Saturday, July 16, 2022

Rosey's COVID-19 Diary: Getting Through The Big Sick


FlowFlex Test on July 15, 2022

I'm hoping I'm at the end of my COVID-19 experience. I believe that I was exposed on July 2nd. That day I sat in an AT&T store with Nova until I got fed up with the poor customer service and drove to another, where getting a new phone set up took a little over an hour inside, we were the only ones wearing masks. That day we also went to Costco...I went in the store while Nova waited in the food court. That night I worked at the 411 show at the Casbah and as I've said, I was mostly masked but definitely had some unmasked conversations with a few friends on the patio. Any of these places could've been my exposure. 

However, it is also possible my exposure was at the San Diego Zoo. It's the only place I go with regularity, I had gone on July 3rd and July 4th. I had gone nearly every day before July 2nd, except for July 1, when I went to the Safari Park with Darren. I could've been exposed there, but I doubt that. I was almost never near other people and wear a mask whenever people are close, and sometimes even when they're not.

Whatever the case may be, I got COVID-19. All my experiences and how I'm getting through it, after the jump. 

I felt like shit on July 5th, thought it was a sinus infection, tore apart my room finding my health care plan information, realized I should take a test, and that first test was very brightly positive. Day Zero. 

First Test on July 5, 2022 - Day Zero

I'm not writing today to recount every moment of my sickness since I pretty well documented most of that. I will say briefly that my symptoms were sinus pressure/earache, body aches, shortness of breath (one night my blood oxygen dropped to 92/93%), extreme fatigue. There were a couple days that I slept 12-16 hours, before and after testing positive, which maybe means I should've known sooner that something wasn't right. My eyes would get so heavy I couldn't read my phone or laptop. For a couple days, I was definitely dead to the world. After having talked to so many other people who have been sick, I'm grateful that I didn't get the deep cough, sore throat, and only once did I get a fever which was quickly resolved with Tylenol. Fatigue has remained, though not so extreme, but most of my symptoms resolved by Friday, July 8, my day 3. 

My lowest Blood Oximeter Reading on July 7, 2022

I highly recommend watching these two videos from Dr. Mike, who I've been following since the beginning of the pandemic.

I also will reiterate that there are secondary 'symptoms', too, just from isolation: depression, fear-- about what could happen, if you can get worse, if you'll get long COVID, and general confusion - am I doing everything possible to get better? who do I contact? should I get monoclonal antibodies or Paxlovid? There's deep loneliness in isolation, missing my pets and not being close to them or taking naps with them, and it is very depressing. 

I guess I have to write the disclaimer that obviously I'm not a doctor, I just want to share some survival tactics should you come down with COVID-19. Or things to do or have on hand to be prepared before that happens. I also have to acknowledge my privilege: I have a supportive partner and family, I work from home, I have a studio apartment in which to isolate, and I am a supply hoarder, so I always have a full pantry of food, medicines, masks, paper goods.

Test on July 7, 2022 - Day 2
Test on July 10, 2022 - Day 5 

Test on July 13, 2022 - Day 8

Test on July 14, 2022 - Day 9 

Taken July 15, 2022 - Day 10

What I always have on hand:

  • Tylenol
  • Advil
  • Cold & Flu Mediine (I liked Alka Seltzer Plus, especially the nighttime one to get solid sleep when I needed it the most)
  • Allergy Medicine (I use Allerfex near daily from Coscto, but have recently started using Flonase in some cases.)
  • Supplements: Zinc, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Immune Defense gummies, etc. 
  • Masks (These were 100 for $100 for a long time. $14.99 for 50 is a steal from Costco
  • Fans & Air Purifiers For Every Room
  • An abundance of home tests. If you haven't ordered your free ones, get them here
  • Digital Thermometer
  • Pulse Oximeter (Critical to measure Blood Oxygen levels often)  
As I said, having Darren to pick things up and get or make food was critical but there as so many food delivery apps, restaurants that deliver direct, grocery delivery, Costco 2-day delivery, Amazon, and the like, not to mention heat-and-eat meal delivery services. Getting COVID-19 was not my time to take some big stance against corporations- I needed what I needed when I needed it. For anyone more financially stretched, I recommend calling 2-1-1 and getting linked up with services like CalFresh or Meals on Wheels or other resources.  

Mostly I wanted to share some of the humbling lessons I learned.
  1. Say how you feel: When you downplay your symptoms, everyone else will, too. When I finally admitted to myself and others that I wasn't running at 100%, I got a lot more support that I desperately needed. 
  2. Monitor your symptoms: Specifically dramatic changes in those symptoms, in case you need greater medical intervention. Take your temperature often, in peak symptoms, I alternated with Tylenol and Advil every 4 hours, check you blood oximeter. If you're breathing is strained or oxygen low, try sleeping with more pillows, almost sitting up, or lay prone on your stomach with pillows underneath to free pressure.  
  3. Say what you need: This isn't a time to be coy. I felt like Darren had checked out  when really he needed to be explicitly told what I needed. It's not a time to skip meals or feel like you're a burden for asking for food. Your job is to get healthy and you can only do that if you're eating and...
  4. Resting: In my normal life I sleep when it comes. I have sleep problems so I can be up for 20 or 24 or 28 hours straight and then zombie sleep to recover, but COVID made my naps normal, on several nights I've been in bed by 9 or 10pm. I've been up by 6 or 8am, or on one morning, 4:30am. When I've been tired, I have to just let myself sleep. Or at least try. Surprisingly, I've gotten used to the camping cot, but when Nova has been gone at UCSD or Darren at work, I have taken over my bed, with a fan, a purifier, and the A/C on and it has been glorious. 
  5. Answers are hard to come by: Health advice is everywhere during this pandemic. But good advice is harder to decipher. I know people who have done the bare minimum to 'get back to normal' as quickly as possible, maybe still infectious but did their five days and were done. But we all have to do our best. I regret and also don't regret going to the San Diego Zoo on Thursday, my day 9. My test on Day 8 was nearly invisible. But then I tested on day 9, after returning and my positive line was faint, but less so than the day before. Then on Friday, my day 10, I switched test brands to FlowFlex and still had a clearly visible line, albeit faint still. People will say that tests will pick up 'dead virus' but from everything I've read, that is only true for PCR tests, not for home antigen and lateral flow tests, because they detect a different part of the virus. If it's visible, you still have live virus. Further, there is evidence that if you're vaxxed and boosted, you may test positive for longer, because the thinking is that the initial symptoms are the immediate immune response, then isolating the replicating virus in the sinuses to prevent it from getting into your lungs and other organs. You can read some threads about this here, or here. I regularly follow Dr. Topol, Dr. Hotez, Dr. Mina, among many, many others. 
  6. Be vaxxed and boosted. I can't imagine how much worse this could've been without vaccination. I wish I had a second booster and will get another shot as soon as I'm eligible. And then I'll get a bivalent vaccination should those become available later this year. I trust science. I can "do my own research" and barely tap the surface of the science out there. 
I'm sure there's so much I missed. I'll add that when I was well enough, I did have a night of cocktails, though I probably shouldn't have. I also got my period after day 5 which left me run-down all over again. I cleaned a lot, partially to make isolation more comfortable and partially to pass time that I was alone in the studio. I've been drinking water constantly throughout. I've made a point to take a shower every day, which sometimes if you're in loungewear all day or super dead tired can be hard to force, but I always feel better after. I've gotten sunshine by sitting on my balcony or in my backyard. I've eaten most of my meals outside. I had to drive to pick Nova up from UCSD on Friday afternoon and that took a lot out of me, sitting in traffic during afternoon drive in an N95 sucked. Darren picked up food from 777 for dinner which left us a lot of leftovers to get through today while he's at work and Nova spends her day at Pride. I probably won't even test again until Sunday or Monday since I don't have any plans to leave the house until Pride settles down and Nova will be going back to UCSD on Sunday, where they're tested every day and Darren still has long days at work. 

I'm ready for this to be over, but am so grateful things didn't get any worse for me. I came to find out my sister and niece both caught it at the end of June, but were testing negative before traveling to England for 10 days, but they returned and now my other niece, my brother-in-law, and pretty much their entire soccer team that they traveled with are all positive. My mom picked them all up from the airport on Thursday, so she's testing regularly to make sure she didn't catch it from them. If she was to get sick and spread to my dad, we'd have a whole other situation on our hands. And my Godsister has been amazing and picked up our slack in helping my dad every night since we couldn't. This shit is all a big deal, it has big ramifications as it spreads out in the world, and everyone should really step up to do what they can: vax & boost, wear a mask, clean the air, avoid gatherings, test frequently, pay attention to potential exposures and potential symptoms, and stay home and isolated when you're sick. If you're still symptomatic after five days or still testing positive or both, CDC says you should continue isolating through day 10. And finally more people are speaking up and saying you should isolate until you test negative two days in a row, have no symptoms, and haven't taken any fever-reducers for 24+ hours. This is not going away, and burying your head in the sand about it is simply not an option.  

Be safe out there.    

Update, July 17, 2022:
FlowFlex Test, Day 12

I decided to take a test this morning for a number of reasons. I was feeling good but the head stuff is hard to know if the weather and allergies and pollen are getting to me or if this thing is just lingering. But also Darren is working all day so I have the mom duty of checking Nova back in at UCSD. I believe it's just a parking lot drop off and then waiting for her to test on site before I can leave, but in case I have to interact with any of the advisors, I wanted to know my status. And last, because since I'll be driving all the way to La Jolla again, it seemed fitting to stop by the Cove since I haven't seen the sea lions in ages, and again, wanted to know my personal status before going out into the world. 

I was obviously happy to see no line, not even faintly, and be done with this. I had a big grand plan to go to the Cove, then Seaworld, then the San Diego Zoo, but am thinking better of it since I have to go inside Wild Arctic if I want to see the walruses. We'll see. Sometimes when you think it is going to be so busy, the park is dead, and sometimes the opposite is true. But the Zoo is definitely on the table. Darren suggested I take the bus so he can meet me, but even completely negative, I'm not sure I'm personally at ease enough to jump on public transit today. Its all up in the air, but just wanted to report back. 

Meanwhile, my cousin in LA tested positive today and that just sucks. She's a fashion buyer for a major retailer so I'm sure she's had dozens if not hundreds of untraceable contacts and now she's down for the count. I'm not offering anyone unsolicited advice but am always happy to share specifics if anyone asks. 

Be well. 

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