During the more than 16 years that she’s been in nursing, Megan Ledbetter has dealt with some seriously ill patients before—and she’s never gotten sick the way she did from novel coronavirus.
After two and a half weeks of home confinement, the Chagrin Falls, Ohio nurse practitioner has returned to work more determined than ever to keep the patients she sees at a small geriatric hospital in the Cleveland area safe.
“Having experienced how sick it made me, being a healthy person, made me realize how hard this would be for someone in our vulnerable population,” says Ledbetter, a 2018 graduate of Chamberlain’s MSN – Family Nurse Practitioner specialty track. “This may sound naive, but before I tested positive, I actually wasn't that worried for myself. I figured I would be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Turns out that I have never been so sick, and I didn’t realize how the isolation would affect me mentally.”
A mother of four, Ledbetter strictly quarantined herself in her bedroom, while her husband would bring her food and basic needs. Additionally her family was placed on a mandatory 14-day quarantine for having had direct exposure to her and COVID-19. She stayed away from all of them during her isolation.
She is certain that getting the novel coronavirus will impact the care she delivers at her job caring for seniors. She now knows what it felt like having COVID-19, the persistent fevers, searing pain in her thighs, hips, and lower back, the sleepless nights, and in the end, the chest tightness and dry persistent cough.
She feels fortunate she was able to recover completely from home, but there were moments that she felt she was close to having to go to the hospital. Daily conversations and great care from her healthcare providers is what she believes kept her home. Additionally, she says she tried not to panic and was determined to fight her way back to health. She wonders what would have happened if she had not done that.
She now has a renewed and strengthened commitment to her job as nurse practitioner. She has become even more vigilant about donning masks and other precautions to keep her patients safe.
Nurses deal in medicine and science. But many of them will tell you, and now she believes more than ever, that the emotional support of a patient is so important, especially for the senior population she cares for.
“I experienced how scary it is to get a serious diagnosis,” she says. “I cried when I was diagnosed, I was so afraid of what could happen. But I was also determined that I was not going to give into the virus. I did everything I knew a patient should do when sick. And the isolation was hard. It made me see even more how important it is for me to be present for the patients, to really take the time to help them and be sure that they do not feel alone, especially in light of all the visitation restrictions during this time.”
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