You know the feeling when you find a crisp $20 bill on the ground? How about when you stub your toe on the corner of your bed? COVID was entirely unlike both of these feelings.
My experience with COVID was a deeply unpleasant one, but not entirely due to COVID itself. I want to share specifically how COVID ended up going for me. I'll cover both the time between symptom-onset and me testing negative, as well as how symptoms continued for the rest of that week. I'll likely do a followup post on how it has continued beyond that, and how I'm doing currently.
COVID began for me with a mild sore throat on Monday evening, 3 October 2022.
By the next day, my throat was worse, and I had regular coughing fits, sinus pressure, and a headache. I worked for part of Tuesday but eventually felt bad enough that I bailed on it. My voice dropped and became scratchy. Talking led to coughing, so I tried to avoid it. My coughing was so bad, by Tuesday night, I was not getting any sleep due to coughing all night.
Wednesday, I woke up with the same, but worse, and now I was having body aches. My voice sounded worse, and my throat felt worse to match. I did not work at all on Wednesday, and would not return to work for a week and a half. This is the day I finally took a rapid test, and it came back positive. I scheduled a PCR test for the next day. Wednesday night was more of the same lack of sleep.
Thursday was a worse version of more of the same. I went to CVS to get my PCR test, but their turnaround was 1-2 days once it reached the lab, so it wasn't going to be immediate. I had a chance to meet with my practitioner, and she suggested getting a prescription cough suppressant. I scheduled an appointment with a local urgent care, and was prescribed benzonatate (also known as Tessalon). Thursday evening I experienced a fever of 100.5F. Thursday night, I got more sleep than I had in three days, which still wasn't much.
Friday, I woke up to a still worsening variation on a theme. The coughing was seriously diminished at this point though. I received another PCR test at an urgent care (the reasons for which I will cover in a later post), that came back positive two hours later. My rapid tests were still showing positive, so this wasn't a surprise, but it finally confirmed the obvious. I Friday night came with about the same amount of sleep as the previous night.
One thing worth noting was that I found myself struggling to type on my phone. This would continue for a while. I'm typically pretty quick and accurate with both swipe-typing and typing. Basically, I would try to swipe something out, and it wouldn't even be close. All the words offered to me were so far off, it was useless. Typing words out was a massive struggle. This all meant trying to talk to folks when I wasn't feeling well enough to sit at my desk was extremely difficult. I was also incredibly concerned that this issue might also apply to an actual computer keyboard. I had no reasonable way to test this yet, so the concern lingered for a while as well.
Saturday, I woke up feeling about the same. The cough was now intermittent. My throat was still pretty rough, but controlling the coughing was allowing my voice to get closer to normal. I still sounded like I had a swollen throat, but it wasn't scratchy and cough-inducing. I spent the day dealing with some nonsense to obtain treatment. I began treatment Saturday evening. Mostly the day was much like Friday. That night I experienced a fever of 100.3F.
Due to the treatment I received, I would spend the next 3-4 days in bed. This wasn't a COVID-specific thing, it was absolutely as a result of the treatment. I should not have accepted Paxlovid due to serious interactions with medications I was currently taking. I was led to believe that I could mitigate these interactions by altering the dosages of my exising medications, but this was not the case. I couldn't stand at all. I could only sit up for less than a minute at a time without experiencing serious nausea and dizziness. I couldn't eat. I ended up being repeatedly sick during the night, three nights in a row, to the point where I probably should have gone to the emergency room. I lost 10lbs in a few days. It took over a week to fully recover to where I wasn't feeling nausea and dizziness when standing or moving around. The main takeaway from this is do your own research and trust your own practitioner's suggestions over those of others, including the folks from the urgent care.
Sunday, I still had the same symptoms, at about the same levels. At this point, I was spending the day in bed. Sunday evening, I experienced a fever of 100.8F. Sunday night I struggled to sleep.
Monday was basically the same, including spending the entire day in bed. I spent nearly all of Monday night awake. The lack of sleep was making the rest of the situation worse.
Tuesday, my COVID symptoms were starting to slowly progress towards the better. Everything was still there, but it was obviously improved by a small bit over the previous days. I was still stuck in bed.
Wednesday, I felt about the same. Still exhausted, still swollen throat, still stuck in bed. On a positive note, I finally tested negative. This was almost certainly due to the treatment I received; the rest of the household tested positive for at least 4-5 more days. Wednesday night I got more sleep than I had since Saturday night, but still could have used more.
Thursday morning I experienced a fever of 100.2F. Symptoms were about the same. However, I was finding myself able to sit up for short periods of time, but still needing a lie-down between. Thursday night, I was also able to sleep better than Wednesday night. These were both serious improvements.
Friday, I was able to be up and around enough that I made pancakes for all of us. I was still pretty exhausted, my throat was still off, had a headache, and still had sinus pressure. That said, I spent most of the day at my computer talking to folks for the first time in a week or so. I was finally able to verify that my phone typing issues did not apply to an actual keyboard, which was an unbelievably immense relief. My job requires me to spend most of my day at a computer keyboard, and I had no idea what I would do if that was affected. It was nice to finally be able to connect with folks I hadn't talked to at all, as well as being able to talk more with the folks I tried to type to on my phone throughout the situation. I had also decided I was going to share my experiences with COVID on my blog, and managed to put out a post explaining why I hadn't been sharing it from the beginning, and what it took to make me decide to share it. Friday night was a similar amount of sleep, which compared to earlier in the week, was excellent.
This is when I started to identify some other symptoms that were affecting me. I was absolutely experiencing brain fog. Specifically, I was struggling to multitask and with memory. Further, my comprehension was diminished. I was able to multitask relatively complicated things with ease for the most part previously, however, now I was finding it near impossible. I had to force myself to focus on one task at a time, even things as simple as typing out a sentence, and then replying to something someone said. Remembering anything for longer than a few minutes, if that, was also a struggle. There are at least a few possibly good ideas lost to the ether that I didn't get written down or talk to someone about. The comprehension issue expressed itself in multiple ways, including reading and discussions. Whereas I am 98% of the time able to keep up with my best friend who often goes on tangents or vaguely ties two things together, I found I consistently had to ask him to stop and repeat what he said more slowly and with more detail, because I was unable to tie together the things he was discussing. We've been friends since we were 12, and basically speak our own language, and I could no longer keep up. This was all incredibly alarming to me. Except in situations of high stress and lack of sleep (which are both typically acute), I have never had issues with these concepts. Until now. Facing a change in mental capacity this blatant has been draining both emotionally and physically. I have been walking a fine line with working towards accepting that this could be long term, and not thinking about it too hard because I cry if I do.
Saturday was again spent at my computer. Symptoms were about the same, perhaps a smidgen better. I continued connecting with folks. I put out another blog post, which was tangentially related, but not specific to my COVID experience. I was also able to have a video chat with a friend that I hadn't talked to for a while, and while it was tiring, I was able to keep up with it well enough.
Sunday I felt the tiniest bit better, symptom-wise. I, again, spent the day at my computer, chatting and getting out another blog post. I also emailed my bosses to let them know I would be returning to work on Monday, albeit at a limited capacity. I tried to get to bed early, what with the return to work.
Monday I returned to work, and have been doing my best since that point to keep up with my tasks. It has been a struggle, but my boss has been pretty amazingly understanding about the whole situation. On my first day back, without any other information from me other than the email I had sent the previous weekend, she explicitly said, "Let's focus on one thing at a time. Once this is done, we can pick and choose from your list to find the least stressful thing for you to do." I have no idea how long this understanding will last. I can understand if it eventually wears thin. Regardless, for now, I greatly appreciate it.
The purpose of this post is to detail my physical experience with COVID. I needed to make a decision regarding the timeframe this post would include, and I opted for symptom onset through my return to work. Some of my COVID symptoms have continued. I may discuss how things are going currently in a later post.