Let’s talk about what it’s like to have COVID-19. Now most of us by now probably already know someone that’s had COVID-19, or you may have already had COVID-19 yourself. There are about 40 million COVID-19 cases out there so far in the US since the pandemic started about 18 months ago. But I’m going to tell you my story with COVID-19 because I am just finally coming out of my 10-day COVID-19 isolation this morning. Yay!
My experience with COVID-19 breakthrough infection (post-COVID-19 vaccinated)
So here’s what happened with me and what it was like to have COVID-19, especially as a vaccinated person. So here is the story about my COVID-19 breakthrough infection.
So it all started, I went away for a short Labor Day weekend down to Mammoth, California, so not too far away from where I currently live (Reno, Nevada). I drove e down there for a small outdoor li mini-festival. Not too many people, all outdoors, maybe 150, 200 people all spread out in the Mammoth Gondola Village area.
You can still get COVID-19 even if you are following CDC guidelines
I followed all the local COVID-19 guidelines as far as always wearing a mask indoors because that’s for California, Nevada, we’re still under mask mandates. I did go to the gym before I went down there, and unfortunately, my gym is not as thorough about following the local indoor masking mandates and enforcing social distancing, but I wear a mask when I work out and do my best to stay away from others in the gym
I had a great time but as I drove back up from Mammoth, I started having a little bit of a cough Tuesday and really just attributed that to the fact that we’ve been having all these wildfires lately, and the air quality has been horrible. Honestly, probably everyone walking around has a dry, nagging cough due to the lingering wildfire smoke, But after I finally got home Tuesday evening, I just felt a little achy and a little bit rundown. I thought, hey, maybe that was just going away and sleeping in a different bed.
The start of my COVID-19 symptoms
Tuesday night, I had what felt like a little bit of fever, felt a little warm when I went to bed, and didn’t have the best sleep that night. I woke up a couple of times because felt really sweaty, and threw all the sheets off. Ten minutes later, I would get too cold so I would bundle back up and did that a couple of times throughout the night. I woke up Wednesday day and happened to have a home COVID test that I had because I was going to do some travel at the end of the month out of the country.
Home testing for COVID-19
So took one o the Abbott BinaxNOW tests and went through with the online proctor to do the home COVID test. The COVID test did come back negative after 15 minutes, which was a relief!
However, my symptoms continued to progress through the rest of the day on Wednesday, and I just felt body aches and muscle pain, really run down and really fatigued, with a little bit more of a cough and nasal congestion, more than I would have expected if I was going to blame this on wildfires or allergies.
Wednesday night, I had a horrible night’s sleep. Here are the results from my sleep tracking software just so you get a sense of how much of an impact these symptoms had on my sleep, which I think is really interesting from an immune defense standpoint because good quality sleep is really important for having a healthy immune system.
Wednesday night I was up much of the night, tossing, turning, with full-body sweats. I would have to get up, towel off, get back in the bed, freezing cold for 10 minutes, and then right back at feeling like I had a high fever and soaking the sheets again. Needless to say, Wednesday was a horrible night of sleep.
Another day, another home COVID-19 test
I woke up Thursday morning, pulled out another one of these home COVID-19 test kits that I have. This COVID test (lateral flow test), takes 15 minutes to run after you put the reagent in, you do your swab test, put the nasal swab into the card, and then the test looks for a reaction to occur when it’s looking for COVID antigens. While on Wednesday test was negative after 15 minutes, Thursday morning, my home COVID-19 home test took only 15 seconds for the test to turn positive for COVID-19.
I went through and actually did my online consults, so I’d have an official positive test result, and “officially” started my COVID-19 isolation. I had been isolating already but became official on Thursday after testing positive.
Fully vaccinated, but still positive for COVID-19
Even with being fully vaccinated against COVID (Moderna in Jan/Feb 2021), the next three, four days were not fun. I would not recommend getting COVID, even if vaccinated. Honestly, COVID gets a one-star review and I would never do it again.
I’m a healthy 53-year-old male, with no medical conditions or other medical problems except for low thyroid. I have great blood pressure, no diabetes, no hypertension, no signs of heart disease. I work out a lot, so consider myself pretty fit and vaccinated, I also had been taking a lot of really precautions as far as making sure I don’t put myself in situations where I could be exposed to folks that do have COVID.
All that said, I still got my butt handed to me by COVID for several days. I would say Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were pretty miserable. I would put this in maybe the top two illnesses I’ve had as an adult, and the other one back when I was a fourth-year medical student right after I was bragging at the beginning of February about not getting a flu shot and it’s too late in the flu season to get it and the flu season’s over and then, as luck (or Karma) would have it, I came down with influenza and I was in bed for three, four days. Fortunately, I was on a relatively easy and understanding rotation where they let me off for the week. But ever since then, I’m first in line to get the annual flu vaccine shot as a result.
Sunday and Monday, which would have been day five and day six for me, I was really still noticing the effects of my COVID-19 infection
How COVID-19 affected my sleep
Reviewing my sleep tracking software, you can see how restless my sleep was. The red lines are from being up and about, getting up to the bathroom, or toweling off, things like that. The white lines are light sleep, or restless sleep, definitely not deep sleep or REM sleep, and deep sleep, and REM sleep are very important for restorative sleep. The blue lines are the times of deeper sleep. You can see how broken up over the different days my sleep was and definitely a lot different.
And the other thing that was interesting is the effect on heart rate too. So you can see the heart rate effect. When I was in the worst of it, my resting heart rate was sitting at 100 beats per minute, and that’s usually not where I’m at when I’m sleeping, usually much lower typically in the 75-80 BPM is where I run normally even when I’m doing a lot of cardio. I just don’t have a very low resting heart rate, even doing Ironman triathlons just never got, I think, lower than 65 for a resting heart rate. But you can see how broken up the sleep was over these few days.
As I progressed into Tuesday and Wednesday, I started feeling a little better, except for some night sweats but doing a little bit better as far as the quality of sleep. And up until Thursday going into Friday (my Day 9 going in Day 10), was probably the best night’s sleep I’d had since the COVID infection started. It was really nice to finally get some really good sleep and not have the night sweats, not waking up with sheets that are soaked with all that sweat from my COVID-19 infection
So it really comes down to I’m finally out of isolation today, so get back and do the things I need to do.
But I have to say this. Yes, I’m vaccinated and I’m glad I am had the COVID-19 vaccination and was fully vaccinated.
If this was COVID-19 after being fully vaccinated, wow, hate to see what it would have been like if my COVID-19 vaccination status had been unvaccinated.
One of the things I did also check was I have a pulse oximeter, so I was checking on one of these things. So keeping it on my finger just to see where my oxygen level was. Fortunately, I did pretty well. I did have a couple of times where it dropped down to 94% or 95%, but that was all temporary. I seemed to hover around 96% and 97% oxygen saturation (normal is 98-99%) for the most part. Today, back at 98% oxygen saturation, and I think that tells me I’m pretty much fully recovered.
The other thing that I noticed, and a lot of people report this, is the loss of taste and smell. Fortunately, I did not lose the sense of taste with my COVID-19 infection. But I did notice on Sunday, all of a sudden, I noticed a loss of smell. I found the timing interesting because the loss of taste or smell is usually one of the first COVID-19 symptoms we hear from patients, but for me, the loss of smell seemed to be one of the last of my COVID symptoms.
The good news is that my sense of smell is starting to come back today. I have a little jar of chopped garlic and some spicy mustard. So every morning, I try to smell both the garlic and mustard to see if my smell is coming back And today I could smell a little bit of garlic, a little bit of spicy mustard!
I think the other COVID-19 mild symptoms I’m still noticing is a little bit of fatigue. The other COVID symptom I think I am experiencing is a little bit of brain fog. But it’s one of those things where, again, a lot of people report this as a side effect or as a symptom of COVID, and you just feel that you’re thinking a little less clearly or a little bit less sharp. And it may also be attributed just to poor sleep, since lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can really affect mental performance in a lot of people, almost to the point where it’s similar to drunk driving if you’re too tired.
So other than that, I didn’t really do much for COVID treatments. I know that people ask a lot. And I think really, at this point, there’s a lot of, I think, misinformation out there on how to actively treat COVID. I think number one, prevention. The vaccines work. I really truly believe I had a much milder case than I would have of COVID-19 than if I had been un-vaccinated. Right now, statistically in the US one out of 500 people who get COVID die from it, and that’s a pretty significant number, one out of 500. Granted, it depends on what age group you are and your co-morbidities and all that, but that’s not a roll of the dice I think we should be taken lightly, anything where there’s that substantial risk that you could die.
Long COVID-19 symptoms after COVID infection
And number two, I think the long COVID is something that actually probably worries me more. If you’re dead, your dead. There’s nothing you can do about it. But I think having long COVID and having issues where it’s either pulmonary issues where you’re really short of breath on oxygen, neurologic issues that we’re seeing with patients, and Multi-inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-A) that we’re seeing in post-COVID patients, I think those are the things that we also need to be concerned about.
My home treatment for my COVID-19 infection
For COVID treatment, I drank plenty of fluids and tried to rest as much as I could. Obviously, I did my 10 days of isolation, so I wasn’t spreading it to other people.
I didn’t really change much than what I usually take for supplements, and I’m not a huge supplement fan anyways. I always take vitamin D that has vitamin K2, and stayed on the vitamin D3 and K2. I take a little bit of magnesium with vitamin D3. Then every other day, I would have a Zinc Balance, a tablet that has zinc with a little bit of copper in it. And that was really it for supplements.
A lot of it too was Tylenol for the fever. So acetaminophen to help keep that under control. And really tried to cut that out as soon as I could, because there is some research, at least in the pediatric world, that says that if you let a fever run, kids actually get better about a day or so sooner. So that fever is more of probably our immune system trying to help out rather than something we just should try to quash or lower all the way. So as soon as I could, maybe I think it was a day or two of the acetaminophen, tried to get off of that, just let that fever run a little bit if it wasn’t too uncomfortable. And hopefully, that was getting me through that a little bit sooner.
And then maybe the only other thing was cold medicine. For me, it was Mucinex, which is a longer-acting decongestant. But not something I want to do again. Not that it was horrible, horrible, that I ever felt I was going to go to the ER, but definitely lost more than a few days of productivity, of working, of getting stuff done, of just enjoying life, of feeling miserable, for lack of a better term, and just too busy to really be laid low like that.
So I definitely do not want to have to go through that again. What will be interesting is to see the effect on antibody levels. I have a COVID-19 antibody test that I did recently, and the plan is to go ahead and check serum COVID-19 antibody levels in about six, eight weeks, see what those COVID-19 IgG levels are up to after being my COVID-19 vaccine and COVID-19 virus infection because that hybrid immunity, we think probably gives some added protection versus just being vaccinated or just having prior COVID infections. And not that you can really determine that it gives you a certain level of immunity, but it’ll be interesting to see how my body responds to that COVID infection. And if there was a bump in my antibodies, IgG levels of the SARS-CoV-2 virus too.
So that’s my story about me having COVID-19. I’m very glad I made it through and don’t want to ha e COVID-19 again. Like I said previously, COVID-19 gets a one-star review.