Submitted by a reader
On March 30th, I was officially back to work and declared a recovered Sars2 patient. After surviving my experience, I thought it would be helpful to share it and calm anyone bugging out currently. I am under 35, work skilled trade where I manage a crew without the pay or title that I would have had a generation ago. I work in an essential industry and even with rumors of shutdowns, I knew I would not be able to work from home nor have an unpaid vacation. This story covers the month of March. If you get corona, you will likely have a month long ordeal where you have a 99% chance of surviving but it still is going to take weeks.
At the beginning of March, our haz mat and chemical safety guy started wearing a mask all shift. People made fun of him until a week later when I woke up one day with a horrible cold. I was not the only one. Another guy was sick as well. We both stayed home per our bosses’ orders. My wife went to work, and I agreed to stay away from her and our kid until it cleared. We have a room waiting for when our second kid arrives. I do not have a primary physician because I never get sick so I then called a clinic to see how I could test for corona.
I couldn’t. At the time, I had no foreign travel. I did not meet requirements by having contact with a confirmed patient. I was told it was likely a cold or flu and I was a low risk profile. I was a smoker until age 25, but had not been a heavy smoker. The kicker for me was my fever was not consistently high. I am told testing requirements have changed in my state now that testing is more widespread. I chilled out and tried to read but had a horrendous headache and felt tired. I drank tons of water, pounded vitamin C and zinc like it was a normal cold and slept.
I slept 14-16 hours a day for several days. I was tired. I was a high school athlete, still lift and I felt sluggish like a horrible hangover. My fever was in and out ranging from 99 to 102. I had a dry cough throughout this time and it did not get worse until my fever broke. At day five, I thought the worst was behind me and that it was a flu but the news environment made my paranoia kick in making me call the clinic days earlier. I was wrong. The fever broke but my cough was rougher. I felt a heavy pressure on my chest just under my ribs. The sluggishness had eased but now I was coughing violently. I called the doctors clinic, and they instructed me to show up at a testing site outside a hospital. I waited in my car for the swab, went back home and waited for results.
At home, I ended up playing some video games and just waited for coughing spells. Twitter content kept me laughing but that made me cough. When not coughing, I tried to keep breathing as deep, slow and long as possible. It was hard because of the pressure in my chest, but I did not want to have panicked, short breaths and freak out my wife. I was sleeping less, now just 10 hours a day. On day seven, I vomited. I think that was due to all the coughing as I had been drinking fluids and not eating much. There was no nausea, so it felt forced. On day eight, my fever returned at 101 degrees but I let it burn this time rather than take any Tylenol. They called me the evening of day eight to tell me I tested positive and to notify them if my condition worsened. The test meant nothing for me, but I think it put me on their radar as a likely incoming case or potential incoming case. I was to stay quarantined for 14 days from when symptoms initially appeared. My wife and kid were to quarantine, too, but that was easy with school now cancelled.
On day nine, my fever was gone, the pressure had eased in my chest and I was coughing up some gross fluid but the cough was lessening. I had been mobile the entire time I had this, but my steps were normal now. I called my boss, and he informed me that the other sick coworker was staying home as a precaution but no one else caught it. Due to the nature of our work, we do interact with customers and the two of us likely interacted with the same customer. On day ten, I was coughing but walking around feeling hungry again. My wife knocked on the door and left food outside, while I texted orders and facetimed with my own family to protect them.
Each day after was a step closer to 100%. My wife and son both had mild colds while I was tucked away in the spare bedroom. Nothing worth calling the doctors for or getting tested over, but I bet they caught it from me. I do believe in the viral load hypothesis. I do not know when I was spreading it, but hiding from them the moment I had symptoms minimized their exposure. My wife and I are fit, and this was like a flu for me and a cold for her. My other coworker texted me during his quarantine period, and he never even bothered to get tested because he never felt bad enough to meet their requirements. He enjoyed a paid vacation.
I was cleared the last week of March (17 days from first sign of symptoms to symptom free) but returned to work the 30th. I now do all our errands for my family as a survivor. When I returned to work, the entire staff was wearing masks. My state is in lockdown, but we are deemed essential. Socializing is minimal at work now and with a drop in customers, we’re goofing off on our phones a lot. We have changed how we consult with customers where we do not send guys from the yard up front but have them talk over a phone to handle questions. I sent this to the Sun Monday, and by then, customers were wearing masks, too.
This is not a death sentence. In the great American tradition, we are going to hear millions more claim that they caught the ‘rona but just didn’t get tested. Wear masks and stay off social media. As far as believing survivor tales, the worse it is described without going to the hospital, the less lightly it is true. Because of the 1% risk, it flashes through your mind you’re going to die when it gets rough. You will make a call if it gets bad enough. The voice on the other end is the one that keeps you calm.