“Horrifying” is how Judy Dusek DNP, M.Ed., APRN-CNS, CMSRN, ACNS-BC and NACNS board member describes her bout with COVID-19.
Just recently recovered, Dusek agreed to share her personal experience as one of the “90%” of COVID-19 sufferers we don’t hear about in the news. Dusek oversees eight units responsible for staff development, onboarding, education and being hands-on with the nurses at bedside for Ascension Via Christi, the largest provider of health care services throughout Wichita and central Kansas.
Here’s what she had to say from a nurse’s perspective on the impact of COVID-19 on the body.
Q. You say the news media is missing the story. What are they missing?
What the media tells you is that you have a dry cough, shortness of breath, a fever, and then you go to the hospital and get put on a ventilator. If the whole story was truly told more people would be conscientious with hand washing, social distancing and wearing a mask. The ones on the news, are the ones that are being admitted to the hospitals. The 90% of us that have overcome this in our own homes with an average of 18 days aren’t talked about. More importantly, how we got through those 18 days isn’t really discussed either.
What really happens with COVID-19 is that it starts immediately — one day you’re fine and the next day you’re not — and it leaves your body the same way. The majority of the systems of the body are involved. In my case, I experienced painful, random electrical shocks in my fingers and toes.
Q. What was COVID-19 like for you?
The day before Easter Sunday, I woke up and every part of my body ached to the point that I’ve never ached before. I had this horrible headache, pressure behind my eyes, a fever and I was weak. I knew right away what was going on because that’s the way my husband started too. You don’t hear much discussion of the severe body aches — muscles, ligaments, tendons, connective tissue, bones. They all ache constantly.
Getting dressed in the morning would take me 30 minutes because I would be short of breath and weak. I would sit in the chair and put on one sock and then rest. Then put on the shoe. Washing my hair by myself was impossible because I would faint if I raised my arms above my head.
Q. So, if you’re not a nurse, you will have an even tougher time dealing with this at home. Was there anything that you did that was comforting?
The only things we found that provided comfort was a neck wrap heated in the microwave for the aches and muscle spasms and Tylenol for the fever. A friend of mine who is a physician called and suggested I drink Schweppes Tonic Water for the quinine and take 50 milligrams of zinc every day. I drank Gatorade to replace electrolytes too. Did all this help? I don’t know but with COVID-19 you’d try about anything to get relief.
Q. Any advice for other NACNS members in regard to Covid-19?
Follow all procedures and do whatever you can not to contract it. COVID-19 doesn’t give up fast or easily. Also, as CNSs this is our moment to be innovative and develop new ways to deal with this virus. In my hospital we have started replacing ventilators with C-paps and Bi-paps and are getting good results. I work in a large hospital and we have only lost two patients.
Q. Last question: Why did you decide to join the NACNS Board of Directors?
I love NACNS and I love being a CNS. I think NACNS is really moving in the right direction. Our leadership team is outstanding and we have some really great things planned for members. The CNS role is such a variable role and so necessary for keeping populations of patients healthy and coming up with all the ideas that need to be implemented for populations of patients, whether it’s in the hospital or outside of the hospital, in-house or out or in a clinic or school, the CNS is everywhere.