The COVID fight is real
After 41 years in the nursing profession, Lawler’s Nancy Cuvelier probably thought she’d seen it all.
Then along came 2020.
The former Mayo Clinic nurse and Turkey Valley school nurse has been employed at UnityPoint Health — Allen Hospital in Waterloo for seven years now. Dana Schmitt of New Hampton has logged 4 1/2 years, Linda Steege of Fredericksburg 16 years. All are members of the “heroes” group we’ve all been hearing about in the past months. No doubt they’ll have stories to tell their kids and grandkids when this is all over.
Like the patient Cuvelier helped the night prior to talking about her job in the rehab unit. The patient, like many of the patients Cuvelier deals with, was recovering from COVID.
“She has a brain disorder from having the virus so long,” said the Allen nurse. “She doesn’t have the ability to walk and she can’t comprehend simple requests. It’s one of the effects COVID can have. Many patients don’t die, but they end up being in intensive care so long that they have so much recovery ahead of them.”
Cuvelier says COVID can cause a person to go septic, shutting down the body — kidney, liver, heart, brain, you name it.
“People have all kinds of life-altering conditions. They might get over COVID but there are lasting effects they’ll have to live with the rest of their lives.”
There seems to be a “magic” age a lot of rehab patients fall into — 60 to 63. Speaking for those of us that land in that category, it’s not an age where you’re ready to cash it in. Or be permanently afflicted.
But Cuvelier is concerned about younger people as well. Although not as common, younger people can contract the disease and have serious complications or death.
“I’m 60 and I’ve lived my life. I just feel so sorry for nurses like Dana. She works in a COVID unit. Can you imagine being a young mother, having a 2-year old and being pregnant? Her life and her baby’s life are on the line. And when you see people out there in big groups, not wearing masks, that’s what kind of ticks you off. Their decisions are affecting us.”
Cuvelier feels that most people in the 60-plus age group have some type of underlying condition that could negatively affect their outcome.
“Even if you’re still healthy - if you’re overweight, if you are on high blood-pressure medicine, if you’ve had cancer, diabetes, or so many other things.”
— For more on this story, see the Nov. 24 Tribune