16 days of high fever
By Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND, OH (December 30, 2020) – I am so thankful to be on the recovery side of a serious case of coronavirus (COVID-19). Some of you already know COVID-19 came home to my house recently. For those of you who didn’t already know, here is my very personal COVID-19 story.
CAUTIOUS AND SAFE
It started with a cough on Friday night, November 27, – the day after Thanksgiving. I chalked it up to allergies and didn’t give it much thought at all. After all, my wife Sue and I were being very careful to avoid exposure. Sue and I shared a Thanksgiving dinner without the usual family and friends at our house. I spent the day after Thanksgiving putting up outdoor decorations including stringing lights on our giant Blue Spruce. I figured the cough came from exposure to the allergens from the tree.
Saturday night went terribly wrong on me. Violent coughing interrupted anything approaching sleep every 45 minutes. One coughing fit lasted 18 minutes solid ending with vomiting. I went to another room so I would not disturb Sue’s sleep all night long. Sunday morning arrived and I told Sue how bad the night had been for me.
“Something is wrong,” I told her. “I think I need to get tested for COVID. This is not allergies.”
ARS-CoV-2 INFECTION MOLECULAR TEST
Detected Two or more COVID targets specific to the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus were
detected in this specimen
Sue felt like she should get tested as well. She was experiencing possible symptoms with a “scratchy throat and runny nose,” and certainly had been exposed to me. After filling out forms and a brief virtual consult with a physician, we had the “nose swab” RT-PCR test at Hometown Urgent Care on S.R. 28 in Miami Township. They said to expect results within 3-5 days. In the meantime, we were told to isolate and quarantine at home together.
I felt good Monday morning and worked publishing stories here on Loveland Beacon. I thought I might even test negative for COVID-19. I overdid it working until 9:30 p.m. Monday night. Big mistake! Minutes later I had the chills so bad I was shaking intensely and could not even hold a cup of water in my hand without spilling it everywhere. I was freezing. That was the first real sign of a fever for me.
I learned my lesson. Though I felt good again Tuesday with a normal temperature when I awoke, I did not push myself during the work day. Sometime Tuesday afternoon, Sue came into my office holding her phone.
“It’s the County Health Department on the phone,” she said. “They just told me I tested positive for COVID.”
We didn’t even expect a result until Wednesday from the Hometown Urgent Care where we were tested. I had not heard any news on my test yet. Sue asked the lady on the phone if they had my test results.
“Yes, your husband has also tested positive,” came the reply. “Is he available to be interviewed with you?”
We put her on speaker and answered her questions together. I was shocked to learn they were no longer trying to do any contact tracing. The explanation was they were overwhelmed by too many positive cases. She did ask where we might have been exposed. There were only two real possibilities of exposure. The salon where I got my hair cut just days before Thanksgiving – the likely culprit. The other possibility was not likely as I had sanitized immediately after a close personal contact situation. Bottom line, Sue and I were positive for COVID and were instructed to remain quarantined together for at least 10 days beyond onset of symptoms. Chills and shaking returned for me Tuesday night and my temperature was 102.
FEVER AND THE FIGHT
High fever (consistently 102) and violent coughing set in for me. Thankfully, Sue’s symptoms remained minor and she never experienced a fever. Other than fatigue, she felt better after the first couple days. I was not so lucky. I was completely frustrated waking with a normal temperature each day, but having it climb to 102 throughout the day.
The high fever lasted 16 days!
I was drained.
TIRED AND WEAK
I slept, slept a lot. I did not even want to get up when I woke up. The shower felt great and I got dressed, but mostly I did nothing. I did read three books. At times, I felt hopeless. That bothered me because it goes against my Catholic Christian faith with hope in God. I tried to be mindful of that belief and put my hope and trust in God that I would recover. I was sleeping 15 hours a day. Shoot, I didn’t get out of bed before 11 a.m. There was more than one day when I was back in bed 90 minutes later at 12:30 p.m. – sleeping again. I had no energy and never lasted more than about 90 minutes before needing to rest again.
I was taking vitamins. I was drinking Gatorade, a lot of water, orange juice. There was hot tea with honey and lemon. There was hot toddy’s (a mix of hot water, honey, lemon juice and Irish Whiskey) late in the evening. I took only Advil and a dose of over-the- counter cough medicine at the end of the day. Nothing seemed to bring any relief. The fever would not relent.
The violent cough persisted, along with the high fever, a dull headache, muscle aches and nerve pain. The nerve pain was like being stuck with flaming hot sharp pins and needles. I had to ask Sue not to touch me as she attempted to rub my back and neck. I was taking only ibuprofen to relieve the aches and pains. I was taking nothing to reduce the fever.
HELP FROM A FRIEND
Finally, after 13 days of high fever, Sue suggested I call a friend of ours who is a hospital nurse. She is a frontline hero who has cared for COVID patients and COVID patients in the ICU. She survived a serious case of COVID-19 back in July with symptoms very much the same as mine. I sent her an “SOS” text and she called me back immediately.
“Oh my God Chuck, I wish you would have called sooner,” she said.
Nurse Emily recommended a regimen of acetaminophen (to reduce fever) and the ibuprofen (for pain relief)rotating safe doses every 2 hours. I did that for three days with encouraging results of a reduced fever. During this three day period, I had a virtual visit with my primary care physician. He supported the regimen I was following. The doctor also said I could not be considered symptom free until I had no fever and was not using any medication to reduce the fever for at least three days. I stopped the regimen for a day, but the fever spiked back to 102 again and I resumed the regimen. After three more days, I felt like the fever had broken and I stopped all medications. This time the fever did not return. Finally, I was beginning to feel better despite a lingering cough which the doctor said is common and not contagious.
No fever, no meds. It was great to finally check my temperature throughout the day and night finding it at my normal 97.5 range. I checked it regularly for days. It was one day at a time until the days began to pile up. We were advised not to break quarantine until at least three days symptom free. I waited 8 days. My first day out of quarantine was Saturday, December 19. Sue and I returned to mass at St. Columban. The joy returning to St. Columban for mass with my St. Columban family is indescribable! Not to worry, it is a very safe place with masks required and safe social distancing protocols being followed. I’ve never felt more welcome than returning that Saturday to be greeted by so many of my brothers and sisters who had been praying for me and checking in on me.
Three things came to mind then and I continue to repeat them now. I am so thankful for my Catholic Christian faith in God which gave me hope when I felt hopeless. I am so thankful for the prayers and love from the St. Columban family. And, I am grateful I was healthy, physically fit, and athletically active when COVID-19 caught me. I can’t imagine surviving COVID if I had been in any compromised health condition. This is the weakest I have ever felt in my entire life.
Today is Day 18 symptom free for me. I feel confident I am on the road to a full recovery. I remain cautious, careful and vigilant to avoid exposure to the coronavirus or any chance of spreading the virus.
Thankfully Sue experienced a much more mild case. She seems well on the road to a full recovery despite some lingering fatigue. I still tell her the fatigue is from worrying about me and taking care of me. Boy, did she ever take care of me. I am feeling so much better, but far from 100% right now. Still low energy and tire easily, but getting better.
TWO GOOD THINGS
First, so many people reached out with care, concern, love and offers to help in any way they could. It is uplifting and hope-giving to know so many people were willing to be there for me, for both Sue and me, at our time of need. THANK YOU FAMILY and FRIENDS, thank you so much. There is one other really good thing that comes from recovering from this case of COVID-19. I will now be eligible to donate Convalescent Plasma through Hoxworth Blood Center. Convalescent Plasma is infused in COVID-19 patients whose lives are threatened by the virus. I have filled out the forms with Hoxworth Blood Center to donate my Convalescent Plasma to help those most in need.