A Citizen-Scientist looks at his own COVID

Dispatches from the Front

As we get comfortable with a pandemic becoming endemic, we might be starting to lose a bit of personal, anecdotal data on our own COVID outbreaks. So, in the interest of everyone being their own best advocate for their own health care, I thought I’d share my experience this week:

Wednesday, 2/15/23: What I thought was just a cold yesterday has been confirmed by home antigen test as my 2nd COVID visitation, most likely the Omicron strain that travels more freely than previous versions. Great. I had tested at Noon on Tuesday and was negative. Just over 18 hours later, COVID.

Since I work for a medical provider, and we just did away with wearing masks less than 2 weeks ago, no doubt I’ve drafted through the halls in the wake of someone else’s virulence. I had some IT consultants in town for 3 days of meetings the week before, so there’s no telling from where or whom I got it from. Hopefully no one got it from me earlier this week.

When I had COVID in December of 2021, it was a two-fer: Flu and COVID at the same time, so I wasn’t able to accurately assign symptoms to one or the other. My condition felt more like the regular flu, so I assume that meant that my COVID booster did its job.

I did get the bivalent booster back at Christmas (2022), and it reportedly does its best defense in the first 3 months, so there’s that.

Initial symptoms matched the method of transmission: upper-respiratory issues, congestion, etc. Now on fully Day One of diagnosis, fever. First low-grade, and topping out at 102.3. Fell asleep in the “Isolation Room” fully clothed. No energy. Drinking lots of water.

Thursday, 2/16/23: Fever coming down, but still present. No energy, lots of body aches, sore stomach muscles from coughing. When urinating, I’m struck with something funny: foam on the surface. Not quite like a beer. Quick searches point to a research study in Istanbul, where the COVID virus causes capillary leaks in the cells of the kidney, causing more proteins to spill out. Great.

I’ve said before that COVID is not simply a respiratory viral agent, but looks for attack vectors all over the body. This particular strain, honed and selected for fitness over the last 3 years by few people controlling it’s spread, has gotten better at sticking around in all the wrong places.

Since I’m in relatively good heath, odds are good that my kidneys will heal themselves with no lasting effects.

Friday, 2/17/23: Still tired, but starting to feel better as evidenced by the fact that I’m not sleeping all the time. Sneezing, coughing, and blowing my nose alot. Fever down below 99, and since noon no fever.

Saturday, 2/18/23: Really hopeful to be antigen-negative this morning, but still postive. According to CDC guidelines, I’m supposed to keep the mask until Day 10, unless I have two antigen-negative tests within 48 hours. If I pass those tests, then I can lose the mask as I’m no longer contagious and a risk to those around me.

One thing I’ve noticed between my 2021 and 2023 versions: the 2021 infection really affected my lung capacity. I recall lots more wheezing and shortness of breath back then. So far (cross fingers) everything is more normal already.

Sunday, 2/19/23: Feeling okay. Coughing up junk and a bit of nasal congestion. Still antigen-positive, but a lesser trace on the test. Maybe tomorrow…

In spite of what you see in your own community, YOU are in charge of your own health. If you don’t feel comfortable in crowds without a mask, put on the mask.

I’ve said that if anything good comes out of this experience, it will be a renewed respect for hand washing, and the importance of masks in dealing with any sort of respiratory spread. Recall that during the pandemic years, the flu mortality rate was unusually low.

Hopefully this will be my last post talking about COVID, but sadly, I don’t think so.

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