One of the unique aspects of hospital work is the concept of being “floated”. I have my home floor where I was hired. But the hospital has the right to send me to any floor they choose in order to cover staff shortages. I guess the theory is that an RN is generic and doing nursing shit is the same on every type of floor right? Doesn’t matter that I have no idea who the providers are and many of the medications on that floor are something I’ve never seen. I have no idea what the policies are for that specialty or even how to find the supply room. Imagine being in marketing and working day after day on a particular product launch. You show up to work and your boss tells you to have to go work on a different product team today. After all, marketing is marketing, right?
Anyway, I showed up the other day and checked the schedule. The dreaded words… float to the covid floor. Sigh. Naturally nobody wants to work the covid floor, so everyone has to take a turn. Unfortunately due to the spike in cases in my area, coupled with huge staffing shortages, getting floated to the covid floor is becoming pretty common. So off I went to the hot zone.
Twelve hours of putting on a heavy plastic gown, gloves, N95, surgical mask, and face shield, going in the room to take care of business, then stripping it all off. Then doing the same in the next room. Then going back to the first room. Then the next room. Over and over and over again. These folks are sick. For the most part not much bothers me medically – but watching people struggling to breathe when there’s little I can do, is just hard. It makes for a long day.
Fast forward a few days and I woke up and just felt… off. I did a bunch of errands and then some yardwork. By early afternoon I had zero energy and a splitting headache had set in. The next morning, no change. No energy, fatigue, brain fog, and a dull headache. Classic covid symptoms. Crap! The China virus finally got me. How ironic that I’ve been writing about breakthrough cases in vaccinated people and now I’m going to be one of those statistics. In my mind I replayed all my patient encounters. Did I get sloppy with my PPE? Did I forget to wash my hands and then touched my face? I was adjusting my mask when that guy coughed on me, maybe that was it?
We have some people coming to visit and an upcoming trip, so I figured I better get tested just to confirm. Insurance will pay if you’re willing to wait 2-3 days for your results. If you need immediate results it’s out of pocket. So I plunked down my $142 and got the swab via a drive through testing center. I went home and started making a list of who I may have come in contact with so I can tell them they might have been exposed.
Negative. Negative for covid and influenza. Whew. And this morning I woke up and felt fine. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it was a cold? Too many days of poor sleep? Didn’t drink enough water? Too many nachos in one sitting? Weird.
Our world has certainly changed. I never used to think twice about feeling off for a few days. Now, the slightest sniffle and we all worry that the dreaded virus finally got us. We’ve been brainwashed into becoming a society that fears normal human interaction. Half the population endorses authoritarian/totalitarian measures of control. The other half is ready riot in protest.
I live in a weird dichotomy. I live my life as normal as possible, without fear. My odds of grave injury in a motor vehicle accident are higher than being struck down by covid. I’m going to eat in restaurants, enjoy time with friends, and see family. Yet, in the back of my mind are images that not everyone sees. A few days ago I watched a man be wheeled into his wife’s room for a few minutes to say goodbye – before we pulled her off oxygen support. Another covid statistic. That’s real. It’s not a meme on Facebook.
I miss normal.