Disclaimer: First, I am by no means a trained medical professional. Anyone who has ever dealt with me in society know that I should never be trusted with someone else’s life in my own hands. Second, the following information is not an official confirmation of COVID-19.
December 19th, 2019 — I found myself in one of my least desirable locations on this planet; the cardiologist office. Why? It was time for my checkup from the high blood pressure, medication, etc…blah, blah, blah…
Once I finally got settled into the appointment, I’ll be the first to confess that I felt worse than usual while sitting on the frozen bed. I was sweating…a lot. My body ached all over, but I didn’t have runny nose, a deep cough, or any other symptoms of some standard, winter sickness. I just felt…off. My blood pressure was running high (155/98) and that was including the fact that I was on two different forms of medication for regulation. My cardiologist started talking to me about changing medication, beta blockers, not being able to run, worrying about my overall health, and the list goes on and on and on. It was enough to put me into one of my full blown panics, but to be honest; I didn’t have the energy to be that overly concerned. I accepted what he said, ensured that I’d check back in three months, and quietly drove myself home.
The next morning I woke up exhausted and a pressure on my chest. As in it was just hard to breathe. I went to school that day, because we all know teachers go to work when they’re sick, and ensured myself that I’d make it through the half day prior to winter break. After all I do have a streak of getting some sort of illness only during breaks. I had the nurse take my temperature, and the thermometer was reading all sorts of weird languages. Languages that indicated a low temperature…like really low, like running at 94 degrees kind of low.
I went home for the two week break.
I had no idea what was coming…
December 24th, 2019 — Christmas Eve. I could not stop coughing. It never stopped, and there was never relief. Remember when you had one of those season colds that resulted in deep coughs with all sorts of questionable things being coughed up into the sink? This wasn’t it. Since I had been home from school I had already ingested an entire bag of Halls cough drops just trying to sleep and not cough.
We had to buy another bag (I now have a loving relationship with our neighborhood Dollar General).
Trying to talk to my wife, catching my breath, without coughing all over again I dared to do something that I had never done before.
I, your author, as an adult, decided to go to a clinic. When the doctor saw me, the gave me a test for the flu, started me on some steroids, and a prescription for a cough suppressant. They were a little perplexed at the situation. I was running a low grade fever, the coughing wouldn’t stop, but at the same time the flu test came back negative. I was diagnosed with a “respiratory infection”. I came home and rested for what felt like eternity (3 days). I laid in bed, I didn’t move. If I moved I started to cough, if I started to cough I became extremely light headed, and then it felt like I was about to pass out. This was a level of misery that I hadn’t experienced but only a few times in my life.
My toes and fingers began to lose feeling and just tingle. They never warmed up. My wife and I recorded a record number of six blankets covering me in bed, just trying to stop the shaking.
The shaking wouldn’t stop.
The coughing wouldn’t stop.
The lack of sleep wouldn’t stop.
Eventually, mainly out of panic and sleep deprivation, I began to wonder, “Am I dying?”
December 29th, 2019 — I’m dumb. I know I’m dumb, but I had an appointment scheduled for weeks, and I couldn’t pass it up. While sucking on cough drops and trying not to talk; I had a tattoo completed on my forearm. I had driven three hours one way to get it, a standard day trip in my head. After completion I started the journey back home. Halfway home I started to cough…and cough…and cough…and cough. It became so severe that I pulled over to the side of the road just to catch my breath. Locating the nearest Dollar General I pulled in for another bag of cough drops (this would be bag number 3…value size) and a case of some sort of sparkling water; hoping it would ease the coughing some.
I don’t remember getting home that night. Obviously I did so, but to this day I have no memory of traveling the rest of the way home. Though I did begin to acquire a taste for sparkling water at this point.
December 30th, 2019 — I was getting better, right? I mean, I had to of been. I don’t get sick very often and when I do it’s only for a few days at max. This would be day 11 and I was convinced I was just being lazy at this point. I did what any other unstable person would do.
I tried running.
In the bitter cold I layered up my pants and tops, and headed out of neighborhood for a four mile walk/jog. I had to start somewhere, right? At the end of the second mile something snapped in me that caused “stupidity overdrive”; I decided to start doing pushups and planks on the cold asphalt of the paved trail.
Once I stood up something absolutely terrifying happened.
I couldn’t breathe.
I mean, I couldn’t catch my breath, there was no oxygen in my system. My lungs were burning, I thought I was choking, and I could not get any air into my body.
Was this death?
I sat down and some air started to leach its way into my respiratory system. A few minutes passed and I tried walking again.
I made it a quarter of a mile and had to sit down again.
I couldn’t breathe.
A mile away from my house, in the windy, wintery cold weather of the time, I called my wife to pick me up from the trail because I could not make it home. I did not have the strength to move or the lung capacity to breathe.
To this day that is still one of the scariest moments of my life; imagine drowning with air all around you.
December 31st, 2019 — I was supposed to have my car detailed this day. Again, I schedule things well in advance. This is especially true when we were heading out to Colorado over the next weekend.
I woke up soaking wet.
I stumbled into the bathroom and grabbed the thermometer. I know my body, we’ve been stuck together for 32 years, and there was every alarm and red flag going off in my head. Something was seriously wrong.
The thermometer beeped.
Panic. Sheer panic.
I woke my wife up; telling her that we need to go to the clinic again. I never have a fever, and when I do it rarely hits 100 degrees (thinking back, I was in high school the last time it hit 100). 103? That was new and dangerous territory for me.
After dropping the car off with the shop we arrived back at the clinic. The doctor explained that they had began to see a few more people like myself, though they tended to be older with symptoms. They loaded me up with another steroid, suppressant, and nose spray. They explained that it looked like I was on the tail end of this “virus”, but needed some extra support to get rid of it. In case anyone was curious, pneumonia had been ruled out the first time I visited the office.
I went to my parents house that night for New Years Eve.
We watched a movie.
It was a good one, but all I could taste of cough drops. I couldn’t even taste my Pepsi, which made me think of when my mom was upset that Pepsi tasted like dirt when she was going through chemotherapy treatments.
That night I ditched the cough suppressant and popped two NyQuil tablets (recall: I’m limited on some medication due to the interaction with blood pressure medication), and…I fell asleep.
I fell asleep to my wife beginning to cough…a lot.
January 3rd, 2020 — My wife and I made it to Colorado Springs. I had originally thought about running Barr Trail at the base of Pike’s Peak, but lack of breathing prevented me from even putting my trail shoes on. I was feeling physically better, but my body was trying to recover from whatever rampaged through it over the past several weeks.
I could breathe again, but too much activity completely wiped me out to the bed or couch. My wife was now on medication as well for the same mystery illness that I was working through.
We stopped a tea shop, just to find something hot that would ease the consistent coughing (still).
I fell asleep at the movie theater.
I fell asleep at church.
I slept for hours heading home that Sunday.
I could not sleep enough.
I could not drink enough water.
I could not breathe enough.
January 13th, 2020 — We were back in school for an entire week. However, some students who never miss class were gone, and they were gone for entire weeks at a time.
I still could not run, could not lift, and even yoga was challenging. I learned that several people I run with had also been benched with very similar symptoms.
February 7th, 2020 — On the day-to-day activities I was feeling close to normal. However, the rigorous activity side of life? 8 weeks after the beginning of all of this mess I still would wind up breathless tying to move too quickly. Thankfully my coach, watching several of their athletes drop like flies, kept me calm and patient. This allowed my body to recover.
Would it fully recover though?
My therapist had been out sick for a few weeks because of the exact same illness. Students continued to drop in both the middle school and high school where I had spent the most time.
It would be another three weeks before my running mileage would back to normal.
Total time of sickness and recovery: 12 weeks.
When all of this was taking place COVID was still a buzzword in China, and I had no concept of what being sick was really like.
In the present day I’ll state this very clearly: This was, hands down, the sickest I had ever been in my life. The cough, the fever, the chills, and the loss of feeling in the extremities. These factored in with some severe breathing issues (and I’m not asthmatic) created a very dangerous scenario.
I was oblivious to how dangerous this had actually been.
There was no testing done for COVID at the time because the test did not exist. That’s why I try to make it very clear that there is no indication that my sickness was directly connected with COVID-19.
With that said, obviously my wife and I have questions pertaining to what we went through compared to what is taking place in the modern day. This story journal was created as a testament of what happens when ordinary, healthy people become this significantly ill.
If COVID is anything similar to what I had, and the amount of time it took to recover, there is plenty of reasons to be mindful of the world around you.
July 13th, 2020 — When I lay down at night to sleep; there is still a slight wheezing to my breathing.
7 months later…