Nurse Advocates For Medical Workers Who Have Become ‘COVID Long Haulers’
Apr 22, 2021, 8:30 PM | Updated: Apr 23, 2021, 9:21 am
DRAPER, Utah – A Utah nurse has been raising awareness about the long-term impacts the past year has had on medical workers. Even though she has never tested positive for coronavirus, she said she considers herself a COVID-19 long hauler.
The first time you meet Rachael Evans, you can tell she loves her job.
“Being a nurse is something that gets in your blood,” she said.
Evans decided to become a nurse when her grandmother, who was dying of cancer from being a downwinder during nuclear testing, told her to take care of people.
“She said, ‘Rachael, I want you to be a nurse.’ I thought she was crazy, and the other thing she said was I want you to keep your apartment clean. And she got one of her wishes,” said Evans with a laugh.
It’s a career that took off for her.
She even became a traveling nurse helping people across the country. However, last year at a senior care facility in Georgia, Evans said she got sick.
“I did have all of the symptoms of COVID, but still tested negative,” she said.
It only got worse.
She had blood clotting issues, blood pressure concerns, difficulty speaking, and then neurological problems. As time went on, Evans said she started to deteriorate even more.
“I had GI issues that turned into respiratory issues. But then I started having seizures,” she said.
Evans said she lost her traveling nurse job because of it.
“I knew I would have to leave the bedside eventually because I was having shortness of breath with even moving,” she said.
Now, Evans is wondering if she’ll ever get her health back.
She was healthy and competed as a power weightlifter before she got sick.
“It’s hard because you’re scared and you don’t know what’s going on,” said Evans. “I just want to get better.”
Evans has another job lined up, which will eventually bring her health insurance so she can get the MRI and medical tests she needs to figure out what kind of treatment she needs.
“Unfortunately, I’m kind of at this stop,” said Evans. “So now I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
In the meantime, she wants to raise awareness that there are a lot of nurses, like her, and others in the medical field who are now dealing with the long-term effects of helping COVID patients for the past year.
“We were called heroes for so long, and now that the crisis is kind of being controlled, we’ve kind of been left by the wayside and people are now forgetting about us,” said Evans. “We’ve fought and now that we’re sick, people kind of forget and we’re still struggling.”
Still, she’s keeping a great attitude about it all.
She feels having this perspective will only help her in the future.
“It makes me a better nurse,” she said. “I’m more understanding of patients who are going through this because it is frustrating.”