This column comes to our readers six months (to the day) from COVID-19 finding its way into the office of your hometown newspaper.
It was Nov. 5 when I was tested for COVID-19. I went to our local Wilton UnityPoint clinic on a Thursday, after feeling a bit funny for most of the week. The only real symptom of any bother was a bad sore throat. Had we not been in the middle of a pandemic, with local businesses closing all around us as COVID-19 cases went through the roof, I would have never gone to the doctor.
For the sake of our staff and communities, I decided to get tested. Less than 24 hours later, I had tested positive on Nov. 6. At that point, we had been doing stories on COVID-19 weekly — and still are. I vowed at that time to live my battle with the virus publicly in this space.
For two weeks, I reported my symptoms, which varied as the days continued. The sore throat lasted a few days. I lost my taste entirely, and most of my sense of smell, for around three weeks, getting it back just in time for Thanksgiving.
Other than that, I would say that every day was a bit of a mystery for the first week or so after my positive test. I had body aches, some congestion, threw up one time in the middle of the night (Side note: The best time to throw up is when you have no sense of taste!), it seemed like every symptom lasted just a matter of hours before moving on as my body fought the virus.
The good news is that I didn’t have any of the issues that tend to send folks to the hospital. No shortness of breath or breathing issues, no fever, no lung issues, my oxygen levels were good, etc.
The hardest part was the quarantining and having to contact loved ones who I had been in contact with, in order to warn them and have them quarantine. Making those phone calls was the low point for me.
The biggest blessing in disguise was the fact that three of the four working in our office at the time, all tested positive in a 24-hour span. While scary at first, it allowed my ad manager at the time, and I, to still report to work each day, lock the door behind us, and continue working in order to get papers to our readers.
Six months later, I received my second COVID-19 vaccine shot April 30. I have fellow staff member Amber Ganzer to thank. When the state opened the COVID vaccine up to younger adults April 5, Amber made an appointment for the Pfizer vaccine at Muscatine’s main Hy-Vee store. Upon telling me about it, I expressed interest and, five minutes later, she had made me an appointment as well.
I received my first dose April 9, and my second dose April 30. With regard to side effects, after my first dose, I woke up the next day with chills and a sore arm. By lunchtime, I got the chills again and felt nauseous. That feeling subsided rather quickly. I also had body aches. By that evening, about 26-28 hours later, I was fine.
My feelings after shot two mirrored my symptoms after the first shot. I woke up Saturday with the chills, and later that morning felt a bit nauseous. Other than that, my body ached all day. By late that evening I felt fine, and back to normal by Sunday.
When thinking about whether or not I’d get vaccinated, I’ll admit I was skeptical. To be clear, I’m not an “Anti Vaxxer.” Frankly, it was more about the fact that I had already had COVID-19.
If I had successfully gotten through the gauntlet without contracting it, I would have been chomping at the bit to get the vaccine. After having, and successfully beating COVID-19, I was no longer afraid of it.
Yet when my parents, Tami and Stan, began their quest to get vaccinated, my mother asked me on the weekend prior to April 5 if I was going to get vaccinated.
I said sure, although I had not yet actually made any appointments. She told me she hoped I would. That’s all I needed to hear. My first phone call upon learning I had COVID-19 six months ago was to my parents. I’m sure that phone call scared them, and made them worry if they were next.
I saw it now as my duty to get vaccinated. Not only for my parents, but for everyone in our communities and beyond. This isn’t about me, it’s about the greater good.
While we’re at it, I have to mention that I forgot to bring my little card with me to get written verification for shot No. 2. The staff at Hy-Vee pharmacy in Muscatine was great about getting me in anyway and giving me a sticker to place on my card when I got home. For good measure, I actually took my card back a couple days later and had them fill it out in its entirety.
It is a bit of an odd-sized card — bigger than a business card, yet smaller than about anything else. I’ll have no problem showing it anywhere, anytime if needed and/or requested. That’s not the hard part. The hard part (clearly) will be remembering it.