Stop pretending that COVID is still not a serious disease

For many people, a mild case of COVID is like a cold, a comforting illusion that President Joe Biden’s latest bout with the virus intensified when another positive test sent him back into quarantine. But despite all the good news, there are warnings that the virus can harm relatively young, healthy people.

This is the story of a 49-year-old former Navy SEAL who tested positive for COVID on the second day of a family trip to Alaska. He learned the hard way that his perfect physique was no match for the coronavirus.

We’ll call him Sam because he doesn’t want his name used to speak out about the possible brain effects of “long-lasting COVID” and to protect his and his family’s health. from being seriously ill with a pre-existing medical condition,” Sam told The Daily Beast.

Sam joined his wife and 12-year-old daughter for a week’s vacation due to work commitments. “A former Navy SEAL who raised her daughter very much in the outdoors,” she says, heading north into the Arctic to visit Katmai and Denali National Parks, scheduling time the week before to see grizzlies catching live salmon just coming up the stream.

They were traveling with his 80-year-old father-in-law, and to protect him, the family was tested for COVID in the morning and evening. “My daughter went down first,” Sam said. It was the morning of his second day in Alaska, and they were just north of civilization.

“We saw our daughter getting more and more lethargic as we moved down,” Sam said. They chartered a small private plane back to Fairbanks, where they spent six hours in the hospital emergency room to hydrate their daughter with IV fluids. His throat hurt and he couldn’t eat or drink.

A silhouette of a patient being treated in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at Leipzig University Hospital in Leipzig, Germany.

Jens Schlueter/Getty

That night, Sam and his wife tested themselves. It was negative, but there was a weak line in his test, and they slept with N95 masks. In the morning there was no doubt. Sam was very positive and showed symptoms. Now two of them are down. What if his wife is sick?

They had trouble getting enough rooms for quarantine, and instead of hopping between hotels in a crowded tourist town, they decided to drive seven and a half hours from Fairbanks to Anchorage to seek medical attention. They rented a car in which the wife drove at 70 mph with the windows and sunroof open, the daughter slumped in the back seat because of a sore throat, and with the help of the Tell Me app. They were all masked.

“You don’t know what it’s like to lose your ambition overnight. I used to greet the day with enthusiasm, but now I’m thinking how wonderful it would be to lie in bed and read a book all day.”

The cost of an already expensive trip has become astronomical. They paid for a remote cabin in Denali. It cost nearly a thousand dollars a day to find last-minute hotel rooms in Anchorage to separate the uninfected (his wife) from those in the infection stage several days apart in hopes of keeping his daughter healthy. deliver it to a previously designated summer camp.

In Anchorage, Sam searched the phone for monoclonal antibodies and quickly found that among the limited supplies Alaska had left, there was no one referring to Omicron and its variants. Finding a pharmacy that could provide over-the-counter paxlovid seemed futile, so he called the Veterans Administration (VA) and was told they could get health care at Elmendorf Air Force Base, after they signed up as veterans in the system. active duty.

“Thanks to the VA – love the VA,” Sam said. When he arrived at the base hospital, he saw a sign that read, “Do not enter if you test positive for COVID.” It took half an hour to get him through the back entrance, but once inside, the doctor waited a moment before seeing him. At the time, Sam’s temperature was 102 and his blood oxygen levels were dropping from the 90s to 88 and 89. It’s usually 98. If below 95, it is relevant.

The doctor prescribed Paxlovid, which must be started within five days of the first symptoms to be effective. Sam was on his third day. The medicine is known to leave a metallic taste. “I felt like I was sucking on a bar of aluminum,” he says, an unbearable discomfort given the alternative. “On the eighth day, I felt better, but I still felt fatigue and severe brain fog.”

The family quarantined themselves in an Anchorage hotel, left a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door, went out only when necessary and wore masks at all times. They passed the time watching Marvel Universe movies, while Sam, a self-proclaimed “fantastic researcher,” read medical journals to learn about the virus, which he felt was destroying his brain.

Sam says he fought through it and learned all he could about the science of this virus that changed his life. A few blocks away, former President Donald Trump was holding a “Save America” ​​rally, and the hotel was filled with maskless protesters unaware that there was active COVID among them. “We wore our N95s and tried not to give them in the elevator when we went to deliver food,” Sam added.

He started testing negative on day 10, but did not feel fully recovered. “Take it from me, you can’t think our genetics will allow you to get through COVID,” Sam said in an email to her mother and brother.

A long-term COVID patient performs breathing exercises in the gymnastics room of the Teutoburger Wald clinic, a rehabilitation clinic for post-Covid patients.

Frieze Gentsch/Picture Alliance via Getty

As they drove home, Sam said, “A cold doesn’t give you brain inflammation.”

“I didn’t think I was going to die because I got the vaccine three times,” Sam added. “But I quit because the brain fog didn’t go away with the other symptoms. What if it takes a long time? To eat [become] Hasn’t it completely disappeared, as I’ve read about many Americans?”

Brain lethargy isn’t just tiredness, Sam said. On top of being tired, it’s like being burnt from the beginning of the day. For someone used to being self-driven, he said on the 20th: “You don’t know what it’s like to lose your ambition overnight. I used to greet the day with enthusiasm, but now I think it would be great if I could lie in bed and read a book all day long.”

A few days later, Sam expressed his intention to return to “my normal ambitious self”, but he failed to do so. “I’m struggling not to feel like I’m weak because it’s hit me harder than others.”

Sam’s immune system, seven and a half months after receiving the third dose of the COVID vaccine, “took the little buggers as a big deal, but they got into my lungs and then decided to overreact.”

“I’m not 100 percent yet,” he told the Daily Beast on the 26th, noting that his previous workweek had been disastrous. “Part of me wants to say I’m better and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and part of me is telling the truth because I might need help.” The changes, which he describes as short-term memory loss or difficulty concentrating, resemble normal signs of aging, but unlike the slow process of aging, these changes are sudden, “like aging 20 years in less than a month.”

Sam’s father-in-law is in his 80s, has flown home from Alaska before and is uninfected. Neither did his wife. They each received a second boost four weeks before the trip. It took 10 days for Sam’s daughter to recover quickly and go to camp.

This incident justly shows how difficult and expensive it is to find a place for quarantine, to protect the uninfected in the family, as well as the general public. It also shows how, in the third year of the pandemic, getting the treatment needed for a severe case of COVID requires quality health coverage, determination to seek appropriate care, and the means to purchase medicine. low income, especially in remote areas.

These are societal “Covid problems” that are often glossed over and governments need to prioritize them, especially if they are determined to “move on”.

Living with the virus requires a proper respect for its ability to evolve while understanding our limitations as humans to avoid its worst effects. The story of the former Navy SEAL is that we are now in the third year of the pandemic and COVID is still dangerous.

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