Al’s Corner – December 2020

Merry Christmas everyone, time for another Al’s Corner note for December 2020.  2020, wow what a year it has been. As I write this, the Ladies Day Luncheon, one of my favorite events, is still on for December 11th, at the MAC this time.  Mask, Social Distancing will be required. Anyway, I pray and wish all of you out there have a great Christmas and much better New Year 2021.

This month’s timely topic—-Kathy and I got the virus and my thoughts, and observations with having it.  To me, little has been shared with the world, at least from what I could find, on what a person should do if they get it besides getting a test.  So, this is my experience throughout the whole experience.  I think I got it on or around Oct. 29th, with very mild, almost unnoticeable symptoms starting on Nov. 1st. I was not sure I had it until Nov. 5th. It was totally confirmed a few days later with a test that Kathy and I took. It was not easy to get a test either, took 2 days for the rapid.

So, how did I get it?  Like many people do, I let my guard down, briefly, probably 30 minutes worth in close contact, without masks. I messed up! But I really will never know 100% how I got it. Throughout the year I was wearing my masks all the time, carried hand sanitizers, and did not spend much time around others, 95% of the time outdoors at safe distances. I did have a few times that people came up and wanted to hug me, close friends, most of time I avoided it, but not every time. The few times we ate out the entire year was at restaurants that really practiced social distancing, masks, took our temperature and had the tables 10 feet apart. Mainly, outside when possible. And I still believe Masks will protect you from getting it, mostly.

Kathy had very mild symptoms. Kathy lost her sense of smell 7 days into our infection for a few days (got back in 2 days), I lost taste and smell at the same time which I had for 5 days. Neither of us ever had a fever. I developed a heavy cough for about a week once it took hold. I had an upset stomach and nausea daily for 14 days. Towards the end of the last 7 days, I was very tired and struggled to breath. The breathing part was due to me uncontrollably coughing, and gagging. I thought that the top of my throat was swollen, making breathing labored. I was nervous and unsure how bad I was or going to get. Was I worse than I thought I was? Was it in my lungs, I did not think it was?  Should I go to the hospital?  For sure, I was on the edge of going or not. I called my doctor’s office twice, and discussed my symptoms, they said they thought I was doing ok while listening to my breathing. Kathy, being the great wife she is, would hug me to try and calm me down, when breathing was tough.  Loved those cuddle hugs, and kisses!

The biggest help for me was when I started taking Tylenol 500 ml every 4 hours.  I never had understood why it was suggested I would take it for pain, I was not in pain I thought (one of the few things that I read worked). But what it did was make my throat better, maybe reduced the swelling, and the cough slowed. I did take Dayquil, Nyquil, and cough syrup, a few Alka Seltzer’s and Pepto Bismol daily for the upset stomach stuff, all helped some. I had tried everything to stop coughing from sleeping in an elevated bed, cough syrup, cough drops, vitamins C, D, and Zinc. Not sure if they helped or not? What was weird about this was I would cough for 5 hours, then nothing for a few. It appears the Tylenol worked though.

Again, the reason I wrote about this was I came to a big conclusion that little has been written about how someone could or should treat their symptoms. I could not find much except drink lots of water, rest, and pain killers. Towards the end I bought a Pulse Oximeter to check my oxygen levels. How do you know if you are breathing ok, without going to the hospital? As it turned out, after switching hands, my pulse was 80, and oxygen was 97. Both are good. With all of what I have said, I am not a doctor. But it did make me feel less nervous.

Throughout, even though some days were hard as I was tired, I continued my at least 10,000 step per day streak going. It weighed on me, should I do it, or not? I was tired, very tired so it was tough. Ultimately, I walked, SLOWLY, around my house several days 170 steps per circle to reach it. Simbee “Big Bite” Hursey, the cat, was really confused by me doing that for an hour here or there for several days as I was interrupting his naps. Kathy understood and supported me continuing. Now, I am at 226 days in a row, and as much as it sucked, I am glad I did it. The nurses I spoke with said it was a game changer that I had been walking so much since April, though I have walking a ton for years. The hope was my lungs would be strong and help me beat this thing. The nurse who gave me the test felt I was at the last part of the virus, when I got the test. I was not, it got way worse as I was in the beginning of it. But I had decided that I was going to keep moving as much as I could from the first moment I had heard about this virus in February. I had read that some Pulmonary doctors were saying, keep moving, take steamy showers, breath deep, do not lay down to die, and such. So, I had a plan, which I would say, worked some I guess, but how much, I do not think I will ever really know that either.  

The good news is that we have vaccines coming, starting in the next few days. I feel good about them.  I have read about how they work and am comfortable. If you are not sure, research them. Billions of dollars were given to companies to produce these life savers. Never has this happened, so that is why it was done with so much speed, faster than normal vaccines. I had a lady who chain smokes say, “I would never put that stuff in my body!”  I said have you ever read what is in a cigarette? Please take them as fast as you can so we can move away from this nightmare!  Until you can get one, please do not let your guard down, like I did and wear your masks. I gave it to 4 others including my wife.  It could have turned out way worse, all have recovered. People say everyone will get the virus; I do not think that has to happen.  I went 8 months without getting it so it can be done. Make no mistake, this was one of the worst illnesses I have ever had. It was not like the flu! The scariest part is not knowing how bad I might get. Would I be in the 2% that die from it? I have pre-existing medical issues, not big issues, but I do, and I am older and a large person.  This virus is weird as it seems to kind of come and go, seems to get weaker, then stronger all in the same day.  I also think that there is some confusion on the term “Asymptomatic,” and what that means.  I thought it was mostly taking about younger people having the virus, not ever showing any symptoms, yet having the ability to give it.  But another little talked about part of this is ANYONE having the virus, like me, and showing little symptoms, yet sheading the virus to others.  Just saying, like a nightmare.

I know Christmas will be not as great this year as we all would like it to be.  Try to enjoy it as much as you can.  You are one of the survivors of it!  Thankfully, hope is coming in several promising new vaccines.  Treatment is way better too with Steroids, Oxygen, and a few other treatments that are working well.

As for me and Kathy, she is pretty much normal, and I still get a headache some days, but doing way better.  Hope this was helpful, and do not let it beat you, fight back if you get it!   AL

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