My COVID Story

JJ_Tex

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Jul 17, 2019
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This has absolutely nothing to do with pools, but I am writing this to share our COVID experience over the last 2 weeks in case it may help others. I realize that this is a very small sample size of the entire COVID population, but is our real firsthand experience with COVID.

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Since this turned out to be a lengthy post (and I hate reading lengthy posts), here is my speed read summary of the points I tried to make in my ramblings below:

- COVID symptoms do not have to be the alarming symptoms you see in the news. They can be as simple as a slight sniffle. Don't assume you do not have COVID just because you do not have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste, etc.

- Get tested and take extra precautions every time you have the slightest symptoms, even if you think it may just be allergies. The testing is easy to do and easy to find.

- Rapid COVID tests are not accurate and can have false negatives. Get the 2 day test to be sure.

- Vitamin C, D3, and Zinc are important for your immune system and recommended if you think you may have been exposed.

- Nobody has all of the answers and you have to make the best decisions you see fit for your family's safety, their sanity, the health of others around you, and the health of the economy. My philosophy before COVID and after having COVID is to be smart but some reasonable risks to live a semi-normal life are okay. Your opinion may differ from mine, and that is okay too.

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Before we got COVID we cancelled much of our activities for 2020 like everyone, but we would take what I would consider "reasonable risks", while making sure we followed the safety protocols in place including masks and distancing. Our kids attended in person school, we allowed them to partake in their extracurricular activities including basketball and band, my wife would still go to her yoga class, and we would occasionally go out to eat. Each one of those activities elevated our risk of exposure, but was a carefully calculated risk and helped keep our sanity over the last 12 months.

A few days before Christmas, my wife developed a runny nose. It was simply a runny nose, no chills, cough, fever, and really no different than the regular runny nose she gets from seasonal allergies. Wanting to be super cautious, she made an appointment with her doctor and they tested her like they had several other times through the year when she or the kids got any sort of sniffle, ear infection, etc. Great news, no COVID and they gave her some antibiotics since she has a history of sinus infections. Now we could focus on Christmas and not worry about COVID or sinus infections.

My mom came in town on the 24th and we did our normal Christmas traditions, modified for 2020. Candlelight church service on the 24th was at a large outside sporting arena to allow social distancing. Heck the church even used glow sticks instead of candles so everyone could maintain their social distancing as we "lit our candles". After church we had reservations at a nice seafood restaurant, which followed the safety protocols of limited capacity seating and you have to wear a mask when not at your table. It was nice to have a somewhat normal Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day came and we opened presents that morning. My wife still had a runny nose and a slight cough from the draining. It wasn't horrible, but we did jokingly make the comment that we were glad she was negative on her COVID test. After we cleaned up the mess from opening presents, my wife checked her email and I heard an audible gasp from the living room. She had an email saying that her COVID test came back positive.

Not knowing what to do, she called the doctor's office and got their holiday answering service. Impressively, the doctor called back a few minutes later. She explained that the rapid tests were not very accurate and can give false negatives especially if you just stated having symptoms. For those reasons, she also sends the swab off to the lab for the more accurate 2 day test done in a lab. The email was generated from the more accurate lab test.

That Christmas morning news was on par with receiving a jelly of the month gift instead of a cash bonus (Christmas Vacation reference). The questions raced through our minds. How does this happen? How many people did we unknowingly expose, including my 74 year old mother? Do we all have it? What do we need to be doing now?

Below is what the doctor had us do, and it may be helpful to others in a similar situation or even just getting you through the winter:
  1. Hydrate - Always have a glass of water near you and drink it and refill it all through the day. That is a good rule of thumb in general, but we have all been super thirsty even upping the water by about 2x what we normally drink
  2. Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, and Zinc are very important and being low in any of those can increase your risk of COVID complications. Some studies also show elderberries to help lessen complications. There are many options out there, just make sure you are getting at least 100% of your daily value of each of those. We used an immunity vitamin with Vitamin C, zinc and elderberry and then a separate vitamin D3 supplement to get to our 100%.
  3. Daily baby asprin - She said this can help thin mucus and also help with blood clotting if you end up needing be in bed or hospitalized later on.
  4. Move around - Dont just curl up in bed or on the couch. Get up, be productive, take walks if you safely can, etc.
  5. Get a Pulse Oximeter - This is the little clip that goes on the end of your finger and measures your oxygen %. We picked up one from CVS for around $50. The doctor said normal readings are 96-100% and if you drop below 92% you need to seek further medical attention.
  6. There are other drugs, including Regeneron and plasma treatments that are very effective but reserved for those that need it the most. Stay in contact with your doctor so that you can quickly be put on those additional medicines if you need them and early on when they are the most effective. Luckily we did not need them, but I felt they were a phone call away if we did need them.

Back to Christmas Day, we were at a loss of what to do. My mom said that the damage was likely done and we might as well have our planned Christmas dinner and she would just hit the road afterwards. That night, the kids and I developed a runny nose. It felt very much like allergies to me.

On the 27th, I scheduled tests for the kids and I. We did the rapid tests. I came back positive and both kids negative. This rapid test is frustratingly inaccurate and may give you false hope if you try and be proactive and test at the onset of symptoms. The published false negative rate is 20% for the test, but 3 of the 4 of us received a false negative with the tests. Please do not trust the negative results with this one, and this is why many employers/schools will not take the rapid tests as proof to return back to work.

24 hours after receiving her negative test, we took my daughter to her regular pediatrician where she tested positive. We all had the same mild symptoms, basically a runny nose, and out of 6 total tests we had 3 positive and 3 negative. At this point, we just assumed my son was positive and stopped messing with the stupid inaccurate testing.

Over the next couple of days, our symptoms remained mild and would come in waves. Mainly we would have headaches that come and go, especially if we didnt drink a ton of water and have sinus congestion. Nobody ever had a fever, and only my wife had a cough. My wife and I did lose our sense of taste and smell, but that was the last symptom to arise at 4+ days after testing positive and well after the point of being contagious. We did find comfort in using the spa and found that the steam from the spa helped with the sinus congestion/pressure that I used it almost daily. Oddly enough, my mom never developed symptoms, tested negative and is almost done with her 14-day quarantine.

As we are symptom free and coming off of our quarantine period, I'm trying to reflect over the last 14 days and really the full year of COVID craziness.

Am I thankful that we only had mild symptoms? Absolutely. Most people will have mild symptoms, but it is not something to mess around with if your symptoms get worse.

What would I have done differently? Obviously if I could pinpoint the day my wife picked it up, she would not have gone to yoga that day or the store. Looking at the full year though, I felt like we did what made sense for our family. We cancelled some things, we changed our behaviors, but we also lived our lives especially with the kids. Its not like they can pause life and come back and join the marching band or basketball teams when they are finished with school. They are only this age once and we wanted them to be able to experience things with appropriate precautions of course.

What do I think about masks and attending in-person school? Masks work, period. Sure they can be uncomfortable, but suck it up and wear one. They arent one size fits all, but literally everyone sells them now. Buy a couple different types and sizes to see what works best for you. My kids are in school surrounded by hundreds or thousands of kids a day, each of them have a mask on. There have been COVID positive kids in their schools, but the kids are wearing their masks and not spreading it in school to each other. If the masks did not work, it would spread through the schools like wildfire. Instead, the entire student body population of 16,000 kids had just handfuls of cases at any given time at each campus. I expect that to jump up a bit over Christmas break, but that will be driven by family exposure, not in-school exposure.

What do I feel about how the US/world reacted? First of all, I'm impressed by what you are seeing from first responders, scientists, pharmaceutical companies, and 90% of the population. Progress can be slow and frustrating at times, but if you look at the intentions of everyone, everyone is working really hard towards the same goal to end this pandemic. Mistakes have been made, and will continue to be made, but that has to be expected.

With all of the good that you are seeing now, I do really worry about the long term impact to our economy and the precedence we are setting with our response in 2020. COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic, and I want to make sure that our response to the next one is appropriate for the actual pandemic at hand. Pandemics happen every few years and I want to make sure we do not automatically go into a panic lockdown for the next bird flu, swine flu, MIRS, SARS, Ebola, COVID, etc. The media and pharmaceutical companies are making a lot of $ off of this reaction, and I hope that they will do the right thing in the future and not have an over-hyped response to make a buck. Time will tell.

Thanks for reading and thanks for letting me get my quarantine thoughts down on paper. Hopefully nothing I said was too controversial or offensive, and that someone reading will be better prepared for their own COVID story.
 
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Turbo1Ton

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Thanks for sharing your experience JJ. I was just thinking about this the other day. My wife has been tested 3 times so far this year, all have come back negative. However, I had a friend at work who tested positive, and the only reason he went to get tested, was that he was around someone else who tested positive. His only symptom was a slight runny nose. For a day. His cat allergies are worse. After he told me that, I have thought about how many runny noses and headaches I have had over the last several months, and if any of that was COVID. They were all explainable symptoms, in my mind... Headache...dehydrated, which happens this time of year since I'm not sweating buckets all day. Runny nose, I've been out in the cold working for an hour. However, from what I understand now, any one of those times could have been COVID.

Glad you and your family are doing well, and have recovered.

--Jeff
 
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mgtfp

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Thanks for that detailed report of your Covid experience, JJ. And I'm glad to hear that you all got through it without major complications.
 
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setsailsoon

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JJ,

Thanks much for sharing this information. So glad your family is OK. One of our kids is a high school math teacher. His family (incl 3 kids) went through similar course to you except the adults had much more serious flu-like symptoms. Very miserable for about 3 days with high fever, joint pain, and terrific headaches. Their tests were all reliable with rapid test positive and confirmed with 2-day. They also were instructed and followed vitamin and zinc supplements. Don't recall them saying anything about water and only one of them lost taste. Fortunately, they all recovered within 10 days and tested negative at that time. We have 3 other grown boys with families and they have all avoided the virus with reasonable social distancing and masks so far. All but one of the others live in Dallas area. The other moved from Chicago to Dallas during the year and we were especially concerned about them with all the strangers they came in contact with.

We're close to your Mom's age so we stayed home for TG and Christmas - did it all virtually. Not the same but I guess the right decision. We aren't letting this completely stop activity and we do get out couple times per week to restaurants/grocery that distance and we clean table and shakers with our own alcohol towels. Everything from grocery or deliveries get a full spray down of alcohol. Also we us N95 masks any time we can. So far, so good.

Thanks for sharing about the vitamins, water, and elderberries. I'll check our vitamin regime to see how much we're getting and keep drinking lots of water. We both keep a water bottle all the time since our sailing days.

Again, thanks for sharing and so glad to hear you all got through this OK!

Chris
 
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Mdragger88

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Jun 1, 2018
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@JJ_Tex glad y’all are past this & came out ok! Hopefully this means y’all have some immunity now & I’m sure that takes a little underlying fear out of things a bit. We do in person school as well mainly because my daughter does sports (that she tried out for & paid for before covid hit) so those would have been forfeited if she did virtual. We got a taste of the quarantine/ virtual life when she was exposed @ school but thankfully it was just an inconvenience & no illness to go along with it. I canceled all my cleaning clients as they are all older people & my kids school was canceled for the year after spring break. The uncertainty going into this school year made it hard to schedule things knowing any day I might have a kid out for 2 weeks. As we have had a lot of quarantines/cases in my kid’s schools. My husband goes to work everyday @ various locations including the Fedex World Hub. He just has to take his precautions to moderate his risk & carry on as he brings home the bacon. He has a physical job & had issues when it was 100 degrees & he was working outside so he couldn’t keep his mask on 100%. He has to eat lunch in his work truck w/ his apprentices (since in person dining is closed) or in 100 degree boiler rooms so i just keep him stocked with wipes/ disinfectant etc.
We have a core group that includes another family that we have interacted with this entire time. I take their kids to/from school. So we really haven’t changed alot since they are the people we stuck around with before all this. As antibody testing availability increases we may get tested. Like most everyone in the midsouth we have all had allergy symptoms once or twice. Pre covid I always only shopped/picked up every 2 weeks. Post Covid that became impossible for some time. I had to go in often as grocery pickup was unattainable. We have never been the kind of family that does alot of activities around large groups, shop just for fun, or go out to restaurants alot (aside from my husband’s lunch as it was his reprieve from a hot nasty place for 30 minutes every day).
We hunt, fish, boat, & swim/cookout @ our own house. When we vacation once every year or so we stay at a rented house & grocery shop once & cook there. Which we did in June at the beach with the other family that we see every day. We didn’t sight see/ never really do - the beach infront of our house was our sights. Like most we had it booked well before COVID & was at the mercy of the local restrictions being lifted so our trip wasn’t canceled. I agree that this is something we have to learn how to live with as it’s not really going away & if it does the next one is around the corner. Calculated risks & basic precautions i guess u could say. What a whirlwind of a year!
 
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HermanTX

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Vitamin C, D3, and Zinc are important for your immune system and recommended if you think you may have been exposed.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and events. So much better to hear real life events then just the numbers from the news media.
Back in March 2020, my doctor sent out a note stating the need for Vit. D, C and Zinc to build up immune system. I also heard just before Christmas on the news, a doctor discussing the benefits of Vig. D, C and Zinc and not as a medication to COVID but also to build your immune system. There are limits on each that one should take so best to discuss with your doctor. Also, it is was stated that it is better to take the Vitamins individually rather than in 1 multi-vitamin but that was one doctors opinion.

Good Luck and Happy New Year.
 

JJ_Tex

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Thanks all. For those of you that have tested positive, did you look into donating convalescent plasma after you recovered?

Looks like you need to be symptom free for 14 days before you are eligible, so I have a ways to go.
 

setsailsoon

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Good point JJ. I was in London and eastern Europe then came back to the US through Frankfurt 10 days before they closed all travel. That airport is always packed. Very close quarters and I was pretty sure I must have at least come in contact. Never got sick but thought I might be one of those that didn't have symptoms so I got an antibody test about 3 weeks later. I tested negative but I would definitely have donated plasma if I could have. I was told at the antibody testing center everybody that donates can save 3 lives.
 

riley00dog

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Nov 14, 2017
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Thanks for sharing. I’m glad you are all alright and had mild cases. Even better that your mil didn’t contract it. We are in Australia and thankfully have done very well so far. We have restrictions in place and masks when needed. My neighbour caught covid in March on a trip to Europe and was one of the first in our area to have it. He had to isolate at home and none of his family caught it. Early 50s and previously very fit. He’s only just starting to look like his old self and still doesn’t get around like he use to.
 

JJ_Tex

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Jul 17, 2019
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Prosper, TX (DFW)
Today, I donated convalescent plasma. It was very easy to do, and took about an hour to do. It can help up to 4 people fighting COVID, and they will give you antibody test results that. I’m guessing at some point we will need to prove that we have been immunized or have the antibodies as they start lifting restrictions.

Anyway, it’s easy to do, can help 4 people, and may help you prove you have the antibodies. For those that have had COVID, please consider donating.
 

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