Home COVID-19 From The Front Lines of Covid-19: This is Not a Joke and It is Not Over

From The Front Lines of Covid-19: This is Not a Joke and It is Not Over

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From The Front Lines of Covid-19: This is Not a Joke and It is Not Over

I used to think a ventilator was just a glorified oxygen mask. The truth is so very much worse. I think most of the anti-isolation folks don’t realize exactly what it is that they want to expose themselves and their loved ones to.

I really wouldn’t wish this on an enemy, much less want to bring the possibility of this home.

For anyone who doesn’t understand what it means to be on a ventilator — but who wants to take the chance of going back out, who wants to stop wearing masks, or who wants to just to be out for out’s sake — let me break it down.

For starters, it’s NOT an oxygen mask put over the mouth while the patient is comfortably lying down and reading magazines.

Ventilation for Covid-19 is a painful intubation that goes down your throat and stays there until you live or you die.

It is done under anesthesia for 2 to 3 weeks without moving, often upside down, with a tube inserted from the mouth up to the trachea and allows you to breathe to the rhythm of the lung machine.

The patient can’t talk or eat, or do anything naturally – the machine keeps you alive.

The discomfort and pain they feel from this means that medical experts have to administer sedatives and painkillers to ensure tube tolerance for as long as the machine is needed. It’s like being in an artificial coma.

After 20 days from this treatment, a young patient loses 40% muscle mass, and gets mouth or vocal cord trauma, as well as possible pulmonary or heart complications.

It is for this reason that the old or already weak people can’t withstand the treatment, and ultimately die.

Many who have problems with your immune systems are in this boat … so stay safe unless you want to take the chance of ending up here. This is NOT the flu. You do NOT want to be here.

Add to all of the above an additional tube into your stomach, either through your nose or skin for liquid food, a sticky bag around your butt to collect the diarrhea, a foley to collect urine, an IV for fluids and meds, an A-line to monitor your BP that is completely dependent upon finely calculated med doses, teams of nurses, CRNAs and MAs to reposition your limbs every two hours, and lying on a mat that circulates ice cold fluid to help bring down your 104 degree temp.

Anyone want to try all that out?

Go out, take your masks off to do what? So you can go to a mall? Eat at a restaurant? Go the movies? A beach?

STAY HOME.

I’ve watched young, middle age, old, all seemingly healthy, die.

And we aren’t talking about holding their hands and cry until they are gone.

We are talking a long, slow, lonely, death.

No one is allowed in.

We are talking about the person you love — or you — dying alone.

ALONE.

Hopefully, a nurse can hold a phone up to their ear IF they aren’t trying to save someone else who has a chance to live.

People who drop their loved ones at the ER door never to see them alive again.

If you think this can’t happen to you? Keep playing the odds.

Oh and one other thing: Do the right thing so I can go home to my family. The more exposure, the more deaths. You like being with your families? Me too. To go home for me means another 2 weeks in quarantine even IF I test negative.

Andie Waan is a former pediatric ICU nurse who currently works in the ER at North Western Hospital in Chicago. Her husband works at a job that has been deemed non-essential, and therefore he can be home with their teenagers. The hospital has put up all the nurses and medical personnel in hotels until this is over. She can currently only talk, text, and facetime with her family. This is week 6. It’s no longer just her job — it’s her life.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I am a retired ICU RN who put in 25 years of active practice before the physical wear and tear forced me to retire. This is an excellent, well-written article that is clear enough for the average non-medical professional to understand. I do take one exception with it. You have still VASTLY understated the reality of being intubated and on a ventilator for any more than a few days. We both know that the general public would have ongoing nightmares if they knew a complete reality.

    They are used to seeing actors on TV medical shows being extubated after weeks in a coma, hopping right out of bed and picking right up where they left off. They never show the actual disgusting process of breaking up a mucous plug and getting the tube cleared again. They REALLY don’t fully understand the difference in breathing through your natural pulmonary anatomy VS an endo/orotracheal tube, or a tracheostomy tube. I love the teaching demonstration I used when I was a clinical Preceptor for Senior level nursing students. You have probably had it done to yourself at one point. Take a regular drinking straw and breathe only through it for one minute. You get a TINY glimpse in how uncomfortable having to get used to the smaller airway diameter. Thank the Maker for Propofol/ Midazlolam/morphine drips.

    Thank you for being on the front lines of this battle. As healthcare providers, we can only do so much, but it galls me to see the total disregard for the consequences when others refuse to do their part- masks and social distancing- to protect themselves and others. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay sane.

    Signed from a nurse who graduated when the world was new and dinosaurs roamed the planet.

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