Post-Quarantine Week 1

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…and it has come to this.

Friday, April 10, 2020

So after having three fever and symptom-free days, I was able to return to work on Good Friday, which in normal times would have been the beginning of my three day Easter weekend, but I’d missed so much work, already, even working from home, that I really felt the need to get back and catch up on paperwork, which I couldn’t access from the house.

My boss sent me a text the day prior stating we have to be masked to enter the building. All I had was the mask my daughter made for me:

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Pardon the bed-head. This was quarantine Day 2 and nobody was going to see me, or so I thought.

He told me that would be fine, and it was. 🙂 It was sooooo amazing to be back amongst the living! Being a social animal by day and a recluse by night, I was just so excited to see my work family again! I did my usual oxygen rounds, my reports, caught up on payroll, checked on my team throughout the day and all was right with the world. Until I realized I’d gone into a soiled supply room outside of one of the COVID units, and the clean supply  room inside another. I wasn’t thinking. I had mask and goggles on, but no gown, and God only knows what I brushed up against in that room, filled with things that had come out of patient rooms. Patients with the virus.

I texted my husband and told him to place my slippers, favorite sweats and an oversized tee-shirt in the studio for me with a couple of old plastic shopping bags and to leave the front door to the building unlocked. I changed before I went into the house and bagged both my shoes and uniform. The shoes stayed in the bag until the next Monday and the scrubs went straight to the washing machine. Welcome to the new normal, I guess.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Over the weekend, I’d worked myself up into a frenzy of near-panic, thinking that I’d unthinkingly put my health in jeopardy by going into that first room without a gown and gloves, and going into the clean room on the other unit without an N-95. I did what every other normal, well-adjusted 54 year old grandmother does when she has the option; I called my mom. No, she didn’t think I was over-reacting. No, she understood why I was frightened, and no, Mom, I didn’t think to tell them NO, not without an N-95 and certainly not in the same mask I’d been wearing three days prior to my getting sick the week before. We decided I would be having an honest conversation about my concerns with my boss upon my return to work on Monday.

Monday, April 13, 2020

The aforementioned conversation went down, and I came away feeling much better. Going into a unit only requires eye protection and a paper mask; only when you enter an unmasked COVID patient’s room do you need the N-95. I do, however, need to be mindful of what I brush up against going into that soiled room that isn’t within the unit. Duly noted.

As an aside, I grabbed a can of Bubly to go with lunch that day. I had to laugh and take the following picture, because who doesn’t love a side of irony with a cheeseburger?

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Yeah, since we are all headed to theaters in throngs… LOL!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The next day, my boss came down to meet with my team. Usually, when he surprises us with a visit like that, he is either bearing food or bad news. He had no pizzas that day. We were told that like many other hospitals across the country, because of the low census (inpatient count for any given day), our organization was implementing a voluntary four-week furlough, and for the rest a mandatory 8 hour PTO day each week. Now, I’d already dropped my team’s hours to 30/week, so this was going to mean 22 regular hours and 8 PTO hours. This still wasn’t going to get them to the under 23 paid hours they would need to draw unemployment of any kind.

After he dropped that particular bomb, he asked to see me behind closed doors in my office. Uh-oh. I was pretty certain I was not going to be offered a promotion or given a raise, based upon his facial expression. I was told that in addition to my weekly 8 hours of PTO, I was going to be transitioned from a salaried position to an hourly position effective the next payroll. I would also be dispatching and transporting. Uhhhhhh… (I honestly believe that may very well have been what came out of my mouth, followed by, “Okaaaaay?”

I kind of indicated that at this time I would kind of like to think about the furlough. The look he shot me screamed a definitive NO. Evidently, the goat-rope my unplanned quarantine had created quite a jam in our processes, so I was guessing that was out of the question. He confirmed that the following day.  Okay, I’m alright with that. I’ll keep getting paid, have a work life balance, and some three-day weekends in the process.

He left, but called me a short time later, stating that since we’d just started a new payroll my hourly status was effective immediately. I literally teared up before I’d hung up the phone.

Here’s the deal; over the previous four or five weeks, I’d been pulling 45-50 hour work weeks. I was coming in early, working through lunch, leaving late, and texting/mailing from home to get my employees work elsewhere throughout the facility. I still wasn’t getting everything done I needed to get done, even with all those extra hours put in. Now I’d been knocked down to 32 weekly work hours, adding dispatch and transporting to my already full plate, and had to punch a time clock for the first time since the summer of 2004? Again, I say, Uhhhhhhhhh. How would I get it all done? What misstep would I make because I was rushed to cram everything into such a decreased time span? What would slip through the cracks?

Thursday, April 16, 2020

I had exactly 8 hours to get a furlough schedule created and posted, as I had four signed forms and one “maybe” going in before noon. When I arrived there were treats. A LOT of treats! Soooo much food and well wishes!

There were fruit snacks and Mac & Cheese and granola bars and popcorn and almonds and Nabs and chips and candy! All donated by the community. Our meager pantry was going to be full of blessings and snacks for a good while! Our hearts were truly full that morning! Did I mention there were also mini-Rice-Krispy Treats? 🙂

Turns out my four furloughs turned into five, which is 1/3 of my transporting staff. For the 8th time in just a few days, I was re-doing the schedule to accommodate for five long-running absences.

I left that afternoon with a skeleton crew for the following day (my mandated PTO day) and the weekend.

How did it all turn out? Tune in to the next installment to find out. *Hint: Forced work-life balance = GOOD!”

Until next time…

 

 

 

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Quarantine Day 5

So I have been a little social media shy, lately.

The book of faces has been addled with entirely too many talking dog videos telling us to socially distance. The pizza guy my husband watches regularly is now confined to his small apartment, reviewing frozen pizzas. False information is running rampant, so it was time to pull the plug, or at least cut back on it, much like I’ve done with the news.

Yesterday, however, after receiving numerous private messages regarding, what has, apparently become a glaring absence from work, I posted. Probably not my best idea.

I wrote:

“I’ve gotten some PM’s about my absence from work, so I’m just going to put this out there…

Yes, I’m on quarantine. Yes, I’ve been tested.

No, I don’t have the results back, yet. On Thursday, when I was tested, I was told it would be up to 14 days before I would get my results. I tested negative for flu and strep throat.

The test is no joke. I honestly believe my sinuses are still feeling what can be best described as a roto-rooter to behind my eyeballs.

What were minimal symptoms on Wednesday are now reportable symptoms, today; shortness of breath and dry cough. I’ve had a low-grade fever throughout.

While it’s nice to be reading in my hammock in these warm spring days? I’m more than a little paranoid over every chest discomfort, hoping that all of this s pollen-related.

Thank you to all the people who have PM’d and texted me to make sure that I’m okay? Thank you❣️

To those that think that going out, casually is okay? I went from work to home, rinse, repeat, until I had to get groceries at the Pikeville Food Lion a week ago, Saturday. People still need to eat, and I stayed the hell away from Walmart, given their parking lot looked like Black Friday.

I’m just saying: #staythefuckhome

I had zero idea that I’d get 77 comments on that post.

Today? I received two calls from UNC Healthcare; one to further explore the newer symptoms I’ve been experiencing and the second was to give me my test results. Can I just say that this was the most happy I’ve been about a negative test result since the pregnancy test as a teenager and the biopsy I had done some number of years ago.

But then, there is also that barb that kept me from doing cartwheels (as if I could actually DO those); my nurse was kind enough to inform me that one out of every three tests is a false negative.

After having posted last night’s entry, I felt obligated to post the results. There is always that one; the one that publicly questions how I can have a negative with so many symptoms and then asked via pm if I was going to be retested.

To which I say not only no, but no with a capital F!

It’s like this, people: unless you personally know the pain of testing? You wouldn’t be so quick to suggest re-testing. My biggest fear from the possibility of being positive was the two or more re-rests!

Also, I suffer badly from seasonal pollen allergies every single spring, to the point where I’m on antibiotics at least once a season because of sinusitis. This also causes shortness of breath, headaches and a low grade fever. In the 23 years prior I don’t know if I had shortness of breath because I wasn’t looking for it.

My fever has been no higher than 99.2, and that was after I’d spent a few days in the hammock, reading, because being outdoors is good. Evidently, it also causes shortness of breath, too. Sound familiar? Yeah, me, too.

That being said, I’m going to ride it out at home, per the letter they gave me telling me to continue to self-isolate until I’ve been fever free and have had drastically reduced symptoms for three days.

If this was a false-negative, this is a mild case, so the rules for re-entering society and the workforce are the same.

Either way? I will sleep soundly, tonight. I hope y’all will, too. ❤️💜

Until next time…

Posted in COVID-19, Health, health care, Personal, Random Thoughts, Self-Care, Suckfest, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Quarantine Days 3 & 4…

So… some things have changed for me over the last couple of days.

Friday was a good day for me. I felt almost normal, as I did yesterday morning. I put my VR headset on yesterday afternoon and did a really low-key workout, much like Friday’s. I cranked it up a notch because I was mad! Mad because the old normal is gone and because I am not entirely embracing the new one, so I played Beat Saber for the last 15 or so minutes and hacked and slashed a bunch of colored cubes with my trusty light sabers as hard as I could. Heart rate and calorie burn up, immediately. Temperature and shortness of breath up within a couple hours after I’d finished.

Since being tested on Thursday, I’ve been monitoring my symptoms regularly, and UNC sends me an email every morning asking about symptoms via an automated chat.

All the answers I’d given until today had been a solid no.

Not today, though. Shortness of breath? Yes. (Hoping that is a residual of lying in the hammock outdoors for the past few days and a reaction to the pollen everywhere.) Cough? Sadly, it has gone from productive to dry, also something I’m hoping is pollen related.


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I hopped into Virtual Reality to meet up with my sister, who lives about an hour from me to play Sport Scramble tennis this afternoon. It was low key, a lot of fun, but winded me nonetheless after a few rounds. That wasn’t cool.

The thing, I think, that knocks me for the biggest loop, psychologically, is how I felt getting that test on Thursday. Yes, I was able to see it from both sides. As a healthcare professional, I want to put as much PPE between a potentially infected person and myself as I can. From the potentially infected’s point of view? I honestly felt like Typhoid Mary. This did not compliment my already high anxiety rate.

I’m not old, but I’m not young, either. I hold an AARP card, but am still a few month’s away from getting my senior citizen discount. I’m in that grey area, so I may or may not be feeling a little underlying fear. (i.e. is this thing going to kill me, or am I going to come out on the other side fine and/or negative, and if I am negative? I’m still susceptible to this crap.)

I’ll be honest; the timing on this thing REALLY sucks! It’s high-allergy season in my twenty-fourth year in what seems to be the pollen/allergy capital of the world, and what I am experiencing now, I might have experienced in springs-past, but didn’t scrutinize every symptom the way we have to, now. Is it real, or is it Memorex. Is it COVID-19 or is it seasonal allergies?

On the bright side? The weather has been amazing, I’m getting used to dozing while reading in my hammock, and I’m plowing through books at a record pace. I’ve been a habitual reader since childhood, so I’m okay with this.

Until next time…

Posted in COVID-19, Health, health care, Hospital Workers, Personal, Self-Care, Suckfest | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment