This is the 13th in a series of stories of people being fired from their jobs because they have declined to take the required Covid-19 vaccination. The identities of these workers are being kept confidential because they fear reprisal. In this edition, the story of a woman with Covid is told from her perspective. More stories will be included in future editions of this series as it continues. Previous interviews in this series are listed and linked at the bottom of this story. Send your story to [email protected].
By COVID POSITIVE / FIRST PERSON
I’m Covid-19 positive.
I started having a dry cough Friday. Since my family includes my elderly father and my husband, who just had open heart surgery in June, I decided to get tested as soon as possible. Oh, and yes, I’m fully vaccinated.
I pulled up to the Alaska Native Medical Center testing site only to find that is it closed on Saturday morning. Really? All I see on the news is pandemic, pandemic, pandemic and a testing site is closed one day a week? I looked on the internet from my cell phone and find the next closest site was in the UAA parking lot. I pulled my car in and found no signs to the testing site.
There were signs for a CDL test, but nothing for COVID testing. But I saw a line of cars forming in the back east side parking lot, so I pulled over. There was one sign that stated I would need to preregister. I did. It took me about 40 minutes to get through the line with only 10 cars in front of me.
Two attendants were struggling in the pouring down rain to serve those of us who are now worried about our status. One worker finally got into his car and draped his now wet rain cape in his window to drive down the line of cars waiting.
Swabs up nostrils. Done. Now I waited.
And I waited some more. On Sunday, after 24 hours had passed, I decided to send an email off to Capstone, which had performed the test. I received an email back that an “error” occurred when running my test. The responder continued stating that my test would be rerun, and I’d receive the results that night.
By now, I wasn’t feeling confident about the test or my chances of it coming in that night. Predictably, the results didn’t come in. I went to bed that evening feeling like I was getting a bad head cold with the flu symptoms of achy joints. I took a generic over-the-counter cold medicine.
Monday morning I awakened to a text message and logged into my account: Large red letters announce that I’ve tested positive for Covid.
I was upset. I was angry. I was scared. I’ve been vaccinated. I’ve been wearing masks. I’ve been sanitizing my hands constantly. In short, I’ve been doing everything right! I worry about myself, my husband, and my dad.
Here’s my anecdotal evidence about the virus: The only people I know who’ve contracted it are people who’ve been vaccinated. One even had the third jab. In the last month I know of two who have died.
Not knowing what to do, I called my doctor. Oh, I forgot. It was Columbus/Indigenous People’s Day. Nothing was open. I looked at my test result email there were no instructions. I called the Alaska Native Medical Center emergency room. The person answering there said they do not give advice over the phone. She would not even tell me if I should visit the emergency room.
I’m at high risk of a spontaneous pneumothorax, which is a fancy way of saying my lungs collapse. Since my five episodes a few years back, I’ve been careful with any respiratory issues. I’ve gotten the flu shot annually. I take vitamins.
I decided to visit the Alaska Native Medical Center ER. That was a mistake. The nurse there tersely stated to me when I told her I tested positive for COVID, “What are you doing here? You need to go home and treat it like a cold.”
I continued: “But I have extra risk factors….” The nurse would not let me finish. So I leave. By the way, there were only three people in line to visit the emergency room when I was there, including me.
Fortunately for me, a friend who has had the virus told me about the monoclonal antibody Covid-19 treatment offered by the State of Alaska. I was able to get in that afternoon since there’s a place you can go without a doctor’s note. That was a good thing, since apparently all medical offices have a day off during the pandemic.
The treatment takes about and hour and a half. The private contractor who operates the site has skilled medical personnel in hazmat suits like you see on TV treating up to 11 people at a time. Antibodies are input into your body via an IV. I feltl very safe and comfortable.
It’s now been four days. I feel like I have a head cold. I’m treating that with drug store medicine. I’m convinced that the antibody treatment saved me and my lungs from having a terrible experience. I received a call on Tuesday from Capstone asking me if I received my results and told me to expect a call from another entity to do “contract tracing.” I’m still waiting for that one call today, Wednesday. Given how fast the virus spreads I’ve already called everyone that I was in contact with the previous week to inform them of my status.
With all the money that’s been dished out to municipalities, hospitals and clinics, why are testing sites closed one day a week?
Why can’t the medical professionals give a simple set of instructions with options when test results are sent out?
It seems to me that a person who is positive should go directly to a Covid treatment site set up in each community. Our Anchorage Assembly should have directed the money to development treatment centers instead of diverting funds to buy properties for homeless shelters.
Anchorage hospitals have had a year and a half and they still don’t have a treatment plan in place. Instead of telling me to go home and treat my Covid like a cold, medical officials should have sent me directly to a treatment site. We need treatment centers, not mask mandates.
The author is a successful Anchorage businesswoman and Alaska Native, now home recovering from Covid. Her name is being kept anonymous because she, like others in this series, have everything to lose by criticizing the medical establishment.