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Published on January19, 2021

My struggle with COVID-19 landed me in ICU for holidays

By Edward A. Forbes / The Bulletin

I have contracted the COVID virus and am going through a slow recovery period. I spent a few days in the hospital on antibiotics and steroids, and I am here to tell you about my experience with the not-so-nice COVID-19 coronavirus.

My ex-wife, the mother of my children, visited my home one day with my grandson. He is fine; we both got ill - her worse than I. We visited on Friday and started exhibiting symptoms on Saturday, a little fast for a primary exposure.

None of my friends are positive at this juncture. My ex-wife works in the medical field, and I wonder if that’s where she was exposed. I, on the other hand, eat out frequently, and I’m in coffee groups that meet five or six days a week. One of our members had the virus a few months ago, but it was only a mild case with him having only a headache and his ability to taste affected.

Could it have come from a grocery store where there are always those that refuse to wear a mask and insist on handling all the produce? Who knows?

I live alone and had myself tested on Monday, Dec. 14, before Christmas. Ta-Daaah - it was positive. I quarantined at home, and slowly my symptoms worsened. I had coughing and shallow breathing and was weak as a kitten.

I finally threw in the towel on Christmas Day and went to the UTMB Angleton Campus ER. I can’t thank the staff enough for the kindness and concern they exhibited.

My contact interview took place before Christmas Day, before I was at my worst. I answered all the questions, despite hanging up on them several times. I should have realized then I was getting worse.

I couldn’t operate my phone with any degree of competency. I didn’t feel like I could even sit at the computer and operate it until New Year’s Day; this is something I normally do daily. I was trying to pay bills on-line as usual, but I had to limit myself when I started catching mistakes.

Blood work, X-ray, picc line put in for IV antibiotic, oxygen nasal cannula - the ER doctor explained and made sure I understood everything before shipping me upstairs. Interestingly, most of the nursing staff had experienced the virus themselves, primarily in October and November. This definitely gave them perspective and compassion for the people in the ICU isolation rooms.

The only complaint I have during my five-day stay was the food. I still have nightmares about the food. I subsisted on water and the occasional fruit cup during my stay. I lost 27 pounds during my stay, and if I ever read a menu with Homemade Meatloaf with Farmer Brown Gravy on it, I will get up and run.

I was nearly suckered in one morning by pancakes and sausage on the menu. I sawed desperately with my little plastic knife on the non-yielding pancake, then picked up a piece of the link sausage and took a bite. Good Lord, I spent the rest of the morning trying to rinse the taste out of my mouth. My taste buds were evidently not totally dormant.

The Monday after Christmas Day, they told me I could go home, and I called my children to come get me. I was free - well, sort of - in quarantine. I couldn’t have done much, regardless.

My oxygen level would drop to 80 with the least exertion, and it would take over an hour of resting to build it back up to 90, but at least it would go back up. My daughter purchased a pulse oximeter for me, and in four days, my recovery rate dropped to 30 minutes and finally to mere minutes.

I am still weak and unsteady on my feet, which made cooking a definite impossibility. My food requirements were met by the children and a cadre of friends.

Duke and Renee brought gumbo that lasted me three days. I quickly learned the amount I could eat was limited. Terry and Lorie offered numerous times to pick up something for me. My children provided brisket, cookies, and a What-A-Burger, which was good for two meals. Susan sent cookies for Christmas, which were used as a welcomed supplement. Bobby and Sue sent a New Year’s feast that easily surpassed two meals. It was complete with all New Year’s good luck food prerequisites. I am still too weak to be totally stir-crazy, at this point too weak to stir, so I’m only crazy.

The children brought my mail, which neighbor Jon collected for me. Mail deliveries, as I improved, were accompanied by a distanced conversation. My son, Wes, replaced some light bulbs and fixed my AC filter, which I had attempted to change on Christmas Eve, only to succeed in falling twice before realizing it was beyond my capabilities.

The New Year’s celebration was far from our usual norm. We did have a nice Facetime visit to finish out 2020 and welcome in 2021. I hope this is a better and friendlier New Year for all of us.

I am but one of the many people afflicted by the COVID-19 coronavirus. My recommendations are that if you aren’t wearing a mask - start.

Spare someone, in case you contract the virus. I don’t care if you don’t agree, or feel that wearing a mask violates your constitutional rights, protect your family and friends.

If you, like so many of us, have friends and acquaintances afflicted, some grievously, then show your concern and humanity by helping to slow the spread. Masks, hand washing, social distancing are all essential items to help slow the spread.

If you go out to eat or socialize, do so in small groups, properly distanced. We do need to support our local businesses. They don’t deserve to be decimated by neglect. Order pickup or delivery. Don’t let them all suffer the dire economic consequences of this pandemic.

We are all in this together.

(Edward Forbes wants to hear from you. Email him at eforbes1946@gmail.com or send comments by snail mail to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX. 77516.)