Frankly, I had an adventure on Thursday. On that day the COVID-19 pandemic got personal. Too personal. It was an exciting day. It was one of the most interesting days of my life, but not the most fun by a long shot. Much too exciting for an old man who no longer looks for thrills.
The day started mildly. I spent a pleasant hour or two sitting in our lovely sunroom reading and occasionally peeking out at the birds at our bird feeder. Nothing special.
Later, in the morning I noticed I was not feeling well. I was a developing what I thought was a mild fever. I kept quiet about it because I did not want Chris to worry about me. But the fever got worse. Around noon or slightly later, Chris noticed I didn’t look good. Worse than “normal” in other words. She suggested strongly I take a nap. I did not argue with her, as I thought that might make the fever go away.
I feared the fever meant I had COVID-19 because it is one of the common symptoms of it is the flu-like coughing, along with shortness of breath, or a runny nose. So I did not like that. I hoped after a nap I would feel better.
When Chris woke me up I did not feel better; I felt a lot worse! This was starting to get serious. While I had been shopping Chris did a little investigating and found out I should go the Emergency of the Hospital.
The most amazing thing happened next. I had such a strong fever that I became delusional! Again, even more delusional than “normal.” When Chris came to see if I was ready to drive with her she found me sitting on the bench seat by the shoe wrack and I was making strange movements with hands. “What are you doing?’ she asked. I replied, “I’m scrolling my computer.” When she challenged me I realized I was delusional. There was no computer near me. I had no idea what I was doing. Fever is a powerful force. My confusion was a powerful effect of fever. I had never experienced that in my life. I know people think I have often been delusional but this was big delusion.
I actually thought I could drive to the office where I wanted to have some work done while I was gone to the hospital for a test. I wonder what would have happened if a person who did not realize the difference a shoe rack and a computer was driving down Main Street? So Chris wisely drove me to the hospital.
In the hospital I got the COVID-19 test which felt like the technician stuck a pipe cleaner through my nostril right into the centre of my brain. Thankfully the extreme discomfort did not last long. They did a number of other tests as well.
In the hospital I was running a temperature (fever), my blood pressure was very low, and I was not getting enough oxygen. While I was waiting I heard an ugly word—“sepsis”. I had never heard of sepsis until my sister Diane contracted it after a ruptured appendix. She was virtually unconscious for 6 months, nearly died that night, and never lived independently again. And now the same word was used in relation to me. Now I was really worried. For the first time, the seriousness of my condition started to sink in.
In time they solved all the problems and determined my problem was pneumonia not COVID-19. The test results later confirmed this. So I am fine though still taking medication for the pneumonia.
I want to say one important thing however. I want to thank the hospital staff for the outstanding care I received. I asked everyone for their names, but don’t remember all of the staff the first day I was in. I remember some names like Maria, Mark, Shauna, Colleen, Melissa, Jimmy, Dr. Hof and Dr. Johwanda, if I spell their names correctly. Most of them are women. I just want to concentrate on Maria as an example. She was one of the most perky people I ever met. She said thank you to every single health worker who went through our unit. She was very upbeat yet very professional and never afraid to walk into my little room even if I was wearing my mask improperly.
These people who work in the emergency rooms put their lives on the line, often with inadequate protective gear and work on any and all patients. They are the genuine heroes of this pandemic along with food service workers and all kinds of service persons. They are not the highest paid people in our society by a long shot. Many of them are women and immigrants. I salute them. I thank these people from the bottom of my heart.
When I got back I heard Ken Burns, the producer of those wonderful PBS documentaries, interviewed on TV. This is what he said. “What could be a more noble position than a nurse right now. All of us are sheltering in place and building moats around us to protect ourselves and our families and that is understandable. And we have people, mostly women, who are moving toward the danger and that to me is ennobling.” Here, here.