By Lori Perkins
I’ve spent the last two and a half years trying to avoid getting COVID – wearing masks indoors, eating outdoors, even wearing a mask at movies and concerts, but I tested positive for COVID Saturday morning. Not after a wild night out, but after a four-hour stint of jury duty, which I also tried really hard to get out of (have been told that since I am an English-understanding voter in the Bronx, there is just no way out, even if I am a cancer survivor and run a business).
I woke up with a stuffy nose. Not a blow-your-nose in the morning stuffy nose, but more of a is-this-the-beginning-of-a-cold? stuffy nose, so I decided to take yet another at-home COVID test (I had just tested negative on Wednesday) and to my surprise, the telltale double orange lines appeared quite rapidly. I did it again to be sure.
My son was with me and immediately went into caregiver mode (since he had taken care of me while I was undergoing chemo and radiation). My GP wasn’t in (since it was the weekend), but I contacted his service and we called the COVID hotline where, after an hour on hold, we were connected with NY’s Health and Hospital’s service. After a brief interview to see if I qualified for the anti-viral drug Paxlovid (have to be very recently positive, with co-morbidities), I was connected with their in-house PA. She methodically went through possible drug interactions and side effects, and then emailed a prescription to my local pharmacy, which miraculously had the drug. My son raced down to the pharmacy and I had my five-day’s worth of Paxlovid within three hours of diagnosis. And the prescription was free.
I took my temperature and had a very mild fever – 99.9, which went all the way up to 100.5 the next morning, but by dinnertime, I was feeling much better. I slept 11 hours. After two doses of Paxlovid (so within 24 hours) I had no temperature and felt almost all better, except I did notice I had brain fog.
COVID brain fog was different them chemo brain, which left me unable to connect thoughts. COVID brain fog made me unable to think my own thoughts. All I could do was watch TV and read articles. I had started to write this article right away, and just was suddenly unable to think in a linear pattern, and I lost focus halfway through typing a sentence. For a writer/editor, this was really scary.
Midway through my recovery, my son started to feel he was developing a sore throat. He did not isolate from me because the H&H’s PA had told us that there was no way he had not been abundantly exposed to my COVID. She told us, “your mother has been shedding virus for the past two days. There is no way you haven’t been exposed,” and she was right. He tested positive the next morning, when he woke with a fever of his own, as well as body aches.
I was quadruple boosted (because I am over 50 and ran to get that second booster, which you should do, if you qualify). My son was only double vaxxed and single boosted.
He spent the first day of his COVID illness throwing up – four times in 12 hours on an empty stomach.
We had a direct line to NY’s H&H, so we called to see if we could get him Paxlovid, and we could. Had the pharmacy deliver his meds as well.
I am now done with my five-day Paxlovid routine, and I tested negative today. My son still has two days to go.
We were lucky that we could basically stay inside for five days. We have Instacart, so were able to have food delivered, as well as medications, and our doormen generously brought any mail or packages we received to our door and left them there for us to pick up. I was also extremely thankful that we had no plans (other than work, which we could almost do from home – see COVID brain fog above), so there were no tickets wasted or friends/family disappointed.
But I am still in semi-lockdown for the next few days because a friend of mine who is an emergency room doctor told me about COVID rebound after Paxlovid, which is the return of the virus after five days of medication. Because Paxlovid is a new drug, it can only be prescribed for five days, so there is no refill. You are on your own, if you get round two.
I just want to be really careful, because even “mild” COVID is awful, and my son’s less mild COVID was worse. I know there are still people who live with immuno-compromised people, or unvaxxed kids under five, and this variant is really contagious.
My doctor friend also told me that among medical professionals, they no longer think of us being in a “pandemic,” but in an “endemic.” He told me we are all going to get it, but for the vaxxed, and boosted, it should be Ok to “bad,” but not lethal.
I also want to point out that masks work. I went to the movies with a friend Friday night and was fully masked. She has not tested positive.
My son had a dinner with four of his friends Thursday night. They were all masked before and after the dinner. Not a single one of them has tested positive.