Letter to the Editor: COVID Experience

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The letter that follows was a Facebook post by Rangely resident Wendi Gillard who is the Compliance Officer, Quality/Risk Manager and EMT-Intermediate at RDH. Upon request, Gillard and CEO Kyle Wren gave approval to share her post here.


Dear Editor:
I am going to do another post about my experience with COVID, I had a lot of people reach out and say they were thankful that I shared that I had it because everyone was so hush-hush about it. It’s not something to be embarrassed about….literally everyone in the world is at risk of catching it—EASILY. So I will speak up so that maybe someone doesn’t feel alone. Or maybe they want to ask questions because they are curious or afraid. Go for it, I am okay with that.

Let me tell you….COVID kicked my butt. There are absolutely people who had it worse than me (let’s take a moment to pray for them!), but I would not wish it on anyone. For me it started with loss of taste/smell….but I didn’t know it. I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner and realized I didn’t smell the amazing smells in my kitchen, but I thought it was because I was immersed in it all day. My daughter FaceTimed me so I took a break and went out to the barn to show her the horses, knowing I would smell the wonderful smells when I walked back in the house. When I headed back towards the house I suddenly had some serious chest pain — like the kind that made me really stop and think about whether it was bad enough to take my shirt off in front of my co-workers kind of pain. (They are amazing, great at what they do and all of them are so professional….it really is “me not them”!) So I did what every super smart healthcare worker would do — I sucked it up and went inside. I was so focused on this crazy pain in my chest that I didn’t realize I COULD NOT SMELL ANYTHING…and it continued to the point that I didn’t realize I couldn’t taste the food either! (Let me tell you, for me not to notice how amazing food tastes….that’s some serious pain.) So I made another great decision and tried to fix it with the meds I had at home. Nope. So…..I sucked it up and went to bed. The next day I.felt.awful. I slept most of that day. I still had chest pain. I had chills, a deep cough, and body aches. I texted my boss and told him I wasn’t feeling well. He told me if I still wasn’t feeling well on Sunday to get tested for COVID (we have it in house) and no EMS runs that weekend. The next day sore throat, I sounded like an old man…and I could not smell/taste anything except for one tiny spot on my tongue….so SURELY it couldn’t be the Rona!!! I texted our amazing lab lady on call and asked her if I needed to schedule a time to come get tested Sunday or if she just wanted to call me when she was there for an ER patient. She said come now. OK….. She tested me and said there were a couple of other people that tested positive, and not to be surprised if I was too. Damn. By the time I walked into my house she called and told me the news. Positive. Ugh. I sat down and made a list of where I had been and every person I had been in contact with. Damn it. Sorry, “darn” just doesn’t do it justice. I wrapped myself up in my blankets and my sweater….and started doing laundry so that nobody would do mine.

As the days passed I felt like trash. I was short of breath moving around and the chest pain became my new sidekick. One evening (Monday or Tuesday maybe) I finally decided to go get checked out because if a patient or a friend was telling me they had my symptoms — they would be going to the ER come hell or high water. I knew about the risks of clotting in addition to the other pulmonary implications…this pain could be clots in my heart (or lungs, but I was pretty sure the pain was cardiac). The ER staff ran tests and treated me with absolute dignity (I am not just saying that, they are amazing caregivers!). My tests came back OK…and a diagnosis of COVID is crazy. They’re right. COVID is nuts! I will get to that later. I went home with some instructions on what to do at home, most of it was just to make me comfortable- because COVID is just a strange crazy disease. I knew what to monitor myself for. I spent a lot of time sleeping and holding the couch down the rest of the time. After my “isolation period” ended, I still was still symptomatic so I continued to stay home from work. I made a telehealth appointment about my chest pain, because it was still there and my heart rate started having its own fun. It would range from the 40’s to the 150’s!!! Dizziness and my O’s would drop just for a couple of minutes and then return to normal. Soooo uncomfortable. Not much to do about it except wear a Holter monitor to see if it caught anything. I wore the monitor and (thankfully) nothing crazy showed up in my rhythm besides a variable heart rate. That’s good news…no ischemia showing! Finally the rest of my symptoms improved greatly and I was able to return to work yesterday with only chest pain, fatigue and no taste/smell. It was a long day but I made it! Today too! The best news about today….I am starting to get my taste and smell back!!!!!!! Wahoooooo! ….Chest pain is my faithful friend. Oh! And joint pain. That’s there for me too!

Let me tell you about the “COVID is nuts!” part. Now that I am back at work I have been playing catch up, calling people back, interacting with coworkers and talking to other people who have had experiences with it. I think there is some weight in the blood type thing! There are other people who were much more “at risk” than I am (older, long time smokers, diabetes, etc etc)…and they had a much easier go of it! Why?! Others, had a rough go….why?! I started asking about blood type. Guess what? Those O blood types? Fine…or you know sick but not SICK. A blood types? Kicked.their.trash. I am A positive. I am going to pay attention to this!
So there is my update. I am still kicking, back at work, chest pain seems to be my forever friend. How are you??

Wendi Gillard
Rangely


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