I suppose I had been lulled into a false sense of security by all the public figures who have announced that, although fully vaccinated and boosted like me, they had contracted COVID and were either asymptomatic or experiencing only mild symptoms.
When we got to Minneapolis last weekend, mask-wearing was optional in both the hotel and the arena. Only a very few people were wearing them at either location…and that number did not include me. The first game was Friday night and by Monday morning I had a mild sore throat. So mild, in fact, that I didn’t even consider it was COVID-related, as the simpler explanation was that I had done a lot of yelling at the games.
Masks were required on Minneapolis public transit, at the airport, on planes, and during the Uber ride home.
On Tuesday morning, when I weighed myself on my fancy scale that records not only my weight but a dozen other biometric markers, I was surprised to see that my pulse had shot up to 86 beats/minute from its usual range of 55-65. That was odd and, I thought, bore watching.
I did all the things I normally do on Tuesdays and Wednesday (in this case, days 4 & 5 post exposure), only mildly inconvenienced by a sore throat and some noticeable body ache, but no fever (97.6). I was sticking to the yelling-irritated-my-throat hypothesis.
On Thursday night (day 6), we were scheduled to go out with some friends and so we self-tested at home. Both Sally and I were negative. With no reason to be concerned, we went out.
The next night, though, (Friday, day 7), I had a bear of a night trying to sleep. My sore throat worsened, my temperature rose to 99.6, and I had muscle pain in my back. I’d never had that kind of discomfort with either a sore throat or fever before. That sent me to the google to check on COVID symptoms and there it was: muscle ache was a symptom along with sore throat and fever. (I later learned that it is common for symptoms to worsen 5-7 days after they first appear. Apparently, I was on schedule!)
Since we were supposed to go out on Saturday night (day 8), too, we re-tested. This time, I generated a pretty pink positive line. Damn it to hell!
The good news was that Sally’s test was negative.
Right on cue, I developed the signature COVID cough. Now there, my friends, is a symptom brewed in the Devil’s own basement! It’s relentless. A sea of phlegm gurgles just beneath every breath you try to take. The constant coughing grates at your raw throat, making it scream over and over again. It gets to the point where you fear your next breath. It’s no way to spend an hour, much less a day or more.
I started a regimen of aspirin and cough suppressants. In doing so, though, we discovered that all of our flu/cold remedies were hopelessly past their expiration dates. The bottle of spray I use for sore throat pain, for example, had expired 11 years ago! Sally set about re-stocking our medicine chest with currently active remedies.
I wrote to my primary care physician to see if I needed to do anything else and I emailed the COVID reporting form to the Chester County Health Department.
I shared the news on Facebook. Thank goodness for real and virtual friends and family! The speedy recovery wishes were overwhelming, along with suggestion about how to treat it. Here’s a summary:
- Get better.
- Get better fast.
- Drink lots of liquids and get lots of bed rest.
- Take lemon juice with honey and cayenne pepper.
- Homemade chicken soup.
- Open the windows in the apartment for ventilation.
- Buy and use a pulse oximeter.
- Ask my doctor for one of several antivirals now available.
- Nebulizing saline with hydrogen peroxide.
To the everlasting credit of all those who care about me and who I care about in return, please note that there was not a single recommendation to try Ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine.
My physician responded and suggested I go with #3 above, OTC products to treat symptoms, and a 5-day quarantine. She did not offer anything from #8.
Upon waking up Monday morning (day 10), I was delighted to see that my cough was gone. What a joy it was just to be able to take a deep breath! My pulse rate had also returned to a more normal level, so it seemed I might have turned the corner.
Thankfully, too, I never lost my sense of smell or taste, and my appetite was good. The biggest problem was getting things past my inflamed throat.
My throat was causing another big problem: a major communications breakdown.
I could talk with effort but could not project my voice at all. Sally’s difficulty in hearing me was compounded by the muffling effects of the KN95 masks we were both wearing all the time. Those masks also prevented any attempts at lip-reading. Bottom line: communication was farcical if not hopeless, even with Sally wearing her hearing aides. At one point, we seriously considered texting each other even though we were sitting only about 10 feet apart in the living room!
My brain fog lifted on Tuesday morning (day 11). I don’t think my temperature ever broke 100, but the mental dullness felt equivalent to a fever of about 102. I was glad to be able to think clearly and write again.
That was pretty much it. My pulse oximeter arrived on Tuesday afternoon and my oxygen level was at a healthy 96. Temperature was a normal-for-me 97. I took a shower and felt 1000% better.
On Wednesday, we tested again. Sally was negative but I was still positive. That was a huge disappointment, to say the least!
I’m feeling fine, though, with no symptoms, so I’ll continue to isolate and wear my mask and we’ll test again on Friday.
Looking back, if this was what a mild case of COVID feels like, then I’m eternally grateful for the vaccinations and booster that kept it from being the real thing.
The good news is that I escaped my close encounter with COVID.
The bad news is that I suspect that the week of COVID brain fog inflammation has nudged up my risk of developing a dementia sometime down the road.
For now, though, I’m just happy to be able to take a deep breath again!