Stop pretending that COVID is still a serious disease

A mild case of COVID for many people is like a common cold, a comforting illusion that President Joe Biden’s recent bout with the virus cemented even when another positive test brought him back into quarantine. However, for all the happy talk, the virus keeps reminding us that it can wreak relatively havoc on otherwise healthy young people.

This is the story of a 49-year-old former Marine – still in good condition – who tested positive for COVID on day two of a family trip to Alaska. He’s learned the hard way that his superior physique doesn’t match the coronavirus.

We’ll call him Sam, because he doesn’t want to use his name to be explicit about the brain effects he’s still experiencing that could linger “COVID”, and to protect his health and family’s “from being exposed to a pre-existing medical condition,” Sam told The Daily. Best.

Sam joined his wife and 12-year-old daughter for a week off due to work commitments. “As a former US Marine raising a daughter to be tough in the outdoors,” he had planned a time north of the Arctic Circle to hike in Katmai and Denali National Parks to see the bushes catch live salmon that had just started running upstream for the week Previous.

They were traveling with his 80-year-old father-in-law, and to protect him, the family tested for coronavirus morning and evening. “My daughter went down first,” Sam said. It was the morning of his second day in Alaska, and they were in the far north of civilization.

“We could see our daughter’s lethargy increasing as she slid down the slope,” Sam noted. They chartered a small private plane back to Fairbanks where they spent six hours in the hospital emergency room getting their daughter IV fluids in order. Her throat was so sore that she could not eat or drink.

A silhouette of a patient being treated in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the University Hospital Leipzig in Leipzig, Germany.

Jens Schleutter/Getty Images

That night, Sam and his wife tested themselves. It was negative, but there was a faint thread in his test, enough that they slept with their N95 masks. By morning, there was no doubt. Sam has been very positive and showing symptoms. Now the two of them have fallen. What if his wife gets sick too?

They had trouble booking enough rooms for quarantine, and instead of commuting between hotels in the crowded tourist town, they decided to drive the seven-and-a-half hours from Fairbanks to Anchorage in search of more accessible healthcare. They rented a car his wife was driving at 70mph with the windows and sunroof open, with his daughter falling on her seat belt in the back seat using the “Type to Speak” app because of her sore throat. They were all masked.

You don’t know what it means to lose your ambition overnight. I used to greet the day with enthusiasm, and now I think about how great it would be to stay in bed all day and read.

The cost of the trip has already become astronomically expensive. They’ve already paid for the remote cabin in Denali. In Anchorage, it came to nearly a thousand dollars a day to find hotel rooms at the last minute to isolate the uninfected (his wife) from those who are in the contagion several days apart, in the hopes of getting their daughter healthy enough . To get to a pre-scheduled summer camp.

In Anchorage, Sam searched by phone for monoclonal antibodies and quickly discovered that among the limited supplies Alaska had left, none treated Ommicron and its variants. Finding a pharmacy giving him Paxlovid without a prescription seemed futile, so he called the VA and was told he could get health care at Elmendorf Air Force Base, once he’s registered in the system as a veteran who is no longer on active duty.

“Glory to VA – I love VA,” Sam said. Upon arriving at the primary hospital, he encountered a sign that said: “Do not enter if you have coronavirus.” It took half an hour to let him into the back entrance, but once inside it was a short wait until the doctor saw him. By then, Sam’s temperature was 102 and his blood oxygen levels were drifting from lows in the 1990s to 88 and 89. He’s usually at 98. Below 95 is worrisome.

The doctor prescribed Baxlovid, and for it to be effective, it must be started within five days of the first symptoms appearing. Sam was on the third day. The drug is known to leave a metallic taste. “I felt like I was sucking on an aluminum rod,” he says, a potentially uncomfortable feeling given the alternative. “By day eight, I was definitely feeling better, but I still felt tired and very brain fog.”

The family stayed in quarantine at the hotel in Anchorage, leaving a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door and venturing out only when necessary and was always masked. They spent time watching Marvel Universe movies while Sam, who described himself as a “fantastic researcher,” was reading medical journals to familiarize himself with this virus that he felt was messing with his brain.

That’s how he was treated, Sam said, learning all he could about the science of this virus that turned his life upside down. A few blocks away, former President Donald Trump was organizing a “Save America” ​​rally and the hotel was filled with unmasked crowds unaware of the active Covid virus in their midst. “We tried not to give it to them in the elevator as we went to pick up the food deliveries, wearing our N95 clothes,” Sam added.

The negative test started on day 10, but he did not feel fully recovered. Sam emailed his mother and brother to say, “Take it from me, you can’t assume our genes will let you pass through COVID.”

A long-time COVID patient performs breathing training in the gymnastics room at Teutoburger’s father’s clinic, a rehabilitation clinic for post-COVID sufferers.

Friso Gentsch / Picture Alliance via Getty

“A cold doesn’t give you encephalitis,” Sam said as he drove home.

“I wasn’t realistically thinking that I was going to die, because I had three shots from the vaccine,” Sam added. But I, because the brain fog did not subside with the other symptoms, was petrified. What if it lasts for a long time? or [become] Permanent, as I read about many Americans who have not completely disappeared for them? ”

Brain lethargy isn’t just fatigue, Sam said. It’s like feeling tired from the start of the day as well as feeling tired. For someone who used to drive himself, he said on day 20: “You don’t know what it means to lose your ambition overnight. I used to greet the day with enthusiasm, and now I think about how great it is to stay in bed all day and read.”

A few days later, Sam reported that he intended to return to my “normal, ambitious self,” but that didn’t work. “I struggle with not feeling weak because that hit me more than others.”

Sam concluded that, seven and a half months after his third dose of the COVID vaccine, his immune system “saw the little rascal hackers as not a big deal, until it was a big problem and they got into my lungs, and then I decided to start over speeding.”

“I’m not one hundred percent yet,” he told The Daily Beast on Day 26, noting that his previous attempt at workweek had been disastrous. “Part of me wants to say I’m better and that will become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and part of me is telling the truth because I might need help.” The changes he describes such as a brief lapse in memory or difficulty concentrating are similar to normal signs of aging, but unlike the slow aging process, these are sudden changes, “like aging 20 years in less than a month.”

Sam’s father-in-law, who is 80 or older, flew home from Alaska earlier and did not contract the virus. His wife never got it either. They each received a second dose of the booster four weeks before the flight. Sam’s daughter recovered quickly enough to attend camp, though it took 10 days.

This story is just proof of how difficult and expensive it is to find accommodations to quarantine, to protect the uninfected in one’s family as well as the general public. It also shows how obtaining the necessary treatments for a severe case of COVID, in the third year of the epidemic, requires high-quality health care coverage, a determination to seek appropriate care, and means to obtain medication – which can often be a low supply, Especially in remote areas.

These are the often overlooked societal “COVID problems”, which must be prioritized by governments, especially if they are determined to “move forward”.

Living with the virus requires a healthy respect for its ability to evolve along with an understanding of our limits as human beings to ward off its worst effects. One earlier US Navy story is a cautionary tale that we are in the third year of the pandemic, and the coronavirus is still grappling with failure.

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