When I told my team leader at work that I was suddenly feeling sick Monday afternoon: headache, dizziness, little nausea, but no fever, though I felt “feverish,” she couldn’t get me out of there fast enough. She gave me a phone number to call for the employee return to work hotline, and pretty much no other instruction. Just get out – away from the moms and babies and the nurses who care for them – do not pass go, do not collect $200.
It was like going to the nurse at school as a kid feeling sick and hoping she would send you home, but instead of just reluctantly calling mom and suggesting you should go home and rest, she kicked you to the curb and told you not to come back until you could prove you didn’t have the plague.
I’m a nursing assistant in Labor and Delivery at the largest hospital in Phoenix and our state is currently experiencing a huge spike in Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. They can’t take any unnecessary risks.
But at the same time, many of my friends on Facebook are complaining that they are required to wear a mask when they go out in public. Or even refusing to do so.
I wasn’t going to write about this until I had results…positive or negative. Or maybe not even at all. I haven’t been writing on my blog or even posting on social media much lately. There is so much noise and hate and animosity on social media right now, that I’ve just stayed quiet. Even on my own blog. Frankly I’ve been feeling sad and tired and even a bit hopeless about the state of our world and have far too much going on in my own life to focus on all the BS I can’t control.
A few people have said that they miss my heartfelt and inspiring words, but mostly there is so much noise right now that I’m not sure many people have noticed my absence.
I have friends on the far ends of both sides of the political spectrum, and I fit somewhere in the messy middle, and I have always loved the diversity of viewpoints. But I get so anxious every time I read the angry, hateful things my friends are saying, and how people are politicizing this current unprecedented health crisis. I have friends who refuse to believe what’s really happening and instead hold fast to the idea that someone is pulling the wool over our eyes and trying to take away our freedoms. I have other friends who spew hate toward people who are gathering at rallies and protests.
So much dissension and hate. I hate it.
After I changed out of my scrubs Monday, I sat in the locker room for a few minutes, slightly dismayed and not really sure what I was supposed to do. I had called the hotline but it had only been a recording. I left a voicemail and they said they would return my call within 24 hours.
Do I stop by Employee Health to get a Covid test? I felt tired and achy, and really wanted to curl up in bed. I had been hoping they would send me home, but really wasn’t thinking it might be Covid. Even though of course I have been exposed. We all have at the hospital. But we wear masks, wash hands, sanitize surfaces, and wear full PPE in deliveries and around known positive patients. I have felt mostly safe.
But I could have picked it up outside the hospital too. We have been out and about a little more over the last few weeks.
And though I have been wearing a mask whenever I am in close proximity to people outside my own family and close friends, I take it off whenever I can. It’s bad enough to wear it for 12 hours straight at work. I have been too lax about it, I realize now.
After I clocked out, I stopped by the screening station I walk past each day when I come to work, where they take my temperature and ask if I have any symptoms, and I asked them if they knew what I should do if I do have symptoms. They didn’t know.
I drove to the nearby Occupational Health building, parked in the garage and walked up to the elevator, but a big sign said not to enter if you had any symptoms. So, I turned back around and headed home.
On the way home I called my primary care doctor to see if I could get in there for a test. They were able to give me an appointment for the next day, Tuesday.
By Tuesday I was feeling somewhat better. Just low energy and still a little dizzy and achy. Plus a little sad that not a single person from work had bothered to check in and see how I was feeling. They are supposed to be caring and empathetic nurses and I didn’t feel very cared for. But I got over it. They are busy and focused on their patients. On top of that they are now short-staffed on nursing assistants, thanks to my absence. Most of them probably don’t even know why I’m gone. I’m working on getting a tougher skin and not taking everything so personally. It’s a work in progress.
The test wasn’t too bad. They didn’t swab quite as far back in my nose as I have heard they were doing. Hopefully it is still accurate. Who knows. I won’t have an answer until at least Friday, maybe Monday. They said test results have been running about four business days.
If I do have Covid-19, it’s a very mild case. But here’s the thing. Though my case may be mild, it also could get worse and have lasting effects.
More importantly, I have come into contact with dozens of people over the past few weeks, each of whom has also come into contact with who knows how many people. I saw my parents. I hugged my dad on Father’s Day. What if I gave it to them and their case wasn’t so mild?
I watched my uncle die of Covid-19 two months ago. I have seen patients with it in the hospital. Yes, even in Labor and Delivery. This is not a joke. This is not a political stunt.
Part of me hopes my test is positive, so my family and I will develop antibodies and have some immunity to this so little understood disease. But it most likely is negative. So I hope I get the results fast so I can spend time with my precious family this weekend and return to work next week.
This is such a scary time to be a nursing student and a nursing assistant. Part of me wonders what I am doing, why I would start over in a new career at 45, why I don’t just stay home and write, or focus on one of my many side gigs and business ideas. But I do really like making a difference in a person’s life, one person at a time. So I think I can deal with the red tape, rules, and even politics in order to do so. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can…