look at job opportunities and hopefully will be working again, soon. Stay safe Spunkygirl! 

spunkygirl1962, BSN, RN

Specializes in Emergency Room and PACU. Has 32 years experience.

13 hours ago, SweetLizaBeth said:

Thank you! I was started on a beta blocker Friday, and my blood pressure is normal today. I also feel more clearheaded. I feel like maybe (?) this is all over. I’m starting to look at job opportunities and hopefully will be working again, soon. Stay safe Spunkygirl! 

It sounds like your headed in the right direction! Stay safe! And good luck!