New Year’s Resolutions are impossible to keep in the age of coronavirus.
I’ve already failed for 2021 as last Tuesday, January 5, it became official: I have COVID-19. My wife and I both tested positive, and I’m on Day 10 as of Saturday. By the time that I posted this blog, it is already Tuesday, Day 13. My wife was impacted more than I have been, and I would categorize mine as pretty mild. Early on, it felt like the onset of a chest cold but then turned into what felt like a mild flu. I say “mild” because I had a week-long bout with influenza in 2018, and that flu felt worse in the short-term. Way worse, actually.
However, COVID-19 has not been a walk in the park. The first thing I’ve figured out about COVID-19 is that it’s unique from any illness I’ve ever had.
The scientific community is still learning what the impact of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is on the human body after it recovers. There is a short-term impact, and there may be long-term impacts. This blog is not for scientific discussion, as I am not a scientist. But the thought right now is that this virus could have negative impacts on us long after we recover. I hope not, of course.
As for the purpose of this post? I thought it would be useful to some to share our story and observations on the short-term impacts of the virus.
First, how did we get it? That’s a good question. My wife works from home full-time, so I have to think that I introduced it into the home. We’ve been diligent about everything from not dining-in to maintaining a very small bubble. In the last month or so, I had gone from always wearing a mask upon entering a building to always putting that mask on when going through drive-thrus and when answering the door for delivery. My habit had become razor sharp, and I always know now where my nearest mask is.
But I have one mask that is a bit looser than the others. It covers everything, but it’s not as tight — and I think that’s what happened. I probably wore that mask inside a grocery store and picked it up there. Do I know that to be a fact? No.
Heck, might have I picked it up outside on one of my runs? I was never around people, but I was maskless when I ran.
Does it really matter? Probably not, especially insomuch that it couldn’t be traced to a restaurant, bar, church, school event, work event, etc. We were able to eliminate those immediately. However, I really appreciated and respected the contact tracing process. The Oklahoma City-County Health Department was very diligent and helpful. They called, and we cooperated. They answered several of our questions, too.
So, the question I get asked the most: Did we lose our taste and smell? I did but only once I got to Day 5 or 6. We absolutely had not lost our sense of taste in Days 1-5, and to be honest, that’s when we were sickest. My baseline for testing my taste buds has been Oreos. The minute they start to taste like ordinary Hydrox cookies, I know the taste buds are shot.
The worst part about COVID-19? The fatigue. It’s a hallmark of the virus, and for some people it’s overwhelming. For many who recover, the fatigue sticks around for months. It’s not a fatigue you can get around through willpower or toughness either. Again, for me, it’s been mild.
My overall sentiment after having had COVID-19 is a sense of gratitude and a realization that we were the beneficiaries of luck.
Luck that we didn’t get a bigger viral load.
Luck that our genetics apparently benefitted us. This time.
Luck that our immune systems are strong. This time.
Luck, luck, luck.
Again, this luck is all short-term observation. What impact does COVID-19 have on the human body long-term? What impact will it have on ours? I think we’ll all discover this together in the coming years, no? I hope it’s minimal.
Lastly, in no way am I a “this is just a cold or the flu” person. I’ve known several people to be hospitalized due to COVID-19, and a buddy of mine who was my age is dead from it. This is not a hoax nor is it overblown. It is deadly serious. And I realize that I could get it again someday.
So, what benefit can I offer you, blog reader?
I’d recommend you stock up on the following items in case you come down with COVID-19.
- A pulse oximeter. It could save your life. You have to monitor your O2 sats. Normal SpO2 numbers are between 94-98% and with COVID-19, 92-96%. It is the second week of COVID-19 that is considered the most dangerous as it’s when your O2 sats can start to dip below 90% and get lower and lower, sometimes without you even realizing it, a condition known as silent hypoxia.
We had one of these oximeter gadgets because my mom had COPD, and we were constantly checking it.
What you’re mostly looking for is that your symptoms and O2 sats don’t get worse, that there is some improvement, especially between the end of Week 1 and the start of Week 2. That’s when COVID-19 is at its most dangerous.
- Triple A (AAA) batteries. You’ll need those to power the oximeter.
- Vitamin D and Zinc. We bought some gummies, and we’ve been taking them each day.
- Pedialyte. Hydration is important.
- Chicken noodle soup. Crackers.
- Orange juice.
- NyQuil. I swear by it.
- Neti pot. My wife and I both love ours. This sucker will save your sinuses from infection.
- Vaporub for your chest.
- Sudafed. The kind you have to get behind the counter. Kristi didn’t take it, but I sure did. It kept me moderately functional.
Although it’s not something you’d “stock up” on, I’d also suggest that you’re fortunate if you have a good recliner. Here’s why. Lying down to sleep, especially on your back, if you’ve been hit hard by COVID-19 can start you down the path of COVID pneumonia. If your morning O2 sats are super low, consult a doctor. But if you’re not willing to do that, try sleeping in a recliner. You don’t have to be sitting up all the way, but you’re not flat on your back either.
Many doctors recommend lying on your stomach or on your side. That recommendation is great, but in the middle of the night, folks tend to position themselves however they would naturally. If that position for you is “sleeping on your back,” I’d say a recliner is important in the age of coronavirus.
Take all this for what you will. We were never COVID doubters or COVID-iots. Our social life especially the past three months has been austere.
We still got it.
We’re definitely leery of its impact long-term.
And we’re 1M percent getting the vaccine when we’re eligible.
Good luck and godspeed to you!
The featured image is courtesy of Flickr contributor Jernej Furman.