I Am an ER Physician, and I Have Covid-19

Here’s how I’m faring after diagnosis

I am an ER doctor. On the morning of March 14, I got the unfortunate news that I tested positive for Covid-19. My leadership team contacted me to offer support. I talked to my family and several close friends to let them know. I got on the horn with my close contacts to let them know (and haven’t had close contact with anyone since becoming symptomatic). I also spoke with my local department of public health and occupational health team. And now, I’m focused on getting better.

Physically, I feel fine. My  include mild muscle soreness and headaches mostly. I haven’t had a fever since waking up a little sweaty Friday morning. My breathing is fine, and I don’t have a bad cough, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. I have enough insulin, Motrin, Tylenol, and albuterol for at least three weeks. My family and friends have been incredibly thoughtful and generous, offering to help take care of me and gather groceries and necessities. I haven’t gone stir crazy yet, but I might start browsing Amazon in search of something to do soon. I’ve had plenty of FaceTime calls, and my Haitian dad (who is also a physician) is literally calling me every four to six hours to check in.

Emotionally, I feel anxious, guilty, and thankful.

I’m anxious because I know this disease can get a lot worse very fast. I am a Type 1 diabetic and asthmatic, so I have been extra paranoid these past few weeks about wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), washing my hands, and watching out for symptoms of Covid-19. I started feeling slightly sick two days before my diagnosis. My only symptoms were a mild cough and that nebulous pre-sick feeling (light-headed and tired). While working the prior week, I wore PPE the entire time — which should have protected me from everyone and everyone from me.

I’m thankful that I am young, that I have health insurance, that I have access to care, that I understand medicine and illness better than most.

When I woke up on Friday, I still felt just a little sick. I noticed some muscle soreness and a mild cough, and I felt slightly feverish. I didn’t know if I was really going to get sick, but I didn’t want to risk infecting others, so I found another doctor to cover my shift. I contacted my leadership team and was instructed to get tested. I was evaluated and found to have a low-grade temperature of 99.7. Otherwise, my vitals were normal, so I got swabbed and sent home. I continued to  while my colleagues picked up my shifts. I slept, hung out with my dog, and watched a lot of TV. I also ate some pho (the non-evidence-based best food when feeling sick).

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