A fortnight and counting

Reporting to you from the front, where things are not so much grim as tedious.

Just thought I’d report in from the COVID front — which, for me, is located in my home office. Since I work from home, I already spent a lot of time here, but now it’s pretty much ALL my time. I’ll go down to the kitchen — masked — to heat a meal and bring it up to eat at my desk. I sleep on a futon here. Just don’t call me Mark Sanford.

Of course, there are other COVID fronts as well, some of them with much heavier fighting going on, and significant losses — such as hospital ICUs. But this is mine.

I’m actually about to go to a hospital this afternoon. It will be my first time out of the house since my positive test two weeks ago. I wonder what that will be like. When I present myself at the door and am questioned and say, “Yes, I have COVID,” will alarms go off? Will everyone scramble to implement a Code Red? I don’t know.

I’m not sure it’s necessary. But since I bothered my doctor on the phone yesterday, he decided to have me get a chest x-ray, as a precaution. Why did I bother the doctor? Because it had been two frickin’ weeks, and I wasn’t getting better. I still felt like crap, I still got a slight fever and chills whenever I went a few hours without acetaminophen, and the last few days I had developed this irritating cough.

I basically called to say, Yes, it’s just a mild case and I don’t need to be hospitalized. And I doubt there’s anything to be done. But it’s been two weeks, which is way longer than I expected, and I’m even feeling a bit worse (the irritating cough), so should I be concerned? Also, is there some magic thing you can do that I’ve missed in reading about this for the last two years?

Well, as it happens, there was something he could have done if I’d called him right after my positive test. There are a couple of meds that could help with the condition — ask Paul; he knows about them — but you have to take them pretty early. There are drugs like that for flu as well, I believe. But I saw no need to bother my doctor in those early days. I wasn’t worried, and I figured it would be over in a few days.

Oh, well.

There are times when I think I’m getting better. Yesterday, in fact. I had an awesome nap from about 2:30 to 4, and it set me up amazingly. I felt stronger, generally less lousy. Having taken a single 500 mg acetaminophen tablet at 2, I decided not to take any more. But then by bedtime, I was back to the usual crappiness, with a temp of 99.4.

By the way, that’s what I meant by “slight fever.” I feel pretty awful when I get to that temp. And the couple of times in recent days when I’ve been at 100 or more, it’s been much worse. Technically, no one in the medical profession would call 99.4, or even 100, a “fever” — even a “low-grade” fever.

But hey, my normal temp is about 97. Do the math, and you see that 99.4 is 2.4 degrees more than that. If a person whose “normal” is 98.6 goes up by that much, he’s at 101. So get outta my face, before I give you COVID.

Anyway, this is probably all very boring to you. Half of you have probably already had this, and probably worse cases. But I thought I’d report in. This is what’s going on in my world.

May God send his healing grace upon all those who are really sick…

45 thoughts on “A fortnight and counting

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oh, by the way — while I seldom get ANY kind of fever, I do have experience with “real” ones.

    My record was when I had appendicitis back in 1993. At one point, it was 105.3.

    How much worse did that feel than these lower temps I whine about? I don’t know. I was out of my head most of that time. I do recall waking up once, because they had packed plastic bags of ice all around me in the bed. I woke up to say something witty like, “What the HELL…?” They explained that they needed to get my fever down or they couldn’t operate.

    And when I say “operate,” I mean operate. They couldn’t tell for sure that the appendix was the problem, so instead of doing one of those minimally invasive little slits and a snip, they wanted to do “exploratory surgery” on my abdomen — just get down in there and root around and look at everything.

    And that’s what they did. Consequently, my appendix scar runs four or five inches vertically down the middle of my lower abdomen, some distance from the appendix…

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Just continuing to riff here with my low-grade “fever”-oppressed brain, a year or two after that, I had the opportunity to see what that sort of surgery looked like.

      Shortly after I joined the editorial board in 1994, I was invited — along with various other nonmedical types from the community — to participate in this great program sponsored by a physicians’ organization here in Columbia. They called it something like mini-internships, and that’s what it was like.

      For two days, I got to spend half a day each trailing a physician from a different specialty — a dermatologist, a neurologist, a pediatrician and a general surgeon — and had access to everything. I was there during the consultations with the patients, plus any procedures or other treatment.

      And they went out of their way to involve me. The pediatrician had me listen to a kid’s chest. I had mentioned I spent a lot of time in pediatricians’ offices as a kid with asthmatic bronchitis, and that’s what this was, so I correctly diagnosed it. Later, he had me look at a blood sample under a microscope. He and his nurse couldn’t decide whether the girl had mono or not. He showed me what to look for in a textbook. They were right to be confused. The sample looked sort of like mono, but sort of normal.

      My moment of greatest glory came with the neurologist. He and a couple of residents and I were looking at a patient’s brain. I was the only one who recognized an abnormality on one of the images. Later, at a dinner at the end of the two days, he got up and bragged on me to the whole group. Not that it swelled my head or anything.

      I got to wear a white coat and everything. Better, I got to KEEP it.

      It was WONDERFUL, and it just lit up my mind like nothing I’d experienced in a while. I had never seriously considered going to medical school, which for the first time in my life I regretted.

      Anyway, during my time as a surgical intern, I got to watch several procedures. The doctor tolerated me pretty well, but I really got on the nerves of the nurse in charge of the ER. I kept leaning into the surgical field, to get a closer look. I was riveted by what I saw.

      The doc cut this one guy open right about where my scar was, and then started pulling his innards out — mostly intestines — and resting them on his belly. I’m not sure they did that to me, but it would explain how they got from the incision way over to my appendix. But I wasn’t thinking about that so much as thinking “Wow, it’s all so beautiful.” I could see all the abdominal organs, and they were all these vibrant different colors. I had had no idea. (I had never tried to paint the organs in my “Visible Man” model I had as a kid. And if I had tried, I wouldn’t have done these colors justice.)

      On this poor guy, the ultimate point was to create a colostomy. I think I might have blocked out that part. My main memory was at the wonder I felt beholding his internal organs…

      Reply
  2. bud

    Hope you get better soon. Several members of my family have had it. Mostly younger people in their 30s or less. None had any major symptoms. The vaccines seem to be helping. But they’re not perfect.

    Reply
    1. Doug Ross

      “he vaccines seem to be helping. But they’re not perfect.”

      Not exactly the same message the CDC put out there last year. If you’re young, you’re as safe with or without the vaccine as any flu season.

      Reply
  3. Doug Ross

    Have you taken any additional tests to see if you are still positive? Are you too unwell to go outside or choosing not to (if you can get outside, some fresh air might help)? Are you taking anything besides acetaminophen? No harm in taking some D, C, and Zinc. There are plenty of studies that have shown a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and COVID outcomes.

    All I have is anecdotal evidence, but a friend and her husband who had it last fall said they felt terrible until they went to their doctor who prescribed the now forbidden HCQ.. She said they both felt much better within 24 hours. Again, anecdotal.. but it was prescribed by a doctor.

    Reply
  4. Doug T

    Hope you start feeling better. As mentioned before, I’m taking every precaution. I don’t want that virus at all.

    Reply
  5. Barry

    I also tested positive on Monday and so did my 18 year old – just today.

    We both have stuffy noses. I had a fever Monday – but it also topped out at 100 and had some very mild body aches on Monday and Tuesday. My son’s temp has been a little over 99- so not really even a fever- but he keeps blowing his nose.

    I had a very slight headache on Tuesday but that’s gone. It just feels like a moderate cold to me. I had a very slight cough as well that comes and goes – but no sore throat.

    I received my booster the week of Thanksgiving. My son had his 2nd Pfizer does in August but no booster yet.

    We are glad for the vaccines as we know of at least 2 neighborhood folks that are unvaccinated and they both spent time at the ER last weekend. I am very glad to avoid that mess.

    Reply
    1. Barry

      BTW-

      My sister is an ER nurse and I called her and she told me to just eat healthy and get plenty of sleep at night is what the doctors she worked with advise with a case like mine. (Not offering that advice to anyone else really- just me)

      Reply
    1. DOUGLAS ROSS

      It’s likely the majority of those had either co-morbidities or high BMI.

      I remember early on when COVID was compared to the Spanish flu which had a MUCH different mortality pattern.

      Reply
    2. bud

      For comparison 1,331 people under the age of 50 died of Influenza during the same period. The bottom line is EVERYONE needs to get vaccinated for COVID and Influenza. Wear an N-95 mask and stay away from quack cures like Ivermectin. The USA has now passed Belgium as the leading country for COVID deaths outside of Eastern Europe and South America. That’s because of cult like adherence to right wing dogma. After a great start the USA has fallen behind other developed countries in getting vaccinated. Fully 20% of Americans say they will never get vaccinated. This includes Sarah Palin who tested positive then went into a crowded restaurant in NYC, a violation of NYC law.

      Reply
      1. Barry

        My sister says they see multiple people a day in their ER that come in with COVID saying they are taking Ivermectin and/or they are taking way too many vitamins and are very sick and scared.

        She is way beyond exhausted from it all. I think she’s basically in a state of depression but all her coworkers are apparently in the same condition. Of course most coming in are not vaccinated but they are taking all sorts of other unproven things -including some of their own made up homemade concoctions.

        She says the staff doesn’t even try to educate the patients anymore, that most all won’t listen to the nurses or doctors and they often just cite what they saw on facebook or on some tv show. So at this point, they don’t engage the patients in those discussions because it’s a waste of time.

        She works at a rural hospital.

        Reply
      2. Doug Ross

        It’s not just right wing people who avoid the vaccinations. But you know that. There is hesitancy in the black community.. among young people in general…

        But if you want to say that EVERY person who can get a vax but doesn’t is ignorant, I’m fine with that. Trying to make it a political issue is why Democrats will lose in the midterms.

        Reply
  6. Carol Smith

    Brad, hoping you’ll get good news from your X-Ray. It doesn’t seem fair that you’ve been so careful throughout this entire pandemic, and now you have the dreaded COVID. At least you should have some antibodies to show how it!

    Reply
  7. Brad Warthen Post author

    Just realized I never reported back to y’all after going to the hospital. Here’s how that went:

    After walking the long distance in from the parking lot, I experienced some unease about the COVID sentinel at the door. I’ve been to this hospital, and others, a LOT over the last couple of years — mostly for my parents, but also for my stroke and that time last year I tore up my hand — and I’d become accustomed to the routine. The person at the lectern would ask a series of questions, I’d say “no” to all of them, and he or she would give me a sticker and I’d go in.

    It’s such a routine that the guy had already taken the sticker off the sheet to have it ready to hand to me, and I stopped him before he could ask the questions: “First, I have COVID.”

    He sort of stiffened for a second, and only then did I realize I had stepped within about 4 feet of him before saying it. He asked me to go stand “over there,” indicating a spot a good distance away, while he went to the information desk to find out what to do. I didn’t go “over there,” because there was an old guy in a wheelchair behind a pillar just a few feet away. I randomly chose a more neutral spot.

    And then, across about 30 or 40 feet, I gave my name, gave it a couple more times, spelled it, gave my birthdate, said I was there for a chest x-ray and that my doctor had called in the order. (Good thing I wasn’t there for the clap or something. Somebody might have gotten embarrassed.) Somewhere in all that, I think I mentioned that it had been two weeks since my positive test. Either that, or they saw it in my record.

    Anyway, from that time on, everybody was more relaxed. The guy told me how to get to radiology, directing me to the elevator. I asked whether I shouldn’t take the stairs instead, but he said not to worry about it.

    When I got to radiology and did my routine again: “First, I have COVID,” they already had the word from below, and said something like, Yeah, but it’s been two weeks.

    Until I left, I stood because I didn’t want to infect any of the furniture, and stood as far away as possible from everyone. Whenever anyone approached me — to put the tag on my wrist or whatever — I’d give the warning again. Sort of my modern version of “Unclean!” But nobody seemed too worried. One guy said, Yeah, I’ve had it twice myself.

    I’m glad no one was in a panic, but I actually think that, even though they’re the pros from Dover, they’re wrong to be so reassured by the two-week thing.

    The whole reason I was there was that I had thought it would be behind me at this point, but it most assuredly was not. I still felt as bad as I had at any point since the start. That’s why I had broken down and finally called my doctor.

    But anyway, I got the x-ray done. Oh, and wait: I see my results are in! Here’s the headline: “No acute chest findings.”

    Which is about what I thought. But at least I got it done…

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Oh, you want details? Here are the full test findings:

      Stable heart size and contour without edema or focal pneumonia. No pneumothorax or pleural effusions. No acute osseous findings.

      See? I withhold nothing from you…

      Reply
    2. Doug Ross

      “I’m glad no one was in a panic, but I actually think that, even though they’re the pros from Dover, they’re wrong to be so reassured by the two-week thing.”

      This is a big part of the problem. I thought we smart people were supposed to trust science? You know there is a difference between being contagious and having ongoing symptoms, right? I mean that’s exactly what the CDC is telling us. Why don’t you believe them? You can come out of quarantine.

      Reply
      1. Barry

        Because you can become re-infected with COVID (even though it’s a sight risk- it’s still there)

        plus, I think most people that are concerned about other people don’t want to risk causing anyone else a problem even though it’s a remote chance

        they also don’t want to cause someone else needless concern about their own health, especially when they they can tell you look weak or even sick, or they can tell you have a cough, or that you have a general look about yourself that tells others you aren’t feeling well.

        Reply
      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        Ah, you seem to be thinking in terms of people who buy into one or the other two official mindless ideologies — since “science” is a major watchword of one of them.

        I don’t trust anyone to be infallible, and I don’t cross myself and murmur talking points before going to bed at night.

        Now, would I trust Dr. Fauci over some idiot who demonstrates against mask rules at a school board meeting? You bet. Because I’m not an idiot, myself. Fauci is as knowledgeable as anyone in the country about this still-changing novel coronavirus. He’s not going to be right about everything, though. But the anti-mask people and the anti-vaxxers are people I expect are right as often as a stopped clock, at MOST. In fact, twice a day would seem like a strain for them.

        Fauci’s fallibility acknowledged, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the nice folks who greet me at the hospital and check me in and take me back for my x-ray are probably not as knowledgeable as he is.

        I listen. I pay attention to things. And the things I heard over the last couple of years, and about omicron the last couple of months, made me expect a shorter bout. And yeah, I also know people have lingering symptoms. But there’s nothing absolute about any of that. Maybe 100 years from now, science will have 99-percent perfect understanding of this disease.

        But right now, I’m experiencing something that seems anomalous. I think I got this from my youngest daughter, who went pretty much symptom-free within a few days, but when she went to get tested again — she was anxious to be able to catch that plane back to Dominica — it was positive again. Then she did it again, and once more it was positive. She didn’t get a negative until the fourth try. All of which tells me there could be something different about my case. Probably not, but I’m not going to bet somebody else’s life on it — not a stranger, and not my 90-year-old mother I haven’t seen in two weeks.

        In fact, in a few minutes I’m driving over to keep my 4 p.m. appointment to get tested again. If it’s negative, I’ll breathe somewhat easier. I’ll let y’all know…

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Got that done, and I’m hopeful.

          Remember that I said I felt better a couple of days ago — but then sort of relapsed?

          I’m feeling like that today — and I haven’t even had a nice, long nap this time. So we’ll see.

          Last night, I had to get up and change out of my damp T shirt after my extremely low fever “broke.” But now I haven’t had acetaminophen since a little after 4 a.m., and I haven’t really felt feverish or chills yet today.

          Reasons for optimism…

          Reply
          1. bud

            Sounds hopeful. Keep us posted. I wonder if your history of Asthma makes you more vulnerable to significant symptoms even if fully vaxed?

            Reply
            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Maybe, but I don’t think that’s the case here. In fact, sort of the opposite, in that something that effectively treats asthma may have set me up to get this.

              Um… I was about to try to explain this fully, but it’s too complicated. Here’s the short version. On Jan. 6, a doctor prescribed a six-day course of prednisone for me. It wasn’t for asthma, for which I’ve taken the anti-inflammatory steroid many times, but something else. As it was, I’d had a tiny bit of asthma trouble during my walks the last couple of days, so I thought great, it will help with that, too.

              I had one concern — prednisone suppresses immunity. I was worried it would undermine my COVID vaccines. But I went ahead. (The long version of the story would explain why.)

              Two days later, my daughter had her test that turned out positive, which we didn’t know, I guess, until a day or two later. And you don’t just stop in the middle of a course of prednisone; you have to taper down.

              On Jan. 13, I got my own positive COVID test. And while I probably got it from being around my daughter, my symptoms were worse and lasted longer.

              I suspect that’s because of the prednisone. But I don’t know that…

              Reply
              1. bud

                I guess it’s impossible to avoid. That’s why the vaccinations. But since you’re able to communicate what’s happening I’ll take that as a good sign.

                Reply
  8. Paul DeMarco

    There are two new oral COVID drugs-Paxlovid and Molnupiravir. They should be initiated as soon as possible after COVID-19 diagnosis, and within 5 days of symptom onset. It’s encouraging that oral treatments have been developed. As a primary care physician, I have been frustrated by the lack of tools in my toolbox. Finding monoclonal antibodies at one of the nearby hospitals has been difficult recently. Getting a COVID test back within 5 days to be eligible for these two new meds will likely be an issue for some of my patients but this backlog should resolve soon. We have run out of rapid tests in my office and are waiting a new shipment. But if you develop symptoms like Brad’s in the setting of a recent positive test (again, you must be within 5 days of symptom onset), you now have oral treatment options.

    Reply
  9. Barry

    Brad

    I tested positive on Monday.

    I tested again this morning- Saturday- and was still positive.

    I am feeling almost no symptoms at this point- maybe a slightly stuffy nose a few times during the day.

    I am still a bit nervous about going out around anyone else. My wife wanted to go grab some lunch today. We might go somewhere that we can sit in a corner by ourselves.

    Reply
      1. Barry

        I tested again today on a home test I bought at Food Lion for $22. (Same ones my county gives out for free but I already got my free one).

        Feb 1st- still positive.

        It’s been 12 days since I first had obvious COVID symptoms- Jan 21st – a Friday. But I didn’t test until Monday the 24th when I could get a home test. Next day I drove through at Columbia mall and got another test- found out Thursday it had been positive.

        Last day I had a fever was the 24th- the day I tested. It never was above 100.

        Today I picked up my college student and was going to grab lunch together (both wearing masks) but I mistakenly said I hadn’t had a negative test yet and a bit of a freak out ensued so that ended our meeting before we could get lunch. So I drove back home and stopped at Food Lion for the test a few hours again and it was still positive.

        Bummed for sure.

        Reply
  10. Brad Warthen Post author

    OK, so here’s the news from yesterday’s COVID test. Still positive, or as they more carefully say, still “detected.” Symptoms still the same.

    So, you know, stable… See how I put a bright spin on it? I’m going to get back under the blankets in my recliner now. After days of looking for something, anything, entertaining on the streaming services we pay for — I finally found something good. At last, Prime had posted the second season of “Britannia!” Which had been available back in that same former Roman province since 2019! (I mean, who was holding it up? The druids?)

    No, it’s not as good as the first season so far, but it’s something…

    Reply
  11. Brad Warthen Post author

    I think I’m feeling better. Not what you would call “good,” but better than I was.

    I hope that doesn’t come across like, “Hey, I’ve got a no-hitter going!”…

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      To elaborate — my temperature never got over 99 last night. My “normal” is about 97, so when it gets over 99, I feel rotten. That didn’t happen.

      In fact, I checked it this morning — when it’s usually at its low point for the day — and it was 96.4.

      So I’m cool…

      Reply
      1. Barry

        That’s a positive for you.

        I am skipping the test for today. I have 1 test left from the one I bought at Food Lion yesterday (had 2 tests).

        I’m going to take the one I have left tomorrow and see what it says. I figured there was no reason to take one today since I tested positive yesterday.

        Reply
  12. Barry

    Media barred from Justice Gorsuch talk to Federalist Society

    The two-day meeting also will feature former Vice President Mike Pence and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, as well as a session billed “The End of Roe v. Wade?” that will be moderated by a current federal judge appointed by former President Donald Trump.

    https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/media-barred-justice-gorsuch-talk-federalist-society-82610921

    And there are still people (very few) that believe there aren’t republican and democratic judges. LOLOLOLOLOLOL

    One thing is clear, despite his habit of not caring what his colleagues think about it, Gorsuch will finally have to wear a mask. disney requires it of all people Inside their resorts.

    Reply

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