Name: James S. Oppenheim
Age and Condition: 64, CLL/SLL Leukemia
Source of C19 Infection: Unknown
C19 Onset to Peak: February 15 to February 24, 2020
That dry pain in the throat?
At first, I thought of Christopher Hitchens, the many meals with friends over bottles of wine, the joke about weight — “A bit of a stomach gives a chap a position in society.” — and his death in the grip of pharyngeal cancer.
However, soon came the low fever, 101-deg.F., and (I’ve never experienced anything like it) uncontrollable shaking “chills”.
I couldn’t type, hold a cup of water, or a pen.
Having a high deductible and well tired of the medical system in its more mercenary and controlling aspects, I determined to get through this episode on my own but would wait for the much publicized days four and five–the drowning days–to make that decision final.
Those days never arrived.
In their place: the most racking bronchial coughing and exhaustion possible just shy of heart failure.
C19 Impression and Observation
My impression of C19 is that it either “focused” the immune system or “took it down” in such a way as to invite latent conditions to play with the body. There came a point where I had spot pain in the left back and the sensation of crawling skin around it. Lung cancer? Perhaps. And the continuous bronchial cough and symphonic wheezing that led into more than three entirely sleepless days — for emphasis: no sleep, 24/7 x 3? That led to the change in approach serving the idea that C19 presented other than a potent bout with a pneumonia.
At 2 a.m. on the fourth sleepless day, I realized I could die of exhaustion, so unable to sleep while still wheezing out horns and violins and a most unusual purring, I returned to the computer and just focused on the bronchial coughing without presumptions.
Severe allergic reaction?
A sniff direct off the woolen blanket confirmed it, and a down comforter in a slick cover handily replaced the dust catcher and virus re-breather.
That countermeasure slowed the tempo of the coughing and wheezing but not enough for sleep.
Back to the station of the fool doctoring himself via the web . . . .
And so I discovered “cardiac asthma” — a condition quite possible given my writerly and decade long online broadband-enabled (and enticed) de-conditioning.
I happened to have had a 15-pound weight bar hidden behind the bedroom door. Oh hell, why not? Curls. More curls. Lifts. More curls. At God only knows what before dawn hour–but the same may have helped me into a pillow-hugging upward inclined three hours of sleep confirmed by having dreamed.
In the wake of that three hours of sleep on the 24th of February, my C19 journey was going to be all downhill but with some interesting features. The bronchitis retreated only slowly for many days afterward. I found that my voice — I’ve been a good singer — had its range but not its timbre. That repair took another week or so to clear to its old baseline. And that sensation in and around the lung remained, returned, became intermittent, and it too (for the time being and I hope years to come) has vanished.
Breathing this morning: as deep, dry, and wide as Colorado high country.
And that’s with the woolen blankets back on the bed.
Advice Drawn from Experience or Picked Up Along the Way
Preventive: terrific sinus and oral that includes gargling. Kill it at the windpipe or before it colonizes there. Try, at least, to take an active interest in general personal health. Age x Condition has become a well-recognized major factor in C19-related morbidity.
In situ: that racking bronchial cough must have been doing its job. Appreciate it and move right on to removing irritants and fighting for the heart, which must be strained by the efforts of the body to clear the lungs.
I believe I found citrus helpful as well as — in 2020 hindsight, of course — developing some expectation for a period of active convalescence. the presence of this illness doesn’t just go away–it fades, and one might wonder if it might not return with the wearing down that may have invited its stay in the first place.
Finally, albeit with relation to my own subjective experience, approach the treating of the symptoms as if one’s own immune system had been destroyed. Approaching the bronchial cough as asthmatic — x sensitivity and as part of the process of heart failure — proved successful.
True COVID-19 Window: If one starts with the announcement of the illness and ends with the memory of something that has happened and appears done with, then I would suggest the full period of the COVID-19 experience has been two months, February 15 to April 15, from that dry sore (painful!) throat to the breaking and retreat of the bronchial cough (and wheezing) to the return of normal energies without further complaint.
For now: it’s good being healthy again and without symptoms of anything out of the ordinary.
One more thing: Advil quelled the fever, but after a number of days, even taken as directed, I suffered a hell of a nosebleed, and, looking in the mirror afterward, found my eyeballs swimming in blood. I cut out all over-the-counter meds at that time. Many would recommend staggering Advil and Tylenol dosing to address Advil’s (Ibuprofen’s) blood-thinning attributes.
Also note: I have incorporated one definitely helpful OTC daily pill: Q10, an oxygen uptake facilitator. I believe it works.