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Persevering through a Pandemic

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Dr. Rachel Gordon, internal medicine physician, looks forward to a post-pandemic world. 

When Dr. Rachel Gordon chose to become a physician, she had no idea that a global pandemic lay ahead of her. She never could have predicted the effects that COVID-19 would have on our world. In particular, she never would have believed the close encounter she was going to have with this devastating virus personally.

Starting out, she had wanted to become a teacher. However, discovering a particular passion for her science classes changed everything. She transitioned from secondary education to pre-med and never looked back. After completing residency, she moved to Duluth with her family to begin her practice at St. Luke’s Internal Medicine.

Four years later, the spread of COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. Shortly after that, Dr. Gordon’s daughter, only a 5-year old at the time, came down with a high fever. Fortunately she fully recovered, but it wasn’t long before Dr. Gordon noticed a tickle in her own throat.

Overcoming COVID-19
“It was a Friday morning when I got the call that I was COVID-positive,” said Dr. Gordon. “I sat in disbelief for a while. But then my head went to the worst case scenario. What if I had spread the virus unknowingly? What if I was going to be the cause of some awful outbreak?” She had been following all the recommended precautions. Still, she feared the worst.

She reached out to everyone she had been in contact with at work that week, both colleagues and patients. She had to let them know they could have been exposed. Thankfully, in the end no one contracted the virus from Dr. Gordon and her symptoms were only moderate.

“It was like a bad cold with chest pain,” she said. “I was sick for about a week, lost my sense of smell and had two days where I was pretty knocked out. But eventually I made it through, eager to share my experience. I wanted everyone to know that they needed to protect themselves and prepare.”

It’s time to see your doctor again
Working with an elderly population, she knew it was best for her patients to stay home as much as possible during the early days of the pandemic. So she encouraged them to do just that, even if that meant not seeing her for a while. However, since then things have changed.

“When the pandemic started, it was smart for people to stay away from others. Small health concerns could wait,” she said. “But now we know how to protect ourselves from the virus. It’s been more than a year. It’s time to see your doctor again.”

Some may be planning to avoid medical facilities until they are vaccinated, while others may be holding out for the pandemic to end altogether. However, the risks of waiting could be worse than the risks of contracting the virus. “As a community, we need to stay as healthy as we can by addressing our health issues while they’re still small,” said Dr. Gordon. “Don’t delay the health care you need.”

For your future at St. Luke’s
Dr. Gordon is encouraged that we are all learning to live with this virus and moving back towards normal. “St. Luke’s is doing so well at following precautions, and it’s so great welcoming patients back to our clinics and hospitals. Every day I get to see patients I haven’t seen in a while and it’s so rewarding to care for them once again.”

In addition to addressing acute medical issues, it’s also important to stay on schedule with preventative care. This includes annual physicals as well as any cancer screenings you may be due for, like a mammogram, colonoscopy or lung cancer screening. Regular care and screenings both help to ensure a healthier future.

“The end to this pandemic is coming,” said Dr. Gordon, “but it won’t be all at once. It will simmer out gradually and take some time. Until then, focus on taking care of yourself and the people around you. Eat healthy, exercise regularly, continue to follow all the recommended safety precautions, and get the medical care you need.”

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This article was published it the 2021 May issue of the Woman Today.