I got tested for COVID-19 this evening before my ICU shift.
My hospital opened up testing today (not an April Fool's joke, thankfully!) to all asymptomatic ICU and ER staff involved in procedures that are high-risk for exposure. Prior to today, only symptomatic employees were permitted to get tested.
I do not have symptoms. And I've heard that with the current test a negative result does not necessarily mean I don't have the disease (something around a false negative rate of ~30-50%... blech). BUT a positive test likely means I have it.
Honestly, even if I have it, there is nothing I can do about it now.
Knowing I'm positive won't change how I protect myself. I'll still practice social distancing. I'll still perform proper hygiene. I'll still don my PPE the proper way. I'll still wear a simple mask when I'm not wearing a respirator.
So why even get it?
Well, perspective is a powerful thing.
First of all, it will allow me to start an unofficial clock to look for symptoms.
Second, it may give me additional mental fortitude to push forward with less fear.
But most importantly, a positive result could mean saving more lives.
If positive, I would be able to donate my plasma and potentially have my antibodies harvested so they could be injected into the sickest COVID-19 patients, providing passive immunity and another weapon to help fight off their infection.
That would be unimaginably cool.
And in case some of you do not know the difference between active and passive immunity, here's a quick explanation:
Active immunity is when your own body produces antibodies as a result of actual infection (natural immunity) or via a weakened or dead strain (vaccine-induced immunity). This takes usually weeks to develop, but the protection derived is usually long-lasting. But we do not yet know the degree of immunity we will acquire to COVID-19.
Passive immunity is when you receive antibodies against a disease from a source other than yourself. An example of this is the immunity a newborn baby acquires via transfer of antibodies from the mother through the placenta. This type of immunity is NOT long-lasting; however, it's protective effects are IMMEDIATE.
And immediate is what our sickest patients need at this time.
There is no telling if it will work just yet, but hope is a powerful thing. And we need to use everything available in our arsenal.
My hope is we eventually test the plasma of all healthcare providers with a high-risk of exposure since a number of us could be asymptomatic carriers, and may have antibodies without even knowing it.
Because paying it forward fucking rocks.
It truly is nourishment for the heart and the soul. Or as Winston Churchill put it:
“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
Thank you to everyone who reached out to me in every which way to make sure I am okay. I am. I am fortunate to have VERY healthy coping mechanisms, with the biggest one allowing myself to be truly vulnerable and staying true to myself.
So a good cry and connecting with loved ones is usually all I need. Just keeping it real.
I've been fortunate to be like that most of my life. It's never been a curse and always a blessing. Though it took me till my later adult years to fully understand and embrace that fact.
And I wish the same for all of you:
Embrace vulnerability. It is not weakness.
It is absolute strength.
And though it may initially be scary, the end result is quite beautiful. Especially the part where you find out how strong you actually can be.
And how deeply you can actually love.