I’m on the home stretch of finishing my residency, I have exactly 11 shifts left. Before Christmas, New Years and my annual leave I just had one more set of night shifts. Seven nights only and it was time to enjoy the holiday season and summer. Little did I know that I would be spending my holidays in isolation.
About to start night five and things were going well, until I received a call from the director of medical services (DMS). I was exposed for the past four nights to a COVID-19 positive patient with dementia, he had been wandering the ward without any precautions. He had come from a nursing home with a known COVID case.
I was wearing a mask and goggles at the time, but not an N95. Since I had been wearing a surgical mask and goggles I was considered low risk. The DMS advised that I can keep working and that I didn’t need to be swabbed.
To be extra careful before seeing my family for Christmas I got swabbed, and kept working. My job says you’re allowed to work with pending swabs if you don’t have symptoms/considered low risk.
Two days later, right before I was about to go to my family x-mas party I received a text – COVID positive.
Then it was a few calls to the hospital and public health, I had probably been working days COVID positive without knowing. My husband was now exposed, and I needed to spend Christmas and New Years Eve in isolation.
The only positive was that I hadn’t exposed my family.
To top it all off, my work told me that they ‘didn’t think I got COVID from work, but from the community’. Even though I had literally only worked and slept for the past seven nights.
Despite the fact that I had been exposed to a confirmed COVID case at work without proper precautions for four nights.
They had told me to keep working and advised me not to get swabbed. A rapid antigen test wasn’t offered. I swabbed on my own accord after finishing a 12 hour night shift, going to a public clinic. Now they were saying they think I got it from outside work, to shift all blame onto myself.
(After this incident Omicron was everywhere and my work did offer RATs for all workers who were close contacts or exposed. So I’m happy to say that this did improve.)
COVID positive? Really?
I was really angry and bitter my first day of knowing I had COVID. It was so close to the finish line, I had been waiting so long to finally spend time with my family. I had to isolate the moment I finally finished working seven 12 hour night shifts in a row.
Now my Christmas and New Years was taken away by the same work I have been struggling to get through.
I remained asymptomatic until about day six/seven of probably having COVID. My symptoms are mild at least, just general fatigue, headache and nausea. Sometimes a bit of chest pain. Otherwise my triple vaccination status appears to be helping.
Counting my blessings
Luckily I am not isolating alone. I am with my loving husband, who is also triple vaccinated. He is well, and asymptomatic. My friends and family have also rallied around me (as best they can). We received a few care packages, and my family dropped off Christmas dinner and groceries.
Though FaceTime and deliveries are not the same as the real thing, it is still great to know that you’re not alone.
My thoughts are with the many people experiencing similar things this Christmas. I know I am but one of many. Whether you’re separated from loved ones, ill, grieving or mentally struggling for any reason I am sending you my best wishes. This Christmas has been a hard one, and can be a reminder of what you’re missing sometimes.
I doubt any of us pictured in 2020 that we would still be isolating two years later.
All I can hope is that 2022 will be better, and that soon the world will be more equipped to deal with COVID-19.