It’s Been Awhile…

It’s Been Awhile…

My apologies to the threes of people who read this, I have been remiss in my posting duties. This is an update from my visit the the ER and ICU on March 23-25.

Warning – tl;dr ahead!

I was tested for Covid-19. Here’s what it’s like…

First, I should state for anyone new to my reports that I’m one of those lucky non-smokers who was diagnosed with lung cancer. I have been through six weeks of concurrent chemoradiation, and I am currently undergoing immunotherapy.

All that said, this puts me at dire risk when it comes to something like Covid-19. It’s bad enough that it’s a respiratory virus, but since I am also immunosuppressed, that’s a recipe for disaster.

I hadn’t been anywhere but in my car and house for two weeks, that is until early Monday morning this week. That’s when I started having trouble breathing without a sharp pain right below my Adam’s apple. I woke Tori up, telling her that I think we need to reach out to the on-call doctor at the UTSW oncology department. The doctor called us back, asked lots of questions, then recommended that we drive to Dallas to the UTSW ER.

So off we went at 5:30 in the AM. Upon arrival, we were met at the doors of the ER by someone who was screening to determine why people were trying to enter. Right after I entered, the person told three people trying to either cut through for work or get upstairs that this is only for sick patients, all else can find another path.

I went through intake, and was whisked into a room, where after some initial conversation, we were left to our own devices for a bit. During that time, someone came and wrote on our frosted door. It said:

Well, that was certainly comforting. When the nurse finally did come in, she was dressed in full hazmat gear. Also very reassuring. She brought in a tablet, which was used to converse with the doctor as he was deciding whether to test me for Covid. After hours, they decided to test me for it – and basically anything else they could think of. This is when I was moved to the ICU.

As they’re getting me ready to wheel out to the ICU, they tell Tori she can’t come, because Covid. She grabbed my hand and squeezed it, and I could tell just how anxious that made her. I wanted to be there for her, but I simply couldn’t be in that moment. She wanted to be there for me, but she was being shut out. It was tough on us both.

As I sit in the ICU, I am constantly being monitored and watched through a window. I am not allowed to go to the bathroom in the room, I have to use a plastic jug when I urinate, and if I need to do anything else, they have to come into the room and help me sit down on the toilet. At this point, I hadn’t slept in over 24 hours, but there’s no way to sleep, as they are constantly asking me questions, plus several hours of tests, a million wires being connected to my everything, and an IV being started. Anytime anyone comes into my room, they are fully suited up in their gear, which makes everything take forever. I finally get something decent to eat around 9 PM, which makes me feel better and at the same time exhausted.

At around 10:30, the nurse comes in without her gear on, and tells me that I am Covid negative. I text Ella and Tori, and await the next move to a regular room, which happened quickly. It turns out I had a lingering infection, likely a pneumonia that was causing my breathing issues and was likely what is called referred pain – that is where one part of your body creates pain in another part, and they really don’t understand why. They had two IVs in me for two days, constantly loading me up with antibiotics and steroids, and I was on oxygen. My doctor told me on the third day that she wanted to get me out of the hospital, as I was very susceptible to another infection, and that my level of exposure in the hospital was high.

On the third day, I was released, and it felt like I had been run over by a truck. I got home, took a two-hour nap, was awake for an hour, then slept for about 14 hours.

I can honestly say that every single person I dealt with at UTSW was warm, caring, personal, professional, and obviously exhausted. They are amazing human beings doing something that only the best among us do; putting themselves in harm’s way for the greater good.

As Mister Rogers said:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

I found them, but I hope no one else has the need to do so anytime soon. Stay at home people, otherwise you’re putting someone like me at risk for a trip to the hospital – or worse.

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