Here’s a sobering account from a 31-year-old nurse practitioner in Albany GA (my state).
“COVID19 is not like the flu...at all... How do I know? Because I’ve lived through it to tell the tale!
Memoirs of a 31 y.o. male with no underlying health conditions.
March 3, 2020-Bronchitis like illness started, dry cough, no fever
March 5, 2020-Low grade fever starts, still thinking bronchitis
March 6, 2020-Fever climbs from 99.8 to 102.6 in one hour, thought it was flu and was now outside the Tamiflu window, stayed home for symptom management.
March 9, 2020-Fever of >102 continues, this isn’t flu, go to urgent care, diagnosed with pneumonia, started on Levaquin.
March 11, 2020-3 doses of Levaquin in, no improvement in symptoms, go to ER. Admitted, swabbed for COVID19, IV antibiotics got pneumonia on chest CT.
March 12, 2020-Get to a room and placed on supplemental oxygen via nasal cannula, 1 liter per minute (lpm). I’m only able to achieve 500 on my incentive spirometer, for perspective-my healthy lungs could hit 4000.
March 13, 2020-O2 saturation begins to decline, oxygen increased to 2 lpm, then 3 lpm, then 5 lpm. Oxygen saturation 88% on 5 lpm. The decision is made to use high flow (vapotherm) and move to ICU. Placed on 40 lpm and 60% oxygen. I’m terrified at this point because vapotherm is all that is standing between me and the ventilator. This is the moment I would have died at home had I not come to the hospital when I did. I would have respiratory arrested in my bed.
March 14, 2020-I have a bad coughing spell, my oxygen saturation drops to the 80’s. I’m still on 40 lpm and 60%. I’m trying to gasp for air, but because of the condition of my lungs, can only take small breaths without coughing more. I feel as though I’m about to die, my heart is racing, oxygen still low, and I’m sweating profusely. Im in respiratory distress! I pressed my call light trying to get the attention of anyone who can help. My nurse was in another room tending to another sick patient. Fortunately he sees me and comes to my room. I am now on 40 lpm and 100% oxygen, next step is the ventilator. I’m terrified. My breathing slows as my oxygen saturation slowly returns to the 90’s. I’m weaned back down to 60%. The same thing happens again in the night, and again I thought I was about to leave this world. Again I’m on 100%, this time for several hours. I’m slowly weaned again to 60%.
March 15, 2020-My morning arterial blood gas (which hurts like a ) is normal. I get weaned to 50%.
March 16, 2020-My oxygen saturation is 97%, I’m weaned further to 30 lpm and 40%.
March 17, 2020-I’ve been in ICU 4 days, forced to use a bedpan because my oxygen saturation drops if I turn or even move too much. I am unable to clean myself; I’m feeling completely helpless and so embarrassed, but my nurses were great and very understanding. I now truly understand my patients’ feelings from all these years of nursing. I’m weaned to 25 lpm and 30%. I’m going to the medical floor.
March 18, 2020-I’m weaned to 28%. I can achieve 1500 on my incentive spirometer finally. I’m hopeful to be weaned to a regular nasal cannula. The provider comes in. I’ve been waiting for my swab results. I tested positive for COVID19...6.5 days of waiting for the outside lab to process the lab. I’m relieved because I finally have a diagnosis, a reason I’ve been so sick. I’m weaned to 4 lpm on a regular nasal cannula, 4 hours later I’m weaned to 2 lpm. 4 hours later I’m weaned to room air. My oxygen saturation stats 93% and above all night.
March 19, 2020-As I write this, I’m waiting to attempt a 6 minute walk test to see if my oxygen stays up, so I can go home. I’ve had no visitors this entire time due to my isolation precautions.
Guys, this is why social isolation is a thing. As a 31 y.o., I wasn’t supposed to get sick. I wasn’t supposed to be admitted to the hospital or the ICU for that matter. We’ve already had several deaths from COVID19 in this area. I thank God I wasn’t one of them! However, many won’t be as fortunate as I have been. Many will die, especially those with any lung or heart problems. So please, I beg you to #stayhome “