A Fitting End to 2020 : My Experience with Covid 19

This isn’t a usual blog post. It isn’t well-written, or as thorough as it could be. It’s just a collection of thoughts I jotted down over the last couple of weeks with Covid. I just want it to exist somewhere. Regardless of where you stand on the disease, or the politics that unfortunately surround it, take care of yourselves, and the people you care about. We’ll get through this eventually.

Dec 4, 2020

After quarantining for 2 weeks before Thanksgiving so I could visit mom, then 5 days after the Missoula trip because Mom ended up being a direct contact to a positive case, I finally got to go out to my favorite restaurant/bar for a bit. I stayed longer than I should’ve. It doesn’t matter how well a restaurant spaces their tables. If you stay in an enclosed place with strangers for 5 hours, eventually you’re going to breathe their germs. I’m almost 100% sure this is when I caught Covid. Businesses can follow all the rules, but they can’t force us to make good decisions. My choices resulted in Covid. All I can say is, make better choices than I did.

Dec 5, 2020

6AM, Dad called to tell me he thinks his wrist is broken, and he needs to to to Urgent Care. I ran up to Fairfield, picked him up, and took him to the Great Falls Clinic. His wrist isn’t broken, but they gave him a brace and sent us home.

That night, he called to tell me he couldn’t get out of his chair without the use of both hands, so I told him I’d track down a power lift recliner on Sunday.

Dec 6, 2020

Found a power lift recliner in stock at Ashlee Home Furnishings. Ran into town and bought one, then took it out to Dad’s to get it set up. Hung out with Dad for a bit before heading home.

Dec 7, 2020

Potentially first date I’m contagious

Dec 8, 2020

Taco Tuesday at my favorite place. Got there around 4pm, stayed for about an hour. Not busy.

Dec 9, 2020

Cough started. Just a little one, hoping it’s just a cold.

Dec 10, 2020

Took the day off. Didn’t get much sleep. Cough, headache, and temp of 99.8. Still thinking it’s just a cold. I can taste and smell everything.

Dec 11, 2020

Temp back to normal, headache and cough the same. Will relax and get better over the weekend.

Dec 12, 2020

Felt well enough to do a dump run and put the new foot on the plow. Might’ve over-extended myself. Pretty worn out after that. Had some chicken noodle soup for dinner, but it tasted like chunky water. Went around the house trying other food to see what I could and could not taste. I was able to taste chocolate and smell coffee beans. Seems to be certain savory tastes that elude me.

Dec 13, 2020

More of the same. Cough, headache, still no fever, but violent chills.

Dec 14, 2020

1 Day 1 Topic project at work. “Violent” is a good way to describe the chills. Uncontrollable shaking. Hard to fill my water bottle, type, or even take a leak. Wrote up some intranet articles and started the other parts of 1D1T. Sick of watching TV at this point.

Dec 15, 2020

Took a half day off work. Just can’t focus. Feel pretty good in the mornings, then hit a wall early-afternoon. Went into town for a Covid test around lunch time. Felt like shit the rest of the day.

Dec 16, 2020

Usually i feel pretty good in the mornings, but this morning was an exception. Took a few hours until I felt good enough to function. Put in for the rest of the week off from work. Ate a toasted and buttered English muffin, and had a cup of 3 Root tea. The ginger settled my stomach a bit. English muffin dried my mouth out, but I could taste the butter.

Chatted with a co-worker about her Covid experience. She had it last spring, and still has taste issues.

The word that keeps coming up is weird. Weird symptoms, weird progression of things during the day. Just weird.

Dec 17, 2020

Alluvion called. Covid test came back positive.

Dec 18, 2020

CCHD called, I didn’t answer because I’m really having trouble talking without coughing and I just couldn’t handle another coughing fit. Walking up the stairs to bed tonight was difficult. I had to stop to catch my breath before I could even get ready for bed. This is really the first time I’m noticing real respiratory issues.

Dec 19, 2020

Called CCHD back. They did some basic contact tracing. Told me Dad should be fine—he doesn’t have symptoms, and they considered me contagious 48 hours prior to my symptoms kicking in. That would make Monday the 7th my first contagious day. Talked to the few folks I had been around, but nobody was sick. Happy to hear I didn’t share this shit with anyone.

CCHD gave me some phone numbers to call and some advice. The woman I talked to was great, and answered all my questions. Since I’ve had breathing issues most of my life, I wasn’t really sure when I should be concerned enough to call the hospital.

Haven’t told Mom or Dad about the positive test result. Don’t want them to worry.

The part about this I haven’t found any information on is the psychological aspect. I’ve never really been a depressed person. I’ve been sad plenty of times, but I’ve never felt despair or hopelessness that I can remember. Except for this week. I think it’s the roller coaster that this crap caused. I’d feel pretty good in the mornings and think I was getting better, then by the afternoon, I’d just be in this dark fog where I couldn’t see any path forward. No way out of the pit I was in. I couldn’t imagine going back to work, or resuming normal life at all. I’d just sit at the edge of the couch staring off into space trying to decide how I was going to sell everything due to the whole never being able to work again thing. I wanted to just drift off and not worry about anything ever again. It was some dark, scary shit.

My favorite step-mom called me to tell me that she was going to be swinging by to grab something out of her camper, and I told her what was going on. She said she’d bring me her pulse oximeter and some meds on Sunday.

Walking up the stairs tonight was harder than the night before. Decided that I’d gather all my things in the morning and sleep in the downstairs bedroom for the remainder of my recovery.

Dec 20, 2020

Gathered up all my stuff in the morning and moved it to the downstairs bedroom. Spent the morning in the guest room bed. Eventually, I moved to the couch. The depression from before is now gone, but the respiratory issues are getting worse.

Cindy dropped off the pulse oximeter and a nebulizer with albuterol. I started monitoring my oxygen levels and did my first neb treatment. Now I’m starting to realize just how bad I am. If I’m sitting, I can get get oxygen levels in the high 80s, but if I get up and walk into another room, I’m winded and my readings show 78-80 on the pulse oximeter. That’s not good. I waited a couple hours, did another nebulizer treatment, and repeated my O2 testing. Same result. Dropping below 80 with any kind of activity. I called Cindy, and she recommended calling the Covid hotline for Benefis.

After talking to the hotline, they made me an appointment at the ER and recommended I come in right away. Cindy’s friend Cindy just recovered from Covid, so she offered to drive me to the ER. I packed a bag with a few things and waited for my ride.

At about 3:30pm, I checked in at the ER. They grabbed some vitals from me in the Covid tent, then wheeled me back to an ER room for more tests. My IV was difficult to get in. I kind of remember that from when I was hospitalized for the collapsed lung back in ‘93. I have a lot of valves, apparently. And now I have tough skin. It took a few tries, but the nurse was able to get an IV placed successfully.

They explained that their first concern was blood clots in my lungs, so they ran an EKG, then did a chest X-ray. An hour or so later, they came to take me for a CT scan. That was challenging—taking full breaths and holding them for the scan was next to impossible. Then they had me stop breathing—that was the biggest challenge. But we powered through and they got what they needed.

Eventually, the hospitalist came in, explained that they didn’t find any blood clots, but wanted to keep me here for a bit due to the pneumonia they found and offered me some food and drink. Jello and Ginger Ale hit the spot.

A bit later, someone came in to wheel me up to my first room in the Covid wing. Eighth floor, North Tower, Room 809.

All checked in and sucking up extra oxygen

My first roomie was a little old guy with a touch of dementia. Short little guy who kept trying to get out of bed on his own. Didn’t want to use the little container to pee in. Can’t say that I blame him. I’m well enough to stand up to use it, but I remember trying to use them while lying down from my last visit to the hospital. There’s no dignified way to go about it. Apparently, I waited too long to finally use my urinal—almost overfilled it. Almost.

The nurse tried to get another IV set in my left arm, but after a few tries, gave up. Another nurse gave it a few tries, but wasn’t able to get one started. We’re sticking to the existing IV in my right elbow.

They started me on a test run of Remdesivir. I guess some people have an allergic reaction to the stuff. I did not.

I haven’t found a solution for Diego yet. I left him with enough water to make it through the night, and fed him early. A friend said he’d swing by tomorrow to feed him, and we’d figure something out. The house (and I assume, the dog,) are covered in Covid, so I don’t really want people taking chances.

Dec 21, 2020

The hospital has a new patient coming in that has dementia, so they wanted to put him where I was. My new room is 814, and my new roomie is a 24 year old dude. Seems like a nice kid, but he’s in here for possible sepsis—maybe from a car accident he had last week. He had Covid in September, and somehow he’s still testing positive. Possibly from the antibodies. They’re going to move him out of the Covid wing at some point.

After doing some research, we found that dog fur isn’t a good incubator for Covid, so Diego is safe to stay with Dad. Cindy and Cindy picked him up and ran him to Fairfield for me. I talked to Dad a bit to thank him. I know Diego is happy as hell to be at Dad’s, rather than alone at my house just getting fed a couple times a day.

Roomie got moved to the 5th floor sometime in the afternoon. It’s hard to tell time here. The shades are always drawn, and they wake us up every hour or so for vitals, meds, etc., so if I don’t check my phone, I have no idea what time it is.

Sometime in the middle of the night, I got a new roomie. Sounds like his old roomie had some issues and was vocal about not getting his way, so they moved him in to my room in order for everyone to get a decent night’s sleep.

Dec 22, 2020

Day 14 of symptoms. I should be done with this, and if I hadn’t picked up the pneumonia, I probably would be.

I might’ve been a little over-zealous with the food yesterday—my gut is fucked up today. They added some Gas-X equivalent to my med rotation, and that seems to be helping a little.

Learning a bit more about my roomie. I won’t go into details, but he’s struggling with more than just Covid, and I can’t imagine it. Nice guy, though. We chat a bit here and there.

I’m still coughing quite a bit, so they put my hydrocodone cough meds back into rotation. They do help, but I think I’m supposed to be coughing stuff up, so I try to hack up what I can in between doses.

A friend of mine from high school works in some admin department at the hospital, and my file came across her desk. Apparently they still have my records from ‘93, and the insurance had expired. 🙂 She called to get the updated info, so we chatted a bit.

I feel positive. The doc explained that the pneumonia he saw on the CT scan was not good, but that he thought we could get everything healed up with minimal to no lasting scar tissue. So that’s a plus.

My boss, knowing my love of Taco Tuesday, sent a taco pizza from Dominos tonight. Normally, I’d chow down on it, but with my stomach still having issues, I was only able to inhale a couple of slices. Still awesome.

I haven’t mentioned work yet. Both my boss, and the company I work for, have been amazing. Even one of my old bosses reached out to check in on me. I don’t have any fear of being let go for missing basically 2 weeks of work. My boss is handling the meetings I’m missing, and we’re pushing deadlines back as necessary. The marketing department really does have a family vibe to it, and it’s even more obvious in times like this.

I watched a little TV on the iPad before bed. The batteries aren’t lasting as long as they used to, but I’ve got a place to plug it in overnight, so that’s been helping. The WiFi isn’t great here, but my LTE signal is fairly strong so it gets the job done.

Another dose of Remdesivir tonight. Two more to go.

Dec 23, 2020

I woke up this morning and my gut was feeling better. Decided to order a proper breakfast. Eggs, hash browns, bacon… Washed down with OJ. I think my appetite is coming back.

Decided I’m going to shave the beard when I get home. I do not want this shit again once my antibodies run out, so every little thing helps. The beard keeps my masks from sealing, so it’s going to go for a while.

The cousins sent flowers today. Lillies. They’re cool.

I finally got a shower, but realized I had no clean clothes to change into. The hospital gave me a gown. Not sure what I’m going to wear home at this point.

Dec 24, 2020

My roomie checked out, so now I have a room to myself. It’s kind of nice.

They came in and took a new X-ray. No changes. They said that’s good—it shows that the pneumonia isn’t spreading. They can’t tell what is active pneumonia and what is scar tissue—that will take time to discern.

The doctor came in and said she’d be comfortable keeping me until Saturday instead of sending me home on Christmas. Not ideal, but it is what it is.

They opened the shades for me. It’s nice to be able to see outside. I haven’t seen outside since Sunday.

I’m getting used to being woken up in the middle of the night to get a shot of Warfarin in the belly. I barely even have to wake up for it at this point.

Dec 25, 2020

The doc came in today to talk about my release. They want to put me through some tests to see how my oxygen levels do while I’m walking around. They also might want to send me home with oxygen, so they need to find out if the company that provides the oxygen supplies is open on Xmas day. Lots of ifs, but I’m not really in a rush. If they think it’s safe for me to go home, I trust them.

Christmas sunrise from the hospital room

I asked about the chances of me going downhill. The nurse pointed out that she couldn’t tell the future, but that she’s been working the Covid floor since it started, and I have been showing good progress. She is comfortable with sending me home, so we’ll see how this testing goes.

Did a bunch of Christmas FaceTime calls with family today. It was nice seeing everyone, and I’m actually able to talk a bit without coughing.

I feel better. I am still aware that my breathing isn’t great, but they lowered me to 1 liter of oxygen, and I seem to be holding at 94% saturation, so that’s not bad. I really only need to go upstairs once when I get home to get laundry, etc., then I can live downstairs till I’m recovered.

My exercise/rest test looked good. Kept my oxygen above 90%, so they’re going to send me home at 6pm. Spectrum is the transport company they partner with, so I’m getting a ride from them. They’ll stop along the way to fill my prescriptions.

I got home at 6:45pm, made dinner, and flopped down on the couch to relax. Oxygen levels are looking good so far.

I have some errands to run tomorrow. We’ll see how that goes.

Let’s talk movies. I’ve been disappointed with pretty much everything I’ve seen this week. Greenland was just meh, Wonder Woman 1984 wasn’t good at all, and Tenet was too confusing for me to wrap my head around at this point. I’ll take another look at that one in a month or so when my brain is normal.

Dec 26, 2020

I have to fill my cough syrup (with hydrocodone) in person, so I called CVS to see how they’d like me to proceed. No idea if I’m still contagious or not, but better safe than sorry. They just told me to go through the drive through, and let them know I’m Covid positive.

I waited in the CVS drive through line for a half hour, dropped off my Rx, and found out it would be an hour before I could pick it up. I had other errands, so that wasn’t a big deal.

The drive out to Fairfield to pick up Diego was uneventful. I dropped off the grippy socks I got at the hospital for Dad, picked up his grocery list, and headed back into town. My Rx was ready when I rolled through the drive through again, and my grocery pick up at Albertsons went smoothly.

I don’t like it when Albertsons does substitutions—not sure what the hell they’re thinking half the time, so I mark my orders as so subs. Unfortunately, one thing I was really looking forward to (meat and cheese plate,) was out of stock. So I got home to find that I didn’t have a snack. Not a huge deal, but oddly disappointing at that point in time.

I made my own cheese and cracker plate, then settled in to watch more movies and TV. I’m stick of watching TV.

I had a hard time falling asleep. Ended up watching Soul on Disney+. Great movie, even though I nodded off through parts of it. Will need to watch it again.

Dec 27, 2020

I’ve essentially spent 3+ weeks without being productive at all. My only accomplishment is getting out of the hospital. I’m getting restless.

There is a ton of digital stuff I need to get done at the end of the year, so I’m trying to focus on that. I still have pneumonia in both lungs, so I’m not supposed to be doing a lot of physical stuff, but I can only stare at screens for so long.

My personal goal is to be back up and running as close to 100% as possible by February. Until then, I’ll focus on moving the rest of my stuff out of Evernote, cleaning up my 2020 photos, tweaking various websites. I don’t know… Things that make me feel semi-productive without requiring a lot of exertion on my part.

I’m eternally grateful for friends and family that checked in with me and helped where they could along the way. The folks at Benefis were awesome. I’m beyond grateful that I have access to that level of medical care.

My biggest takeaway from all this is the unpredictability. If you get sick, you might get symptoms, you might not. You might get some symptoms and not others. You might recover quickly, you might not. You might not ever get back to 100%.

I’ve had asthma since I was a kid, so not being able to breathe probably doesn’t freak me out as much as it should. The scariest part of this whole thing was the 3-4 days of depression. That one was new to me. I don’t know how people cope with that on a daily basis, but I salute them for pushing forward. Every day my brain seems to get a little clearer, so that’s where I’m going to judge my recovery. The lungs will do what they do, I just want to be myself again.

It’s been a weird ride, and it isn’t over yet.

If anything new comes up, I’ll add it to this post.


1/11/21 UPDATE:

Feeling pretty damn good at this point. Oxygen levels are consistently at or above 95%, and I’m able to do things without wiping myself out. Even managed to do a Costco run last weekend.

For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure Taco Treat cured by brain fog. I know, I know, but hear me out… I was super brain foggy when I ran into town to fill a prescription. Figured I’d grab lunch on my way home, so I rolled through Taco Treat’s drive through. I was starving when I got to the drive through, so I ordered way more than I usually do. As I pulled away, I figured I could save some of it for dinner. That didn’t happen. I ate all of it. Tacos, burritos, tater treats, crustos… Then I took a nap. When I woke up, I felt better than I had in weeks. And, no brain fog. It was weird. So, take that as you will. As far as I’m concerned, Taco Treat cured me. 🙂

1/22/21 Update:

Basically back to normal. My resting heart rate is way higher than it was back in November, but I’m chalking that up to the fact that I was either in bed, on the couch, or in the hospital for most of December. Trying to slowly increase activity levels so I can regain my previous semi-out-of-shape status.

One thing to note: Ever since Taco Treat cured my brain, my appetite has been similar to a T-Rex who’s recently given up on his diet. I eat everything. All day. Initially I was just happy to have an appetite again, but I’ve had to stock up on mildly healthy things just to be safe. The appetite seems to be leveling off at this point, but for a while there, it looked like my grocery bill might eek past my mortgage payment.

9 thoughts on “A Fitting End to 2020 : My Experience with Covid 19

      1. Hi Daniel,

        I hope that you are feeling even better today. If or when you like to enjoy some creative distractions or diversions amidst the disruptions and woes engendered by the pandemic, come over and take my blog for an extended wild ride in multiple ways. I shall be very curious about your reactions and thoughts towards the contents there.

        May you have a good time spending the last days of 2020 with your beloved ones before 2021 dawns on us! And may you enjoy what the new year will bring soon!

        Like

  1. This is truly tragic and heart wrenching! I’m glad you made it to recovery, this year has been no less of a trauma for everyone, it has taught us that health is wealth and that one must value the simple pleasures in life. Stay safe, be well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am So sorry friend!!! I really had no idea of how bad things got! I am very thankful you are getting better and better. Depression is definitely a scary thing and I am glad that didn’t stick around! The end of 2020 was definitely NOT your friend. Cheers to 2021! I hope it’s all uphill for us all. ❤️ Love you Friend!

    Liked by 1 person

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