So my family got COVID for Christmas. I knew there was always the possibility of bringing it home from the hospital, having dinner out in town with my husband, or even my son bringing it home from school.
The constant paranoia is a mental struggle as I do everything I am supposed to do according to CDC, my place of employment, and guidelines provided by the Nurse Practice Act, etc.
My kids are socializers. My 22 year old is active in his church, gathers routinely with friends and actively meets with clients as a real estate agent. My 19 year old health and gym junkie just got home from college, recently revealed that he probably caught COVID in college but was afraid to tell me. My 11 year old goes to the neighborhood park and plays basketball just about everyday with a bunch of random kids.
My husband and I are just as hospitable, as we have no more than the CDC allowance of friends and family over for evening dinners. Although everyone that visits are vaccinated, we all have differences of opinions around COVID and vaccination. Some hold their view points stronger than others which is why my husband dissuades discussions on these topics, along with religion and politics. These can sometimes turn an evening full of laughter into an awkward silence in a room of friends.
Amid all of these social interactions, our COVID ordeal felt almost inevitable as the positive COVID cases started rising through the holidays. This, despite community masking and social distancing almost becoming a norm to a majority of us.
One morning my 22 year old awakens to body aches and chills after an evening at the movies. Immediately I go into denial thinking, "well the flu is going around." That thought was reinforced with knowing that we've recently started seeing an uptick Flu cases in our ED, which is a complete turnaround from a year ago, when such symptoms surely meant a COVID diagnosis.
I pretty much banish him to his room as soon as he tells me and hand him a temporal thermometer like it would really make a difference. We scramble to find a way for him to get tested as soon as possible. I began to empathize with the others that have gone through this ordeal as I realize getting tested is not easy one would think. More so over a long holiday weekend. Eventually my son procures an appointment but he'll need to wait another 2 days. All the while, I think to myself, had he tested negative that same day, with his symptoms, would i have allowed him out of quarantine and hang out with the rest of the family in the kitchen and living room?
2 days later, despite being hopeful, our suspicions are confirmed. POSITIVE. "Ok so he was obviously positive", I think to myself, and so, "now what?". Proactively, I had already taken the precautionary steps of isolating him to his room, preparing and delivering all his meals to him and having him use his own bathroom. Additionally, the rest of the family were doing their part by washing our hands and sanitizing common areas frequently. The nurse in me also made sure that he received his meds PRN.
Luckily my husband was able to secure some home test kits and the rest of our household tested the same night the eldest received his positive result. Mildly surprised, we were all negative. "Cool," I think to myself as we can get through 10 days safely as we "isolate" and "quarantine" as "recommended" by "CDC". https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/scientific-brief-options-to-reduce-quarantine.html). Responsibly I notified my place of employment's HR department and my boss to figure out when I'm eligible to return to work. As simple as one might think the answer to be, especially with all the literature and information we're fed surrounding COVID, I never felt completely comfortable with the guidelines I was given. Between trying to determine days removed from close contact versus exposure, validity of home kits versus standard laboratory tests, and CDC recommendations versus workplace protocols, you can just imagine what thoughts were racing through my head. In the end, based partly on science and an innate moral compass, I choose to air on the side of caution. Thank you for your patience, my Hawaii CPR To Go students as I consequently had to reschedule 2 weeks of classes to conduct them safely. Also appreciated is my employer's willingness to accommodate my return to work date despite the current staffing shortage.
Christmas season had a different feel this year. As a result of one positive COVID test, there wasn't the hustle and bustle to arrange a family gathering which is traditionally at our house. It was actually a nice reprieve and pretty restful.
Again that quickly changed when my 11 year old starts to feel achy and presents a cough and sore throat within 24 hrs of his negative home test. A repeat home test a day later reveals a positive test as well. "So do I stick him in the room with the other covid guy?" I decide on isolating him to his bedroom which he shares with his older brother, essentially forcing the currently negative 19 year old out into the living room. Panic sets in realizing all the exposure we've had with him. I have this impending doom at the pit of my stomach, but oddly find myself more worried about when I can get back to work rather than the idea having to possibly be intubated should I contract the virus. As healthcare provider, I constantly live in that head space, and a rising disappointment comes over me because I recently purchased a few pulse oximeters on Amazon but gave them all away to family members who needed them more.
Christmas eve arrives and we're determined to make the best of our situation. My husband and I take a leisurely early morning walk to a nearby Starbucks making it 2 days in a row that we're finally getting some exercise. Upon returning home, my husband remains outside and begins prep for smoking our traditional prime rib dinner. Inside the house, my 19 year old and I begin to experience body aches, fatigue and headaches with intermittent low grade fevers. I also recognize an unrelenting low back pain that I previously attributed to the11,000 steps my hubby and I accumulated over the last 2 days. The symptoms persist as I try to finish off making butter mochi, smash potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts. Later that evening, our last home kit confirmed our 19 year old's diagnosis. Christmas morning came and my symptoms have worsened. There was no need for me to take a test.
I didn't anticipate this viral transmission as we tried to be as careful as possible. I did question myself and wondered if I could have taken more precautions. It almost seemed unavoidable as historically in my household when one gets sick, the unwelcome affliction tends to be shared throughout its course and at unpredictable times. My 22 year old looks great and his only complaint is that he can't taste his food and my 11 year old just has this dry cough and a little sore throat. How does this scenario work now?
I've run through all of the Netflix, Amazon Prime and HBO Max shows that interest me or I can fall asleep to, but I am excited today to rid of the awful body aches, intermittent chills and, surprisingly, the lower back pain. Curiously I searched for similar experiences online. I wanted to see how people were coping as I know my experience may be mild compared to other's challenges. The only thing that comes up online is the redundancy of medical advice from doctor google and the need to reach out for mental health resources which realistically is almost unattainable.
As I currently remain in isolation and I now have the energy to express myself, I wanted to share my current COVID Christmas adventure. My article expresses my own view and experience as my family are going through this life learning challenge. As a healthcare provider I conscientiously made the decision to trust the science and receive all the COVID vaccines as recommended. I also allowed my children to make their own choices about getting the vaccines and they did. My 11 year old was eager to get the vaccine as soon as he was able. As uncomfortable as I was about the risks for boys getting the vaccine, I was comfortable in their decisions.
Unfortunately there is social stigma surrounding COVID. Judging people on their daily activities, their choice to be vaccinated or not, choice or religion or political views. I only have a positive interest on how you made it or are making it through. What support and resources were there for you and your family. What are you thankful for?
What am I thankful for? I am thankful we are not admitted into the hospital and we are all recovering the best way we can. I am thankful for my supportive husband who slept in the living room on a cot as were were all banished to our rooms. His wonderful meals served on paper plates throughout our days. His frequent checks on all of us as we slept and squirmed for hours in our rooms. I am thankful for my kiddos for being compliant and willingly cooperative as we sat and ate Christmas COVID meals 6 feet apart pulling our masks down only to take a bite. Not one of them complained about being home quarantined and isolated which means to me as a mom, that we provide a loving home. I am thankful to family who dropped food off and family members who stayed away when I insisted.
Thank you for your time and interest in reading my blog. Positive encouraging comments and experiences are welcomed. Negative and bullying will not be tolerated.