My Friend Kirsten and her experience with COVID

My friend Kirsten and I met in high school. Kirsten was in grade 12 and I was in grade 10. We had a great group of friends that Kirsten and I would visit at lunch time every day! For my 17-birthday party we got to decorate cupcakes and got to go bowling! When Kirsten said that she got Covid, I was worried about her and her husband Adam.

Kelsey: What’s was your symptoms and how did you feel like when you had COVID?

Kirsten: My husband’s symptoms started the Monday night, and he had a headache and scratchy throat. The next day he was nauseated, vomiting and had a bad cough. My symptoms started Thursday evening/Friday morning with a cough, fever, nasal congestion. We are both triple vaccinated and thankful to be! He works in a long-term care as a geriatric social worker and his work has been so careful to protect their residents as many of them would likely have severe outcomes from Covid. And myself I’m an RN who has a regular position in the ER and am currently training and working temporarily in the OR (operating room). I was also reassigned to work in ICU for a few months this fall to assist them when the delta variant of Covid was overwhelming the ICU. 

Kelsey: Were you scared when you found out it was covid? Your husband had it before you, how did you know if you got it as well? How long did you have covid? What were your thoughts about your experience with covid?

Kirsten: We were a bit scared and sad and frustrated to get Covid as we have tried to be so careful and protect ourselves and those around us. We had also just finally that Saturday booked our honeymoon trip we’ve had to postpone twice already to go to Mexico from January 25 to February 1st but we booked Saturday and he got sick on Monday, so we had to postpone again which made me very sad! The last two years have been very challenging and overwhelming being in healthcare (as well they have been hard for everyone though!) and we’ve very much isolated ourselves from everyone due to our high exposure risk to try to protect those around us. Our friends were great and checked in on us and offered to bring us groceries while we isolated, my husband’s one co-worker brought us some groceries. Our friend’s daughter (our niece) video called me every day to ask if aunty was feeling okay and to check on me. Our family checked on us frequently and offered to bring us things as well. We were just grateful we didn’t get anyone else sick or expose anyone as you can be contagious for a couple days before showing symptoms.

Kelsey: What’s was your childhood like?

Kirsten: My childhood was amazing! I have the best family and was so fortunate growing up to see my parents and how much they love one another and love us. We had a great education and a great supportive home life. We played lots of sports, had great times camping and on family vacations. I know not everyone has been so fortunate and I am forever grateful. I am still very close with my Mom and talk to her every day and miss my dad who passed away in 2017 every day as well.

Kelsey: What school did you go to, how did you know that you wanted to be a RN?

Kirsten: My brother and I are close and I am fortunate to be very close to his wonderful fiancé as well now and consider her my sister! I went to Jack Stuart, Charlie Killam and CCHS. My mom is an RN and retired in February 2013, and often encouraged me to try something else or study something else in school as shift work is quite challenging and she knows working in healthcare can be very challenging. I originally thought I wanted to be an OT (occupational therapist) which is a masters degree and you need a bachelors degree to get into. So my mom then suggested I take my Bachelor of Science in nursing as then there’s also a job waiting at the end if I decided not to pursue my masters right away. I then fell in love with nursing! I graduated from MacEwan University with my BSc in Nursing in 2016. I worked in Camrose from 2015-2018 and then moved to Edmonton in Feb 2018 to try new opportunities and to be closer to Adam (and now we’re married so I’d say it was a great move!)

Kelsey: Did you get the vaccine?

Kirsten: We both felt very fortunate to get our vaccines! I believe in the science behind the vaccines and can attest that my time in the hospital and in the ICU has proven that the unvaccinated have had far worse symptoms and outcomes than those who are vaccinated (both those who are perfectly healthy otherwise and those with comorbidities!) I cried tears of relief when I got my first dose January 6th, 2021. I feel it prevented me from getting sick prior to my recent experience of having the Omnicron variant of Covid and also prevented me from having more severe symptoms. My work hasn’t been greatly impacted by the vaccine besides shortening how long I had to isolate once becoming sick. Very few coworkers that I’m aware of have left from the mandate to get the vaccine and I think we are very fortunate we are vaccinated.

Kelsey: How’s work, what’s are the rules at work?

Kirsten: Work is hard! Covid rules are often changing and evolving so lots of new policies to read and try to keep up with. We do a “fit for work” every day before our shift starts where we answer screening questions to ensure we aren’t coming to work sick. If you are sick you stay home, and the rules changed just before I got Covid where if you are fully vaccinated and your symptoms are improving you can return to work 5 days after showing symptoms. We are expected to do continuous masking and wear eye protection at all times, and if we have our mask off to eat or drink it has to be in a designated area and be 6 feet apart from everyone. We wear N95 masks (special fit, higher protection than regular masks) for all close patient contact now whereas previously they only wanted us to do it for high risk activities like intubation, extubation, doing CPR or other aerosolizing procedures. Another health related issue we could talk about sometime is organ donation or transplants! My dad had an autoimmune disorder and needed a liver transplant, and he was a big advocate and now our family is continuing to honour him that way!

Kelsey: What’s do you say to people who don’t get vaccinated?

Kirsten: I can’t make the choice for people, but I felt completely safe trusting the science behind the vaccine and felt much safer and more protected having my vaccines. The sickest people I’ve seen have been unvaccinated and many have expressed regret for not getting vaccinated, especially those I saw while in ICU.

Here is a website if you need information regarding COVID 19

https://www.cdc.gov/?fbclid=IwAR1roHIUyyLnF17kcZ5R0fMKcyjl2nldH75kcs1wYi9vY1jh7rs0qwUsaps

Thank you Kirsten for sharing your Covid story with us. I am really happy you and Adam are okay!

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