I don’t think you can ever feel like you are a part of something as enormous as a pandemic until it hits close to home.

The week of March 9 was business as usual in our department as we watched the numbers of COVID-19 patients start to increase in other areas of the country. To that point, the only way it affected our lives was the inconvenience of our annual Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) conference in Seattle being canceled. That all changed on Saturday, March 14, while up north with my family, when I received a phone call telling me that I had been exposed to a positive COVID-19 patient.

At that point, the pandemic became real for me, as opposed to something I was watching in the media. My first thought was not about myself, husband or child contracting the virus because I felt that we were all healthy and young enough to survive it. My only concern at that moment was the close contact with my mother-in-law and father-in-law. They are both in their late 60s and in poor health, and I would never forgive myself if me possibly being infected was the thing that led them to a quicker demise. 

I left my family up north and immediately drove home to be tested for COVID-19. I was told results would come back by the next Monday, but that deadline came and went with no clarity. Not knowing if I was a carrier, I drove back up north Monday evening to bring my family home. Still with no results, constantly changing protocols meant I was released to go back to work on Friday, March 20. I had no symptoms and I wanted to be at work, so I was relieved. I could no longer sit at home – I needed to do more to help people.

The last few weeks have been weird. The world around us has changed. More and more businesses have been forced to closed, and social life has come to a complete halt. People are in panic mode and hoarding the weirdest things. Friends that I have known for over a decade are surprising me with their reactions to what’s happening around them; people who would step up and help in a time of need are letting fear dictate their behavior. I’ve even had to deny friends that know better than to ask me to prescribe medications like hydroxychloroquine for their own personal supply.

But I have been lucky enough to have great people by my side. Family and friends that should not be exposed have stepped up and offered childcare. My husband, a data analyst, has been researching non-stop to discover the meaning behind accurate statistics. He has been comparing this information to previous pandemics, educating and offering hope to people who need to hear how the world has overcome worse. Of course, the real heroes are the ICU nurses in the thick of it and the teams of people stepping up throughout the hospital.

I am happy to be a part of one of those IR teams. We are doing what we can, helping where we can and trying to find other ways to reach out. Between my family at home and my family at work, I have an incredible support system that makes me want to do more. I would not feel right living through a pandemic knowing, in the end, I could have tried harder or have done more. I will be working at an urgent care clinic soon and plan to volunteer in areas where my skills can be utilized. I am proud to be a part of a team where other members are willing to take that journey with me.

This story is not over yet, and I hope to be able to continue commenting on the goodness that comes from people in a trying time.