I have to admit that I was skeptical about COVID-19. I thought it was real but I also thought that the reported cases were highly exaggerated and the severity overblown. From my uninformed perspective this virus wasn’t much more than the Swine Flu which paid a visit in 2009. I had that and it wasn’t pleasant, but like any flu, I got through it. I filed COVID-19 in that category.
As for the number of reported cases, I still believe those figures are inflated or at the very least, incorrectly categorized. Some positive cases never developed symptoms. Others had false positives, which obviously places a cloud of doubt over the testing procedures. Yet they are lumped into the accumulating totals.
We can debate the data and the intended purposes for it. But that’s not the point of this post.
On October 26th while I was watching Monday Night Football, out of nowhere a nasty cough surfaced. My wife Ruthie, sitting beside me said, “Where did that come from?”
I had no idea.
The next day I felt a little feverish and achy. My temperature was a few notches below 100 so I thought that it was probably just a mild flu bug. By Wednesday I felt markedly better and I concluded that my flu bug assessment was spot on and everything would work out – until Thursday came along.
Suddenly the cough was ferocious and the fever was back and north of 101. Making matters socially worse, we had planned to host a Halloween karaoke party on Saturday. Could you imagine a karaoke party featuring COVID? Everyone sharing microphones and inadvertently spraying droplets everywhere?
It was time for me to get the nasal swab test.
I drove to MedStar’s Prompt Care in Perry Hall to get the rapid test. Unfortunately, the wait wasn’t rapid. The longer I waited, the worse I felt and the more convinced I was that the dreaded coronavirus had knocked on my door.
Finally, I made my way back to the examination room. Vitals were all good. Even the fever had dropped to normal, thank you very much Mr. Tylenol. Vitals were taken, questioning from the Doc behind me and the swab was nowhere near as invasive as I expected. The only thing remaining was the result of the rapid test. I waited. I expected the wait to be prolonged for some reason. Maybe the excruciating lobby loitering ruined me. I dove into Twitter to see if the Ravens made any moves to bolster their sagging offensive line.
My exploration of Twitterverse didn’t get far before the doctor arrived with the humbling news.
I was positive for COVID-19.
Suddenly I felt dirty. I felt that I was singled out, ostracized – exiled to the wrong side of the tracks. I was now among the statistics. Would I be judged? How would others respond to me? Would my family and friends greet me with a sideways look and avoid touching me like the plague?
Soon thereafter I left MedStar. The walk to my car seemed lonely and painful. I sat motionless behind the wheel for a bit, and called Ruthie in tears. In an odd way I felt like a failure. I’m not sure why. I do know that I was concerned for her and her clients (she’s a hair stylist), knowing that she would now be forced to quarantine due to my positive test. I also texted my friends who I had spent the evening with the Saturday before.
All of them went for testing. There were 16 of us. Eventually a total of 12 tested positive. Some were hardly affected. Others, like myself, had a difficult two weeks. The mistake we all made was that to a person, we had determined that if restaurants would allow us to gather, then we would. We will live our lives and not be imprisoned by a virus that we thought was as nearly overrated as the 2020 Pittsburgh Steelers.
COVID changed my mind. But not about the Steelers.
For nearly two weeks I battled fever, achiness and a feeling that made my head resided in a swirling cloud. The cough was wicked, so much so that after a hacking flare up, I thought I might pass out. I’ve lost weight and the muscle definition throughout my body has atrophied. A recent 1 ½ mile walk felt like plenty. I have some catching up to do.
Thankfully I was in pretty good shape to begin with, and I have no underlying medical conditions. But looking back, I could understand how this invisible monster could make an ill person’s life a living hell, besides making me look and feel rather disheveled.
By nature, I’m an optimistic fella, and that optimism in part has paved the way to this website. As Paul McCartney once sang, I look to take a sad song and make it better. In other words, in the case of the coronavirus, what can I take away from this dreaded affliction that is positive?
First and foremost, the love and support of family and friends has been touching. The regular text messages, I’m sure on some level, lifted me in a way that aided my recovery. The special deliveries of food and the heartfelt care packages warmed my heart. Some willingly picked up the slack at work, when I was unable to deliver. I will never forget the many random acts of kindness.
But more importantly, for all of you who don’t know me personally, I have a newfound respect for COVID-19 and all of its sinister trimmings. I now understand the seriousness of it, particularly for those ill-equipped to handle its clandestine trap. I realize now that my attitude towards this virus was selfish – that it is more about ALL OF US and not just me. I accepted the risks but looking back, I accepted the risks for everyone I am in regular contact with.
And that’s not fair and for that, I sincerely apologize.
I could have unknowingly spread the virus to a friend with an ailing parent who may have inadvertently infect their loved ones. Just the thought of that lays guilt on my shoulders that in good conscience, I don’t want to be responsible for. It’s a burden that no one wants to author.
So, if I could offer advice stemming from my COVID experience, I’d suggest:
• Wearing your mask whenever possible
• Properly distance
• Stay clean
• When in doubt exercise caution
• Respect each other and opposing views
• Be very mindful of the elderly
• Share information – knowledge is key
• Practice the golden rule
Also, know your blood type. I learned about a week in that COVID hits those with A-type blood more violently than other types. Of the aforementioned dozen that tested positive, those who suffered most had A-blood. I was one of the two — checking in with A+.
Thank you for indulging me. I hope that my experience can benefit at least one person on some level and help prevent you or someone you love to avoid the pitfalls of this nasty ghost.
I’m here to answer any questions you might have about this unsavory experience. Feel free to post them in the comments below. I will do my best to answer as thoroughly and honestly as possible.
Until then, my best to all…