It has been an interesting summer here at the Minion House. We’ve had lots of walks, lots of time “at the pool” in the backyard (kiddie pool), gardening, tomato picking, and more recently, our area has had an explosion of Covid cases for reasons I can’t get into without wanting to throw my computer through the nearest window. This recent burst of activity has thrown a wrench into the local school district’s reopening plans, and is also impacting my nursing program’s plans.
The official plan for Little Miss Minion’s school won’t be coming out until this week and we will have one week to choose which option we want to do. It sounds like there will be an all in person plan, a hybrid plan, and an all virtual plan. The district has not mentioned what the protocols will be for transportation of kids, eating lunch, bathrooms, masks, etc., but these will hopefully be addressed in the official plan. I’m curious to know what the procedures for a sick child will look like as well, since children do tend to be germ factories even when there is not a global pandemic happening. And does Little Miss Minion still have preemie lungs and a depressed immune system? I don’t want to use this disease as the test.
My school is also altering the plans, but I don’t have a clear picture of what that will look like yet. They have mentioned livestreaming lectures with the option to come in person, virtual labs with in person check off days for skills, and generally trying to give everyone the option to go online where possible. It sounds like clinical days will remain the same, but the partner hospitals have to agree and I don’t know if many of the local ones have enough PPE for their employees, let alone a bunch of students who can’t really do much in terms of patient care. They hope to have more information released this week as well.
As a preemie mom, this pandemic is bringing back much of the same feelings that I had when we were in isolation after Little Miss Minion got out of the NICU. The silver lining of this whole situation is that our household is uniquely prepared for hunkering down, away from germs. We are used to not going to the store as a family. We don’t usually congregate in large groups of people. I have a weekly disinfecting schedule for our house. I did these things because I wanted to keep my child healthy and out of the hospital.
When I hear stories about how people are completely disregarding the recommended safety procedures because they think it is a hoax to take down a certain president, I see red. They clearly haven’t had anyone they know get sick from it (I have). They don’t know of anyone who has died from it (I do). The fact that people are refusing to wear a mask is just absolutely astonishing to me. Masks do nothing for the person wearing them, at least the ones that non-healthcare people have. The average mask is meant to contain droplets that could contain the virus. If I do wear a mask, I am keeping my droplets from coming out into the general area around me. If you are not wearing a mask, your droplets can spray all over the place and become a source of infection for other people. People who are not wearing a mask are essentially saying that they don’t care about spreading disease. They don’t care about YOU.
Some tips for reducing your exposure from a Preemie Mom who has been there:
- If you have to go out, WEAR A MASK! There are very few legitimate reasons for not wearing one. If my five year old can wear one, so can you. If you can’t wear one, STAY HOME.
- Stay home unless you have to go out. Please note that there is a difference between HAVE TO and WANT TO. You have to buy groceries. You don’t have to browse the sale shelves or make multiple stops because the store is out of your favorite brand of cereal. Deal with it. If you can order something online, do it. Most places have free shipping.
- If you do have to go out, make it a quick, solo trip. You don’t need your whole family to come with you. You don’t need your spouse to come with you to the grocery store. Make a list. Get in and get out. Get everything at one place, even if this means you have to do without your favorite brand or a sale item from another store.
- Just because you are “out” doesn’t mean that this experience counts as one exposure. Every store you set foot into is another chance to spread the virus if you are asymptomatic, or to become infected. If you don’t NEED it, do without.
- Be smart about your surroundings. If many other people around you in the store are not wearing a mask, get out of the store.
- If you have ANY symptoms of illness, STAY HOME. I’m always infuriated by how many people have told me “its just allergies” and then they turn out to have a cold or the flu, especially when we were isolating with Little Miss Minion.
- When you get home, take your shoes off. Launder your mask. Wash your hands with soap. Don’t rely on hand sanitizer unless you don’t have access to soap and water. Soap is better.
The thing that makes me the most angry about this whole thing is the secondary toll that the surges are taking. Irresponsible behavior and the refusal to wear masks leads to a rise in cases, which leads to a rise in hospital beds being occupied. If all the ICU beds in an city are full of Covid patients, there is no room for the pedestrian who got hit by a car on their walk to the bus stop. There is no room for the person who is having a heart attack. There is no room for the cancer patient who is having a reaction to an unrelated virus because their immune system is already shot.
For Little Miss Minion’s last shunt surgery, we waited in the ER for several hours before a bed in the PICU opened up. And it turned out that it wasn’t even a true PICU bed, it was an overflow area that is usually reserved for pediatric cardiac patients. And that wasn’t during a pandemic. If pediatric cases increase, which they probably will if schools reopen without proper protocol, there might not be beds available for unrelated things like shunt surgeries.
Stay safe and healthy!
Don’t forget your mask!