Covid-19 is a very powerful virus that has been multiplying daily, not to mention, the healthcare industry was grossly under prepared for a Global Pandemic. At a time where employees in grocery stores have N95 masks and gloves on but healthcare workers at many institutions are told they cannot bring a mask from home or are being denied masks—this is truly a frightening time for nurses, as well as, all healthcare workers. I’ve seen many say we cannot fear the unknown a whole lot lately. Maybe we shouldn’t fear the unknown, but we sure as hell can use the common sense God gave us to protect ourselves and loved ones.
A Breakdown of my Experience:
3/20--> Symptoms began with throat irritation followed by a cough (wet cough) that brought tears to my eyes. I developed a migraine along with severe eye pain. Around 4 pm, I checked my temperature after experiencing chills and body aches, it was 100.4. At this point, I called nursing services at the facility I was working at. I was told to continue taking Tylenol and if feeling up to it, to go ahead and come into work.
3/21--> I woke up feeling much better, only the wet cough remained. I made the decision to go into work thinking that maybe this wasn't the virus since I felt better. My temperature was 98.9 prior to entering the building. We did have presumptive positive patients on the floor so there was a chance for exposure. Near the end of the day, I had coughed so much my voice was gone. The chills and body aches returned. My temp had spiked to 100.5 and I notified the supervisors prior to leaving work.
3/22--> I went to the urgent care where I was checked in and swabbed for flu while I remained in my car. Due to the severity of my symptoms and being a healthcare worker around presumptive positive patients, I was allowed to enter following their protocol. My flu test came back negative. Because I have asthma, I expressed my concerns regarding the cough, fever, mucus production and back pain. It all reminded me of pneumonia and my many trips to the hospital as a child. I met all criteria to be sent over to the testing site the next day. There was no actual treatment provided. I was sent home with a prescription for a decongestant, told to pick up Mucinex Fast Max, drink plenty of fluids, take Tylenol ONLY for fever, and rest.
3/23--> I was swabbed for Covid-19 at the drive thru testing site following a rather long wait, nearly two hours. My fever continued to increase up to 101.2 then daily diarrhea and nausea began. I did lose my sense of smell for several days. I've been seeing many people complain about losing their sense of smell and taste, however, I can't recall losing taste due to decreased appetite and nausea. My diet mainly consisted of eggs, toast , and fruit but now I have progressed to lightly seasoned fish and vegetables. As the days went on, I did not begin to feel like myself again until Thursday, 3/26. My appetite has not fully returned, nausea/diarrhea, cough (dry at this point) and shortness of breath with activity remain today, 4/6, day 14 of isolation.
I have always been a fan of herbal teas, so I began drinking that twice of day with lemon, peppermint and turmeric added. I used Vick’s VapoRub to help suppress my cough by rubbing it on my nose and a hot towel. By placing the warm towel over my face, I was able to get some relief after breathing deeply for several minutes. I still find it somewhat painful to fully inhale and it always triggers my cough. I practice deep breathing in a steamy shower every night for about 20 minutes. I’ve received so much advice during this time and I do recommend adding Vitamin C, Elderberry, and if available, Sea moss gel, into your daily regimen. A friend recommended www.herban-oasis.com for sea moss gel so I ordered some and it came in fairly quick. There are so many natural remedies out there that can serve as preventative measures during this time, but these are just things I’ve tried after conducting my own research.
The testing criteria the urgent care used for me is pictured above. This test is not 100% accurate. This means that a negative test does not necessarily rule out coronavirus. While doing my own research, I found that there have been many false negatives. Frankly, by the time you ever receive results, you could have exposed many people if you did not take the correct precautions and self-isolate. My results took TWELVE (yes, 12!!) days to get back to me. At that point, most of my symptoms had ceased and my energy returned. Once I felt better around day 7, I continued to self-isolate and act as if I was positive to avoid exposing others. As bad as I wanted to go home to visit my mother and family, I had to remember that I was possibly a threat to them. I have a mother with Multiple Sclerosis, grandparents ages 70+, and several immediate family members with major health issues to protect.
What Can You Do?
STAY HOME. I can't say that enough. If you become symptomatic, please refer to the criteria I have listed above as an example. Most individuals do not meet the criteria to be tested, so unless your symptoms become unmanageable, I would hold off on going to the ER. Practice social distancing—this does not mean host a quarantine crawfish boil or kickback, this means stay with the people you live with. If you live alone, think of this as a time to work on yourself mentally, physically and spiritually. Wash your hands often. If you wear artificial nails or dip powder, like me, soak it off. Wear a mask everywhere you go. Do not touch your eyes, nose, mouth, etc. without sanitizing your hands first.
If you will not take responsibility for yourself or your loved ones, one of you will get this virus and there’s a possibility for hospitalization. Worst case scenario, you or that person end up on the ventilator and the chances of survival at that point, are slim. Will it take that happening for you to understand? These are some harsh realities many people are having to face. This strain of the virus is not textbook, it is very new. They do not have all the answers yet, so we must take precautions for ourselves. Lastly, PRAY. Pray without ceasing is what my aunt Gail would tell me every day. Pray for everyone working essential roles, particularly, healthcare workers. Prayer is powerful and I am blessed to have a strong, praying support system. I believe that is what allowed me to get through this, along with standing firm in my beliefs. God is a healer—with him, anything is possible. May God continue to cover and protect us.
A Few Tips for Travel Nurses/Future Travelers:
--> If you are signing a NEW CONTRACT during this pandemic, make sure you are getting CRISIS PAY.
--> Read your contract CAREFULLY. Be sure that your agency has protocols that allow you to have PAID time off if you get exposed and infected with this virus. (Since I was at the end of my contract at the start of this pandemic, thankfully, my agency did pay me for the last week I missed due to being sick.)
--> Before signing, ask the facility and unit manager if they have proper PPE protocols and resources available to you.
--> Think about YOU. Remember that YOU MATTER. Be sure to evaluate whether the contract is personally worth it. That is one thing I am thinking about as I prepare to jump back into work and sign a new contract. As there is no proof for immunity after being exposed once at this time, I have read that it is possible to be exposed for a second time. So, I then ask myself, is the money worth the risk?
Be safe and think smart!
**Please feel free to share your own experiences, advice, remedies or thoughts down below in the comments. I hope you find this information helpful. Please keep in mind that my information is based off my own personal experience and research, I cannot guarantee that your body will respond to this virus or remedies the same way. Don't forget to subscribe to my blog before you go :)**
Thanks to everyone for all of the prayers, sweet messages, and calls. I truly appreciate it all!
The Fabuleux Nurse