Posted on 25 Comments

Visiting New York During Pandemic

What is it like to travel during COVID?

We left Texas yesterday Thursday, August 06. The children and I are here to visit Gee. We decided to renew his contract for another 13 weeks. We figured New York was a safer option than Texas at this time. We made some goals and were working towards those, but recently we are attacking them with even more urgency than ever.

My Snookums was so excited to visit his dad, he agreed to keep his mask on the whole trip. Usually the kids complain that they cannot breathe with the mask on…I understand completely. But he kept his word and except for munching on some cherries, it stayed in place.

 

wp-1596850036553373897610.jpg
The three musketeers with our masks on

The check-in process went smoothly, we stayed six feet apart and placed my drivers license to be read. I was asked to remove my face mask to confirm identity with my DL. We passed security with the usual checks. There were not that many persons so all in all the process went off without a hitch. We arrived at our gate and waited until it was time to board.

We were notified that persons flying to new York from states of interest i.e., Texas and other high infection areas we would have to fill out a form. The questions on the health information form were:

  • Name, telephone number and address where you were staying
  • Did you have a fever or a cough in the past 24 hours
  • How long were you planning to stay in New York
  • Were you a frontline worker travelling to help with the pandemic
  • Flight number, airlines, where you originated from and final destination

I thought the questions were all reasonable and we were advised (told) that we must have face covering and must keep them on for the duration of the flight.

wp-15968500408321710333373.jpg
The plane was pretty empty and seating was great as we were all seated fairly far away from each other and could even move to other empty rows.

Currently it is hurricane season and the ride had its few bumps along the way but all in all it was actually fairly uneventful all things considered.

When we landed in NY we gave the health form to someone at a desk and we were excited to see the big city. the hurricane had passed through two nights before and it wrought some damage along the way. Lots of trees were lining the roadways. But New Yorkers will always survive. I felt shortness of breath walking up the ramps to our exit, so I am still on the road to rebuilding.

Hurricane Isaias torn up parts of New York.

This is a video my cousin sent me of some of the damage to her block by hurricane Isaias. As we rode along yesterday we saw downed trees everywhere. Huge old trees uprooted by the winds.

Our day one in my old stomping grounds is over. Now that I am here to visit I realize I miss it so much. There will never be another city like NY for me. I did all my growing up there and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Stay safe and blessed my friends!

 

 

 

Posted on 26 Comments

Hand Sanitizing –Is It Safe?

A look at hand sanitizers and what it may mean for your health

Photo by Matthieu Joannon on Unsplash

My patient once told me he could easily identify nurses — they have worn-looking hands and tired feet! That was an eye opening moment for me, I realized his statement rang true. My hands were looking a bit worn. Could it be from the excessive use of washing and hand sanitizers? As a healthcare worker I spend many moments per day applying hand sanitizer or washing my hands.

At any given moment your hand harbors anywhere from 10,000 to 10,000,000 microbes awaiting an opportunity to strike. While some are relatively harmless others like Clostridium difficile and Escherichia coli can cause you serious harm.

What it is hand sanitizer

A hand sanitizer is a disinfectant usually in liquid, foam or gel form that is used to kill microbes.

Alcohol-based disinfectants — are the gold standard in the fight against opportunistic infections within and without healthcare organization. The composition of hand sanitizer solutions typically utilizes no less than 70% (v/v) isopropyl or ethyl alcohol. Scientifically proven to kill at least 99.9% microbes.

The CDC recommends a percentage of at least 60% alcohol is an effective and recommended concentration for use in healthcare setting.

While alcohol-based hand sanitizers can effectively reduce the number of microbes on hands, sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs. Soap and water has proven to be more effective in killing and removed microbes and preventing the spread of infections.

Dangers that lurk in your hand sanitizer?

  1. Ethyl alcohol no less than 70% concentration this is the “active” ingredient.
  2. Triclosan — Some short-term animal studies have shown that exposure to high doses of triclosan is associated with a decrease in the levels of some thyroid hormones. Triclosan is an active ingredient used to reduce or prevent bacterial contamination. It is commonly added antibacterial soaps and body washes, toothpastes, and some cosmetics. Causes hormone imbalance
  3. Water
  4. Phthalates — maintains pliability
  5. Isopropyl alcohol — another active ingredient
  6. Carbomer — creates the gel-like consistency
  7. Propylene glycol — pulls moisture from the air
  8. Tert-butyl alcohol —Tert-butanol is poorly absorbed through skin by inhalation or ingestion. Low toxicity seen at low doses and a sedative or anesthetic effect at high doses.
  9. Aminoethyl propanol — pH stabilizer
  10. Denatonium benzoate — a teratogenic (cancer causing) insecticide with a moderate toxicity to mammals
  11. Fragrance
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

How to use hand sanitizers

The correct way to apply hand sanitizer is to apply it to the palm of one hand (the product label should provide the recommended amount per use). Rub the sanitizer over all surfaces of your hands for 30 seconds including your thumbs until your hands are dry. Rubbing for 30 seconds enhances its efficacy.

If your hands are visibly soiled do not use hand sanitizer, instead wash for 20 seconds with soap and water.

Photo by Mélissa Jeanty on Unsplash

How can it harm us?

  1. Overuse can lead to resistance to antimicrobials.
  2. Sanitizers often reduce the amount of microbes with actually destroying them.
  3. May actually lead to bacterial resistance.
  4. Alcohol is drying to your skin.
  5. My lead to skin allergies.
  6. Can be volatile and therefore highly flammable.
  7. Cause hormone imbalances.
  8. Can be cancer causing.
  9. Skin absorption — measured as increased blood alcohol levels after continuous use for four hours by healthcare workers.
Photo by Collins Lesulie on Unsplash

How we can protect ourselves

As a healthcare worker, I have used a lot of hand sanitizer to date. I naively assumed that our regulatory agencies are monitoring and ensuring that products put out for public consumption are safe for our use. While doing this research I was truly horrified that some the ingredients present in hand sanitizers have the propensity to cause as much harm as COVID-19.

How can we protect ourselves? — by using soap and water to wash our hands whenever possible and reduce the use of hand sanitizers. We must make every effort to then keep the sanitizer-infused hands away from our faces and mucus membranes as well as refrain from eating until such a time as we are able to physically wash our hands.

We should attempt to limit the exposure of our children to these known dangerous and teratogenic chemicals and in so doing perhaps we can reduce our incidences of the many cancers, hormonal imbalances and many diseases present in our world today.

To reduce the spread of microbes we must employ the use of soap and water in lieu of using hand sanitizers if at all possible.

While I appreciate the protection afforded by hand sanitizers when I am unable to wash with soap and water I realize that this is not the best practice for our long term health goals.

References

  1. https:/www.cdc.gov
  2. https://www.fda.gov
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com
  4. https://stm.sciencemag.org
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc
Posted on 67 Comments

Positive for COVID-19

I have Tested Positive — and I am doing better than expected!

About nine days ago, on Saturday during a regular workday I began feeling unwell. As a frontline healthcare worker we are currently placed in the line of fire each and everyday. I will go out on a limb and state that our PPE (personal protective equipment) is nowhere as protective as it should be.

The infection control nurse is the one called upon to interpret the CDC’s guidelines and she does a poor job of it. Her verbalized interpretations leaves us quite confused. We are often not in agreement when reading standard English. Of course she is also never the one in front when the battle lines are drawn.

About nine days I got home after a 12-hour shift feeling very tired. By the next morning I felt fairly ill. I checked my blood pressure several times throughout the first day at the urging of my hubby. He has been in New York at the acme of the pandemic and we we began the process of ruling out what could be ailing me.

My blood pressure was just slightly elevated while my heart rate and oxygen saturation were within normal limits. So using the process of elimination we were heading into scary territory.

I was hesitant to follow where the signs were leading because no one looks forward to contracting COVID-19. The second day, Monday I spent in my bed mostly napping.

I never developed a fever.

We are screened every day at work based on an outdated CDC model of screening for elevated temperatures but that is rarely a major presenting symptom. This stipulation was birthed when this dreaded disease was in its infancy and I believe that some of the guidelines should be obsolete. COVID dances to the beat of its own drum and may present with any symptom, from gastrointestinal to “I just don’t feel well”!

By Tuesday I began to feel a lot better and so I chalked it up to me catching a light summer cold. I had slept with a fan blowing directly at me in addition to the air condition being on “cold”. I was congested but got up and even went bike riding. I did find myself panting a little more than usual on the uphill climb but told myself I was no longer a kid.

Wednesday I was mostly fine with a little residual fatigue and on Thursday I went back to work. Each day we are screened at the front door and given our masks before entry, my temperature has never gone above 97.8.

I then began working my 12-hour shifts and would go home at the end of the day and crash. By the third day, Saturday I was quite tired in the morning and for the first two days I had been plagued by a headache on and off and was taking Tylenol to keep it at bay.

On Saturday I made myself the usual cup of French vanilla coffee but it seemed even more bitter than usual. Later we had a patient and the other nurse asked if I smelled alcohol. I had not smelled any alcohol … and then voila … the light bulb went off and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt… COVID-19!

I could not taste or smell my food or anything else. I had developed anosmia!

The evening before I had gone home and ate my dinner. I thought it was quite brackish, but I was more tired than hungry and off to bed I went. The next day, Saturday I would later realize that I had lost my sense of smell and taste. Anosmia along with a tension-like headache are among some of the classic symptoms of COVID-19.

On Monday morning I texted my boss (she is also the employee health nurse) to let her know that I needed to be tested for COVId-19 and within a few hours received the results … a resounding COVID positive.

I am to quarantine for the next fourteen days, keep a daily log of temperatures and symptoms, and will present myself to be tested for two consecutive negative results and then and only then will I be released to go back to work.

It has been about nine days since I first began feeling unwell.  My symptoms thus far:

  • I have fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Body aches
  • Loss of smell and taste
  • Some chest soreness with I take a deep breath

The Pièce de résistance — these excruciatingly painful headaches that never really goes away but waxes and wanes. The ache marches anxiously in the periphery covertly awaiting its next mode of attack. The pain feels like a pickaxe made of ice that systematically circles my brain piercing cells with tiny sharp shards of ice.

Though I consider myself healthy, I am feeling weak and I could tell that my body is battling hard in this fight. I have lost the strength I had just two weeks ago. I feel so unsure of myself, I would not even walk away from my home by myself. I venture into the backyard for some sunlight.

COVID-19 is nothing to play with, currently Texas is teeming with this disease as well as ignorance.

Mostly because many persons did not and still refuse to practice social distancing and protecting themselves and others by wearing a damn mask. These same non-masking wearers then become infected and present to the ER putting myself and all other frontline workers and our families at risk.

Be mindful of others and wear a mask and practice basic hygiene! If not for your sakes, for the sake of others!

God is good, I remain faithful!

You can also read more about COVID here .

https://wordpress.com/post/justpene.com/3733

https://wordpress.com/post/justpene.com/3574

https://wordpress.com/post/justpene.com/4040

Posted on 24 Comments

COVID-19 Rises Again!

Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on UnsplashEnter a caption

Are the up-rise in numbers due to early re-openings?

Many still show up to the hospitals to be treated with no mask on, what this tells me is that they may be out and about within the community without a mask as well. This is scary!

So the state of Texas was one of the first ones to reopen. When the idea was first proposed we, the healthcare workers along with many others thought what a bad idea that was. While we understood the economic reasons, we realized that more than likely we would see a rise in the number of cases.

Photo by Enrique Macias on Unsplash

What are we to glean from the current steady rise in the states that reopened early? It seems that the curve is not flattening as hoped but is on the upward climb.I attribute this as a direct result to non-compliance, more persons out and about. The protesting and rally’s without masks will not help matters any. It remains a game of wait and see, but for now officials are mostly skirting the issue and we are left to make our own conclusions…

UPDATE 06/25/2020!

Posted on 60 Comments

When COVID-19 Hits Home

Picture of Ny's Governor Cuomo speaking on COVID-19, the amount dead, overwhelmed healthcare workers and requesting additional help for NY State.
https://nypost.com/2020/03/30/coronavirus-in-ny-state-sees-spike-of-250-deaths-with-66000-now-infected/?utm_source=maropost&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=news_alert&utm_content=20200330&tpcc=nypbreaking&mpweb=755-8733669-719703600

So 3 days ago we learned that Gee’s brother and his sister both have tested positive for the virus. They are both in the late 50’s early 60’s and relatively healthy.

His sister is being evaluated for downgrading and possible discharge in a day or so, Thanks be to God!!!

His brother had to be intubated 3 days ago as he was in respiratory failure.

He still remains intubated 3 days later.

Gee is an ER nurse with an extensive background of being a NY EMS for over 20 years.

He is currently making plans to return to NYC (New York City) to be near his family and to help at Brookdale Hospital. He did a 2-year travel assignment 2 years ago and is already familiar with the workings of the ER there.

Another motivating factor are his family (his mother in her 80’s) and his brother currently in grave danger.

We understand that the longer someone is intubated, the transition back to self-ventilation becomes exponentially difficult with each passing day.

The stress in our home is at an all time high. His daily phone calls with ICU doctors.

New York’s Governor Cuomo is overwhelmed and asking / begging for health professionals to help the State.  There are current over 66,497+ positive cases and 618 dead in NY. Overnight 253 more deaths alone.

Governor Cuomo is desperately short of healthcare personnel, ventilators etc.

In the US currently 143,667 infected and 2,487 dead.

All numbers continue to rise.

Globally 745,308 infected and 35,307 deaths if the numbers are to be believed.

New york is currently dealing with the lions share of this pandemic and the morgues are overflowing with bodies. Refrigerated trailers are outside hospitals to collect surplus bodies.

I woke today not wanting to think about this evil, but there is no burying our heads in the sand.

New York had been our homes for 40+ and 30+ years respectively and many many of our friends and families in the healthcare profession and beyond resides there.

This is very distressing for us as we live so far away and feel powerless.

I am also contemplating the idea of travelling to NY to lend a hand.

Only God knows …

Let us please ceaselessly pray for ALL.