So, we were supposed to go on a 10-day vacation over the past week, at long last flying across borders to savor another culture. But Covid had other plans.
Three nights before we planned to leave, Al started coughing. Not your normal clear-the-throat cough, but a deeper, barking cough that woke me up a few times. Just to be on the safe side, the next morning I gave him a rapid test. The T line turned purple even before the C line emerged. Not good.
After I got over being upset (I was quite upset) I realized that we should just try to reschedule the trip. Which, by the end of the day, I had successfully done. I had purchased Covid travel insurance, and I am sending off a claim for the additional cost of the switched airline tickets this week. I don’t know if it will be honored, given that I didn’t actually cancel the flights, but it’s worth a shot.
Meanwhile, Al and I both had PCR tests. His came back positive the next day, and mine, negative. But by Friday, the day we were supposed to leave, I was starting to feel crummy. Two negative rapid tests were not much consolation. Sure enough, Saturday morning my rapid test was definitively positive.
This all happened despite our both being fully vaccinated and double boosted. As has been widely reported, the current dominant strain of Omicron, BA.5, is highly contagious and can evade some of the vaccines. We have no idea how Al picked it up. And even as we did our best to mask around each other and for Al to isolate, it didn’t matter. I still got it.
Fortunately, Paxlovid, the anti-viral medication for Covid that is provided at no charge by the federal government, is a game changer. It made a huge difference for both of us. There are reports of side-effects and also significant contraindications for certain medications. I had to stop two of my meds in order to take the five-day course. The only side effect that I was aware of was the bitter aftertaste it leaves in your mouth. But that is a very small price to pay for stopping Covid from replicating itself in my body.
Before Paxlovid, I was experiencing aches, chills, overactive Raynaud’s, a lot of congestion plus very runny nose, and a really sore throat (like severe strep, hard to swallow because it hurt so much). The day before I tested positive, I also experienced a sudden bout of vertigo, and until the Paxlovid took hold, migrating pins and needles, not unlike shingles. Oh, and my heart rate sped up and my arrhythmia kicked in. No fun.
Within 36 hours of starting the Paxlovid, all of this began to ease up. It felt miraculous. There is no doubt in my mind that if I hadn’t taken all the precautions of vaccines and boosters ahead of this, I would have been in much worse shape. And the Paxlovid really helped to turn things around. Risks of long Covid are real, especially when my immune system is already compromised from both scleroderma and Sjögren’s Syndrome. Even if I experience a Covid rebound (which can happen after stopping Paxlovid), I’m confident that another five days on Paxlovid is worth it, and quite manageable. So far, so good.
Happily, we are both on the mend. Fatigue is still a factor, but not as bad as previously. I tested negative with a rapid test eight days after my positive test. PCR results may remain positive for a while because they pick up fragments of the virus, even when you’re no longer really contagious.
In any case, I intend to wear my mask in public long after I need to (five days past the five-day isolation period) according to post-Covid protocol. Just to be careful. I do not want to get re-infected, especially in the weeks leading up to our rescheduled trip.
I hope you are well and free of all this. I am grateful for all the medical advances that enabled me and Al to get better relatively quickly and never get severely ill. Covid is not to be messed with. Stay safe.