So, I’ve had Covid for a week now. I caught it from my girlfriend. We believe we know where she got it but we cannot know for certain. We now have firsthand knowledge of and experience with Covid we did not want. I am sharing some of our experience and some of my thoughts about it for your consideration, and in the hope you can avoid it. I am not a doctor. This story is not any attempt to give medical advice or even offering a medical opinion. Nor am I suggesting that either my own experience, or that of my girlfriend is normative. This is just a personal, anecdotal account of our firsthand experience with Covid.
For over a year, we have followed every protocol. We have always masked up in public. My girlfriend has been masked around her 90 year-old mom this entire time. She has not entered her home for more than 5 minutes, and has not ridden in a car with her. With the exception of an Extreme Experience driving event at Charlotte Motor Speedway on March 28th, we have engaged in no public activities not necessary for life. (The event did an outstanding job of implementing and enforcing mask requirements, distancing provisions, and sanitization between each driving session).
My girlfriend started showing symptoms, notably a dry cough, on Saturday, April 3rd. We were driving home from a family gathering to celebrate her mother’s 92nd birthday. The weather was beautiful and mild. We ate a pot-luck picnic lunch outdoors on the back deck of her sister’s home. Of the 18 attendees, we were part of a small group of 5 or 6, not yet vaccinated. 2 of those had already received their first vaccination shots. My girlfriend and I wore masks, even outdoors, out of abundance of precaution. (This turned out to be wise. I can report that everyone present is fine.) When her cough started, accompanied by a pretty severe headache, we chalked it up to having been outdoors, in pollen, in a breeze, in dropping temperatures for more than five hours. It had to be some sort of allergy, right?
But the next day, and especially Sunday night, she knew something wasn’t ”right”. She lay curled on the couch, coughing frequently into her pillow, suffering with a headache she couldn’t quite get to fade even after 24 hours and the normal headache meds. Because of our precautions, we did not consider that it was Covid. After a decent night’s sleep, she went on to work on Monday. She has a separate office where she was able to remain distanced from co-workers.
The test and result
When her cough was persistent and more frequent on Tuesday, April 6th, she went in for a test. The positive result surprised us both. While waiting for results from the test, the doctor who saw her also ordered a chest x-ray. He wanted to rule out bronchitis or pneumonia due to her cough and the difficulty he observed in her breathing. Thankfully, her lungs were clear.
I’m sure we aren’t the only ones to feel surprise and dismay at a positive result during their Covid experience. The fact is, there are many like us, who have followed every protocol. Like us, they never wanted an experience with Covid. The news, and the side effects of social disruption were more than compensatory for the effort to avoid any firsthand experience with Covid infection.
But, those who haven’t been as careful, or who couldn’t be bothered to take it seriously, or inconvenience themselves, have impacted our lives anyway. To some degree, we are all victims of all the far-reaching effects of this pandemic. There’s no sense whining about it. But, when you believe the science, try hard, act consistently, and persevere in the effort to stay healthy and to keep from making others sick, you feel surprised and angry when you get this damn virus anyway. It’s a kick in the guts. A Covid experience was definitely not on my bucket list.
When the test confirmed Covid, she left work to begin the doctor and CDC recommended home care and the 10 day quarantine (from the onset of symptoms). Which should technically end today or tomorrow. But, she has not had a straight line recovery. The first couple of days looked very good. On Wednesday, she was wracked by coughing fits, a bad sore throat, muscle aches, and malaise that kept her in bed until 4:30 pm that afternoon. She only got up for a couple of hours to eat a light snack and then went back to bed. It was well past noon on Thursday before she felt like getting out of bed again. Over-the-counter TheraFlu or DayQuil helped suppress her cough, though these undoubtedly contributed to her fatigue.
How it’s going and what we’re doing
From Friday through bedtime last night (Sunday), she is improving. But we have arrived at the 10th day since the onset of symptoms, and she is not symptom free. She is still sick. I can hear her coughing in bed as I write this. The coughing isn’t as frequent or violent as the worst days, but a 10 day quarantine is clearly not applicable to her. Day 10 is not a magic threshold. She would have no business driving a commute to sit in an office for full day. So, our Covid experience reveals some potential discrepancies in the official advice. To be fair, the CDC guideline of a 10-day period is given as a minimum in the absence of a fever for at least 24 hours and when exhibiting improvement in symptoms. So, there is some flexibility. And, thankfully, her office is not pressuring her yet.
My girlfriend’s youngest daughter is a nurse who has served and treated hospitalized Covid patients, and has seen some die. And her own Covid experience wasn’t limited to her role a a front-line health-care worker. Early this year, she lost her grandfather to complications from Covid infection.
She encouraged us to use a cocktail of vitamins C and D along with Zinc to help boost and support our natural immune responses. Emergen C Immune + is a product ready-made with those components, so we take two packets each daily. We are taking a low-dose aspirin every day to counter-act Covid’s blood-thickening effects. Other than that, as I mentioned my girlfriend has used a cough suppressant. Two nights ago, I took 2 Alleve before bed for relief of what felt like swallowing shards of broken glass. So far, the sharp pain of that sore throat has been the worst of the experience symptomatically for me.
This could have been much, much worse
Thankfully, even though my girlfriend has lingering symptoms 10 days in, both our cases are on the mild side of the scale. In comparison to millions who have been hospitalized and the nearly 600,000 in the US whom Covid has thus far killed, we are lucky! We don’t need a hospital. We won’t need funeral arrangements. But we most certainly could have. And this virus that is still in both our bodies, if transferred from us to other unwitting hosts, could produce drastically different symptoms and drastically different outcomes. My symptoms this morning are the same as I’d usually have in mid-April since I battle seasonal allergies. I’ve been able to keep up a walking regimen of a couple miles a day for most days.
If I didn’t know I had Covid, and if I worked in an office, I would have been there. I’ve coughed maybe 30 times total during the week. In contrast, my girlfriend has had multiple coughing-fit episodes. She may rattle off 30 or more coughs per event. Thankfully, her breathing has remained steady and unimpeded (if you don’t count the times she can’t stop coughing for a minute or two). But her energy level is a 3 on a 10 point scale. Don’t get me wrong, 3 is good compared to a few days ago when she didn’t want to get out of bed at all. As I write this, every few minutes, she coughs a few times to try to clear her throat and the top of her chest.
Asymptomatic spread still a thing
As I mentioned above, if I didn’t know for a fact that the mild scratchy throat, rare cough, and barely noticeable muscle aches I’ve experienced were from Covid, I would not think twice about it. That’s the insidious thing. This study shows that almost 6 in 10 Covid cases are coming from spreaders who are themselves asymptomatic. Like me, those asymptomatic spreaders would have no cues to either be tested or quarantined.
I’ve spoken to one doctor who believes these asymptomatic spreaders represent millions more Covid cases that will never show up on any database. Hearing this in the beginning, and believing it, I acted as if I was a carrier. As mentioned above, my girlfriend and I both did. We didn’t act that way because we were afraid we would get Covid, we acted that way because we were afraid to ”give” it, unknowingly. The safest, least intrusive, most humane, and most loving thing we could do for our families, neighbors, front-line workers, and strangers was to act like we could infect them, and behave and distance accordingly. Now, unfortunately, our Covid-induced behavior is not an act.
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