It’s been a few days since my last update about my family’s journey through COVID-19, and I planned to write something yesterday but didn’t feel up to it.
It’s been a pattern since Tuesday. I wake up after a night of fitful sleep feeling more or less normal and wondering, Is today the day I get my normal life back?
I get cleaned up and even get a few things done; small things, like picking up used tissue off the floor or bringing down last night’s dinner dishes to the kitchen to be washed by the boys, or sweeping rainwater puddles off the front porch.
Then I get tired and camp out on the small couch at the foot of our bed.
As the day wears on, my temperature creeps up … 98.3 at noon (97.3 is normal for me), 99 at 1, 99.5 at 2, 100 by 3, and I take Tylenol, Claritin, and a couple of puffs of the albuterol inhaler prescribed to me. I don’t want to see how high my fever can get.
Fatigue sets in and I can’t concentrate. I start binge-watching movies on my iPad (World War II has been occupying my mind a lot lately; my 94-year-old father is in failing health in Oregon and watching shows about World War II connects me to him–“Band of Brothers,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “The Pacific,” “Greyhound,” and so on).
By 6 my fever stabilizes but doesn’t start going down for several hours, until I decide that Today is Not the Day and dig in for another night. I check my temperature throughout the night and watch it creep back down, never going back to the pre-COVID-normal.
Today is Day 10 since I got tested. If I had been better yesterday I would have been allowed to come out of isolation, but you also have to be symptom-free for 24 hours, so Today is Not the Day, either.
The part that worries me now is what I call the COVID-19 Crossroad. At this point, you start getting better, or it escalates to other things, like pneumonia.
I had pneumonia when I was 19 while at Marine Boot Camp, 41 years ago. I remember what it was like.
The COVID-19 cough was terrible the first week but hasn’t been so bad since then … until yesterday. Yesterday afternoon, the cough took on some of the characteristics of what I had in boot camp.
Sarah is having an even rougher time. She has a steroid inhaler and her cough has been more pernicious than mine and her fever more pronounced.
As a precaution, we dusted off our medical power of attorney paperwork.
I’ve been tracking Craven County’s COVID-19 deaths. There are now 40, and almost half of those poor souls lingered for two weeks or more from the day that they were tested.
Five made it three weeks.
I think a lot about what they went through during their last days and how hard it was for them and their families. They got sicker and sicker and never got better.
Friends have been helping out with dinners almost every day (with leftovers more than filling the gaps). Friends and family are extremely important at times like these, which cannot be overstated.
It’s 2:49 a.m. right now. I woke up a half-hour ago. I can take a deep breath without coughing, I didn’t feel feverish, so I didn’t take my temperature.
I had an email to send out that could only be done from my computer, and since I was here already, I wrote you this update.
I can feel COVID-19 working its way through my body, looking for any weaknesses it can exploit and for people it can spread to. It doesn’t want to kill its hosts but sometimes just does.
This is not a cold, this is not a flu, and for the first time in my life I am sick enough to wonder how far this will go.
Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Keep your social distance. It’s not that hard.