Dr Amir Mortazavi was working night shifts in the ER when he started to feel “funny.”
“There was just something not OK with me,” he says. When I’m on night shift I’m pretty energetic, I’m running around. But that night I just didn’t feel right, and I started having this neck and upper chest and back pain, which I thought I was related it sleeping bad or something.
“Then, halfway through the shift, I noticed every time I was breathing, it was hurting. And my temperature was a little bit off.”
By the time he got home to Hell’s Kitchen at 8am the next morning, the fever started, along with body pains. “That’s when I went to Mount Sinai and got tested for COVID, and in less than 24 hours they gave me the results – it was positive.”
Amir had admitted the first case of COVID in Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, in Queens. “I don’t think the healthcare system throughout New York was ready for it, because no one knew what to do, and everyone was in panic mode,” he says.
“In the first couple of days, PPEs were easy to get. But within a week, the shortage became really apparent. I think one of the big reasons I got the infection it was the lack of proper PPEs throughout the first week.”
For 13 days, he suffered aches, lethargy, fever, and night sweats – “night sweats are the worst, but I didn’t have any respiratory issues, thank God.
“I chose not to take anything other than Tylenol. It’s a very well known recommendation that people should not take NSAIDs like ibuprofen, aspirin, and all that. But I took Tylenol – some days up to 2,500 milligrams, some days only 500 milligrams. And I cleared it up with 13 days. Today is day 16 and I feel good.”
He’s hoping to head back into the ER – the eye of the storm – on Thursday. “I know at the moment they’re short of PPEs – they’re definitely using one per day or one every two days of each item. But people are dealing with it the best that they can.”
Are they scared?
“Oh absolutely. As doctors, we signed up for this. But I know for a fact our nurses are very scared. Our residents are scared, especially the ones that are pregnant, and have new babies at home or smaller children. But they don’t have the option to do anything else because they’re the only ones that can help the patients – no one else can do what they’re doing.
“I’m less worried because now I have about a 95% immunity. But the hospital at the moment is a madhouse. It’s chaotic. So it’s going to be a lot of work.”
His advice bears repeating. Stay home. If you have to go outside, cover your face, avoid areas that are crowded, and don’t touch your eyes or your nose. Wash your hands. “Hopefully, if this trend continues, by the end of the month we’re going to see a big drop.”
And, as a society, we’re not just learning to appreciate our friendships more; we’re learning new behaviors that will keep us healthier in the future. “People are going to be much more conscientious about their interactions, their personal space, their surroundings,” he says. “That’s going to help not just with COVID, but the spread of disease and other viral infections. And that’s a good thing.”