Do yourself a favor … take every single precaution that has been recommended regarding COVID-19 safety. Every.single.precaution.
I was diagnosed with COVID-19 and pneumonia last Friday evening, a lovely twofer that has given the word “illness” a brand new definition in my vocabulary.
Last Sunday, I woke up feeling fine, totally normal. Seemingly out of nowhere in the afternoon though, that all changed. Before I knew it I had a fever and chills and was ready for bed by 6 p.m. The first thing that came to mind was the coronavirus, but I wasn’t too concerned by it, figured I’d try sleeping it off and see how I felt Monday.
Monday was the same, if not worse.
Tuesday rolled around. I woke up feeling pretty good. I was taking ibuprofen and Tylenol to decrease the fever, got plenty of rest, so I hopped in my car to make my commute down to Warwick to put together last week’s Cranston Herald.
As soon as I pulled out of my driveway, I began to have anxiety. Was what I had COVID-19? Could I actually be feeling this well? What if I have it and infect my coworkers? I can’t take that risk. But what if I’m actually OK? These were the thoughts going through my mind.
As I crossed into Rhode Island, I opened up the can of soda in my cup holder and took a sip.
Nothing, I tasted absolutely nothing.
I then had a sip of Gatorade.
Had a bite of my lunch.
From there, I immediately pulled the car over and called my primary care doctor, who sent me to get tested.
I went to the doctor’s office. I still had a fever and lacked taste, but even still, I was kind of expecting to get tested negative then have to apologize to my fiancée, mother and coworkers who I got all worked up for nothing.
The test was like something out of a science-fiction film. Doctors with masks, shields, not coming near you, poking and prodding. By the way, the test, which includes getting a Q-tip-like thing shoved up your nose, is not as bad as it seems. I expected much worse, but that was about the only thing about this disease that was easier than expected.
They told me I would hear back about my results on Thursday. Wednesday was tough, still had the fever and chills. Thursday was the same. The doctors told me to knock off the ibuprofen, for some reason it doesn’t mix well with COVID. So losing that in my arsenal really made the fever rough.
Thursday night was truly the worst night of my life. My fever was through the roof, I woke up drenched in a cold sweat, had no idea where I was. I got up to use the bathroom and had the worst spins you could imagine, felt nauseous.
Friday rolled along, and it was essentially a continuation of the night. My fever was approaching 103 even with the Tylenol. Nothing was working. Meds, a cool bath, fluids, my fever was out of control. Not to mention I finally developed a nasty cough.
At 7 p.m., my fiancée, Arynne, decided it was time to call the doctor, who urged us to get to the ER immediately.
We went, Arynne wasn’t allowed in so I flew solo. I received an instant COVID test, a strep test, and a chest X-ray. Sure enough, I tested positive for COVID and pneumonia. At that point, I was expecting it, there is no way six days was not enough time to heal a fever, there was no way I just happened to experience total loss of taste, a cough.
They prescribed Zithromax, and recommended I continue taking the Tylenol and the obvious rest and fluids. Saturday wasn’t as bad as Friday but still rough. Sunday was another rough day. At one point I walked downstairs to the garage to bring our trash to the bins and almost didn’t make it back up. I couldn’t breath, felt like I went for a long jog.
Going to bed Sunday, I was thoroughly discouraged. I could not believe that I was on Day 8 and still have a high fever, intense chills, the whole shebang. I didn’t think relief was possible. The doctors told me it would take 10-14 days to be feeling well again, but even still, I was at my breaking point and it was the first time I actually felt concerned about whether or not my body could make it through.
Monday morning, Day 9, and finally some relief.
Still had a fever, a very light one, though. The cough and shortness of breath still sucked, but at least the fever was in check, which made a big difference. Finally, finally, finally, I knew I was looking at the light at the end of the tunnel.
As of this writing on Tuesday, the fever is gone, taste is back. Sure, I still have a cough and will not be doing any exercising for the next few weeks, at least, but I am finally feeling better. Not great, but better, good.
I’m not trying to scare anyone, don’t be afraid. Just be aware.
Age doesn’t matter, health doesn’t matter, where you live doesn’t matter. We are all at risk. Some people’s symptoms are not as severe as mine were – hell, many people don’t feel symptoms at all. But most do, and as a healthy 27-year-old, COVID-19 kicked my butt worse than any other sickness I’ve ever had. It was eight days of hell, and I’m still feeling the effects on Day 10. Side note, I lost 14 pounds, but I would have gained 50 to avoid what I went through.
Arynne had a nasty cough as well, the doctor told us to act as if she had it and to take action if her symptoms got worse, it was concerning considering she has asthma, but luckily, the cough never got bad enough for us to make a move. Also, I didn’t hear back about my original test until Saturday, great timing.
Overall, I am lucky to have made it through without extensive time in the hospital. This ordeal has been horrible beyond my biggest fears, but I still am calling myself lucky. I am here, on the mend, and will be out of quarantine in a few more days.
Just remember, stay inside if you can help it, be hygienic. I still don’t know where I contracted the virus, I’m assuming the grocery store, but either way, stay indoors and away from others. You don’t want anything to do with what I just went through.
Stay healthy, be safe, and appreciate every day that you avoid this virus.
Alex Sponseller is the sports editor of the Cranston Herald, Warwick Beacon and Johnston Sun Rise.