Our Chief Nursing Officer Lisa Romano shares her personal ordeal battling COVID-19 head on, both as a nurse and a patient. This article originally appeared in Barron’s.
I let my guard down. It’s as simple as that.
As a nurse of 32 years and the chief nursing officer at a health-care software company helping hospitals engage patients amid COVID-19, I knew the risks. I was the voice for social distancing and mask wearing. But after eight long months of caution, tempted by the beautiful weather outside and the experience of something that could be considered “normal,” I attended an outside gathering at a friend’s home, without a mask, but armed with hand sanitzer and a commitment to maintain my distance.
I was a strong and healthy 54 year old, coming off my annual physical with stellar bloodwork and no pre-existing conditions. I took a calculated risk. Nobody at the event appeared sick, and nobody tested positive afterward. Still, three days later, I had a dry cough. Without a fever or sore throat, it was easy enough to explain it away—it was that time of year for seasonal allergies and I left the window open.
I wasn’t coughing a lot, but on day five that annoying tickle in my throat was changing. It was deeper. I was tired. I took my temperature—normal. I dialed into my meetings, switching off the camera because I was just so tired. I couldn’t follow conversations. I took my temperature again —still normal, but I took the rest of the afternoon off. My head was pounding.
After three weeks, I made it out of the critical stages, entering the long haul that’s characterized my life for over two months now…