Did I have Covid-19?

That’s the uneasy question I’ve several times asked myself when I seemed to have coronavirus symptoms since the pandemic hit us all in March. But each of those suspicious physical anomalies soon abated and relieved my anxiety. Subsided so quickly, in fact, that I never contacted my physician to report what happened. However, when I suddenly developed a fever last weekend, I couldn’t dismiss the possibility that I might really have the virus and thus needed to let my doc know. Waiting to see him and subsequently waiting for test results was a fretful, fearful period.

I take good health and high energy for granted, a common conceit, I am told.  The old saying about not appreciating your health until you lose it came back to me on Saturday when I suddenly felt an unfamiliar throbbing pain under my chin and in my throat (but not a sore throat).  It hurt to breathe deeply, too.  Worry engulfed me, wondering if these were the first signs of CV-19.  I’ve read about strange symptoms as the virus takes hold in organs and begins to wreak systemic bodily damage.  Was this what was happening?

I took solace in not having a fever, reminding myself that we’re all on a hair trigger when some mild infection that we would have largely ignored pre-Covid abruptly manifests.  That thinking calmed me, but I could not shake the feeling that this bore close watching.  I seemed to have swollen salivary glands, and that had never happened to me before and just seemed bizarre.  I didn’t even know salivary glands could get infected.

I spent the weekend in an unsettled, irritated mood. I’m not a patient person to begin with and can be hard to live with, so I tried to avoid interactions with my wife and kids and other people.  No need to reconfirm my curmudgeonly nature, I thought.

Then came the fever onset Sunday afternoon.  Out of nowhere my face was prickly hot.  At once, I took my temp, and it was over 102 degrees.  To be sure, I borrowed a no-contact forehead thermometer, identical to the ones in use worldwide now.  Same reading as the old-fashioned device under the tongue. The high temperature rocketed my concern to a higher plain.

When my doctor of nearly three decades moved his UNC Med practice to a concierge clinic, I reluctantly ponied up the annual premium so I wouldn’t lose him.  Being a concierge member has its advantages, one being I can reach my physician 24/7/365 on his cell phone.  I called the number Sunday afternoon and reached him at once, explaining the background and current realities of physical pain and elevated temp.  He scheduled an exam and Covid test for the follow day (Monday) at 9:30 AM.

The fever had me knackered, and I withdrew to bed at the unheard-of (for me) early time of 8:30 Sunday night.  After taking an aspirin, I fell asleep in a feverish daze with most of my clothes on.

I awakened just before midnight and felt physically exhausted.  But I was hungry (I had skipped dinner) and thirsty.  Only a very slight fever, but my body felt tired from the experience of fighting it off.  I had a big glass of water and some roasted potatoes.  Uh oh, I thought.  Could I taste the food?  Yes, the potatoes were delicious and tasted like, well, good old spuds.  Relief.  Maybe I didn’t have Covid.  But the fever, and my state of fatigue.  And my throat still ached around the salivary glands.  After having a bite and the water, I fell asleep again almost immediately, once more taking an aspirin.

To my surprise, I awoke shortly past seven Monday morning feeling more like a human being than when I went to bed.  No fever, either.  None. Not even slight.  Good sign, I thought. 

I had been instructed not to enter the clinic building but to drive underneath into the parking garage and not get out of my car.  I was to phone that I’d arrived, which I did.  Pretty soon my doc and a nurse arrived in full hazmat medical gear head to toe to examine and test me.  Also, a medical cart full of stuff. 

As they prepared the test, I warned that I could not tolerate the brain stem swab probe if that was called for on account of a lifelong history of nosebleeds.  No problem, they said, since the newest tech involved only a special fuzzy swab that took samples from both nostrils.  Sure enough, the swab was not terribly invasive and merely tickled.  Other probes of temperature, lungs, heart, oxygen level, and blood pressure were all normal and good. 

Again, a big relief.

However, the virus is complicated and stealthy, I was advised, and no absolute conclusions could be drawn until the test results were back despite the otherwise normal signs.  And that might take a couple of days.

So I waited timorously through Monday and Tuesday this week, not knowing what to expect.  My energy level was fine again, so I carried on with my schedule, careful not to go out on normal errands like to the grocery store.  I cocooned carefully at home and Zoomed several meetings, and I waited.

Monday and Tuesday dragged by. What if I was positive? I’ve read of asymptomatic cases and mild cases.  What would mine be like?  Would my lungs become so infected that I was put on a ventilator? At times I could feel my heart racing and tried to calm myself. My mind constructed a plan for contact tracing the few people I’d been in close contact with and wondered what other steps I’d have to take to cordon myself off from the world.  Time crept by at a tectonic pace Monday and yesterday.

At 3:50 PM Tuesday afternoon my physician called.  Negative!  I was negative.  Are you certain?  That is, don’t you have cases of false negatives?  No.  I was well. 

Relief overwhelmed me after we hung up.  I’ve never been so happy to fail a test.

8 thoughts on “Did I have Covid-19?

  1. Will I think we all think any little sign of anything unusual means we have Covid. Hard to relax these days. I am really enjoying you post Sets. Kinston schools made you a good writer! Hope you and your family are staying well and safe. Best Noel

    Sent from my iPad


  2. “No problem with false negatives”…… Call me a cynic, but I’d hesitate to accept that statement at face value.

    I’m not saying you might still have the virus. But I am calling into question the knowledge/judgment/honesty/whatever of anyone who tells you there are no such things as false negatives.

    For example, NO tests are reliable until some number of days after an infection has been acquired. Usually the tests start working (albeit never without occasional false negatives and even – more rarely with your type of test, false positives) prior to symptom onset though, so not an issue in your case.

    My rule of thumb – the more absolute and definite an “expert” is on any topic, the less they know about it. 🙂

    Glad you didn’t get to experience Covid-19 up close. But it could have been a great topic for several more articles!

    1. I reported what my doc told me, David, but I, too, wonder. I haven’t had any symptoms since Monday morning, so far, at least.

      Yep, more to write about if I’d come down with the disease, but not my first choices of topics!

      1. Thank you. Glad to hear it was something minor. I read you via Joe Brancatelli’s site. Please keep your columns coming. They are both entertaining and informative.

  3. And that’s the issue with the widespread panic being promulgated in the media. The reality is that unless every is tested everyday, there is no way to know whether you contracted Covid and are asymptomatic or that your last test was a false negative. So you can live your life in fear or recognize the least publicized media fact that 80% of the people who contract COVID-19 will be just fine, unless you’re in a motorcycle accident and die, in which case you are likely to be classified as a Covid death.

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