As the ever-evolving coronavirus craziness unfolds around me, I can’t help but be filled with questions and concerns. As a healthcare provider, however, I also know that means being even more worried as I’m the one expected to answer the call to be on the front lines. Unfortunately, I had to leave my most recent position as a Family Nurse Practitioner due to personal and family health issues right before this pandemic unfolded. However, as the numbers hike up I can’t help but feel guilty that I’m not out there on the frontlines with my fellow nursing brothers and sisters.
As a former ER nurse, my heart, body, and soul want nothing more than to be back in that trauma bay helping sedate, paralyze, and intubate those who need it most. But I am also disgusted by the fact that our governing bodies have failed us. As I’m sure you’ve heard via television, radio, and probably even angry Facebook posts, the CDC has (as a last resort) published strategies for healthcare providers short on vital personal protective equipment (PPE) to cover their faces using bandanas….are you F*ING KIDDING ME? This is the equivalent of asking our soldiers to wear cardboard as they run into battle. The failure of the American government officials will cost us innumerable lives, including our VIPs–the healthcare heroes. Years of training and sacrifice lost; along with the respect towards our superseding governing bodies and hospital organizations. What we’re witnessing is the inevitable failure of the modern American privatized healthcare system-but I digress.
From a virological and epidemiological standpoint, this virus does worry me simply because there is so much we do not know about it. Does it keep me up at night? No. Does it keep me from leaving my house? YES! And it should keep you home too. Our greatest medical minds are truly learning as they go, and I don’t want to be on the other end of that experiment. The typical egocentric response from many is “It won’t happen to me” or “The news says most people just have cold symptoms, and only like 3% die, so I’m sure I’ll be fine”. Let me ask you this: If I gave you a bag containing 100 M&M’s and I told you only 3 of them would kill you, would you still eat from that bag?
Learning the hard way myself, there is no scarier feeling than not being able to control your own body. I battle every day with a rare adverse reaction that I can not control. Nothing is more humbling than having a perfectly functioning brain and watching your body do (or not do) things regardless of what your brain is telling it to. It’s like having the engine of a Lamborghini trapped in the body of an old, beat-up Volkswagen bug missing some wheels. If this virus infects you, you may be just fine. But the fact of the matter is, you cognitively have no control of what it might do to you. Your sports car engine is of no use if the car doesn’t have wheels.
If you don’t stay home for your protection, do it for those around you. BE SELFLESS. Yes, this virus typically more adversely affects those with preexisting conditions but guess what? A lot of people (regardless of age) have a pre-existing condition! According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as many as 82 million Americans with employer-based coverage have a preexisting condition. An analysis conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) shows that as many as 52 million or 27% of nonelderly adults (18-64 years old) report having at least one declinable condition (Claxton, Cox, Damico, Levitt, & Pollitz, 2019). Keep in mind this statistic does not even touch the uninsured population of nearly 28 million Americans who, statistically speaking, are bound to have some degree of preexisting conditions (Tolbert, Orgera, Singer, & Damico, 2019). Lastly, the likelihood of having a pre-existing condition increases with age (DHHS, 2017). Therefore, we have a duty to distance ourselves for our elders who have increased age and therefore, increased comorbidities.
This virus does not discriminate. It does not matter what age you are, how much money you have, how many Instagram followers adore you, how many letters are behind your name, or what color your skin is. We all bleed red. We’re in this together (yet physically apart). So long story short: Keep your face covered, your hands clean, and your butt home.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. (2020). Strategies for optimizing the supply of facemasks. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/
Claxton, G., Cox, C., Damico, A., Levitt, L., & Pollitz, K. (2019). Pre-existing condition prevalence for individuals and families. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/health-
Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS]. (2017). Health insurance coverage for americans with pre-existing conditions: The impact of the affordable care act. ASPE Issue Brief.
Tolbert, J., Orgera, K., Singer, N., & Damico, A. (2019). Key facts about the uninsured population. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/uninsured/