It is now four weeks (July 11) since I came down with COVID-19 and it is nine days after getting home (July 31) from my three-day stint in the wonderful Memorial Hermann Sugar Land hospital.
Here are some random thoughts.
The 16 days that I was ill before I got hospital treatment were the sickest days I have ever been in my life. Sixteen days of fever, aches, loss of appetite, alien smells in my nostrils, night sweats, etc. About five years ago I had a really bad bronchial infection that laid me up for a week or so. The symptoms of that infection were rough, but antibiotics cleared it up.
I lost about 12 pounds from onset of symptoms to getting out of the hospital.
Oddly enough, I lost another 8 pounds in the week at home after getting out the hospital.
Since getting out of the hospital, I've been craving animal protein. When I wake up in the morning I am HUNGRY for protein. I have been eating a lot of eggs and poultry in the past nine days.
Almost every day since leaving the hospital has been a small progression of getting better. My guess is it will be another two or three weeks before I'm close to feeling, "well." The main lingering symptoms are tiredness and coughing.
COVID brain -- it's real. My mind is getting clearer, but creative thinking has been slow to return.
I left the hospital with a diagnosis of a lung blood clot, or pulmonary embolism (PE) that is still causing a cutoff of oxygen production. Currently I'm able to maintain an unaided oxygen level of 92 to 95% when just sitting around and resting. Normal is 95 to 99%. I have a oxygen generator that I use as needed. They put me on a blood thinner called Eliquis (estimated cost without insurance, about $471 a month) to prevent more blood clots and aid in the non-life-threatening break up of the PE that I now have. I was told on discharge that I would need to be on Eliquis for five to six months. I have a follow up video appointment with the pulmonologist next week.
Getting the Eliquis was a bit of a hassle. I was discharged from the hospital on a Thursday. The doctor's prescription was sent to Walgreen's along with several others. When I went to pick up the prescriptions, they were all ready except for the Eliquis. The insurance company wanted prior authorization from the doctor. I called the doctor's office (they are working from home) left messages and never got any call backs. Bastards. So here I was, 3:30 Friday afternoon needing a drug that would hopefully keep me from DYING. I ended up calling the drug manufacturer for Eliquis, who were more than happy to give me a free one-month sample and an additional ten-dollar copay card for my second month. They gave me a series of codes to give the pharmacy to get the free one-month sample. I went to Walgreen's about 5:30 on Friday. The pharmacy tech said that they were still waiting on approval from the insurance company. I told him that I had codes from the drug vendor that would give me a month free supply. The tech frowned, "I've never heard of that. . . " but he entered the codes and to his surprise the cost came to $0 for me! My thanks goes out to Bristol Myers Squibb to help keep me alive.
I'm actually kind of glad that I was laid off before getting hit with COVID-19. As an employee, I've always put a little too much of myself into the job. If I were still employed in the same situation as I was before, sitting at home sick I would be feeling guilty about not getting my job done. Without the job to worry about I'm able to just sit around the house resting and recovering feeling completely guilt free.
I was contacted by the state health department by phone a day or two after I got home from the hospital due to the positive test result that I received while in the hospital. They said that I should stay at home for two weeks. A few days later I got a letter from the Fort Bend County health department that said: "Please be advised that Fort Bend County Health & Human Services is recommending that you, Douglas Green, remain at home and avoid public settings, unless for a medical appointment or need, from 7/27/20 until released by the health department." They did not explain under what terms I would be "released by the health department." I'm curious how this is going to play out.
Making medical appointments was interesting. I made an appointment with my primary doctor and the pulmonologist. Since I recently had COVID-19, they both only want to do video appointments. The pulmonologist office said I could do an in-office visit only if I had two negative tests. I briefly looked into getting two tests, but the system really seems to be geared to finding new cases of COVID-19 and is not geared to showing that you don't have COVID-19.
All of this is fine. I don't have anywhere to be. We are able to pick up groceries at HEB and pickup take out food without exposing anyone.
All in all, in spite of the PE, I feel pretty lucky and I am optimistic.
Neither Susan or I had to be intubated or ventilated to keep us alive. Neither one of us seem to have COVID-19 infections that are ongoing for weeks or months like I've read about on the Internet recently.
Please be safe out there everyone. Stay home if you can, but wear a mask if you can't stay home.
Thank you to Doug for sharing his personal experience with battling COVID-19. We wish him, his wife and all those that are fighting their own private battles with this pernicious virus a speedy recovery.