When the the first reports came out about Covid-19, I was amazed by the massive hospitals that were being built in China.
Part of my fascination with these hospitals came from my career in the construction industry. In 2019, we opened a new children’s hospital in Saskatchewan. It took twenty five years to ‘plan’, design and build the facility. If we were going to require a new Covid-19 hospital, it would not be built in ten days.
The other part of my fascination was the number of doctors, health professionals, and support staff who would work in these massive hospitals. I wondered who was taking care of all of the people who would typically require health services. In most countries, certainly in Canada, there is not an overabundance of medical personnel. I wondered who could possibly be taking care of all the ‘regular’ patients.
My husband and I are fortunate in that we do not need medical intervention on a regular basis. We both have health issues which are generally controlled by our regular prescription drugs. I could be magnanimous in worrying about ‘others’.
I did think it was prudent to self isolate for the duration. I have asthma and I had pneumonia in February. At my post pneumonia check-up, I had been diagnosed with COPD. It made sense to to avoid a respiratory virus, even though I was feeling okay. A few days of warm sunny weather in April and I felt really good!
In the latter part of April, our monsoon season arrived. Suddenly, I was struggling with the humidity. I checked out the website for our health clinic and it seemed to be business as usual. (We have had few documented cases of Covid -19 in our province). Still, I was hesitant to call for an appointment as I balanced the risk of contracting the virus versus the struggle to breathe.
When I did call, I found that the clinic was booking phone consultations. That made sense. It kept the doctors safe so they could continue to help their patients and it kept vulnerable patients safe. I requested a consultation and my doctor called a few minutes later. After a lengthy chat, he prescribed a new inhaler. He also made a call to a respiratory therapist to see if he could set up an in-person appointment for me. Unfortunately, therapists were on the long list of health providers who were not seeing patients. I tried the new inhaler and it helped a little, but it was not a great fix. On my follow up call to my doctor, he sent me for blood tests to rule out heart and/or kidney issues. The tests came back fine. He called the respiratory therapist again. They are to start seeing patients later in May and they will no doubt have a lengthy list of established clients to see. In the meantime, I wait.
I know, this condition will not be fatal. (- at least not any time soon.) I know getting stressed will just make breathing more difficult, so I focus on relaxing. I take short walks with Kat when it is not raining. I continue to do what I can – cooking, cleaning and laundry. I know it could be worse, but this is not fun. Every breath is a challenge – no effort is small. A short walk, a few stairs, lifting anything – and my heart is racing as I fight to breathe. I sit down and there is a weight on my chest. It feels like I am suffocating. It is exhausting.
I am grateful that I have access to my doctor. Grateful for the support and care he has provided despite his limitations. I feel for anyone who is waiting for appointments, tests, procedures, treatments, operations, and therapy. It is unavoidable right now but it is still difficult. I know.
I hope the worst of this pandemic will soon be behind us. I hope that we can soon be on the path to a new normal where people can send their kids back to school, get back to work, and once again have access to the services we rely on. Life will never be the same after Covid-19, but I look forward to the day when it is functional.