Because of where we are, where we work, and what we do, most working perfusionists right now will encounter a moment where you have to reconcile that what you are doing may constitute a significant health risk to us, and God forbid- our families. This isn’t all about altruism and a call-of-duty, sometimes it hovers more around the fact that you need to provide for your family, as well as the fact that you are an inextricable part of the heart team- if removed or missing- well, there is no heart surgery to be performed.
So naturally each institution has implemented it’s own containment policy regarding access to the hospital for patients and healthcare workers alike. A cautionary note: Typically if you are wearing a badge and scrubs- the level of scrutiny diminishes by at least 80%.
Are we immune to Covid? Of course not! Does daily exposure to possibilities of contracting Covid bother us? I would say yes. But in a more innocuous way. Fear of the unknown lessens when confronted on a daily basis. Yes, we always wear masks, hand shakes are rare, worries of surface contact are basically shelved to the back burner of “it’s in God’s hands” In a land where there are just too many spots where someone else has been before. For the most part masks are working, and distancing has become an instinct.
But… We al do get sick from time to time, and that is what I am presenting today, a POV of my own experience trying to rule out whether a Summer cold is the cause of my symptoms- or just the feared reaper that we really DON’T want to play cards with- cuz they are definitely stacked against us.
In medicine we typically ignore- subvert- or defy fear… but seeing so many of us succumb to this virus- that realization of mortality has sucked a little bit of that fearless bravado out of us. We don’t abandon the fight- we are just more careful with our approach 🙂
Is it Covid- Or just a Summer Cold?
July 4, 2020
- 12:00 Noon- Picking up the rest of Holiday call, drive through downtown which looks and feels like a battle zone of poverty, lost dreams, and misplaced incentives. Feeling- tense
- 15:00– bought groceries and what not- heading to hotel to chill and wait for the phone to go off… Feeling- lackadaisical with no forward plans
- 20:00– Riding the few fireworks and explosions outside the hotel window. 4th of July seems/is muted by Covid and our fears. Political unrest is relentless. Feeling- melancholy
- 22:00– Neck is starting to hurt- probably from watching too much Netflix- in the hotel bed- not alot of comfy furniture. Feeling- Like a Hermit
July 5, 2020
- 0:800– Kinda worn out- don’t really know why- but figure it’s cuz I have no life right now. Huge headache and a very very sore neck. Feeling- like there is something on the Radar that I might be missing
- 10:00– Ibuprofen has zero effect on neck and headache- this is unusual for me- headaches always disappear. Feeling- a little startled
- 22:00– Morning schedule is in I will be coming in for a standby- Can barely turn in bed- neck pain is very spasmodic and sharp. Feeling- worried about mobility in OR tomorrow
July 6, 2020
- 03:00- Wake up with intermittent chills- so turn off air conditioner- take more Ibuprofen and drink Gatorade. Feeling- a little dazed from lack of sleep
- 06:00- Wake up to take more Ibuprofen. Feeling – restless and anxious
- 07:00- Long hot shower and heading in to work. I have those oddly familiar symptoms of a cold coming on- so I bump up on a gram of Vitamin C to nip it in the bud. Left side of throat has that sore throat coming on feeling- so I gargle with saline. This 1-2 punch always works for me. Face feels flushed. Not sure if it’s anxiety from getting those dreaded symptoms- Temp is 99 F. Feeling- a little worried- but don’t want to be a hypochondriac. I coffee up and drive in to work. Feeling- uncertain and reflective: Retracing all potential contact exposure in my mind. Can’t isolate anything in particular.
- 11:00– Schedule is moving around a lot- the pump standby becomes a very unique and interesting case- which gets me “pumped up”. It is the “unexpected” that makes this field so invigorating. Neck mobility is limited, It’s very hard to rotate my head to the right- but pain is mitigated because of the clinical situation and my attention to it. Feeling- good about my performance and input
- 17:00- Once we are off pump and settled, my colleague on call takes the case over- and I head to parking garage. I haven’t discussed my neck or symptoms with my partners- I don’t want to be “that guy”. Feeling- fatigued
- 17:15- Walking to the parking garage and my truck was a struggle. I was tired, but more so- probably stopped about 6-7 times to hold my arms around the back of neck because the pain was feverishly sharp. Feeling- a lot of neck pain– throat is sore- bad headache. Meningitis crosses my mind- but I toss that to the wind and figure its just what it is- a stiff spasmed out neck.
- 19:02- Finally become proactive after Temp hits 100.3 Not sure where the cutoff range is for Covid related exclusionary fevers- but i think when it hits 4 digits- that is a small red flag. The sore throat is now becoming a “real sore throat” and a concern- as is the 3 day headache that I have never had in my life. I text our chief perfusionist to at least apprise her of what’s going on. Feeling- like a total wimp. I hate sharing worries and insecurities.
- 22:00- Schedule was formulated before I left so the game plan was to pump a CABG that got pushed back to later in the day. Gives me time to chill- coffee up- and try to figure out whats going on with me. Neck pain is more controllable- but I’m taking close to 3 grams of Ibuprofen Q 24 hrs. I know that’s not therapeutic. But it helps with temp and neck. I also take night time Mucinex to help me loosen what ever crap is in my lungs. IMO? It’s ineffective at this point.
July 7, 2020
- 02:00 – 05:00- Up to take more NSAIDS. Waking up a lot because it seems I feel O2 deprived – and wake up half asleep with a need to catch a full breath. It’s very subtle- cant tell if it is anxiety or truly and issue with breathing. I don’t have sleep apnea- That feeling of breath deprivation goes on all night long. Feeling- very restless
- 07:00- Wake up to having a dream of hugging a dead relative I haven’t thought about in years- that was pretty trippy. Shower etc- cofee up- and it just seemed like everything about the day was a struggle. Raining like hell, me thinking about how i’m going to pass muster when I get the “do you have any symptoms” question. Worried if I’m doing the right thing- but temp is below 99 at this point. Breathing seems to be ok. So in my mind- the only barrier I am breaking is the fever free for 24 hours. Feeling- I don’t want to let my co-workers down
- 10:45- Schedule flips again- and I am uncharacteristically annoyed- but I think just because of the pressure of worrying about all this. Co-workers notice- ask me if I’m ok- I say yes. I feel slow today- like in slow motion- I usually move fast and am decisive when I set up- but I was trying new priming strategies- so i could pass it off to that. IMO- that’s BS- cuz I always have am on-point with my game plan. I was clearly distracted. Feeling- trepidation
- 13:00- I text my Chief and tell her I think I should get a Covid 19 test. She agrees- and totally sets me up within 35 minutes. Co-worker picks up my case. Feeling- defeated but empowered
- 15:00- Swab test for Covid is performed- won’t know results for 7 days or a little less. Things are backed up because of the holiday weekend. I see a lot of people at this clinic- which runs very smoothly- and the staff impressed me. PA listens to my chest and heart- all good there. Of course not knowing anything right now puts me in the same squirrel cage I thought I was getting out of. Nothing has really changed. Neck is better- so headache is now a non issue. Throat is totally sore on both sides now- but my temperature seems to be staying under 100 F. So that’s good. Feeling- ready to get over this cold?
- 20:00- Chills- AC is now gonna stay off. Feeling- optimistic
- 21:00 Chills- no AC- Feeling- flu like This stuff comes in waves. One minute you don’t feel feverish- the next minute your face flushes and you kinda do and yeah- temp goes up. 98.8 15 min ago- then you feel yourself warming up- and boom- you are at 99.3. That’s a lot of fluctuation. But honestly? I have never really paid attention to a cold or fever like this- so it could be standard fare 🙂
- Hair hurts
- Took some Mucinex- to clear up my lungs a bit.
- Well enough of that- gonna crash- all of this does mess with your head though-
July 8, 2020
- 09:00 Fever is gone- lots of fever dreams etc. Sore throat is impressively sore. No real fatigue- a little congested. Feeling- impatient to get Covid test results.
July 10, 2020
- 07:45 Results are Called in- NEGATIVE for Covid!
I got lucky. But what this does put in perspective is how disruptive in all areas Covid has become. Anyone with a cold- realistically may have to go through this same entire process.
Be safe all of you-