Case in Point

COVID-19 also comes with mental, emotional anguish


On the evening of Election Night, Nov. 3, I had to run an errand. After putting our weekly Advocate News issue to bed, I had to travel to DeWitt to pick up a car. I needed to have someone ride along with me, in order to drive one of the vehicles back home.

I asked my father, Stan, to ride along. We had planned the trip, and both of us had voted that morning. We were good to go.

What we didn’t plan was me feeling just a little bit under the weather.

I have COVID-19. By the time some of you read this, I’ll officially be out of quarantine, but I have/had it nonetheless.

I reported my timeline/experience with the virus with you all last week. I’ll revisit the timeline later. But rewinding back to Nov. 3, I would say it’s clear that I had COVID-19 at that time. I didn’t know it. The only symptom of being sick in any way was a bit of a runny nose.

Yet with listening to my body, something just didn’t feel right. Therefore, I did something I never do. When I picked up my father to ride along to DeWitt, I told him I was going to wear a mask while we were in the vehicle together — and I did.

I felt a bit strange the whole way but, in the end, it was probably the smartest move I’ve made in quite some time. Less than 48 hours later, I was tested for COVID-19 as my symptoms were worsening. Less than 72 hours from that car ride, I tested positive.

It was then that the emotional toll began with this virus. The mental anguish is something no one can prepare you for — heck, even the physical symptoms are hard enough to predict. Clearly I was having symptoms of sickness, so I wasn’t going to be one of the asymptomatic ones. How sick was I going to get? Would I end up in the hospital? Would I have just mild symptoms? Worse?

Those are just a few of the questions that race through your mind the moment you get a positive test result. Immediately, you go from a state of “I’m just fine,” to “what am I in for?”

Doctors can’t answer that question. They can give advice based on your vitals and physical outlook, but no one truly knows. My primary care provider said he thought I’d be fine. As I wrote last week, my key vitals were good. I never ran a fever and wasn’t having breathing issues. Luckily, I never did.

Given the diagnosis, I’ll admit I expected things to get worse, perhaps much worse. A scary feeling — scarier still knowing that no one can help you as the main thing you have to do is quarantine yourself from others.

There was no medicine. I was only told that if I ran a high fever, or if I had breathing issues, I was to get to a hospital immediately.

Next, you begin calling everyone closest to you. Family, friends, coworkers … anyone you may have been around in the days leading up to your symptoms.

That brings me back to that car ride. I called my parents, Stan and Tami, and told them. I then called them at least once per day, playing the role of doctor, asking them how they were feeling, and urging them to get checked out upon the slightest symptom of any kind. Thankfully, as I write this 14 days from that car ride with my father, I can report that neither of my parents ever got sick.

This time.

I go to bed each night telling myself they didn’t get it. Could it be that they are just asymptomatic? Perhaps, but I doubt it. I believe my mask saved my father that night. Sadly, in this Star Spangled awesome country we live in, that is up for debate. What I can say is wearing that mask helped stop the spread.

I was lucky in that neither of my parents got it. I’m also lucky that I don’t have a family at home to worry about infecting, or quarantining from while inside my own house.

My coworkers weren’t so lucky. There are four people working out of our office. Three of us got COVID-19 at around the same time. While this was eye-opening, it was probably a blessing, because we quarantined and dealt with it at the same time. We were also able to lock our office from the outside world and continue to get our product out because we didn’t have the fear of spreading it to each other. We also battled the symptoms and kept working — for our readers and clientele.

Our fourth employee, my cousin Amber (Bradley) Ganzer — who had just recently begun working for us — lucked out. Or so we thought. Around a week later, her youngest daughter Harper tested positive at just 4 years old. That put Amber’s entire family into quarantine, therefore the rest of the members won’t be tested. They must band together and, luckily, none of the others are feeling sick at this point. I’m going to print separately a note that Amber wrote upon learning that her daughter was positive. (See below.) If I’m not doing a good job explaining how emotional this virus can be, let her words sink in.

You can prepare for this virus all you want, but trust me when I say all the toilet paper in the world cannot prepare you for the target you’ll feel on your back. Every time I’ve left my house, I’ve felt like a marked man. And I will for quite some time. Also, no one can prepare you for not being able to go anywhere. Can’t pick up your mail. Can’t get a quick gallon of milk. If you’re truly respecting others, you can’t live your life among the outside world.

Thank God for my parents — the same people who I feared I’d make sick. They were willing to risk it every day to bring me food, groceries, etc. I’m not alone. I’m sure all of us who have gone through this have had heroes close to us, keeping us going.

The days have ticked like months on the calendar, but by Nov. 19, I’ll be two weeks from my test date. That’s four days longer than the 10 days I was advised to quarantine. Aside from sneaking down to our office and locking the door, I’ve tried to stay disconnected from the outside world.

I may have had an emotional moment or two in the beginning, and perhaps a couple more based on some friends who were genuinely scared about my well being. However, for the most part, I’m used to being alone. I did just fine.

The governor addressed the state on the evening of Nov. 16, bringing even stricter rules and regulations amid this pandemic. While I feel she’s always behind, it shows she’s finally taking this a bit more seriously. I urge all of you to do the same. We have our biggest holidays right around the corner. This reaches you a week before Thanksgiving, and a month before Christmas. As strange as it sounds, give thanks this season by NOT having large group gatherings. Keep it confined to just immediate family at most. The life you save may be your 4-year old daughter, your mother, your grandparent, etc. How about Christmas in June?

One last thing, from a physical standpoint, my timeline with the virus was printed last week. By now I feel pretty good. I took a 2 1/2 mile walk late Saturday night and it felt great. My only long-lasting symptom is that I still can’t taste. It’s been nine days since I lost it, and while it’s starting to come back, it’s not all the way there as I write this.