I finally got it. I’m no longer a Covid-19 virgin. Since its known arrival in the U.S. in early 2020, I have fought the good fight to avoid getting this dreaded disease.
I followed the latest developments and the daily charts on cases and deaths. The grim statistics gave me pause and determination not to get this novel contagion. I was elated when Covid-19 vaccines became available. I got all the shots, including the latest boosters.
My wife and I were cautious in every way. We masked whenever we went into public indoor places and avoided crowds. We washed our hands thoroughly and frequently. Last year, we traveled in several states and Europe, flew on airplanes, rode buses, attended outdoor concerts, and made it through unscathed. While others succumbed, we persevered. I thought I was staying ahead of the Covid game.
Before our annual wintering in Florida, we enjoyed the holidays with family and friends, always careful about masking and following the other suggested guidelines. We were excited about spending nearly six weeks in the sunshine state until we weren’t.
Without boring you with the ugly details, here’s an outline of the sequence of events that spoiled our Florida island winter stay:
- On January 19, I woke with severe lower back pain after sleeping on a too-soft mattress in our rented condo.
- Four days later, I visited an express care facility and received a shot and pain meds.
- With no noticeable relief, I returned to express care days later. My meds were changed, and I had an MRI the next day.
- The MRI showed multiple issues with my spine and discs, and an epidural was scheduled.
- On the morning I was to receive the epidural, I had a gastrointestinal (GI) bleed. That led to another two days in a hospital.
- Three days later, a fellow snowbird friend from Ohio was struck and killed by a motorcycle going 75 mph in a 35 mph zone. All alone, his poor wife called us. She was hysterical with grief. We were the only people she knew on the island. We comforted her as best we could until her two adult sons arrived via air later that night. We were all heartbroken.
Of course, they had to make all the complex arrangements and fill out legal forms for the authorities before returning to Ohio. The sons packed up their parents’ things so they could leave in a couple of days.
The day after they left, I finally got my epidural. I had immediate relief from the intense pain. However, I still had to make the 12-hour drive home to Virginia, with an overnight stop in North Carolina.
We arrived home and unpacked, and by the weekend, I was feeling much better, but I continued to grieve the loss of my friend. I couldn’t erase the horror of the accident from my mind.
Little did I know that with my mental and physical reserves at rock bottom, Covid-19 would sneak its ugly symptoms into my body. But that is precisely what happened.
After a meeting with a friend over coffee to talk about all that had happened to me, I returned home not feeling the best. I was stuffy and had a sore throat.
I took a home Covid-19 test. It was positive, but I wondered if I had done it correctly. So, I took another with the same results. Now I could physically identify with the millions of global people who had it. But it would get worse before it got better.
Just when I thought my emotions couldn’t sink any lower, they did. I called my friend and told him I had Covid-19. He agreed to call another friend we had seen at the cafe, and I notified others with whom I had had recent contact.
I texted my wife, who was volunteering at a local thrift store. I was very discouraged but knew we needed to make a plan to keep her from getting the virus. I claimed our bedroom with a bath, and my wife functioned in the rest of the house. I knew how much she cared when she dragged my recliner to the bedroom door. It was much more relaxing to sit in than the bed.
I called my primary care provider to see about getting Paxlovid, given to seniors testing positive for Covid-19 and who have compromised immune systems. After all that I had been through, mine certainly was.
A telemed conference was arranged with my doctor the next day. She told me to isolate for five days and then mask and social distance for another five. My wife picked up the Paxlovid and a nasal spray the pharmacist recommended.
By that time, most of the noted symptoms of this pandemic disease had introduced themselves to my body. I was exhausted and achy, and yet chilled. I had an unproductive cough, which soon gave me a headache. Plus, my blood pressure was high again. In short, I was miserable.
I took the Paxlovid as directed, and I could feel it begin to work its slow magic in my weakened state. I slept a lot and had very vivid dreams.
I texted my wife if I needed anything, and she texted me when she needed to leave the house. She brought me food, drink, and snacks. I married an angel.
I kept drinking fluids to stay hydrated and ate lots of fresh and dried fruits, eggs, and nuts for protein. But the virus hung on, and I adjusted my intake accordingly as my symptoms changed daily. As much as I had read and heard about Covid-19, that aspect caught me off-guard.
Listening to other Covid victims, I knew the cough and stuffiness would linger. I didn’t expect, however, that the virus would attack my already quixotic intestinal tract. I have difficulty keeping that in line without invisible pandemic infestations complicating my regularity. That’s all the details I’ll offer.
Consequently, I’m still working on recovering. The five-and-five formula offered by my doctor didn’t fit my situation. I isolated myself for a week and still tested positive.
I don’t know how long it will take for me to get back to my established daily routine. Given all I’ve been through, I’m unsure what that is anymore.
This 75-year-old body now knows the depths of the effects of this inconvenient, indiscriminate, horrible disease. Those effects can’t be shown on any medical chart.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2023
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