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COVID-19: A Survivor’s Tale

A longtime Westport resident, and avid Y’s Men member, writes:

My wife and I are recovering from the coronavirus. We are in our mid- and late 70’s respectively. We consider ourselves lucky

We think we got it in mid-March. Both of us started with nasty cold — sneezing, congested heads, runny noses. Over the next 4 days my wife complained of a burning sensation in her chest and abdomen. and felt tired and lousy.

I was chilled to the bone, shivering most of the time. But we did not have fevers (my temperature was actually 97). Then my wife developed some diarrhea and began running low grade fevers of 100.

She finally qualified for the viral testing. Her doctor arranged for us to make an appointment at the Norwalk Hospital drive-thru site.

We had the 9th morning appointment. When we got to the parking lot there were 25 cars in front of us. Sick people just showed up to get tested. We waited an hour. Finally my wife got the swab test up her nose.

If you hear “anyone who wants a test, can get a test,” don’t believe it. Tests are still very limited. On a per capita basis we are the laughingstock nation of the developed world — fewer than 1 test per 800 citizens so far.

We never developed coughs, chest pain or difficulty breathing (the main reasons for admittance to a hospital). But I ran temperatures of 102 to 104.5 while on Tylenol for 48 hours. We ate Trader Joe’s split pea soup, and drank a lot of tea for 2 or 3 days.

As I said, we were lucky. We had no respiratory distress, and no reason to be admitted to the hospital. We did not need oxygen or ventilators.

I developed a case of survivor’s guilt when heard statistics of how many COVID patients were dying. We don’t watch too many news broadcasts — too depressing.

COVID-19 has reached nearly every country in the world.

One of our sons is a physician in a large New York hospital. He said their beds were maxed out, their expanded ICUs were filled, and at one point they had no unused ventilators.

Recovering is no picnic. I think I’m finally getting better, then I feel lousy again. The fever comes back. The muscles ache again. I get tired too easily. Every time I get chilled or feel a little lightheaded, I worry something else will happen and I’ll land in the hospital.

After 4 weeks, we are finally starting to feel reasonably normal. We wear masks whenever we leave the house to walk on our street, to protect others from possibly getting the virus. Everyone should wear masks to protect themselves.

Most important: We want to know when we are not spreading contagion. We want exit viral testing. In South Korea, someone with the virus is required to have 2 negative tests, a week apart, before being considered viral-free. We also want testing to show we have hopefully developed some protective antibodies.

Finally, allow me to share some scary statistics. They should be all the reasons needed for everyone who is getting tired of sheltering in their homes to not be impatient, keep safe distancing, continue wearing face masks, and not rush the much anticipated state reopening for schools and businesses.

COVID-19 kills. And because it can spread so easily, the number of mourners at funerals is strictly limited.

This not the flu, with a less than 0.1% mortality rate. This is a serious contagion that is overloading our hospitals, ICUs and healthcare workers. We have to help lower the curve by doing our part.

The scariest statistic is this: If you become symptomatic enough to get tested (fever, muscle aches, loss of sense of smell and taste, diarrhea, chest pain, or difficulty breathing) you have a 3 to 8% chance of dying. Do everything you can to not get the disease!

COVID does not respect religious beliefs. Preachers and rabbis who insisted on regular prayer gatherings for their congregations have died of the virus.

Nor will it respect political beliefs. The Midwest conservatives gathering to protest the state government telling them they can’t gather to protest will probably end up as victims of the virus — and their own ignorance of how diseases work.

This is not just a disease of old people. Half of COVID-19 patients in ICUs on ventilators are younger than 55.

The takeaways from all this:

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