SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19, whichever you prefer to call it is a coronavirus that causes a litany of symptoms from what you’d expect of a cold/flu to crippling respiratory illness, digestive malign and potential months-years of bizarre after effects. After three years of a mixed reviewed restrictions and vaccination requirements you’d be hard pressed to find a single person who doesn’t at least know something about the virus, or who hasn’t had it themselves or doesn’t know someone who has.
Currently we seem to be in the final days of restrictions. The lockdowns have been lifted, vaccine mandates and mask mandates mostly dropped outside of certain healthcare settings, and there’s is even talk of lifting boarder mandates. This doesn’t mean, however; that COVID-19 has ceased to exist nor is it necessarily ever going to.
For the last week I have been affixed to my bed unable to summon the energy to do much more than stumble to the bathroom to unleash some intestinal hell on the plumbing. It almost seems ironic that just as we’re beginning to forget about the dangers of COVID-19 and move on with our lives I manage to get sick with it. Though I work in a high-risk setting at a medical laboratory, I always followed all the mandates. I wore the masks, the gown, N95, and face shield when required. I got my shots and suffered several days of after effects from which I hope some protection was earned. I didn’t party or go out in large groups. I knew it could happen yet, the two lines on the rapid test I took last Sunday still startled me. I had COVID-19. As a reasonably healthy and vaccinated 23 year old, I wasn’t expecting much more than a cold. However as the day progressed I got progressively sicker. By around supper time that same day I could barely breath. My chest felt full of cotton and almost conscious effort was needed to move my diaphragm. I slapped on an N95 which regrettably made breathing even more of an effort and had my mother drive me down the block to the hospital.
That Sunday night the reality of medicine in Canada at the moment hit me once again as I waited over an hour for a doctor at a rural emergency department with no one else in the waiting area. I was triaged and sent straight to an exam room. In that small room with the door closed I felt like I could pass out. I was too short of breath to call for help and no one came to check on me. Not to be dramatic, but I could’ve been dead by the time they got to me for all they would’ve known. I’m not trying to blame the staff. It was abundantly clear that there simply weren’t any. I am forced to shake my head at what is going on in the bigger cities if it’s this bad up here with much fewer people to attend to. Prior to the pandemic, I never had to wait more than 20-30 minutes at my local ER. I did eventually pass out in the examining room and had to be shaken awake by the doctor who eventually came in to look at me. I was prescribed medication which unfortunately they didn’t have on hand to reduce my coughing and an inhaler to help me breath.
I returned home still gasping for breath and no better off than I was when I went to the hospital. In the morning I was successful at procuring the cough syrup, courtesy of my mother. The inhaler was $98 I had to pay out of pocket. I couldn’t really afford it but respiratory desperation eventually forced me to add it to my already staggering VISA bill. A bill I cannot pay in full this month with a week of isolation preventing me from taking home an adequate pay check. The inhaler helped tremendously, but for most of the week walking around without fits of coughing and dizziness was impossible.
I am told that now as long as I have no fever and am improved for 24 hours or 48 hours in the case of gastro-intestinal symptoms that I may return to work. I don’t have to test negative, I don’t even really have to be fully better. Such are the current rules and the need for workers at my workplace. I don’t know if I’ll be able to take a full day of work next week with how drained and weak I feel but I shall see. I am of mixed minds on this.
This virus was able to put me out of commission for a solid week and I’m only just now trying to wean myself off the soup and apple sauce diet I’ve been barely able to stomach. As a young person with no known pre-existing health conditions I felt sick enough to need an inhaler to breath. I shudder to think what this would do to an immunocompromised individual such as the people I work with regularly.
On the other hand, we are in desperate need of workers in healthcare. It is crippling dealing with the backlog when people don’t show up because they were exposed or their child or spouse was exposed with nearly no notice, not that when your sick you can really give much of any. It is exhausting having to get shuffled from one location to another to compensate for limited staff. I love my job and I love my coworkers, but there are very few people who would say that healthcare isn’t struggling right now.
I don’t know what the solution is, I don’t pretend to be well informed enough at economics and politics or hospital administration to be able to figure it out on my own. I do have a few suggestions though. I’d like to see more funding for doctors and nurses to attend schools. I’d like to see redesigns of triage areas and hospitals so you don’t waste time going from station to station at an ER. Thirdly I’d like to see an easy way for people without a family physician to renew prescriptions, or get their bloodwork done so they don’t end up sitting in a room reserved for true life threatening emergencies for hours. Finally I’d like to see more things be covered. You should not have to choose between food and an inhaler. But then again, what do I really know about any of this. I’m simply an observer of this mess that seems to be spiraling out of control. All I know is that sooner or later somethings got to give.
That’s all from me today.
I hope anyone who reads this stays happy and healthy.
Feel free to comment, but please keep it respectful.