Dammit. It got me. I have no idea how. I’d put myself in the super cautious category. I wear a mask when others don’t. I avoid crowds. I hope you have not gotten it and won’t, but an article I read said roughly 50% of us have had it in the last six months. I report my experience with COVID in this post. This has to be old hat if you’ve had COVID, but it might be useful if you haven’t.
== First signs ==
I might have had the first signs a week ago Tuesday or Wednesday. That was the feeling of a small lump in the back of my throat. It isn’t a lump, but that’s my best description. I get that lump a day or two before I get any symptoms for a cold. I can usually predict the severity of a cold from that feeling. I think I thought this might be a worse one.
== Actual Symptoms ==
Symptoms hit on Thursday. Patti and I had a late lunch in a Greek restaurant – more of a deli – I’ve been wanting to try. We were the only customers. No symptoms there, but later that evening it hit me. Runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and the start of a sore throat. I was uncomfortable and took a test: negative for COVID. After all, I’d taken the fourth shot six days before; that’s supposed to be a boost to not even get it.
I moved over to the guest bedroom before Patti went to bed. Sleeping was not great Thursday, and I was worse on Friday. Runnier. Sneezier. My throat was very sore. I waited until after dinner to take another test, and it showed I had COVID. I took my temperature: 100.8. Breathing was fine. My oxygen saturation was 98%.
== Paxlovid ==
The hurdle was to be able to take Paxlovid; one must start it within the five days of first symptoms. Paxlovid is an anti-viral medication and is very effective in minimizing hospitalization and death for the unvaccinated. The effect is unclear for those vaccinated, and especially those vaccinated and boosted. But my knee-jerk reaction was to take it.
I had to get a prescription, and that was not easy to do starting on Friday night of a holiday weekend. I think there will be Test and Treat sites to make this easier. The web site lists a CVS two miles away, but it’s a test site – drive up window to provide a sample for a PCR test – and it can fill a prescription for Paxlovid; it does not provide a prescription based on the test result.
I found no help from our normal local provider, UPMC. Patti found a number for a 24/7 nurse with the second big health system, AHN, and called. The nurse said we could connect with them through MyChart and make an online appointment. (I think you can use the same line or you can Google “COVID telehealth appointment” to find a provider.) I scheduled it for 10:20 PM. It took me awhile to upload images of my health insurance card and fill out the list of the medicines I take.
The session started on time and took about 30 minutes. That was great. I found out that Paxlovid does not play friendly with some other medications. The one of most concern for me is the one I take to lower bad cholesterol: simvastatin.
• I had to start Paxlovid no earlier than 12 hours after my last scheduled dose. That means I should skip my Friday night dose and start Paxlovid no earlier than Saturday morning – 36 hours after my last dose Thursday night. The half-life of simvastatin is five hours. I decided to wait to start it Sunday morning (day three); that was a wait of 60 hours from my last dose. 60 hours means the amount of simvastin in me was 12 half-lives of my dose Thursday night – 1/4000th.
• I cannot take simvastin while taking Paxlovid, and I can only restart it five days after the end of the course for Paxlovid. The half-life of Paxlovid is six hours; five days is 120 hours or 24 half-lives. They want the concentration of Paxlovid to be far less than one-one millionth of value after a dose before I start simvastin!
I took an NAAT/PCR test Saturday afternoon. That verified that I had COVID but did not have the flu: one swab for the two tests.
== Isolate for five days ==
One has to isolate for five days from the onset of symptoms. I stayed in the guest bedroom. Patti delivered me food. Dudley was not allowed in. Every now and then I could hear him scratch the door and whimper, but he did not get his daily rubdowns.
I think most of my symptoms resolved by the end of Saturday, day two. My throat was a bit sore, but I slept well. By Sunday, day three, I felt fine. No sore throat. I had and still have a residual cough. Still, I tested positive at the end of day five. I’ve tested negative on days six and seven. I’ll keep testing to make sure I’m not headed for a rebound, which can happen.
== Mask through day ten ==
I got out of the cage Wednesday morning. Through day ten (Sunday for me) I must wear a mask all times in the house. I have to pass muster with Patti on pinching the masks at my nose and making sure the sides lie flat on my face. I won’t go in to stores, but if I did, I’d have to wear a mask and stay six feet away from anyone.
All in all, this was not bad. I’ve had worse bouts with a cold or flu. The stress is on Patti: serving me when in isolation; worrying about not getting it herself. She’s been a helluva caretaker with my surgery and now this.
Conclusion: I got COVID at the end of last week. This is getting to be a more common experience; a recent article estimated half of us had had COVID in the last six months. This post describes my bout. I hope it provides useful information for for those who haven’t gotten it.