A plague has befallen the world. It was slow to spread at first, but human mistakes and inadequate leadership has led to an ongoing global crisis. On February 11th, 2020, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus would be dubbed “COVID-19”, by the World Health Organization. Following best practices, the name of the disease was chosen to avoid inaccuracy and stigma in an already dangerous situation.
Covid-19 would find its way to Texas and inevitably, Houston. With a population of over six million people, coronavirus spread like wildfire through the entire area. Hospitals are still filled with patients. Masks are mandatory to visit stores or public places. Yet some people, defy reason and the law to go out unprotected.
I was not one of these people. I always wear a mask and sanitize my hands regularly. I still managed to get infected. At first, I was unsure if the symptoms I was displaying were serious. A few days after my first symptom, I tested positive for Covid-19 at the Veterans Affairs hospital in downtown Houston. Thus, my fight with the coronavirus began.
The First Week
First, I must comment on the testing procedure. They took a cue-tip, that was about six inches long, and inserted it all the way up and into [my brain it felt like] my upper sinuses to scrape a sample. It was not a fun experience but it would still be the “highlight” of the next three weeks.
The first week things got weird fairly quick. At first, I had developed a cough and my sinuses were acting up, which was usual for being sick. What was not normal however, was my sense of smell and taste disappearing entirely. It was one of the strangest sensations I have ever had. I could feel my mouth, but not taste a thing. It is very hard to explain.
I was beginning to get tired easily now. Towards the end of the week, I was sleeping more than I usually do and the cough had gotten worse. Things were beginning to look bad.
The cough was persistent. My chest was on fire and nothing calmed the storm that was building in my head. It would pound worse each time my chest heaved as a cough would force its way out. I was very tired and breathing was getting harder and harder.
By the middle of the second week, I was in bed and unable to get out. I would sleep anywhere from sixteen to eighteen hours a day, had intermittent fevers and I was in considerable amounts of PAIN.
The pain was almost indescribable. It felt as if clamps had been placed on every bone and joint in my body and was tightening each hour. My head felt like it was the size of a watermelon and I still could not taste a thing.
My wife would bring a bucket and help me sit up to relieve myself. It was easily the point at which I have felt the weakest in my entire life. I was helpless. But somehow, I didn’t care. I just wanted the pain to end. I wanted the cough to end and to be able to breathe out of my nose again.
I wanted to live…
By the third week not much had changed. My wife would regularly check my SpO2 levels and temperature. The only treatments she could administer were cough syrups, nose decongestants, pain relievers and headache medicines. Throat spray would help the burning in my throat and the cough suppressants slowed the cough, sometimes.
I have come close to death several times in my life. I had never once felt this close to death however. Everytime that I closed my eyes, for several days, I worried it would be the last time I did. I felt of death. I was scared and made a silent vow to myself.
I am keeping that now.
I was still in bed and unable to stay awake for more than a few hours at a time. For the few hours I would be awake, pain and dizziness were my partners. There were moments in which I still am not sure if I was awake or asleep – dream or reality.
As I entered the fourth consecutive week of my battle with coronavirus, things finally seemed to be getting a little better. My taste was beginning to return and food had honestly never tasted quite so good. I was still coughing and very, very weak. Several days later I would make my first solo trip to the bathroom in two weeks. Things were looking up.
By the end of the week, my taste had almost fully resolved and my appetite was beginning to return. While the weakness and cough would persist for the coming weeks, I was on the mend.
I was not going to die.
Jump forward two weeks and the cough had all but dissipated. I was almost able to breathe normal again and was declared by my doctor to be “no longer infectious”. It was time to finally go outside again. I was ready but also very nervous. Outside had the virus that almost killed me. Was it worth it..?
At first, the walks were to the mailbox and back. The short walk was about one tenth of a mile. I was exhausted after each trip. My joints and muscles ached with every movement and demanded that I rest. Sleep was still coming easily and I would take daytime naps a plenty.
By the eight week I considered myself to be ninety percent cured. I was now able to go for longer walks and was beginning to get back to a “normal” schedule. I recall joking, “I must be better, my insomnia is back”. It was true, my long nights had returned and my short sleep schedule was getting back into gear.
I was not the same, however. My focus was off. I also found it difficult to control the random outbursts of emotion that had begun manifesting. I would be manic hyperactive as a child at times, and was diagnosed with ADHD. I had not experienced these types of feelings for over fifteen years. I also found that certain things that had interested me before had lost their luster somehow. It is also hard to describe.
It has been three months since my brush with death. Covid-19 is extremely dangerous and if you develop symptoms, fight them with all you have. Rest as much as you can and drink water. It’s about the only thing that tastes normal during the infection anyways. Be prepared to feel a “different normal” after getting well.
Please, wear a mask and wash your hands as often as reason calls for it. Sanitize your surfaces and be careful around those that you trust. They may be asymptomatic or immune, and can still transmit it to you unknowingly.
If you are around people that you do not live with, wear a mask. Stay away whenever possible. Save yourselves and others!