Living with Covid-19

Living with Covid-19

My Experience With Covid-19

It’s almost the end of July. Summer is in full swing or at least what we used to consider summer. Time seems to be meaningless in 2020. I’m not always entirely sure which day it is, let alone what season we are in. We have been living with the threat of Covid since February. We had to shut down our business in March and we have been in full “stop the bleeding” mode since.

Living in the Bay Area, specifically in San Mateo County, I felt relatively safe. Our case numbers have always remained low when compared to surrounding areas. I don’t know anyone who has come down with the virus either. We have been smart the past few months. We have quarantined at home, ordered our groceries online when we can, and most difficult of all, we had to stop visiting my parents. Both of whom are considered high-risk. My mom had open heart surgery a few years ago. My step dad was diagnosed with heart failure and nearly died while we were in shelter-in-place. Thankfully he has (mostly) recovered, and neither of my parents have come down with the virus. 

Despite all our best efforts, a few weeks ago my wife and I both started to feel ill. I think we both knew right away, we just didn’t want to say it. My wife is a dancer and knows to listen to her body when something is wrong. I have only had a flu a couple of times in my adult life. The last time I was down with the flu was the day my second son was born 7 years ago. 

So back on July 7, when my body started to feel achy, I knew something was up. I tried to ignore it, just went about my days. It wasn’t a strong illness, but I definitely had something. By Friday, July 10 I had a fever of 101.5 degrees. My wife had also had a fever, but hers lasted less than 2 days, and she had already been fever free for more than 24 hours. I would have to deal with my fever for a lot longer. It’s likely I had a fever the day before, but I didn’t check it until that Friday. From there I would go a whole week, with a mild fever that ranged from 99.5 to 101.5. It wasn’t bad, but it was annoying. I was fatigued and had to rest for most of that time. Medicines seemed to not do anything. I tried DayQuil, Tylenol, IB Profin. Nothing. No response. The fever persisted. 

Eventually I conceded to the fact that I would just have to wait it out. My wife had insisted we get tested. We called Kaiser, our health care provider on Thursday July 9. The earliest available appointment to get tested was Tuesday July 14th. Seeing as how we had gotten symptoms the previous Tuesday, there was a good chance we wouldn’t get results until after our quarantine had passed. That’s exactly what happened. 

My wife’s test came back on July 18. Positive. We were still in a bit of disbelief despite having a feeling that would be the result. My test didn’t come back until the following Monday. Also positive. By then I had been fever free 72 hours. It had been almost two weeks since my first sign of symptoms. It would be another couple of days before the doctor’s reached out to confirm that we were likely no longer contagious. Eventually the county health department contacted us to give us info on how to quarantine and to try to trace our cases, but too much time had passed. We had gotten the illness, recovered, quarantined, and moved on before the county reached out to trace. That tells you how far behind they are in catching cases. They acknowledged as much over the phone.  

The Testing And Tracing Systems

When we started feeling ill, we were on a short road trip “vacation” to  a cabin in the woods by a lake. We were there to go swimming and to quarantine somewhere other than our house. We didn’t bump into people while we were there, but maybe I got it touching a gas pump? Or maybe the house we rented still had traces of the virus from the previous occupants? We will never know.

This is the part that made us realize just how bad our current testing system is. We had been playing it smart. We knew something was wrong, and we immediately self quarantined. What would’ve happened if we didn’t though? We could have been going about our daily routines with the virus. Potentially infecting others while we waited for results. I won’t be making any political statements here, but hopefully the testing situation improves in this country, and fast. 

I could also see how tracing was impossible to do at the pace the county was moving. I just got a call from the county health department to follow up on the positive test on July 23, 2020. That’s over 2 weeks after the onset of symptoms. What can the county do by then? Nothing. The only thing they could do was ask about symptoms and get our info. While we knew we had limited contact with people over the 2 weeks leading to our symptoms, there was no way to know where or how we got it. 

We Got The Virus. Now What?

With so much emphasis on NOT getting the virus over the past few months, we never stopped to think what would happen after we got it. Being young and healthy meant that we recovered and weren’t hit too hard. Our kids seem to have gotten through it without any symptoms. So in a sense we dodged the bullet. 

Which brings me to today and the part of this people or the media don’t talk about as much. What happens after you recover? I feel like most people we have told about our diagnosis want to make most space from us now. Which isn’t actually necessary. As our doctor reminded us, we may now be the safest people to be around. We can now go about our daily lives without living in fear. We can’t catch it again (at least not for a while – I know research is still on going) and we can’t pass it on to anyone.

That doesn’t mean we stop wearing masks or stop social distancing, but it does mean we can ease our minds a bit. We can also go visit my parents again, which is going to be great for them and my kids. Now we just need to remind our friends to get over the stigma and realize we are safe to be around.

While this story may reinforce some people’s beliefs that this virus isn’t a big deal, that is not at all the point I was trying to make. We just got lucky. You don’t know how the virus will hit you, and there is no vaccine or treatments (yet) that will save you in a worse case scenario. Continue to be safe out there, continue wearing your masks, and continue to social distance.