For the past six months I have been a strong advocate for mask wearing to the point of obsession. I have gotten into arguments and shouting matches with people over the necessity of social distancing, sanitizing and mask wearing. My concern was for people in my age group and above that may be dangerously affected by this virus as well as younger people who may be immune deficient for some reason or another.
I followed all the guidelines with wearing masks, hand sanitizer and hand washing. I refuse to enter a building without a mask and have driven back home to get one rather than enter without one many times. Somewhere along the way I must have let down my guard and became a “victim” of this awful disease. Contracting it can come from many sources. One doesn’t know how, when or why it happens because it is basically invisible.
I started not feeling well about two weeks ago but then I recently turned 66 and mornings are always rough at my age. The 19th of November I tested for the virus when I was in Huntington just to ease my mind because many close friends had come down with COVID-19. Those results were negative at the time and I felt relieved. The weekend followed and I continued not to feel as well as I thought I should. Something was just not right. I tested again at one of the free testing sites being held in Mason County. There was no long line and I only waited about five minutes. They told me the results would be back in 24-72 hours and gave me a website to see the results. I was feeling worse by the day and suspected I may have contracted the virus, so I went into isolation until I got my results back. The last thing in the world at that point was not my concern for myself but for others. Four-and-a-half days after testing I received my suspected positive result and a call early Sunday morning from the health department.
I am now (as I write this column) on my eleventh day of isolation and plan to continue such until I feel I am virus free or get tested again. I have had mild symptoms of tiredness, some congestion, some coughing but nothing more than normal, clammy feeling, increased sweating, normal temperature, Pulse Ox remains at 96-98, blood pressure up slightly and smell and taste almost completely non-existent. I have no appetite but continue to force myself to eat and drink plenty of water which I never do to prevent dehydration.
I take one baby aspirin daily but increased this to one regular aspirin out of concern for blood clots which is common with COVID-19. I also increased my blood pressure medicine slightly to bring that down to normal. (Do not do this without proper advice). I think my blood pressure increased due to my anxiety, but it could be the virus. The worst I felt were days six-nine when I experienced what I can describe as a car sickness feeling.
My advice after the fact is, buy a pulse OX meter, forehead thermometer and blood pressure kit beforehand to monitor your vitals; 93 and above is a safe area for your oxygen level. Below that consistently, seek help. Blood pressure above 140/90 also seek help. Temperature above 100.5 is another danger point. Wear a mask when outside isolation and don’t touch anything someone else may come in contact with. Use alcohol at all times. Have a can of Lysol spray, hand wipes and hand sanitizer close by. Make sure your pneumonia vaccine and flu shots are up to date especially those over 60.
I have survived so far but it could have easily gone the other way. There are so many unknowns that will be discovered in the coming months and years ahead. Please don’t be one of those people who think “not me” or “masks don’t work.” It’s not a hoax, it’s here, it’s nasty and it’s something everyone should take seriously. The life you save might be a loved one taken too soon, a friend, a neighbor or someone’s child, heaven forbid. The long-term effects are unknown currently. When a vaccine becomes available, get in line. Thank God all those people 50 years ago got in line for the smallpox and Polio vaccines and understood it was a health issue.
Dexamethasone, Remdisivir, Oxygen and blood thinners are the current choice of therapy and used at PVH. Monitoring of SpO2 is also critical and watched closely. Hydroxychloroquine is not proven effective and possibly fatal side effects especially for those with pre-existing heart conditions and not being used as far as I know. They do have ventilators also and using them when necessary.
I hope my experience helps someone else. When I was at CVS many years ago, I helped develop their slogan “Together we are Helping People Lead Happier, Healthier Lives.” They have since changed that slogan to “For Your Own Good.” Combine those two together and we may just conquer this thing once and for ALL.
J. David Morgan lives in Point Pleasant, W.Va. and is a graduate of Wahama High School and the WVU School of Pharmacy. He is a lifelong resident of Mason County, W.Va. and former member of the Mason County Board of Education.