At the VA
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COVID-19 … Test Positive

Day One – Killer sinus headache! Every summer it seems I have to learn how to swim all over again. I inevitably take in water through my nose somehow. After the first week of getting back into the pool, I end up with a sinus infection. I’ve never been a great swimmer, but I’ve completed a half Ironman. This year was no exception with taking in water through the wrong places.

I first noticed the trouble after the taxicab incident. I was hit by a cab, and my spleen burst. So, I don’t have a spleen, and it hasn’t complicated my life too much. But if I get a fever over 100º F, I go to the ER and get an antibiotic immediately.

COVID is trouble for me because I don’t have all the stuff to clean out viruses from my blood. My temperature was 100º.

It sure felt like a sinus infection but with a killer headache. It was far worse than usual. I wasn’t stuffed up like I’ve been in the past. My whole sinus and nasal area felt different. I could tell something wasn’t right. I lived with it for the day. Needless to say, I didn’t get back in the pool.

I don’t have COVID-19!

Day Two – Woke up with a worse sinus headache than the day prior. Overnight I had cold sweats, and I was an achey. I knew I’d have a high temp. It turned out to 101º F. I called the VA and told them my situation.

I don’t have COVID-19!

I had a sinus headache! I just wanted my antibiotic. I was given the antibiotic in the past without seeing anyone. The nurse said I should come in and see a doctor. They wanted to check for COVID. I told her again,

 “I don’t have COVID-19!”

I got dressed and went to the VA. I went straight to the ER. The nurse asked the standard questions that we’ve been reading about for the past six months. I had most everyone except for the trouble breathing. I was sent back to the waiting room.

I still wasn’t convinced I had COVID-19.

I was in the waiting room for about five minutes. I then got put in a small examination room inside the ER proper. I was told to undress and put on a gown. In came the nurse. She put a blood pressure cuff on me and an O2 sensor on my finger. Then I knew it was serious when she put an IV in. She took a few vials of blood. The IV stayed.

I got the Q-tip up the nose. Both sides. I dreaded the nasal test. It wasn’t so much painful as it was super tickly, itchy intense. I did not like it.

They did an EKG and chest x-ray too. Love the VA or hate it, I’ve always received proper complete treatment.

I really started to feel a bit of dread when I looked down at my body. All this stuff was still all attached to me. My blood pressure was being taken every half hour automatically—the O2 and heart rate were instantly displayed in real-time.

About an hour and a half later, the doctor stepped in. After he introduced himself, the first thing he asked was if I had been around anyone that was sick? That’s when my heart really sank. I knew at that point that I had the virus.

I have COVID-19!

My symptoms were so mild compared to what I read about. I have a friend who lives in Manhattan, and he got it early. He was deathly ill for two weeks. That’s what I was expecting. The nurse told me that they see more cases, but the symptoms are much less severe than they were from even a month ago.

My symptoms: Intense sinus headache, cold sweats, sneezing, dry cough, raspy voice, flush face and neck, loss of appetite, an odd sense of taste and smell.

Day Three – I woke up with a killer headache and very little voice. My throat wasn’t sore like strep, which I’ve had a few times. It was a little tender. I took 650mg of Acetaminophen. Headache gone!

It was rough talking most of the day. I was more tired than usual. My mind was in a fog. I was slower than usual. Getting thoughts out was a bit of a task.

I took a couple of naps and was still tired afterwards. I took the day off work.

Day Four – I woke up tired but almost as if I’d never been sick. My voice was a bit rough still, nothing like the previous day, though. I worked. It was crazy busy. I had more meetings than usual. I didn’t say much at any of them. I coughed and sneezed a few times throughout the day. Nothing major, though. A friend I talk to daily said I sounded almost normal, he was shocked.

Day Five – I woke up around 4:00 am. I probably fell asleep just before 10:00 pm. So six hours of uninterrupted sleep was pretty amazing for me. I laid in bed and read until 5:30.  Then got up and walked down the hall to my office. I’ve been working from home since March. I figured I could continue working. I started my work day. As long as I can work at a relaxed pace, I’m going to continue to work through the Covid-19 symptoms.

Day Six – Woke up at 5:00. Killer headache is back. I stayed in bed until 6:00. Wiped down all of the surfaces, light switches, doorknobs, drawer pulls. Should’ve done all this last night before going to bed. I started to wipe down all of the most touched surfaces in the house prior to going bed several days ago.

I picked up our grocery order.

Day Seven – Woke up at 5:00. I went to the bathroom, then right back into bed. I fell asleep again and woke up at about 7:00. The sleep is great, and I feel rested for the first time in years even though I have all this new physical crap because of the virus.

I’ve had sleeping issues for years now. I’ve done everything to get sleep. Probably the most extreme was downing a few Tylenol #3s and getting drunk. That worked to some extent, but I wouldn’t call that restful sleep. I tried a half dozen different drugs courtesy of the VA. I would get about 4 hours of sleep, and then I’d be up for the rest of the night. I’ve done half dozen or so natural sleep herbs. They probably work about the best. But I still wasn’t sleeping for more than about 5 hours.

Day Eleven

The VA did a blood draw at the house. The VA wanted my blood. My nurse said that someone would come to the house, I wouldn’t have to go anywhere. If I didn’t want them in the house, they’d do the draw in the driveway. They came in the morning around 8:00 am. Two vehicles parked in front of the house, minivans. I later found out one was the blood-runner. They would drop my blood off at the VA as soon as is was drawn. The other minivan was the person doing the draw. There were two people in that vehicle: a driver and a nurse.

The nurse came to the door and asked if I was the patient, he had a mask and face shield. He asked for ID, then he wanted to know where we could sit so he could do the draw. I lead him to the dining room table. He moved a few things out of the way, said this will do fine, and walked out the door saying he’ll be back in a few minutes.

He opened the side door of the minivan and started to arrange things. He took the mask and shield off. Then got into a full hazmat suit. If my neighbors didn’t know I was sick before they knew now. He put a new mask on then put the face shield back in place.

He walked back in with both arms full of plastic bags of medical stuff. He arranged 12 tubes in front of us. I usually have no problems watching when I get my blood drawn. But when I saw that many tubes and I realized I’d be filling them, I got a bit anxious. I have very large, easy to hit vanes, so I wasn’t too worried.

I had just a little trouble giving him all the blood that he needed. The nurse said that some people take an hour to fill all the tubes. It took me about 15 minutes. He repackaged all that he brought in. I got all the garbage and leftovers, he got the bag with the good stuff. He walked to the other van, opened the sliding down, and put my blood bag into a small cooler. That van went directly to the VA’s lab. The other van with the nurse went to the next patient.

A few hours later, I was able to log into my VA records. Shortly after that, I got a call from a doctor. I usually got a call from a nurse. He went through blood work. For the most part things were okay. He did say that I was dehydrated. Also, my salt and potassium levels were low. I was stunned. I drink almost a gallon of water a day.

I got a pound of Gatorade powder and added that to my daily fluid intake. I was already doing apple cider vinegar and an herbal tea for my man parts.

Day Fourteen

I like data. I’ve been taking my vitals every day since day one: blood pressure, heart rate, O2, and temperature. I run and bike regularly, and on occasion, I’ll do a triathlon. I have a Garmin watch that gives me all kinds of data. I’m a nerd about data.

Early on in this event, I noticed my blood pressure was a bit lower than usual. It was also getting weaker every day. It was averaging about 90 over 60. Sometimes a bit higher and sometimes lower. My pulse was also higher. Prior my resting heart rate was in the high 50’s. Now it was high 60’s.

Day 16

Today was the last day I’d receive my twice a day call from the VA nurse. I was going to miss those calls. I’d still monitor my vitals, but I’d have no one to report them to. My blood pressure was still low and my heart rate high. It was the new norm.

Day Twenty-One

Blood draw at the VA. This was a none event. The VA was a bit different. Walking in the front door, I noticed right away. No longer was the entry and lobby filled with the previous generation of broken-down veterans. The lobby was almost entirely devoid of life.

The lanolin floors were much cleaner. The bathrooms are usually pretty disgusting. Old men on medication trying to hit the urinal, not a pretty sight. But not today. They were clean.

A few hours after returning home, I was able to see my results. I was still dehydrated and my sodium levels were low. My white blood cells were still fighting something off. I’d have my friend Robert go through everything with me. He’s a doctor of Oriental medicine and he’d give me the East and West of it.

Day Twenty-Five

I’m lethargic and foggy-brained. The new norm. Also, my blood pressure is still low and heart rate high.

Day Thirty-Four

Panic attack and low blood pressure. I had my first panic attack in years today. My thoughts were going crazy and I just couldn’t catch my breath. I was filled of fear of dying in my sleep. I was afraid of not being able to think in a straight line again. I was worried that I’d not be able to sleep for more than a few hours at a time. I was afraid that the system was going to shut down and I’d have to fend for myself while dealing with active Covid symptoms.

BREATH! FEAR – false evidence appearing real.

Day Thirty-Five

I’m about six weeks from noticing my first symptoms, and I’m still not back to where I was. On any level! The CDC might think I’m not contagious, but I’m not right. Not that I was prior.

I have brain fog. I realize I’m getting older, and I don’t think as quickly or at times as logically as I have in the past. This is different, though. This is comparable to being on depression or anxiety medication. But with out the don’t care attitude. But like everything else with the virus, there’s a twist. I feel like my brain is in a foggy marsh. I can’t see what’s in front of me with any clarity. My feet are in the mud, making it very difficult to move forward. I’m hesitant to move either my body or my mind.

My blood pressure is still low. During the first week of symptoms, it was 90 over 60, give or take. Most days, it was a bit higher but never greater than 100 over 70. I often felt light-headed and faint. I’ve never felt like this. It was a little scary.

My resting heart rate was high 50’s before getting COVID. After testing positive, my heart rate was all over the place. Some days it was up in the upper 70s. Other days it would be in the mid-60s. Not once did I see anything in the 50’s.

Low energy and lethargic. I’m only getting about 5 hours of sleep a night. I wake up with my brain, spinning and nowhere to go. I’ve always been on the low energy side of the scale. But know I’m on the edge of the range. 

Haven’t run in 2 months. I want to run. I just can’t get the energy together to go out and do it. I was entered for an international distance triathlon in August. It was canceled. I never would’ve made it to the start line.

I have Covid-19.

I thought I was so careful. I thought because I was healthy and in good shape, I was almost exempt from getting it. Well, I got it. I was lucky that I didn’t suffer too much. I had four days of extreme symptoms then two weeks of lessening symptoms. I might have some long term issues as far as energy and logical thinking. I’m back to running, biking, and swimming.

I dodged a bullet! I really feel that it could’ve been much worse. The VA shows that my antibodies are still potent. I’m going to continue to social distance, wear a mask, and wash my hands often.

I have Covid-19.

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One Comment

  1. Jim, I am reading this two months after this post. Wow, having talked with you since then we had no idea the day to day experience. Hope you are both truly back to normal now.

    Your writing in all of your entries really gives a sense of your experiences. Kudos.

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