Updated: Dec 18, 2020
Our experience with Covid at the O Institute
It was early Saturday morning when I got the email. One of the patients in our office had tested positive for Covid-19.
I had just dropped off my daughter at her horse riding lesson and my son to practice some baseball with his friends.
I immediately felt the stress of what this meant.
When did I last see this person? Who else was exposed? What should I do?
It's crazy how during a "crisis," rudimentary knowledge becomes difficult to access because your brain hyper-focuses on the crisis. Am I in danger?
So, what did I do? I called my wife, of course.
She and I talked it out and I realized that this person was the last person of the day so no one else was exposed and my time with them was probably less than 15 minutes. So far so good.
That simple knowledge-that I was the only one exposed lifted a huge weight off my shoulders and the stress dissipated somewhat. Then I zoomed out and things became tactical.
I am not sure if this is a type A personality thing or a scientists default but I started to create a checklist of things I needed to do; go pick up my kids, send emails, get tested, close office, sanitize everything... then my brain went into a strange place. Frustration.
What a hassle.
I started thinking, " I just drove an hour all around town to drop off my kids and now I have to go back and pick them up.
Oh crap! I have to call my son and daughter and tell them NOT to get near anyone and make sure their masks never come off!"
Of course...neither of them answer their phones.
How is it possible that when they are home I cannot pry the stupid phone from their skinny little fingers but when I need to reach them...voicemail. Aarrgh!
My son calls me back in 5 minutes. Apparently, I was lucky that he happened to look at his phone. Yeah. I'm lucky.
He actually handles my news very well. I tell him I'm sorry I ruined his day and that I am coming back to pick him up and he just shrugs it off and says, "No problem."
Huh? Is this my son?? Maybe I actually did a decent job of raising this kid?
Still no contact from my daughter so after picking up my son we just head up to her barn. When I arrive, she is just about to saddle her horse. I make sure she was not in close contact with anyone and that she kept her mask on the whole time. She assures me that she did.
I give her the news and she also seems to be okay with this. Hmmm...
When I return, of course, my wife has already spoken to the Covid hotline nurse and gotten the full scoop on what needs to be done. Do you know my wife?
We now interrupt this program for some important news.
Things you should know about how to deal with exposure to Covid positive:
Only the person who was exposed is the one that needs to be tested. The rest of the family does not unless the primary person tests positive.
If your exposure was less than 30 minutes, your risk is extremely low.
The new quarantine time after exposure is closer to one week rather than two. (This has not been made official yet but the incubation period is apparently shorter than they thought).
You should wait 4-6 days after exposure to get tested. In order to make sure there has been adequate incubation time to get a more accurate test.
When you go to the testing site, best time to go is about 30-40 minutes BEFORE they open. The lines are long but they move pretty quickly.
Some places run out of tests so earlier is better
Turn around time is anywhere from 24-72 hours for results. This may have been because of the whole traveling for Thanksgiving overload.
Now back to our regular programming
So now I have to format the email.
Do I send it to everyone?
No, that doesn't make sense. I want to make sure I don't create a panic.
Okay, I will send it to the people who will be impacted by the closer of the office.
That makes the most sense.
I format the email with BOLD type telling them that no one else was exposed and that we are closing the office for 2 weeks out of an abundance of caution. I am expecting some people to freak out and others to just be annoyed.
But I figure, based on my experience from getting the news, it's better to be annoyed short term than completely turn your life upside down trying to figure who you came into contact with and trying to communicate with all of them.
Yikes! That would suck.
As I send off the email I am taken by a sense of gratitude. It could have been so much worse. What if it was the FIRST patient of the day?!
Can you imagine the degrees of exposure that would have created?!
It's like the old Prell shampoo commercials, "She told two friends and they told two friends and so on and so on." I know this commercial is before your time. Basically the exposure explosion would have been orders of magnitude higher.
Now the spread of Covid-19 on a map started to make a lot more sense.
Funny how that works.
Do you know what happened next?
Each person who emailed me back first asked to make sure I was okay and that my family was safe. They all wished me well and that was it.
My heart swelled.
As crazy as this year has been.
All the hate and divisiveness. Panic and hoarding. Stress and anger that shows up on the news and social media. I am here to tell you that kindness and community are still strong. That people default to love and kindness.
So I wish you all a VERY VERY Happy Thanksgiving. Tomorrow take a moment to remember the people around you, whether they are physically there or not and know that you have a lot to be grateful for.
I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being the embodiment of well-being. For sharing your heart and your love with me and my family.