One patient with a brain tumor had to wait several months for an ICU bed as medical resources were redirected towards unvaccinated COVID patients during the Omicron wave.
Amanda Harris is an artist and woodworker who lives in Portland, Oregon. She recently discovered she has a brain tumor that may be cancerous. Unfortunately, as hospitals continue to deal with rising COVID-19 cases, beds have been reserved for patients who have contracted the virus. For three months, Harris has been unable to access an ICU bed, preventing her from undergoing her much-needed procedure. According to experts, those who have required hospitalization owing to COVID have predominantly been unvaccinated. Therefore, she has called on everyone who can get vaccinated to do so at the earliest, Bored Panda reports. There are others who require immediate medical attention, she reminded.
"These last three months spent waiting for a surgery date and the two months preceding, spent trying to wrap my head around this completely out-of-the-blue tumor discovery and struggling to get the right imaging and the best doctors, [have] been the most challenging time of my life," she shared in an interview with the news outlet. "As someone who lives with multiple chronic illnesses, and has spent many years of [her] life navigating the frustrating system that is American healthcare, I am used to having to advocate for myself, so it came to no real surprise that I would need to do so again with this life-threatening brain tumor. However, the added complications that COVID has brought with it and the fact that it is all entirely out of my hands is something I was not at all prepared for."
Her story first went viral when she posted about her experience on TikTok. She states in the video, "A lot of people have been asking me why it's taking me so long to get scheduled for this surgery, and I have honestly been avoiding answering that question because the answer truly makes me angry, angry at good friends and family members. The reality of the situation is that the neurosurgery department that will be handling my surgery only currently has access to 50 percent of the beds that they normally would. And, you guessed it, this is because of unvaccinated COVID patients. So I'm literally waiting for an ICU bed to open up so that my surgery can get scheduled. Hopefully this happens within the next three to six weeks, but there's no promising that." Luckily, in mid-January, she was informed she would be able to undergo surgery in just a few weeks.
Harris claimed she was better at managing it on some days than others. However, she had to keep telling herself that there is no "right way" to deal with the kind of situation she found herself in. She has urged as many people as possible to get their shots as soon as they could. "The whole point of getting vaccinated isn’t to prevent us from getting the virus but to prevent us from seeing serious symptoms of the virus and needing hospitalization," she noted. "This is to shield our healthcare systems from the overwhelm they were experiencing pre-vaccine."
The patient also had advice for others who find themselves in a similar situation. Harris stated, "For anyone else in a similar position, waiting for an emergent surgery or medical treatment until an ICU bed opens up, or even for those who are struggling while they wait weeks to months for a doctor’s appointment, I give you this advice: Be vocal about your experience if you are able, never stop advocating for yourself, and try to convince those around you that the choice to be unvaccinated is one with far-reaching consequences."
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