If you would have asked me last year what I wanted to do in 2020, it would have involved traveling the world and just living my life to the fullest. But the COVID-19 pandemic took everyone by surprise. Everything we previously considered to be normal has been reinvented.
I am a travel nurse, and I work in the Emergency Department. I have had the opportunity to work at different facilities during this pandemic. Being on the front lines has helped me to learn about the virus, and I have witnessed first hand the long-lasting effects of this virus on patients, on front line workers, and on myself.
As a nurse the fear of the virus, or even getting sick myself is set aside. Providing compassionate care to my patients matters to me. I am willing to put my life on the line to save others.
I was excited when I received a short assignment at the beginning of July. The majority of my shifts were working with patients diagnosed with COVID-19. I enjoyed this assignment because I was able to expand my knowledge on this virus, enhance my nursing skills, and treat and assess my patients to the best of my ability.
During the second week of the assignment, I started coughing. I didn’t think anything of it. I thought it was just a normal cough. When getting off shift one morning, my entire body ached and I was extremely exhausted. I attributed it to being on my feet for 12 hours. During the third week, I was experiencing a cough, fatigue, feeling hot, headaches, loss of smell and loss of taste.
On my last work day for the week, I was eating, and I noticed I could not taste or smell my food. Plus, my skin was really hot. I talked to a friend about what was going on and they suggested that I get tested. I went in to work like normal, but before my shift started, I notified the charge nurse and a provider of the symptoms I was feeling. I told them I wanted to check in to the Emergency Room to be seen.
When I was checked in I was placed in isolation until my results came back. After 5 hours had passed, the doctor came to let me know I was COVID-19 positive. I didn't want to believe it. So many thoughts began to run through my mind. Am I going to recover from this? Will my symptoms get worse? Will I end up in the hospital? How is this going to affect me going forward? Will my taste and smell ever come back? It was a lot to process. I was taken off of work. I signed my discharge paperwork and left. The next morning, I packed up everything and drove home.
I was saddened by the fact that I did not get to finish my assignment. But I knew that I wasn't in good health where I could take care of anyone. Despite everything, I was still glad that I was able to be of service to the patients who needed me the most for the length of time I was there.
Before getting COVID-19, I would stay active by running. When I am not on an assignment, I volunteer which requires me to be around other people. Coming back home after being diagnosed with COVID-19 was life altering. I could no longer go out or be around people. I had to be isolated for the recommended fourteen days and until I was feeling better.
During that time, I made sure I kept track of my temperature and other symptoms. I stayed hydrated and got plenty of rest. I still had an appetite, but I could not enjoy my food due to not being able to taste or smell. I would put on lotion, and I wouldn't be able to smell that either. I couldn't smell or taste nothing. When I breathed, I would feel pain in my chest and a tickle in my throat which made me cough. I would get short of breath while moving around. I was generally fatigued and was just not feeling well. It made me depressed. Close to day 14 my smell and taste started to gradually come back. I was grateful for that, but was still dealing with the depression. I prayed and meditated on Bible scriptures to find peace.
Sometimes we take things for granted or feel like we are immune to certain things, when we are not. The Lord healed me, and I am forever grateful for that. COVID-19 has taught me to be even more grateful for the little things like being able to smell and taste. One thing I do know is that the Lord is in control regardless of the circumstance. I know that I can completely trust him in all things. What may seem like a negative experience, had so much good come out of it.
I have been able to get back out, run, and volunteer. I notice that my lung function is not like it use to be, but I am still grateful for the opportunity to go out and do what I love to do. I am still dealing with some long-term effects from this virus, but everyday the Lord allows me to wake up is a day that He will give me the strength to endure it all. Even if things do not go back to what I consider “normal”, He is still good!!