I Survived COVID-19 at 65 Years Old
I intended to keep the fact that I had acquired coronavirus pretty much under wraps, but it didn't quite work out that way. With the determined pronouncements from the United Nation's World Health Organization and America's Center for Disease Control, and the U.S. media parroting what they said about the virus, I see it was impossible for those I told to refrain from telling other people. Nonetheless, after I recovered from being sick, I felt it was my responsibility to share my story on the subject.
I Thought It Was the Flu
Looking back to March 1, 2020, someone asked me, "Are you okay?" I responded, "I'm okay, I just don't have anything to say." Thinking about it more several days later, I did notice that I was not quite my usual self that day.
On Monday, I thought I was either wired up on caffeine from drinking a lot of cola soda, or I was coming down with something, but, either way, I ignored it as much as I could. I stopped drinking cola.
By Tuesday, after crashing down off of caffeine overnight, I knew I was sick but because I had the flu before and remembered how I felt with it, that's what I thought I had. After all, it was the back-end days of the flu season. At this point, there was some talk about the Coronavirus going around, but I didn't want to think that that's what I had.
I Contacted the Doctor About My Symptoms
People were already taking precautions pertaining to social distancing because of the virus. At this time, I determined to call my Primary Care Physician's (doctor's) office to make an appointment, but his local office is closed on Wednesdays. I, therefore, had to wait until Thursday to do so.
When I called they said they were not taking in-person appointments, but the nurse said my doctor would get back to me later that day. When he did call, I told him I felt like I had the flu and told him some of my symptoms.
I had a bad headache, the area around my eyes hurt, and my whole body felt weak. He appeared to agree and prescribed a two-week supply of a strong 850mg/tablet of the antibiotic Amoxicillin. He recommended I take Tylenol for my headache.
My Symptoms Didn't Improve
I took the medication through the weekend and on Monday but was feeling as sick as I felt the day I called my doctor. I felt miserable all this time. I called my doctor's office again and when he returned my call, we spoke some more about my symptoms.
While I never had a fever that professionals say is one of the common symptoms of coronavirus, I did have slight respiratory wheezing with a slight shortness of breath. I also had some dizziness which they say is also a common symptom. I reminded him of the symptoms I spoke with him previously. He determined that I needed to take the Coronavirus test.
My Experience Getting Tested for COVID-19
My doctor's nurse then got on the phone and said on Tuesday she would put a prescription for me to take to the test site in a box outside their office—you know because of social distancing.
Ugh. I didn't want to get out of bed let alone drive somewhere and wait in my car to take the test.
I asked my wife, Milvia, to go with me because, by this time, she couldn't work because of the governor's travel and meeting restrictions placed upon us.
The only location in Passaic County for coronavirus testing was on the campus of Williamson Paterson University in Wayne, just 15 minutes away. It was a nice sunny day but I, understandably, was not in a sunny day kind of mood. I wasn't depressed or anything, but I didn't like one bit the situation I was in. I just wanted to be in my bed sleeping with the hopes that when I woke up I would feel better.
When we got to the campus we curved around the road until we were at the back end of a long row of cars. There were Passaic County police officers patrolling the campus all over the place to maintain order. Some officers were in their vehicles in stationary positions on the lookout for any signs of trouble.
When we were able to go more up the hill we were on, we were instructed by an officer to turn right into a student parking lot. Of course the whole time we'd go several feet and stop then go again as the traffic ahead of us moved.
On some post signs and occasionally announced on public broadcast on campus, we were instructed to keep our car windows closed. Occasionally a broadcast would say anyone who didn't have a prescription to get the test done would not be tested. I guess that was the potential trouble the police were looking for—some crazed individual who had the virus got in line without a prescription to get tested, but it never came to that.
The Long Wait
We did not anticipate that we would be there for so long. We had a little gas in the tank, and we couldn't keep the air conditioning on because we didn't know how long we were going to be there. Nobody was giving us an estimate either. So we had to sit and suffer with the windows up.
The line of cars in this parking lot went back and forth the width of it six times. We must have been there for more than three hours. Moving a little more than inching up each time several cars in front of us moved. I actually felt I had to shut the car off at times to save on the little gas that we had. We were actually perspiring slightly which added to my agony.
We finally were directed out of the parking lot and right to start going back up the hill we were on before. We had no idea what was on the other side of the crest of the hill—we just hoped the testing area was near. In the end, we still had forty minutes of waiting and testing and getting some instructions on what to do if I had the virus.
Getting the Test
After going down the hill some ways we could see an open-sided tent that had several medical workers under and around it. This is the area where they tested those who had a prescription. What a relief. The end was in sight. Before we moved up to the tent, a medical worker was standing there and after instructing me to open my window three inches, gave us masks to wear. She checked my prescription, looked at my identification, and wrote my phone number on the back of the prescription. We were able to inch up to the tent in about ten minutes.
The whole process was painfully slow. The medical workers did a great job for the amount of them that were there.
A medical worker walked up to my side of the car and instructed me to open the window three inches. She asked for my prescription to verify my number on the back. She then kept the prescription.
She said the test is a nasal swab. Easy enough I thought. I had to lower my window except for four inches. The medical worker then instructed me to lower my mask to just below the nose. I then had to bend my head back as far as it can go. She then raised what looked like a cotton swab with an eighteen-inch stem to my face.
From here I thought she was going to swab my left nostril. Instead, she inserted the swab into my nasal passageway, causing extreme discomfort. I let out a loud augh-h-h-h sound. The medical worker said, "Sorry sir." I'm sure she was saying that a lot on the days she worked here. Moments after she did this, the only thing I could think of was the scene from a horror movie.
In spite of this, I quickly forgot what she did because she was just doing her job, and I complimented her by saying, "I appreciate all that you're doing" to which she politely responded, "Thank you."
After the Test
At this point, having nearly spent four hours on the campus and with the test done, I thought that was it, and we were going to be directed on how to leave the campus, but there was one more thing to do.
We were directed by a police officer, who was standing just past the tent, to continue down the hill while where we soon were at the tail end of a painfully slow bumper-to-bumper procession. Once down the hill a bit we came to a "T" in the road where another officer directed me to make the right turn behind other cars in front of us.
Surprisingly, once we made the turn, the several cars that were immediately in front with me were able to travel about 25 miles an hour to the bottom of that hill. We came to another tent. At this tent, they just gave us some paperwork on what to do if you had the virus. After that, we were able to leave the campus and head for home.
I was Diagnosed With COVID-19 and Quarantined Myself
Once Milvia and I got home we told our two daughters, Laura and Keycha, that it would take up to three days to get the results of the test. I stayed in bed most of the time until my doctor called two days later.
The news from him was I had the virus. I told him I heard the there was a medication that people can take to get through the virus quicker. He went on to emphasize he doesn't prescribe it because of the possibility of severe side effects. I found out later some of the side effects could be permanent eye damage and liver problems.
To reduce the possibility of anyone in my family would get the virus from me, I needed to confine myself to the bedroom with occasional trips to the bathroom.
How We Coped
Right after we shared the news with our family, Milvia and Laura proceeded to disinfect the house. An area rug we had in the living room was thrown out. A cleaner or disinfectant was used to wipe down furniture in the living room, dining room, and kitchen. The bathroom was also disinfected.
As Milvia was not working she was able to make meals for me and deliver them to the bedroom. She was the only one who visited me. As sick as I was, I couldn't appreciate being catered to enough until I started to feel better. To protect herself when she came into the bedroom, Milvia would take the shirt she was wearing and cover her nose and mouth with it. After spending four hours in a closed car with me, I had hoped that she would not get sick also. Thank God she never did.
Since the five of us, including my five-year-old grandson, Abrian, live in a one-bedroom apartment, Milvia slept on one couch in the living room, Keycha slept on the other one, and Laura and Abrian put several sleeping bags and comforters on the floor to sleep there.
Milvia went out of the house the most to go food shopping in the six weeks I was sick. Laura went out once in a while to visit some friends. From March 1, when I started to feel sick, Keycha and Abrian haven't been out of the house for two months— until May 2. Laura did, however, let Abrain outside to play with some friends today since it's about 70° and not as many people are getting sick as they had been.
Nobody can work, and the schools are closed with only remote learning available. What we have been doing at home is what everybody else has been doing: watching TV or something on Netflix, checking email messages, going on social media, reading, and wanting this whole thing to blow over quickly.
This Virus Is Serious
Besides the symptoms I mentioned earlier, after I was on my back for two weeks, Milvia noticed my face and feet (and maybe the rest of me, I was not inclined to look) were ashen in color. Whatever it meant, I was that sick. I also felt nauseated for over three weeks, causing me to not want to eat or drink for over three weeks. As a result, I lost 15 to 20 pounds.
Being as sick as I was and not knowing what to expect in the future, for a time I did consider my mortality. I am 65 years old after all, and the facts already indicate that people my age are at a much higher risk of dying from coronavirus than those of other ages, even though I had no underlying conditions. I prayed a lot that God would heal me.
In our Church Meetinghouse, there is one congregation that speaks primarily English, with the other primarily Spanish. Since Milvia is from Columbia, when she came to the United States, she went to Services with the Spanish congregation. When we got married, she went to the English congregation with me.
Because she still has connections with a lot of the people in the Spanish congregation, she was told that two elderly gentlemen from their congregation died because of the virus. They had underlying health conditions that aggravated their demise. I was also told a couple in our congregation got the coronavirus and have since recuperated from it.
After I was experiencing no signs of being sick, I spoke with my doctor a third time. I asked him, "Even though I am not sick anymore, could someone catch the virus from me?" He said, "When you were sick your body produced enough antibodies to eliminate the virus in you." He added, "You are not contagious."
This question may arise: Where do I think I caught the virus? My quick answer is the local market. Whatever you think of the restrictions placed upon us, when I went to the local market at the end of February, it was as busy as a mall a month before Christmas. I thought it strange that these restrictions on us would be placed in many parts of our life but not in the food market. Nobody at the time wore surgical gloves or even had masks on.
In hindsight, the only thing I would have done differently would have been to wear gloves and a mask and especially the mask. And this is from someone who had the Coronavirus.
Not everyone who acquires the coronavirus has the same symptoms or the same outcome as the author. Resources relied on for information about the symptoms of the virus should be reputable such as the Center for Disease Control.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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© 2020 Stephen A Bauer