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.