5 things I learned recovering from Covid 19
When I was really sick with Covid 19, I waited 12 days for test results, several days after I knew I had it and the doctors knew I had it too. The results were anticlimactic. But after I went ten days without a fever, I asked the nurse from the Covid Response Team at the local hospital how I got off the list. When you see the stats, you see a number for “recovered.” How do I get on that list? I’d like to donate plasma and antibodies if I can.
She talked to a doctor on the team and they decided to retest me. And to test Katie too, which they hadn’t done before because, she was told, only one test per family. So last Wednesday we drove down to the mobile collection site and they stuck a swab up our noses. This time the results came back in 36 hours. Both positive. Different symptoms, although neither of us has a fever. And 14 more days of quarantine. We’ve already been isolated for over 3 weeks. Now we both need a negative test before we are released, at least in our county right now.
I have to say I was bummed. Even with a stay-at-home order, I was looking forward to picking up groceries or something. I had gone back to work (remotely). I was ready to go. Turns out I’m not. After a couple of full days of online meetings, I was exhausted and went back to bed. We had a Nepali lesson online Saturday and afterward Katie was so tired she laid down for a nap—very unusual for her, even when she is sick.
So here’s what I’ve learned, or am learning:
- The rules about testing change practically every day. And the time needed for results. There is still not enough testing available, which means many of you have it and don’t know it. Just last week, only one test per family—under these conditions the number of reported cases has no correspondence to reality. Katie and I are both mostly asymptomatic—and you don’t usually assume you’re sick just because you take a nap. And symptoms vary. Mine involved loss of appetite and focus, Katie’s included nausea and headache, neither of which I experienced. If you have it, your case won’t be like the ones in the newspaper, usually the most dramatic one they can find.
- COVID 19 apparently lasts longer than the 12-14 days you often hear about. It could be six weeks or more before I am officially “well.” And I’ve not had any shortness of breath, for which I’m grateful. But healing takes time. More than you imagined.
- If you have COVID 19—whether you have been tested or not—you isolate yourself to protect others, not just because you need rest. You wear a mask for the same reason. Loving your neighbor right now means keeping your distance. For us at least another two weeks.
- People care. My earlier blog post about my experience was reshared dozens of times on Facebook and received almost 4000 page views. This has resulted in a couple of hundred messages—comments, texts, and emails—from people praying, grateful for my (now partial) recovery, and a lot of deserved praise and appreciation for my wife. Many of these messages came from people I haven’t seen in years, and many of them came from people I don’t even know. This has been encouraging. And humbling.
- Katie and I are grateful for the many prayers. God heals. But we are also grateful for the investment we have made over time in our health and immune system. Exercise, diet, and vitamins helped. You should make similar investments. This could have been much worse. Wash your hands, drink lots of water and… well, you know, and you should be doing it.
Like lepers, we now know what it is like to be “unclean,” to be untouchable. People keep their distance, and should. There is a justifiable fear, that goes beyond the physical distancing. So much is unknown. How long are we contagious? Or even are we. Who have we talked to and when? Have we infected our friends and coworkers?
These feelings and fears are not as bad as the disease itself. But they are real and remind us of the One who had no fear of lepers. In fact, He reached out and touched them (Matthew 8:3), violating the deepest taboos of the day, not unlike the courageous health care workers today who go toward the sickest sufferers and touch them. May God have mercy on them all.
It also makes you think about all the untouched people around you, singles and widows and seniors. It reminds you of how important touch is, even if it is only on social media. We should not turn inward at this time; we should reach out and touch someone, like in AT&T’s ad campaign in the 80’s, when phones still had cords.
Being by ourselves makes us long for community. It makes us long to be with friends again.
You can be sure of one thing. There will be hugs.