Covid Rehash to Move On
8 min read
Before COVID restrictions come to an end I wanted to get my Covid experience documented since it dominated a large part of the middle 2021 for us. And to put this into perspective as a freelancer, I also was out of work for a large portion of this time in recovery. For people that know me, this won't be new but I had the desire to get it on "paper", a cathartic living document, and then move on. If you don't want to read the details that's fine too, the spoiler is that I am fine now, better than before, and my family is well.
I have all the specific details and dates written down because my wife is meticulous when it comes to records but I'll leave those out of the post and will just wing it from memory. If you want super exact notes, she is the one to ask.
A little background is required reading to understand our mindset. Our son, Mateo, was born in May of 2020, he was premature with underdeveloped lungs. He spent about a week in the ICU. I wasn't even allowed in the hospital for his birth due to Covid protocols. We came home with him for a few days and started having breathing issues and had to go back into ICU. This time we were not allowed to visit him which was really hard, ten times more so for a breastfeeding mom. He ultimately came home again and we decided to be as risk-averse as possible when it comes to his health so we limited the time we left the house, wore double masks, and face protectors, received deliveries outside, showered immediately after coming home/etc.
How it all started - Mid April 2021
Fast forward to mid-April 2021, our son started getting a cold. It wasn't a big deal and we just assumed it was seasonal because he never spent time with anyone since his birth except for doctors and us. No relatives. No friends. Nobody. Mateo had a runny nose and a slight cough and we were just monitoring him as any parent would. A day later, my wife started feeling bad and got a fever. The next day, I started feeling bad and ran a fever. By this time we are more worried it might be Covid but still suspect since Mateo was sick first and he probably should be the last one to get it by our logic.
That was how it all started. With a few coughs and fever. My wife is much stronger than I am. She had a fever for a couple of days, lost her sense of smell/taste and recovered quickly. I kept getting worse, lost smell/taste and my fever started hitting 40c/103f and my oxygen saturation dropped below 90. I couldn't breathe. We lived in Peru and this occurred before vaccinations were available and at the height of the Covid wave. Finding a place in the hospital was near impossible so we decided to go the home treatment route with doctors and nurses so I could be treated at home.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty, my wife is a trooper. She was taking care of me and the baby for a couple of days and I don't know how she did it but she kicks ass.
The first thing the medical personnel did was get me on oxygen, ran an IV to combat the fever, and I was placed face down in bed. These are the same protocols at the hospitals and makeshift overflow tents that were "popular" at this time. Over the week I was battling high fevers and on oxygen 24/7. Any slight movement and I was in misery. I am not looking for sympathy it was just how it was. If they asked me to try to prop my head up, I couldn't do it without almost passing out from exhaustion and breathing. This lasted for about 2.5 weeks and as my lungs worsened the oxygen flow had to be turned up until it hit the bottle maximum. The doctor informed us that if I got any worse they'd have to find me a place in the hospital and intubate me. I was well aware of the stats about hospital intubation here and that was the last thing I wanted so I really tried to relax as much as I could. The next couple of days were a bit of a blur but thankfully my condition didn't worsen. My lungs were compromised ~30%, the oxygen was lowered one level and the fever broke (actually days prior). At this point, I didn't feel like I could die at any time.
As an aside, the medical personnel and my wife, took my phone stating it impacted blood oxygen saturation so besides thinking about my family, my main goal was to try not to poop until I was good enough to walk to the bathroom. This didn't work out as well as I wanted, I had the "good" nurse wheel me in a chair to the bathroom while I attempted to use the bathroom. I almost passed out several times from this and don't recommend it.
Back to Reality - Beginning May 2021
Reality wasn't fun. I was in bed for around 2.5 or so weeks at this point without moving. The oxygen flow moved down one level (out of 15). The nurses keep telling me the recovery is not going to be fun but when it comes to recovery vs intubation or not being able to move, it will be a walk in the park. Not to bore you with too many details here but we ended up getting an oxygen concentrator because filling bottles with oxygen was getting really hard and scarce since all this was happening at the height of a wave where we are. Over the next 1.5 or so weeks I was able to get off the oxygen and use the concentrator until one day the nurse informs me that we are going to start respiratory therapy. As someone that likes to exercise, this sounded great! I was on oxygen for 24 hours a day for a full month and was almost completely stationary.
Respiratory Therapy - Mid May 2021
What does respiratory look like for someone stuck in bed who can't move? The very first thing we did was just some breathing exercises in bed. Breath in deeply, breath out, repeat. Karate kid style without moving. Nothing complicated but damn it was tough. The next day or two I sat up and did the exercises. After that I slowly stood up and while standing, deep breaths in and out. I didn't mention this but my oxygen levels were closely monitored the entire time and were no different during these exercises so when my heart rate was spiking to 170+ by only breathing we had to cancel the therapy. The fun never stops.
I ended up seeing a cardiologist, getting some meds for an elevated heart rate, and then continued the respiratory therapy. It was all progressive, standing, walking slowly, walking out the door, walking a block, walking 5 blocks, ALL SLOW. This entire exercise was extremely hard and even walking slow for a couple of blocks caused me to huff and puff like a marathon runner. The heart issues lasted 3 months and the medicine was terrible since it slowed my metabolism but that's better than having a heart attack.
During this time I also saw a lung doctor at the hospital with x-rays/etc. I didn't learn too much new from it although the x-rays are interesting to see all the dead areas. He recommended that I do as much exercise as possible (for me) to help clear out my lungs.
This therapy continued for about a month with progressive improvements.
Working Out - June 2021 through December 2021
At some point, I felt that the respiratory therapy was becoming something I could easily do with boxing training, or at least with the trainer who does personal training/etc. I was mostly walking but since I was stationary in bed for so long, I was weak so I had him incorporate some light functional training with bands, bodyweight exercises/etc over time. It took me from June 2021 to October 2021'ish to recover at a level where I felt somewhat normal. We took some more x-rays and my lungs had cleared out which was great. By the end of the year, I was able to spar 12 rounds again but it was a lot of work to get there. A lot of pain but I didn't want to prolong recovery.
How did we get Covid?
Many of our friends and family asked us this question which is fair enough considering we were not social and locked down. I didn't find this out until after I had recovered but 2 people in our building died from Covid while I was sick and it is very interesting who they were or maybe I should say where in the building we were. Our condo building has two sides, A & B, and one elevator. The people on floors 4, 5, 6, and 7 got covid but only on the A side and in that order. We live on 6. There is an air shaft that runs through all the bathrooms and the air goes from the bottom up so our theory is we got sick from the bathroom duct and not the elevator which would have had I think had a different distribution and flow (plus nobody was riding it together). Even my wife told me a day or so before we got sick she smelled someone spraying a disinfectant chemical in their bathroom.
What can I say, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. The only symptom left from this ordeal is I can't taste sweet very well anymore. No complaints. Life is back to normal, we are vaccinated and boosted and will stay that way, especially for the baby. The hardship on the family for caring for me wasn't easy, my wife is strong in so many ways.
I am gracious for so much.