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Jerry Gonzalez:  Surviving COVID-19

Jerry Gonzalez:  Surviving COVID-19

June 1, 2020

By:  Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO

It was Mother’s Day.  I woke up with a slight fever and a slight persistent cough.  I felt some body aches as well

My husband woke up and was feeling fine, but felt my skin warm to the touch.  He took my temperature and it was 100.5.  Immediately, he recommended we get tested for COVID-19.  We got tested at a facility that had 30 minute turn around for results and we were also lucky to get an appointment on that same day.

Upon arriving, the process moved along smoothly.  We had to have our appointment proof and our ID’s ready.  Our windows closed the whole time, volunteers and police pointed to where we needed to go.  Then, we were approached by either a volunteer or medical professional fully geared in PPE with gowns, face mask & shield, gloves.  With the window cracked enough for a swab, she instructed us to take the swab from her and how deep we needed to go into our noses for an effective test.

Then, we waited in our car to receive the results.  Thoughts of all of the serious hospitalizations and deaths were top of mind for us while we also reassured each other.  The time waiting for the results seemed like the longest wait we had experienced. Finally, we did get a call from a nurse with the results.  We were both positive for COVID-19; and, the world stopped for a long moment for both of us.  She proceeded to let us know we should isolate at home and not leave the house for any reason other than for seeking medical care.

During our short ride home, we discussed what we needed to do and discussed scenarios in case one or both of us were to get hospitalized, or worse put on a ventilator.  We had to prepare ourselves for that reality.  We also began to second guess ourselves on where we fell short in our efforts to prevent infection.  Where did it happen?  The coronavirus is everywhere.  It could have happened anywhere and all the virus needed was one opportunity to infect us both.

After getting home, we had to call our mothers to wish them a “Happy Mother’s Day” but we had both decided we would not let them know anything about our results until the quarantine period passed.  We did not want to worry our parents needlessly given the daily news of deaths and growing infections.  We hoped and prayed we would be able to tell them after our quarantine time was over and that it was uneventful…we hoped and prayed for that.

Fortunately, we do have a close circle of friends who are doctors, specifically who work in the emergency rooms and with infections diseases.  We did get a best scenario discussion with them and they advised on what we needed to do now and what we needed to look for to head to the hospital, in case it did come to that.  One of the two things that was helpful for us to consider was the taking of baby aspirin daily because of the situation with COVID-19 causing strokes in some people.  In addition, our friends warned about ensuring we did daily checks of our oxygen levels in our blood through a simple pulse oximeter, which we were glad to have access to.  If our levels fell below 92%, we were to head for the hospital.  There had been cases of healthy people waiting too long before they sought medical care and ended up either dying or being placed on a ventilator because of the delay in seeking medical care.

The days and night that followed were difficult. Anxiety was high for us both thinking of the worst-case scenarios hourly.  Yes, in hindsight, that is irrational; but, when you are dealing with it yourself, your mind races with anxiety and your emotions take over our rational thinking goes out the window.

We are both fortunate that we had each other.  We are blessed to have our home to quarantine together.  We had stocked up with food in our pantry to last us two weeks.  We have a tight circle of friends that checked in on us daily and provided needed supplies.  We are fortunate that we had the resources to have some groceries delivered to our home.  We are privileged to be able to also work some from home during this period of quarantine.

My slight fever and cough lasted four days.  The body aches lasted a bit longer and my body felt weak.  Each day was filled with anxiety and hope of the fever passing.  Each hour, I was thinking about whether my symptoms would worsen and whether I may require hospitalization.  My husband, on the other hand, was asymptomatic the whole time; yet, he was also feeling terrified that one of us could wind up in the hospital.

Last week, our nation reached a grim milestone of over 100,000 deaths from COVID-19.  Last week, we also ended our 14-day quarantine without requiring any hospitalization.  The CDC recommendations for quarantine were only for 10 days, but we wanted to make certain we would not be responsible for spreading the virus to anyone else.

The coronavirus causing this global pandemic is still with us and it is everywhere.   With loosening of lockdown processes everywhere, the virus will continue to spread.  Everyone out in public should wear a mask in order to significantly reduce the spread by asymptomatic people.  This virus is deadly still and we have a grim reminder of the 100,000 deaths we just mourned together as a nation.  Despite hospitalizations being down in some areas, the virus is still taking a serious toll on people.  The virus is disproportionately seriously impacting the poor, essential workers, the elderly, African Americans and Latinos.

In order to honor those we have lost, we must work collectively to contain the spread.  It is up to us all to stop the virus; and we have a common shared sense of responsibility to do everything that we can to slow and stop the spread of the virus.

Wash your hands.

Don’t touch your face.

Wear a mask in public.

Stay home as much as you can.

Avoid large crowds.

Follow CDC guidelines and please do take this virus seriously until we have a vaccine.

Despite the fact that I came out of this situation with minimal symptoms or impact on my health, I would not wish what we went through on anyone.

Stay safe and stay healthy.