So, that lurgy I was talking about back in January…
You may remember this post on January 10th, where I mentioned that I was just getting over a rather nasty cold that I’d caught over New Year’s, and how it had produced the most amazing neon yellow mucus I had ever seen (a color that has never come out of my nose before, by the way).
There was a fairly significant gap between that post and the next post on March 16, and the truth of it was that I was sick as a freaking dog in January and February. My cold did finally end, but on January 15 I started coughing. The cough settled in my chest, and despite drinking lots of fluids and taking OTC cough meds it didn’t resolve, to the point where I assumed I had developed bronchitis. (Why assumed? Well, because our health insurance is the HDHP type that doesn’t pay for doctor’s visits, and I was damned if I was dragging my exhausted ass over to the doctor’s office to be told, “Yeah, you have bronchitis, go home and drink lots of fluids” and pay $181 for the privilege.)
My coughing and general malaise got to the point where I had to tell my project manager, “Look, I know we’re on deadline but I am barely functional right now. So this is what I’m gonna do — I’ll get up, do some work for as long as I can, then go back to bed when I have to, then get back up and do some more work, and I’ll keep doing that around the clock until I have my deliverables done.” Yeah, I know — I’m insane. But it was only the two of us on this project and if I went to bed for a week there was simply no way she’d be able to get everything done, so I sucked it up. I’ll be perfectly honest, I don’t remember much of that week, but apparently I do good work even on autopilot.
I started feeling moderately functional after about ten days, but the cough never really stopped, and I never got “better.” Things would start to improve and I’d have hope, and then I’d feel like crap again and sleep the weekend away. This continued until the third week of February, which means I had five weeks of feeling like absolute garbage. I was hoping to hold out until my physical at the end of February because I wouldn’t have to pay for that, but after week five I gave up and headed into a local CareNow to see if they could help. The doctor listened to my symptoms, decided I had a sinus infection (which I assumed I had as well), prescribed me antibiotics and prednisone, and told me to go home and use saline sprays lavishly on my nasal mucosa. I did, and by the time my physical rolled around the next week I was feeling pretty okay thanks to the prednisone.
Two strange things happened at my physical, though. My blood pressure, which had been under control, had gone up again, to the point where my doctor increased my BP medicine. And my blood oxygen, measured by one of those pulse oximeters, was 96%. In all the time that I’ve had one of those things clipped to my finger during an exam, my blood oxygen level was almost always 99%. Once it dropped to 98%, but that was the lowest it had gone.
Now it was down to 96%, and my blood pressure was up. Right around this time, we started getting the first real warning signs that the US was going to be hit by COVID-19. That’s when I started doing incremental stockups at the store, in case one of us caught it and had to be quarantined for two weeks. But I wasn’t worried about what had just happened to me because everyone said that we hadn’t had any cases of COVID in the States yet, so it couldn’t have been that, right? It had just been a weird, nasty viral respiratory bug that had knocked me on my ass for five weeks, elevated my blood pressure, and reduced my blood oxygenation…
Except. The first laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19 had been confirmed on January 20, 2020. So for me to have developed it on January 15 was not impossible.
Now, to answer the expected questions:
- How could I have caught it? Well, I had spent the time around NYE wandering around the DFW metroplex with my family and interacting with other people a lot more than I usually did. Also, Dallas is the American Airlines hub and we have people coming in from other countries all the damn time, so it was hardly unexpected that a virus that originated overseas would show up here.
- If I caught it, wouldn’t Ramón have caught it as well? Since he doesn’t have sick days, he isolated himself from me as soon as I got sick — he slept downstairs for a week and only saw me when he brought up food and meds. Even then, he did spend a number of weeks in February and March feeling like crap, but we assumed it was a milder case of what I had.
- Have I gone in for a COVID-19 test? Well, no, because they weren’t available here in February. By the time I realized there was a good chance I’d had it, I would have tested as negative.
- Antibody test? Those are now available, but as research is indicating that COVID-19 antibodies fade after 2-3 months and I’m well past that period now, there doesn’t seem much point to it.
- Why do I think I had it? Apart from the neon yellow mucus, the symptoms of that respiratory bug, and those weird readings at my physical, I have not felt *right* since December. My mental acuity and ability to focus have definitely gone down a couple of notches, I have to take naps now to get through the day, and I get winded vacuuming the living room.
- But you’ve been staying at home since March 13 — couldn’t some of those symptoms be related to staying inside for so long? Yeah, but I’m a writer — I’ve spent the last nine years inside. I never had to take naps before. And the reduction in my ability to focus is kind of telling.
So, that’s why you didn’t hear anything from me for almost two months. I’m talking about this now to explain why we’re being rigorous about masking, only going to the store, and disinfecting anything that comes in the house. If it is possible to catch COVID-19 multiple times, as research is beginning to indicate, I do NOT want that shit again and neither does Ramón. Once was more than enough.