Faces of the Fight from Allison Taylor, ICU nurse: Grateful to be vaccinated
This was written by Allison Taylor, ICU Nurse, Royal University Hospital, Saskatoon when she was in quarantine. She has now completed her quarantine and is back at work in the ICU.
Well, here I am. In quarantine for COVID.
About a week ago, I woke up from my night shift with cold symptoms. Fortunately, we have home testing kits provided to us through work, so I was able to test myself right away, and isolate from my family immediately when the result was positive. I went to a testing site and got a PCR test which confirmed that I did indeed have the Delta variant.
I’ve decided to be open about my experience because with the infection rates we currently have in Saskatchewan, COVID-19 is everywhere and I certainly won’t be the only health-care worker/parent going through this. I’m also hoping my story might just convince one more person to get vaccinated.
I have absolutely no idea where I got COVID from. Not a clue. It could have been through an interaction at work or perhaps just picking up groceries, there’s no way to tell. Here’s the good news though: because I am vaccinated, my symptoms are extremely mild. A stuffy nose (which has now almost completely resolved) has been my only symptom, over a week into this.
Because I am vaccinated, my transmission rate was so low that my husband and my children didn’t contract COVID from me, even being around me during the contagious period before I had symptoms.
Because I am vaccinated, I will not require ICU care or a ventilator.
Because I am vaccinated, I’m not taking a hospital bed away from a cancer patient, a sick child, a car accident victim.
Because I am vaccinated, I’m going to be fine. I have absolutely no doubts that this could have looked much different for me prior to vaccines.
You see, I largely spend my days at work taking care of COVID-19-positive people on ventilators. The ICU is filled to the brim right now with COVID patients, almost all of which are unvaccinated. Young, healthy, medical history or not, this Delta variant in particular does not care.
We walk into work and we see bed after bed of COVID patients face-down, on their stomachs to improve oxygenation, struggling to breathe, with some really poor vital signs on the monitor. They’re often maxed out on 100 per cent oxygen and Nitric Oxide. They’re running a dozen infusions including paralytics, sedation, and vasopressors. At this point we almost don’t need to give report anymore. “COVID?” - yep. “Unvaxxed?” -yep. Repeat, repeat, repeat.
We are already working short-staffed every day and now I have to leave my team even shorter because I have COVID and need to isolate. This is the part that kills us: if you don’t trust the medical professionals who are literally begging you to get this vaccine, why are we the very people you come running to for treatment when you get COVID and can no longer breathe at home?
When I first tested positive, my immediate fear was not for myself, but for my two young, vulnerable children, who aren’t eligible to be vaccinated yet.
If I had passed the Delta variant to them, there’s nothing to say they wouldn’t have been one of the children in the PICU requiring life support. We are seeing children as young as three months in the PICU here in this province with COVID.
I felt like I held my breath until I got their results back, and thank God they’re both negative and feeling great. Believe me, when vaccines are approved for 12 and under, we will be the first in line to get them vaccinated. Because I believe in science, and I trust these vaccines. I am literally proof right now that they work.
One of the hardest parts of this all has been isolating away from them for 10 days. They don’t understand why mommy went away. They want to come snuggle and read stories. My four-year-old knocks on my door every day and says, “Mommy, do you still have the virus?”
You see here’s where the whole “my body my choice” rationale is flawed. It’s not just about YOU. I hear it time and time again, “If I got COVID I’d be fine.” Ok. So you’re fine. You recover at home. But what about who you pass it to? That child with asthma? That cancer survivor? That transplant recipient? You’re completely fine with handing all these people a death sentence? It’s a selfish mindset and it’s the reason this pandemic isn’t ending.
The vaccines were supposed to be our light at the end of the tunnel. They’re HERE and they’re safe and effective. This should be all over by now….but, by all means, if it’s your body your choice, we’ll just keep admitting more and more COVID patients to our overburdened health-care system and you better just pray you don’t need health-care services for anything else.
So yes, you can still get COVID if you’re vaccinated. The takeaway here is that my symptoms are next to nothing, it’s extremely unlikely I passed it to anyone, I’m not taking a hospital bed away from those who need it, and this is all thanks to the vaccines.
Our province is sinking right now.
We have the worst COVID numbers and the lowest vaccine uptake in Canada. So one last time, please get vaccinated. Stay safe Saskatchewan.
Also perhaps send thoughts and prayers to my husband, who on the other end of this, is quarantining with two toddlers, alone.