The Universal Notebook: COVID-19 for the Fourth of July

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I woke up with a sore throat, a slight cough, a runny nose, and body aches and knew what that meant.

My lovely wife Carolyn had tested positive for COVID-19 the day before. I’d test positive today. The dreaded diagnosis had arrived just in time for the Fourth of July.

No fireworks for me, but it turned out not to be that bad.

Edgar Allen BeemI should have seen it coming. We had dropped our guard a little too much. Stopped wearing masks in the supermarket. Went to a couple of art openings unmasked. Ate in a restaurant, a clam shack, for the first time in two years. We ate outdoors at a picnic table, but we stood in line inside to order.

So much for back to normal.

At this point, all of my family except our youngest daughter and her husband have had COVID. It first roared through my sister-in-law Janice’s family across town. Then all five members of daughter Hannah’s family got it.

But I knew I was bound to get it when daughter Nora’s family all tested positive. Nora and her husband have been as cautious as anyone I know about masking and social distancing. If they got it, it was just a matter of time before it came for me.

When I say it wasn’t that bad I do not mean in any way to diminish the seriousness of a COVID-19 diagnosis. More than a million people have died from the disease. I don’t know any, but my brother-in-law in Arizona had it and has been exhausted ever since. He’s dropped 20 pounds to 155. His doctor suspects so-called “long COVID.”

And I could be fooling myself even now. I was feeling more or less invincible because I’ve had two shots of the Pfizer vaccine and two booster shots. My family was most worried about me getting COVID because I am 73 and have a few underlying conditions. So when I tested positive I called my family physician and he prescribed a course of the anti-viral medicine Paxlovid.

I had a day or two of feeling lousy, like a bad cold. Then I took the Paxlovid and most of my symptoms except the runny nose cleared up. I felt well enough that I had to force myself not to go out. I’m addicted to the grocery store and the library. I’ve completed the Paxlovid regimen, so I’m thinking I’m out of the woods. But then, Dr. Anthony Fauci thought so, too.

Dr. Fauci was a victim of what’s being called “Paxlovid rebound.” You get better and then you get worse. The reason, some speculate, is that patients haven’t taken a strong enough dose of the drug, so it takes two courses to put down the infection. The Paxlovid regimen calls for six pills a day, but I only took four due to one of those underlying renal issues. So I am hoping for the best but preparing for a rebound. (Update: I tested positive again on July 13.) 

My main concern at the moment, however, is that I may have exposed others during the pre-symptomatic period when I was running around unmasked. I drove up to camp with one of my brothers two days before I tested positive. So he was on COVID-19 watch for a week.

Bottom line: It’s too soon to stop wearing masks in public. COVID-19 is still out there in all its mutations and you can get infected (and reinfected) even if you’re vaccinated.

Edgar Allen Beem has been writing The Universal Notebook weekly since 2003, first for The Forecaster and now for the Phoenix. He also writes the Art Seen feature.

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