When a COVID nurse, gets a COVID.

It was around March, when COVID-19 took the whole world by storm and impacted all of our lives; the stocks hit an all time low, the global economy crashed and since then, a new norm started in school, work and worship places. That same month, my workplace became the designated unit for the whole city.

I’M A COVID NURSE. It was a rewarding yet a challenging role for me as it gave a new level of complexity to my career. However, it is not just about my role and job; working as a Registered Nurse, I have seen different faces of COVID-19 thru my patient’s conditions- their fears and struggles. I have seen families, long for their loved ones who is confined in the hospital. I have seen patients fight COVID, some of them won and some of them lose the battle. I have seen myself, my colleagues and other health care professionals struggle every day to take care of the patients, while also keeping ourselves safe.

I thought I’ve had a fair share of experience of what COVID-19 is like. Until flash forward to November, I’m no longer a nurse. I’m now one of the many faces that battled/will batlled COVID-19- I am sick, weak, and helpless. I’ve become that person who misses her family and loved ones.

I ended up getting the CORONAVIRUS… now what?

In this blog, I have my 14 day quarantine journal of what I went through, the roller coaster of emotions as my body fights COVID.

DAY 1- The first time I showed COVID symptoms, I was super weak that I could not even get out of my bed. That day, I slept for 15 hours and it felt like someone was wanting to crack my head open. I was even unsure if it was because of oversleeping or something else. My headache is accompanied by a sore throat, a feeling that something is plugged in my throat. I picked up my energy and tried to move around the house to do my norm. I tried making and drinking my tea while watching my favourite show, but that time, I felt like I was falling down as I just really don’t have the energy to move. There I stopped and sat as I phoned my mom, that I’m ill and might be having a flu. Yes, back then I was still in denial that I could have COVID, especially I was also afebrile that time. However, Public Health was notified and ordered me to isolate myself from my family and loved ones, as I was asked to stay in my room for an indefinite period of time.

DAY 2- I woke up from my 12 hours of sleep. My throat remains sore, my nose is now plugged and congested. I have dry cough with some spitting spells to relieve my throat. That morning, I was asked by Public Health to wait for 48 hours before they refer me for a swab test to avoid getting a false negative result. I had a spicy ramyeon for my brunch and from there, I learned that I have lost my sense of taste. I was not able to taste the noodles but the warmth coming from the soup soothes my sore throat. I slept almost all day, as I remain to be weak. I only wake up to either blow my nose (and sanitize my hand) or to eat. I’m still in denial although I have seen this multiple times in my patients. That night I prayed and wished that what I have is just a seasonal flu.

DAY 3- I woke up and I start to lose my normal voice. My loud hard pitched voice turned into a soft hoarsed voice. A small effort to talk would make my throat more sore. After having day time naps the past few days, I had an energy to move around my room, to fix my belongings and watch my Korean shows. My nose wasn’t as congested as before, however I would still have occasional dry cough and spitting spells. I told myself, I must be recovering from the flu after having enough rest.

DAY 4- With my sorethroat (d/t ?postnasal drip), waking up is the hardest but also a blessing. A simple movement would make me short of breath. I still can’t taste and smell my food but I would still eat so that I can recover quickly.

I also had a go signal from the Public Health to be swabbed that day. I was asked to go to a drive thru station, but I still ended up waiting 3 hours inside my car. I was extremely weak that even sitting up drains my energy.

COVID drive thru line up

DAY 5- “The power of mind”… they said. I woke up with sore throat but with a little more energy. This day is the day that I will get my swab results and I was expecting it to be ‘Negative’. I am slowly tasting my foods again and my appetite must be returning slowly. I even ordered myself a cup of London fog to savour its taste. I had my afternoon nap and woke up with the result that I tested positive. I refreshed the site multiple times, I even logged in/out to see if it was just a mistake, but then the result remains unchanged. I cried a lot… dumbfounded to what brought me to this situation. I notified my supervisor at work, as I start to worry about my family and my colleagues that were possibly exposed when I was asymptomatic. This is probably the worst day of my 2020.

DAY 6- I woke up from the call of our Occupational Health Nurse. She asks me questions regarding the symptoms that I have and how I was feeling in that moment. I was comforted that a health care professional is also following me even when I’m at home. I’m not a nurse this time, my mind loses rational when my body is just too weak. She scolded me (I needed this) for not getting my daily temperature and advised me to call my GP to report my symptoms. My GP then started me on Moxifloxacin for 7 days.

Like any other day, I struggle with COVID, as I spend my day eating-sleeping-watching tv shows.

Day 7- Just like that a week has passed since I was quarantined. I would still wake up from nasal congestion/sore throat while my whole body aches. My sense of taste is back and so is my appetite. I start ordering snacks from cafes and restaurants. I also stopped taking too much day time naps and started observing things that I never paid attention before.

I learned to take it slow and appreciate the sunrise and the sunsets.

Everyday at 5pm, I always look at this view to get a glimpse of sunset.

Days 8/9/10- I am slowly hearing my normal voice again as my sore throat is also improving each day! However, I still suffer from nasal congestion and excruciating headache. Sometimes, my head will just hurt and all I’m left to do is to sleep. I found comfort sitting up-right to relieve my headache. Like that, I spent 3 nights sleeping in semi-fowlers position. In addition to that, I also get nauseous on/off. Good thing, my body aches aren’t that bad and my joint pain doesn’t seem to bother me anymore. I could now function even without analgesics and I’m slowly adapting to this COVID/ quarantined lifestyle, but I want it to end soon.

Days 11/12/13- I’m starting to have more energy in doing the things I used to do. The first time I started exercising again, it gave me shortness of breath and increased worked of breathing, and I thought maybe I was overworking my self. Since then, I slowly increase my level of activity and take periods of rest to recover. I still have runny nose and nasal congestion but it doesn’t bother me anymore as much as before. On the other hand, I still get periods of headache wherein I still need to take naps and analgesics to feel better. I notified the occupational health nurse who was following me regarding my remaining COVID symptoms and I was deemed unfit to work thus far.

Day 14- Finally! The last day of my quarantine- the day wherein my body is supposedly fully shed the virus. I wouldn’t say this ’14 days’ timeline would pretty much determine my level of recovery, but it is safe to say that I’m no longer infectious, as per Public Health. However, I was still not cleared by occupational nurses, to perform my usual daily activities, as I remain to be still symptomatic with runny nose/nasal congestion and headache.

I may not have fully recovered yet at this time, but I’m just grateful for God’s healing and His protection to my family and loved ones. My parents and brother, who I still live with, never got the virus and they were all tested negative. It is also helpful to have a small circle in this pandemic, like what the media is talking about in television/internet these days. My only circle outside work is my fiancé, who was also asymptomatic and was also tested negative. I’m also thankful for my friends and colleagues, who have prayed and wished me well during these tough times. To be isolated is enough reason to be lonely, especially for someone like me who is used to being busy and on-the-go majority of time, but to have people to talk to, day and night, to keep me company helped me a lot in recovering. If there’s something I would take as a learning experience while I was isolated with COVID symptoms, is that I learned to give more compassion and empathy to our patients; to remind them that they’re not alone and to give them more tender love and care. I swear, when you’re stuck in a room; sick with this virus, alone and sometimes helpless, a simple message of hope and assurance goes a long way. During the time that I had COVID, my body might be weak, but my heart was full and for that I’m always grateful. ♡

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