This is the follow-up to A Senior’s Perspective. If you read that, then the last thing you heard was that I was at home playing the waiting game.
COVID-19 isn’t your average little flu bug
Once I was sent home after my ER visit and the multiple tests they did, it was just time to wait. Wait to see if I actually had the Coronavirus. Piece of cake, right? After all, I had been through the worst of it.
So I waited. And waited, and waited some more.
So I kept my social distance and busied myself with trivial things to stay occupied. I brushed up on my Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. And I did retail therapy for those very important items like socks and underwear. You know, those things one can never have too many of.
But when I left the ER a few days earlier, no one told me to expect to feel worse. I mean, really worse!
I started having a nagging headache. The “half a headache” kind. That annoying one that locates just behind the eyes and front sinus. Then I started with some chills. Not just normal chills, but that fluish kind when you’re hot one minute and can’t get warm the next.
I had “the fever”. Not too high, I thought, but still nearing 102 F. Ok what’s that saying Granny’s says, “Starve a fever, feed a cold”? Or is it “feed a fever and starve a cold”? Whatever it was, I tried both. By the 3rd day, my fever had broken.
Hey, I did it. Yippee.
Just a little residual flu symptoms. But what about this headache, It wasn’t going away and in fact, it was only getting worse. Now along with the headache, I felt like I had a pressure weighing down on my chest.
OK. Come on, this was getting old real fast. This was “just the flu.” Sure people were dying from it, but they had all these other things going on with their health. I’m not that unhealthy.
I went to the doctor. This was supposed to be behind me by now. I was just still waiting on the test results, that, of course, I already know were negative because I’ve been through the worst of it, right?
So what’s all this going on now?
A few more days went by and my headache had not subsided. The pressure in my chest was only getting worse, and I had an annoying cough.
Ok, what to do? What to do?
They tell you to stay home. I was staying at home! I did what every confused senior citizen does, I called my doctor. And I explained how I was feeling, trying not to sound like a hypochondriac, since it had only been a week prior I pestered them. But I was really short of breath and feeling pretty crappy. Like all doctors, they told me to go to the ER.
Oh great, here we go again!
Another trip to the ER
It takes almost an hour to drive to the ER from my home. Yes, there is an ER closer, but I want my insurance to cover it 100%, especially when they’ll be just sending me home again after several hours.
After 30 minutes into the drive, my shortness of breath was increasingly worsening.
Having asthma as an underlying health issue, I knew this could get really bad fast. Trying not to panic, I went into deep breathing mode. This was not working. I was starting to sweat and shiver at the same time.
This was bad.
This was bad. This was not the average flu symptoms anymore.
I tried not to worry about those with me, but I don’t think I was fooling anyone. My hubby had seen many of my asthma attacks before. And my granddaughter, the driver, was a sharp cookie. She just said “Grandma, I’m already going as fast as I dare.” I just smiled to reassure her that she was doing just fine and we’d get there when we get there. No hurry, no sweat.
Soon the wheezing started and I could feel my airway constriction. Not good, not good at all. This wasn’t a usual asthma attack. Do I have COVID after all?
It had been a week with an inconclusive test result.
Finally at the ER
We made it to the ER in record time and by now I could barely walk, talk, or breathe. I was ushered to a room, disrobed and all the usual fun things done to me.
- Temp: Check.
- Blood Pressure / too high: Check.
- Lung & Heart: Check.
So first things first, let’s get you breathing, said the doctor.
Hey, I’m down with that, I thought to myself. Isn’t that what the youth say nowadays? I couldn’t say anything but I wanted to just scream, “Do something already, PLEASE” It felt like hours again. Hurry up and let’s wait some more. But this time there seemed to be more of an urgency. Could it be, I really was getting worse?
All alone again
Because of the strict No-Visitors-Policy in place, and trying not to spread the COVID, my family was told to wait in the car or go home and they’d be called with further news.
Am I in that movie Groundhog’s Day? I’ve heard this somewhere before. The doctor’s ordered many tests, some new and some the same as last week. The dreaded “itch your brain” COVID test again, in fact, let’s do it twice for good measure.
They said they’d like to rule out COVID with 2 negative test results. So I sucked it up and did all the tests needed to hopefully get me feeling better and on my way home again. There was just a little glitch to this plan, however.
After each breathing treatment, it didn’t last for any amount of time and the wheezing and airway constriction kept returning. By this time I had a chest x-ray and it was determined that air was not flowing through as it should. The doctors came in and said, we really need to admit you and get this under control. I had an IV in my arm again and guess what that meant? Another ambulance ride across town.
Another ambulance ride across town.
Ok, this is getting old real fast. Everyone on the ambulance crew was awesome, but we’ve got to stop meeting like this. At least this time I really did feel like I might be dying. I still couldn’t breathe and we even skipped past the main hospital ER and I was taken directly to a room. Pretty nice room, if I felt well enough to enjoy it.
I was taken to the COVID wing and was placed in an isolation room.
OK? What does that mean? Were they saying I had COVID 19? No one was telling me anything, yet. It was explained that because the COVID-19 was airborne, I couldn’t have the usual nebulizer breathing treatments because it could release the virus into the air in the room, which could potentially infect anyone entering my room.
After several attempts to use an inhaler for treatments, it was determined that my airway was only becoming more constricted and it was either moved up to an ICU / Pressurized room or waited to put me on a ventilator. So I was moved to a special care room where the air inside was pressurized to allow for the nebulizer treatments to work and not put me on a ventilator.
The Next Few Days…
The next few days I had several breathing episodes a day and with each episode came specialized breathing treatments. Here I have to give a special shout out to Wally. Wally is a specialized ICU respiratory therapist who went above and beyond his job description.
He made it his mission to find the right “cocktail” of medications that worked for me to get me breathing freely again. It was Wally that discovered the use of an injectable drug into an aerosol suspension for the use in the nebulizer. This drug mixed with 2 other drugs was a mixture that was working for me. I called it “Wally’s Cocktail” Using this treatment allowed me to breathe freely for 4 to 5 hours. It was heaven-sent.
You can’t imagine the feeling when your throat tightens as if someone is actually choking you. I had several restless nights and each morning the doctor would say, maybe you can go home tomorrow once we get this under control.
But going home was not an option for a while, I knew that.
There were too many things that needed to be done before I could get to that point.
1. I had an IV pumping heavy doses of steroids into my body to open my lungs.
2. I had developed a bacteria infection in my lungs that needed to clear up.
3. I had IV antibiotics to get rid of the infection in my lungs.
4. I had to get on oral medications and off the IV medications.
And 5. I had to get two negative COVID-19 test results to move me out of the pressurized room.
By now I had 3 COVID test results returned; one inconclusive, one positive, and one negative. Whoo-hoo. One more negative and I was out of here. Or so I thought.
The last test came back. COVID-Negative, Bacteria infection-negative, Breathing-remarkably improved!!!
Yes, I was on my way back to health! So now I was moved to another room. This room was isolated. I wasn’t contagious to anyone else, but everyone was a possible carrier of a potential bug to me.
So here I sat in isolation for a few more days. No visitors. It was very lonely and very difficult to stay upbeat.
Here I need to do a shout out to my nurse Jess who noticed my sadness and brought me an adult coloring book. I’ve never been a person to color. In fact, as a kid, I couldn’t stay within the lines to save my soul. But it was the sweetest gesture of Jess to do. This book had all my favorite positive affirmations in it and I took to it easily and happily. Sure the coloring had something to be desired, but it passed the time and each positive affirmation reminded me that this will not be forever in this isolation room.
Something Is Not Quite Right
While having a breathing attack someone had noticed that the air was being restricted in my throat more than my lungs. Gee this is how it has been for years, why is someone noticing this now? An ENT doctor had to be consulted because something blocking my airway going into my lungs was the general consensus.
The ENT doctor came the next afternoon with scope in hand. Now I’m here to tell you this isn’t just a little flashlight up your nose. Oh No. It’s a small garden hose with a light at the end and it travels up the nose, through the sinuses, down the throat, and into the lungs all while the doctor is watching the end of the scope to see everything inside.
All I could think of was, “I sure hope I blew my nose good this morning” It really wasn’t painful, just a bit of a weird feeling. It took him all of 10 minutes to come to the conclusion that my entire insides were in spasms and squeezing shut that made my airway close off.
Huh? What? That’s it? Pop this pill and you can breathe normally again? Wow. How easy is that, right. So I started a new medication to reduce the spasms and time will tell.
Within 24 hours of the new medication, I was breathing freer than I have ever before. My lung infection was gone. I was off the IV steroids. I was off the IV antibiotics. My blood pressure was good. My energy was very low, but I felt I was on my way to a strong recovery.
Time To Go Home!
The doctor came in and said, “would you like to go home?” Well duh, I’ve been here 9 days, it’s about time, I thought to myself. But I just replied “Yes please.”
I had made it to the other side of COVID-19 and survived.
This wasn’t just the flu virus. It took something out of me that I knew would be a slow recovery once I got home. But one day at a time was what I was looking at. Just one day at a time at home in my own bed. With my family and not single isolation.
It hit me hard. Harder than I ever imagined anything could from a simple virus bug. So many have died from this bug unnecessarily because, like me, many didn’t think it was anything but another flu type bug to get through.
I will never take something like this for granted again. I can’t say I was afraid of dying through my ordeal, but I was afraid my mission was finished and I was going to be called home to my Lord and Savior sooner than I selfishly wanted.
But I’m still here. My assignment is not over. God isn’t finished with me yet. So now I will rest and finish my recovery at home. Praising Him that he has left me here to serve another day. This has renewed my faith that He is in total control and He is in the driver’s seat. Let’s enjoy the ride.
Hi! So first off, this article isn’t our normal niche. We usually post things about web development and web design with the odd marketing pieces now and again. But, I feel that this COVID-19 situation transcends my niche… and my mom has a story to tell. Thank you so much for reading this post. It really means a lot to me and her. If you liked it, please feel free to share it with your friends and family. And if the few more ads I put in this one bothered you, check out this blog post on how to add an ad-block. :)