It was the best of times, it was the worst of times in the Bertaut household, and, oddly enough, both times were happening simultaneously.
On Wednesday, Oct. 7, I started feeling a bit puny. Sinus-y and a little fuzzy around the brain. Over the next couple of days, those symptoms stayed about the same and I started feeling fatigued. On Saturday, Oct. 10, my daughter, who lives with us, started feeling bad and had a fever. She got tested for COVID-19. Her result was positive. My wife and I decided to go get tested. I was positive; she was negative.
A Tale of Two Cases
And this is where our cases diverged pretty dramatically. We worked out that I had been symptomatic since Oct. 7, and that I probably got exposed on Oct. 2 while playing golf or on Oct. 3 when I did a lot of foraging for groceries. As I’ve written about here, I’ve made a big effort to stay home as much as possible, and those were the only two occasions I could think of when I might have interacted with someone outside my household.
Over the next two weeks, I experienced what I would call very mild symptoms: a little tiredness, constant sinus issues and a loss of taste and smell, but that was it. No fever, no “brain cloud,” no body aches, no breathing trouble. Since I mostly work from home nowadays, I didn’t even miss a day of work. I mostly felt fine, except for the occasional desire to take a nap. For me, COVID-19 felt like no big deal.
My wife, on the other hand, got what felt like a totally different bug. For one thing, she wasn’t symptomatic until the following Friday, Oct. 16. She got retested on Oct. 18 and finally tested positive. For the next 14 days, she felt terrible – short of breath, weak, feverish, tired, unable to think very clearly, and her breathing became labored. It was a bit scary for me. I had a pulse/oximeter, so I checked her oxygen levels a couple of times a day, all the while fearing she’d end up in the hospital.
Finally, on Friday, Oct. 30, I noticed her color was better and she was feeling more like herself. She improved rapidly on Saturday and Sunday, and by Monday morning, Nov. 2, she was at about 90% of her normal self. It’s clear she’s on the mend; it just felt like it took forever for her to get ahead of this bug! So different from my experience.
I remember thinking, “50 years ago, nobody would have figured out we were suffering from the same disease! The symptoms and outcomes are just so unpredictable!”
And that opens up a whole can of worms about COVID-19 doesn’t it?
While some tendencies seem to make sense, like people who are older, overweight, diabetic, or have breathing issues seem to do much worse with COVID-19, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, perfectly healthy people get it and do really poorly. Sometimes people like me, with high blood pressure, obesity and pre-diabetes, get the bug and do well. There is literally no way to predict how your body will react once you have COVID-19.
My advice? Keep trying NOT to get it until some safe, efficacious vaccines hit the market, and then go get vaccinated.
Even now that we’ve both had COVID-19 and are recovering, the length of time we would be immune to reinfection is also up in the air. Will we have four months of immunity? Six months? A year? Medical scientists don’t seem to be able to agree on that either, and some reports have shown immunity may vary from person to person. With all this uncertainty going on, what’s a regular person to do?
Having been on both sides of COVID-19 now, I can tell you what I’m going to do.
A COVID Carol
I’m going to keep masking up, to protect other people now as much as myself. I’m not supposed to be able to infect anyone now that I’m out of quarantine, but I’m not going to take any chances on that. I’m going to continue to socially distance; at this point, who’s to say I couldn’t get re-infected? My case was quite mild, and that’s supposed to signal an immunity that doesn’t last as long, but again, who knows? Think about how much medical science has learned about the novel coronavirus just in this year – we still have a lot of unknowns.
I’m going to keep washing my hands, a lot, and trying to avoid touching my face. I’m going to keep being careful, as much for others as I am for myself at this point. Not because I’m afraid, but because I just don’t know what the risk really is.
And once a safe, efficacious vaccine hits the market, I’m going to go and get immunized. In 2020 alone, I had a shingles vaccine, pneumonia vaccine and flu vaccine, in addition to a tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (Tdap) booster! Who’s to say one or more of those didn’t awaken something in my immune system to make my case of COVID-19 milder? Again, who knows?
Speaking of, if you have not gotten your flu shot yet this year, get “Straight” to it. Another gray area medical scientists are unsure about is whether people can get sick with flu and COVID-19 at the same time. That’s not something you want to find out the hard way. While we’re still waiting on a COVID-19 vaccine, there is a safe, effective, widely available flu vaccine – one your health plan likely covers for $0 or very low cost – so go get it.
Just remember, the game plan to avoid COVID-19 is still basically the same: masking up in public, socially distancing when you are out or around people you don’t live with and increased attention to hand hygiene.
Straight Talk is, I want your house to stay the Best of Times, and a lot less of 2020, the Worst of Times!