Happy New Year and here’s to new beginnings. Like many of you reading this, my holiday plans were somewhat upended by covid. Fighting through a nasty cold myself while quarantined may not have been the holiday I imagined but nonetheless, I feel blessed and relieved that none of my family or myself had any severe symptoms. I can share first hand it doesn't get any easier when you hear that someone close to you tests positive, however, I can also tell you that the anxiety level gets a little better knowing that we are not in the same place we were in during 2020. You often hear healthcare providers say we have more tools in our arsenal now than we did at the start of the pandemic and this is why it makes handling a positive diagnosis more manageable now than in the earlier days. With that said, it is important that you invest all of your efforts into finding a healthcare provider that you trust in order to have access to these tools. In addition, keep up to date with your annual physicals and treatment or medications for underlying health conditions. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have a trusted medical source to answer any questions you have.
Now that you have tested positive, what should you do if you develop symptoms? Find a medical provider or trusted medical source such as a hospital or clinic and contact them as soon as possible after your diagnosis. If you can, get tested at an urgent care or hospital facility so that if you do not have a medical doctor, they can be on hand to provide advice to you if needed. If you cannot connect with a medical provider, most states can assist you in finding one through their department of health or your local hospital can provide care. Connecting with a medical provider is crucial as they can help guide you during your recovery and help to alleviate any concerns or anxiety you may have. They can also point out important signs to look for if you have any worsening symptoms. So if you are one of those people who does not trust doctors or is convinced you can be cured with some home remedy or family tradition, do yourself and your loved ones a favor and seek medical advice rather than advice from non-medical sources. Despite how scary a positive test result can be, there have been some improvements since the start of the pandemic. We have therapeutics in the form of antiviral pills coming, remdesivir which may be used in hospitalized or more severe patients, and if you qualify, monoclonal antibody treatment which can be administered via IV treatment. Also for those who are able to, there are vaccinations and booster shots which may not be one hundred percent effective but according to the medical professionals, they appear to work in doing their job to keep most from being hospitalized or succumbing to this disease.
If you are living with a loved one who tests positive whether vaccinated or not or asymptomatic or not, quarantine and stay home for the full 10 days if possible. Now this does not undermine the newest guidance, this is solely based on what has proven to help stop community and family spread and may be easier for people to abide by with less confusion. I do realize that some cannot afford to do that for a myriad of reasons including being a primary caregiver or having to work. Work is important but going to work while sick only adds to the virus spread and can lead to your own conditions worsening.
Another approach is to socially distance yourself from those you are living with and always wear masks around each other while in quarantine. If possible, the infectious person or persons should stay in one area of the home and if available use another bathroom. If space does not allow for total separation then ventilate by opening windows and doors and alternate when to use common areas such as the kitchen or bathrooms. If you have to share a room be sure to keep windows open and sleep head to toe if possible. Depending on what state you live in and your age, there may be resources such as hotels to help isolate you from other family members and free meals so that you do not have to leave if feeling ill. The isolation hotels often come with free healthcare monitoring as well during your quarantine period. Your state’s health department may also send out health packages that include PPE, thermometers and pulsometers, and other useful items. Many of these resources can be found through your state’s local website and health department, medical provider, or local hospital.
We may not be able to predict at this moment when this pandemic will end or when we will see signs of it moving towards becoming an endemic virus, however, we can take steps to empower ourselves to become more informed. I am not an expert nor is anyone that has not studied science or practiced medicine and as such I encourage others to educate themselves as much as possible by finding a trusted medical professional. At some point within this pandemic, some people across the world started focusing less on science and more on misleading and often selfishly motivating non-factors. At this point in history, humans across the globe share a common threat and that is Covid-19. Shared experiences are key and necessary to continue to combat this virus and make greater strides towards recovery. By continuing to share resources globally, supporting and working with our medical communities and scientists we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, let’s continue to reach out to the medical community and our local resources so that we can empower ourselves and learn how to live and thrive during this pandemic.