News from the Hospital Front: When You Wish Upon A Star, Part Deux

So no biggie … I’ve received a few comments about my previous post, questioning why we still need to #ShelterInPlace (or #StayHomeStaySafe or any variety of similar hashtags) if the number of reported COVID-19 cases are decreasing in some areas.

First of all … just because the virus IS showing signs of slowing down in some areas, it doesn’t mean that it’s not ramping up in other areas.

Think of it this way … if you’re unaware that you have COVID-19 and are asymptomatic, then once your community “opens” you would be free to go about town without restrictions (common sense, people!). This means you can travel to other cities or communities and spread the virus into an area that otherwise did not have any (or had very few) reported COVID-19 cases. You have now put that community at risk.

Second, despite what has been told by your local, state or federal government, #ShelterInPlace was NOT meant for the sole purpose of keeping hospitals from overflowing and overwhelmed. Yes, that is ONE aspect of it, but so is trying to keep your cooties to yourself or your household. #ShelterInPlace was to help STOP the spread of COVID-19 and to keep the communities SAFE from this highly contagious virus.

Yes, the hospitals are NOT at capacity; however, that is because the otherwise money-making elective surgeries would have pushed the hospitals over capacity and therefore limiting the number of resources available to that hospital (-ie- staffing, PPE, ventilators, oxygen delivery equipment, etc).

And honestly, unless it’s an emergent situation … would you want to have surgery at a hospital at this time? Where you know COVID-19-stricken patients are also being treated? #ShelterInPlace was to PROTECT the PUBLIC from COVID-19. This virus is extremely contagious to the point where health care professionals and researchers are still unable to determine why the virus affects each person uniquely.

Yes, there are those common symptoms (extremely high fevers, chills & unrelenting head- and muscle aches) and manifestations of contracting the virus, but the short-term effects vary from person to person. Some may never have any symptoms, while others go into acute respiratory distress, kidney and/or heart failure. They can develop bleeding disorders in which blood clots develop and spread into your legs, lungs, heart, brain. Can you imagine having a stroke and/or a heart attack from these blood clots?

Yes these are horrible things that occur to those who develop these issues from COVID-19. It doesn’t happen to everyone … but It. CAN. And just because you don’t feel like you’ve contracted the virus, doesn’t mean you don’t have it and are capable of spreading it to at least 5 to 6 other people, who can each spread it to another 5 to 6 people. Any number of those people will likely develop these complications. How would YOU feel if you gave it to someone you love? I can tell you from experience that IT. SUCKS.

Anyway, those are just the some of the immediate (acute) complications that can develop. We haven’t even been to break the surface on any long-term complications.

There are multiple medical journals out there reporting how COVID-19 “survivors” requiring oxygen (or worse, a ventilator) during the acute phase of the virus are still having difficulty maintaining their lung function, even after being successfully weaned off of oxygen treatments. My Dear Husband (DH), for example … He has been home now for three weeks and yet his oxygen saturation (O2 sat) levels range only from 88-94%. A “normal” saturation for otherwise healthy people should typically be anywhere from 97-100%. “Bad” is anything less than 89%.

My cousin, also a Registered Nurse working on a COVID-19 ICU unit, has also had COVID-19. More than a month later, she is still having difficulty breathing (despite having normal O2 sat levels) and has had ongoing intermittent chest pain / pressure. There have been reports of COVID-19 “survivors” developing cardiomyopathy (weakening of the heart muscles) and heart failure; however, her PCP and her specialty physicians (a pulmonologist and a neurologist) haven’t even considered doing any cardiac working her up because all her cardiac blood tests and her EKGs have been normal.

Did I mention she’s under 30 years old and that the multiple times she’s been to the ER, she’s been told that all her symptoms are likely “just anxiety” since her immediate diagnostic tests were negative. So instead, she’s “living with it” and still going to work.

As for me, there are other journal articles out there that talk about short term memory loss for those affected by COVID-19. Besides the unrelenting dizziness I have whenever I change positions from standing-sitting-lying (NOT caused by blood pressure changes, BTW), I do believe that COVID-19 has affected my memory. I don’t know, maybe it’s because it’s overwhelming at work with the frequent changes in policy, procedure, etc; but I find myself (more so post-COVID, than prior) losing track of my keys, phone, wallet. I also have had issues forgetting about certain tasks or items that routinely (and already on one) to be added to lists. And from talking to other COVID-19 “survivors,” I’ve found that I’m not the only one that this has happened to. We have officially named this condition as “COVID Brain.”

Just so you know, I am able see it from the side of those individuals and families that aren’t healthcare professionals. For the most part, my DH and his parents are not as versed in the Health Care World as both I and DH’s sister am. It’s a LOT of information to take in and there is NO simple way of explaining how much of a toll this has taken on every single person in the world, let alone how much COVID-19 has and will continue to affect how we live our lives on a daily basis.

We might as well face it now that there will be no returning back to normal. And that we will all have to adjust to a new normal.

I also get that the longer that our nation remains “closed,” more people will be unable to maintain employment (myself, as a Registered Nurse included). I understand how this can lead to financial ruin (DH has the hospital bills to prove it) and therefore, the inability to provide for yourself and/or your family. But please let me implore you to consider that this will ONLY CONTINUE until there is a way to stop the spread of COVID-19.

And since a vaccine for COVID-19 is a long way off (despite what you hear in the news) AND we currently don’t even have a consistent and adequate treatment guideline in place for treatment of COVID-19, the ONLY way to #SlowTheSpread is to continue practicing social distancing and wearing a face mask when outside your home.

And, in my own humble opinion, the only way to gain the “upper hand” (so to speak) on COVID-19 is to #ShelterInPlace.

News from the Hospital Front: When You Wish Upon A Star

I hear you, people. I understand how hard it is to work from home or to provide some sort of semblance of school to your children. I also know how difficult it is to be unemployed (believe me, I found myself unexpectedly unemployed during the summer of 2010) and yet still have bills to pay.

I am also bored as h*ll staying at home (although, my cooking may have improved a bit) and am chomping at the bit to go out. As it is, DH, Kirby Krackel, and I were scheduled to be on vacation this past week and the upcoming week. Two whole weeks off to make a road trip out to the Utah National Parks. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. Due to this stupid COVID-19 crisis.

But what I don’t understand is why other states are loosening up the restrictions on staying at home and are beginning to open non-essential businesses in the wake of this crisis … which is FAR from over, despite what you may be reading and/or hearing in the news. For those that disagree with me, I invite you to tour the ER and spend a 12-hour shift in the ICU.

I don’t wish it upon you or any of your loved ones, but I wish you could understand what it’s like to have experienced having COVID-19; the feeling of isolation and helplessness that comes from keeping your distance from loved ones so that you don’t give COVID-19 to them.

I don’t wish it upon anyone to experience the extreme chills despite high temps, the worse muscle aches in the world. And yet, as a Registered Nurse, knowing that you NEED your body to react this way because it’s your body’s way of trying to fight off the virus on its own. And in the same vein, fearing that your body may overreact and cause severe respiratory distress that you need to be admitted to the hospital.

I don’t wish it upon you, but I wish you could feel what it’s like to watch via FaceTime the panic in your spouse’s face as you see him struggling to breathe with a mask blowing 100% pure oxygen directly through his mouth & nose … while he barely is able to tell me that he still feels like he can’t take a breath. Or the panic you feel that, as a wife and as a Registered Nurse:

  1. You can’t be there to physically hold his hand to help calm him down
  2. You know his assigned RN is busy with her other patient that is being intubated, and
  3. You fear that he’ll be the next one they’ll place on a vent.

I don’t wish it upon you, but I wish you could experience the red taped bureaucracy involved in trying to seek appropriate treatment, while also trying to follow the guidelines put in place … Only to have those guidelines change from day to day, hour to hour.

Or the fact that, as an essential worker, how difficult it has been to even get tested for COVID-19, knowing that your positive test result can be added to the data being collected during this pandemic.

I don’t wish it upon you, but I wish you knew what it’s like to love your career and be good at it, yet are hesitant to go into work each day for fear of what might happen on your shift.

Or what it’s like to force yourself to take a few deep, calming breaths before pushing back your unit’s door, labeled with a temporary sign that reads “Isolation Unit. Keep Doors Closed.”

Or how every day you greet your co-workers with, “Wonder what fresh hell we’ll get ourselves into today.”

Or how much of a struggle it is to remember what the latest protocol is for each specific task you have on your daily assignment. And what it’s like to worry that if you don’t follow these ever-changing guidelines, then you’d miss something life-threateningly important.

Most importantly, I don’t wish it upon you, but I wish you could recognize that what is happening at the patient’s bedside and on these units are occurring at a lightning fast pace. So fast in fact, that the *actual* news reported on a daily basis is often times a week or two behind.

  • Lack of testing? Called it.
  • Lack of PPE not just for the hospital, but other care facilities including nursing homes? Called that, too. Hydroxychloroquine ousted as “The Miracle Drug”? Uh huh … and I’m waiting for the news to report on how Remdesivir is only effective within 1-4 days of when the patient actually developed symptoms.

I don’t expect you to *understand* what my experiences have been like with COVID-19. However, I am simply asking you to see the reasons why Michigan’s government placed these “Stay At Home” restrictions in place.

While COVID-19 may not have affected you or your loved ones directly, it HAS affected the 50K Michiganders who tested positive for COVID-19 (which is significantly less that the actual, as many people were denied testing … myself included).

Or the families of the 5K Michiganders who DIED from COVID-19 related complications.

What I DO wish upon you is this: I implore you to consider the reasons why I believe it’s too early to “reopen” the country.

How can we reopen when we don’t have adequate testing to confirm exactly how many people have COVID-19?

How can we #SlowTheSpread when we aren’t even sure who has the virus or not … especially when there are countless of people that are NOT showing any symptoms? Those countless people would then unknowingly spread COVID-19 to at least 5 to 6 other individuals that can also remain asymptomatic.

How can we allow businesses, restaurants, retail shops to open when we don’t even have the appropriate leadership in place to set realistic guidelines on how to control the spread of this highly contagious virus?

How can we “reopen” when we don’t have a secure plan in place to keep the curve flattened?

How do we not learn from other countries that have reopened “too soon” and now have shown a resurgence in COVID-19 cases? Like South Korea, who loosen some social distancing restrictions early this month; or the Wuhan Province of China, where new cases popped up after at least 35 days without any new ones.

How can we believe that with “common sense” we can “go back to life as it was” … when “as it was” WAS. NOT. ENOUGH. to control this COVID-19 Pandemic? And that the thought of “we could catch the virus or any other virus” is merely considered a risk?

Sure we take risks every day, but that’s a CHOICE that each individual makes … of which that risk, if you usecommon sense,” should then be limited to your own outcomes. “Common sense” would dictate that any risk taken should avoid endangering others. Unfortunately, if you CHOOSE to take the risk of going out into public without applying social-distancing and without wearing a protective face mask … you certainly are NOT using “common sense.” In fact you would be putting an entire community at risk.

It’s unhealthy to think that by staying “closed,” our economy will crumble. It’s also egotistical to think that if the US Economy collapses, then every other economy will collapse worldwide. How can we think that the economy … the “almighty dollar” (or in this case “liquid assets”) is worth more than a life?

Let me clarify by saying that I DO want the country to reopen. I DO want our economy to be stable. I DO want those unemployed by this crisis to be be able to go back to work. I would certainly love to go out to restaurants again. And take that Road Trip we had planned for the beginning of this month.

What I DON’T want is to see an increase in hospitalizations for COVID-19 related issues. Because the more COVID-19 cases seen in the hospital means that the more resources will be reallocated to treating these patients.

This means that elective surgeries (the money maker for any hospital system) will be placed on hold (again), resulting in less revenue. Then the (non-frontline) Hospital Executives will continue to believe that they have “too many employee salaries to pay”, which would then lead to more furloughs and job eliminations.

This ultimately means less staff to take care of these COVID-19 patients (or any sick patients requiring hospitalization, for that matter). And since there will ultimately be those individual who DO NOT use their common sense when the economy reopens, this mean that we may ultimately never gain control over COVID-19. That’s why *I* believe that we need to maintain these #StayHomeStaySafe and #ShelterAtHome restrictions for now; at least until we are able to control the spread of COVID-19 … If not to save more lives (we just surpassed 90K deaths today), but to protect the lives of those still walking this earth.

After all, what good is an economy if we don’t have people to spend it on?

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PS. Thanks to the research study I participated in, I can officially say that I did have COVID-19. And I have the antibodies to prove it!

News from the Home Front: Worse. Wife. Ever.

First of all, Happy Easter to all of my family & friends. I can’t tell you how BLESSED (and for those that know me well, “blessed” is a word that I don’t use lightly) that we are to have the love & support of everyone in our lives, especially in light of what we all have been living through over the past few months.

Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs are, know that Dear Hubby (DH) & I are grateful that your love, your positivity, your well-wishes have found your way to us.

We’ve always lived our lives believing in the concepts of Karma (“What goes around, comes around”) and the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”), and I feel as if we’re totally “cashing” in on some of that “good.” So again, THANK YOU.

With that said, I don’t have positive news to deliver today. DH developed a cough yesterday and his temp was 102.9 this morning; though he had no shortness of breath (SOB) or difficulty breathing (dyspnea). We did a video appointment with the on-call physician from his PCP’s office. She recommended that since DH has other underlying medical problems, that DH should go to The Mother Ship’s drive-thru COVID-19 Screening / Testing.

When we got there, they checked to see how his oxygen levels were at; since he was hovering at 89-90% (“normal” is anything 90% or higher), he was sent to the ED where he was eventually placed on 3 liters of oxygen and was sent for a chest x-ray.

That chest x-ray? It showed pneumonia. And it won him an admission to The Mother Ship on one of the COVID-19 medical floors. Although his COVID-19 test is still pending as I write this, they are treating it as if he does have it, including starting him on the treatment guideline of hydroxychloroquine + azithromycin.

So there you go. I brought COVID-19 home to my husband. Which officially makes me the Worse. Wife. Ever.

Okay, okay … I know I’m over-exaggerating here. Logically, I know that this could have happened regardless of my chosen profession or where I work, but bear with me as I try to work through my emotions as I sit at home, while my husband lies in a hospital bed less than a half mile away.

Remember … these posts are *MY* way of coping with this COVID-19 Crisis. So hear me out.

I feel guilty. I’m the one who brought COVID-19 into our home. I’m the one who first had symptoms and — though I self-isolated from DH — I *still* managed to pass it on to him. Yes, I know I wasn’t “officially” tested for COVID-19, but it doesn’t take rocket science to know that if my symptoms walked & talked like a duck then it likely *IS* a duck.

How could I have passed this miserable virus to DH? How could I give him the same head & body aches that I had? How could I pass on those fevers from h*ll while simultaneously feeling like I was lying in a bed of ice in the middle of winter? How could I let the same person — who is admittedly the chef in our household — lose his sense of taste & smell?

Blame it on the whole Filipino Catholic thing … but I feel absolutely HORRIBLE for bringing this home to him. And I suspect that many of us Front Line Healthcare Workers feel the same way.

But I also feel angry. So. Stinkin’. Mad. Two weeks ago (today, in fact) when these symptoms first started, DH & I followed the guidelines for self-quarantine at that time. I took over the master bedroom & 1st floor bathroom, while he stayed in our den, slept on the couch (his choice, not mine), and used the upstairs bathroom closest to his home office. I wiped down everything that I touched in the kitchen & other common areas and he did the same. Separate dinnerware, separate meals; separate everything. We didn’t touch, kiss, hug; we were basically separated from each other in our own home. And because of that, there was NO REASON for either me or DH to wear a mask in our home … Especially since we were never directly face-to-face from one another AND we were always a room or more apart from each other. That was the guidelines … Two. Weeks. Ago.

And for the most part, it *still is* for a household that has someone sick with COVID-19 or even suspected COVID-19. (See first link below.) Last week there were changes to those guidelines.

Last week (April 8, to be precise), the CDC strongly encouraged that *everyone* start wearing cloth masks, along with staying six feet apart from another when in public. (See second link below.)

It was also just LAST WEEK that Headquarters issued an email stating, “The CDC says it is reasonable for all health care workers to wear a mask if they are not able to adequately maintain a social distance of 6 feet from one another. This includes wearing them in break rooms, hallways and other common areas.” Prior to that, Headquarters had NO recommendations about wearing masks in common areas or when having to walk through the halls. A mask wasn’t considered “necessary” unless of course, you were feeling “under the weather” or you were in the “high risk” category for COVID-19. Because why use precious PPE if it isn’t necessary? Especially when direct caregivers needed the limited amount of PPE available more than other healthcare workers?

That means that back in the *beginning* of March when COVID-19 first started to hit Detroit, no one (except for those providing direct care to COVID-19 / Suspected COVID-19 patients) was required to wear a mask.

Flash-forward now to the *end* of March (3/30), and I become a Suspected COVID-19 healthcare worker. Six days later (4/4), DH now has Suspected COVID-19. Seven days from then (today 4/12), DH is admitted to the hospital.

So yeah. The fact that I *probably* should have been wearing a mask from the moment Detroit became a COVID-19 “hotspot” is what truly makes me angry.

Which — earlier today — led me down a rabbit hole of negativity with the following thoughts:

  1. Headquarters should have been recommending this from the beginning AND providing staff with adequate PPE, even if it was a plain surgical mask
  2. The entire healthcare system in the US should have been more prepared for this pandemic MUCH SOONER by having enough PPE, ventilators, and other medical supplies available
  3. The US Government should been involved EARLIER in this pandemic before it even reached US soil, and finally
  4. Both US Healthcare and the US Government should been quicker and MUCH more open to learning from the other countries about what has / has not been working.

I mean … aren’t we, as a nation, supposed to be one of the brightest and most advanced countries? I could go on and on (and on) about how I think US Healthcare Industry and our federal government has failed miserably, but I will hold back. Well … At least for right now. While DH is in the hospital. Where I can’t visit him. And hold his hand or help ease some of that anxiety that comes from being alone in a frightening place. (But once this COVID-19 Crisis is under control … then, try and stop me!)

Because really … at this juncture, why waste my energy on how ANGRY I am? And how negative I could become? For now, I just want to keep as level-headed and calm as I can, so that I can be there for DH when I’m needed.

Whew. Rant over.

And … as I re-read what I’ve written, I realize that I’ve come back full circle to the whole Karma / Golden Rule thingy:

I can be anxious and feel guilty and scream with anger about this whole situation. But I won’t. (Give me a few days on the whole guilt thing though, because … well, Filipino Catholic!)

Because I truly believe that if we give out positive vibes, then we’ll get positive vibes in return.

Which we’ve already received. In Spades.

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To leave on a happier note … here’s a few serendipitous things that have occurred since just this morning:

  • Our incredibly professional and big-hearted nephew (AKA supplier — er, Prescription Deliverer), was one of employees stationed at The Mother Ship’s COVID-19 Drive Thru … and, since I can’t physically be there for DH, Tyler has been awesome at helping to relay messages / deliver items to him.
  • The Hospitalist (Attending Physician in lieu of his PCP, who doesn’t come to the hospital) happens to be a great friend of mine, and is someone that DH has also met. We couldn’t be happier (and I couldn’t be more relieved) to be assigned to her, as I’ve personally worked with her and she’s is just simply AWESOME, both as a physician AND overall as a person. (Love you Susan!)
  • Our next-door-neighbors ONCE AGAIN left us (well, really just *me* at the moment — sorry DH!) an entire Easter Dinner care package. I mean, really?! Who does that?? Obviously Elizabeth & her family does! Thank you SO much for the delicious meal!
  • Today is the first time I’ve been out of my house for the past 2 weeks, and that fresh air felt wonderful … I told my SIL Janet that I felt like a 9-year old girl who got her first Big Girl Bike and felt that first bit of freedom
  • And while I was out, I figured poor Kirby Krackel deserved a little freedom as well … so I took him to a local park and walked him around its perimeter (wore a cloth mask the ENTIRE time, too! 🥵)

In spades, I tell ya … 🥰

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AND AS A REMINDER … Stay safe out there, people!

  • Six feet apart, people. SIX. FEET.
  • When out in public, wear a cloth mask (save the *real* masks for the healthcare workers!)
  • And — for the love of all those Essential Workers out there that WISH they can — STAY. HOME.

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Time for bed now … this Keister is done with this year’s Easter 😂🤣