It finally happened. After over three years, my luck ran out. So gather ’round guys, gals, and non-binary pals (H/T Kenji Lopez-Alt); it’s story time. Today’s story is about my encounter of the COVID kind. Cold news? Perhaps. But this was new to me, and I choose what to write, so too bad!
Last week, you may have noticed that I didn’t post every day. Well… That’s because I ran out of content and really was not feeling up to writing more. As much as COVID has “normalized” in society, it’s still a nasty little virus that can make you extremely miserable, even if you have what is, clinically, a mild infection. This was certainly the case for me during my encounter of the COVID kind.
Before we get into my encounter of the COVID kind, I think it’s worth pointing out how lucky I’ve been up until this point. You see, since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve had several brushes with the virus thus far. Several of these were, unsurprisingly, at work. My grandparents (I currently reside in a multi-generational home, which isn’t uncommon in Hawaii) caught it, and let’s just say they don’t understand isolation protocols.
On other occasions, I’ve been in a car with my SIL, who tested positive the next day. Then, there was the time Mrs. Island Miler tested positive, and I still managed to somehow dodge infection.
Alas, my luck ran out recently when the virus came sweeping through my household. Roughly half of the people in my home, nearly all the males, got the virus at almost the same time. Fun times.
My Encounter of the COVID Kind
I woke up on a Monday with worse-than-average sinus congestion and a scratchy throat. I tested myself using an at-home antigen test, which, not even halfway through its development time, showed up as positive. Great.
At this point, I’m not feeling too bad. I shoot my boss a text letting him know what happened; then I fire off emails to my HR, my staff, and some of my fellow department heads. But not an hour or two later, and WHAM! All of a sudden, I start getting shockingly strong chills, I start feeling achy, and I immediately have difficulties staying awake.
It’s deja vu! This is nearly precisely how I felt during my bivalent booster extravaganza. Well, minus the sinus congestion and ever-worsening nasal drip.
By the time late afternoon/early evening rolled around, I couldn’t breathe through my nose anymore; breathing, in general, was a little difficult because of all the congestion building in my chest; I was constantly shivering (even with fever reducers); my throat itched; I could barely stand; and I just couldn’t seem to stay awake. I barely drank anything that day and most definitely didn’t eat anything. And though I “slept” throughout the day and night, rest was fleeting, with constant tossing and turning and a majorly cranked-up resting heart rate.
My Encounter of the COVID Kind – Day 2
Day two rolled around, and I’m feeling a bit better. I’m not as fatigued anymore, I’m shivering less, and I can walk again, albeit like a drunk. By this point, I’m drinking more, and Mrs. Island Miler goes out to get me cough drops, decongestants, and powerful OTC nose sprays, all of which help. And by the time evening time rolls around again, I’m regaining a little more strength and begin eating bland, mushy foods.
I can still feel a tightness in my chest, and the itch in my throat starts me coughing. Despite the Mucinex DM, I’m on, though the coughs aren’t productive. Better yet, the throat itch is not joined by pain, which gets progressively worse throughout the day. At night, it got so bad I couldn’t bring myself to eat and reverted to a liquid diet. Oh, and at this point, COVID’s lovely gastrointestinal effects begin taking grip.
That night, sleep continued to remain fleeting, and my resting heart rate remained in the 90+ territory. What didn’t help is that my dumb ass decided to take an overnight dose of Mucinex, which had me coughing every hour or so, which kept Mrs. Island Miler up, too.
On the third day of my encounter of the COVID kind, my energy levels are getting back to near normal. My appetite is also back, though the throat pain is still keeping me on a mostly liquid diet. The chills are gone now, I’m strong enough to walk around the house (masked) again, though the sinus and chest congestion remain just as bad.
It’s at this point, with my encounter of the COVID kind that things take an annoying and painful turn. The gastrointestinal effects start ratcheting up a bit – though I don’t know if this is fueled in part by my overconsumption of cough drops. New on this day, though, is the cough attacks. Thanks to the Mucinex, the coughs, while painful, are mostly productive. Phlegm starts evacuating my chest, and breathing becomes easier.
Learning my lesson from the previous night, I don’t take Mucinex that evening, and, aside from one small, minor cough attack that I subdue with a sip of water, I sleep peacefully throughout the night and don’t disturb Mrs.Island Miler. This is the first night I get actual, restful sleep since testing positive, though my resting heart rate remains above baseline.
By the fourth day of my encounter of the COVID kind, my energy levels are mostly back to normal. But guess what? The gastrointestinal side effects are the worst they’ve been thus far, so I stop trying to eat and am constantly running to the bathroom. I’m still coughing up phlegm, but it’s getting more difficult, meaning it’s also becoming more painful to do so.
I’m not sure when it happened, but it was on this day that I noticed my sense of smell had dulled. I can’t smell anything unless it’s really strong – think Bath & Body Works soaps. And even then, the smell is faint.
The fifth day of my encounter of the COVID kind didn’t feel all that different at first. Much of what was bothering me on Day 4 still was on Day 5 – my last day of isolation. But I was getting sick of having just soup, so I slowly began adding solid foods back into the mix, though my stomach still wasn’t a happy camper. It wasn’t as bad as the day before, but it still wasn’t good.
My throat, unfortunately, was doing even worse on Day 5. All agitated from coughing up phlegm, which I was still doing, it continued to hurt throughout the day, especially when I spoke. And, yup, I felt like I was losing my voice that day. Oh, and speaking of phlegm, it was getting looser and lighter in color on Day 5.
All that said, as day turned to night and my OTC nose spray began wearing off, it seemed as if my sinus congestion was beginning to return to normal, too.
The sixth of my encounter of the COVID kind was day I could exit isolation, though I never really was in total isolation thanks to our living conditions. However, the day got off to a rough start, as coughing throughout the previous night meant I didn’t get much sleep. My throat itched quite a bit that day, though the pain began subsiding more, and all other symptoms continued to subside. My voice remained pretty messed up, and my sense of smell still remained way below normal, and my taste remained dull.
Per CDC guidance, I took an at-home antigen test once again this day, and while it still came back positive, the link was extremely faint. That’s a good thing, especially with the FlowFlex brand of test. As we know from Mrs. Island Miler’s experience, this means the viral load (dead or alive) is rapidly declining.
The seventh day of my encounter of the COVID kind was rough. I woke up feeling very groggy/lethargic. A rapid test that day came back with a strong positive. However, the previous night was the best sleep I’d gotten all week, and the coughing was beginning to subside while my phlegm continued to loosen. My voice was still far from normal, while my smell and taste remained MIA. My gastrointestinal issues remained quite annoying that day.
I woke up on the eighth day of my encounter of the COVID kind feeling more like day six – tired but somewhat normal. Fatigue remained an issue early on that day, along with some slight GI discomfort. Coughing, throat itch, and chest congestion lingered as well, though not as bad as Day 7.
I can eat again! But I still can’t really taste, and my sense of smell is still mostly gone. But, the ninth day of my encounter of the COVID kind was the best I’ve had yet. My GI issues were virtually gone, though my stomach was still getting used to “regular food” again. Unfortunately, my chest congestion and cough continued to persist, along with fatigue and brain fog. Yay.
After this day, things remained relatively the same. As I sit here updating my encounter of the COVID kind post on day 14, my taste list still quite muted, as is my sense of smell. Fatigue continues to be an issue, my GI remains a little irregular, the cough and throat itch is still with me, though the chest congestion is now mostly gone.
I’m honestly not sure how much longer it’ll take for me to get back to 100% normal, but I suspect I’ll have to wait a bit longer.
I finally test negative on the day the CDC says I can stop wearing a mask, but my encounter of the COVID kind is still far from over. For the next few days, fatigue remains a major issue for me, both from my time with the virus, and from sleep deprivation thanks to my continued scratch throat and cough. My sense of taste and smell are still mostly absent, and any sustained walking remains tiring. Being back at work during this time is difficult, but it sure beats being stuck in bed!
It is now day 22, and I think I’ve got most of my taste back, and my sense of smell is better, though still a little muted. It took me until day 13 before my physical strength began to return, and another week thereafter for fatigue. Bleh. And though I complain about my predicament, I know things could have been far worse, and I’m grateful it wasn’t.
It’s worth noting, that while I’ve never tested positive, Mrs. island Miler and I wondered if I had gotten covid before and just have been asymptomatic. My encounter of the COVID kind definitely proved that I’m not asymptomatic at all. In fact, some of my worst symptoms strongly mirrored those that I experienced with my last booster dose. The extreme fatigue and the uncontrollable chills for a couple a days were nearly exactly the same. Of course, the biggest difference for me was the congestion, runny nose, and throat pain/itch.
At any rate, while not as dangerous as it once was, COVID is still out there, folks, and it’s still an unpleasant ride, at least for some. So stay safe out there, get your boosters if you can, and stay healthy.