The second Tuesday in April was an ordinary day for me, if anything can be considered ordinary in the middle of the global pandemic.
The next day wasn’t.
My first symptoms of COVID-19 appeared and would worsen and multiply over the next 75 days: mild sweating and nausea, which evolved into profuse sweating and acute nausea.
Then along came the loss of taste, extreme fatigue, headaches, overall malaise, erratic sleeping patterns, gastric issues and a loss of appetite. Even thinking about food made me nauseous. I subsisted on yogurt and toast for a long time.
My temperature registered 99.3 at a blood drive mobile unit near my home, and 99.5 at an emergency medical clinic.
Planet Fitness, where I worked out four days a week, closed its doors, and I was too sick to work out at home. No physical exercise for five months is foreign to my body and mind. I’m a martial artist and have been working out for 25 years, doing karate, tai chi and yoga. The gym has since reopened, but I’m too paranoid to exercise near others in a enclosed environment.
My lifeline to sanity was speaking to lifelong friends around the country. We would share stories past and present, laugh and get along with nimble conversation.
I didn’t start wearing a face mask until June, because I lived alone, rarely associated with other people and kept my distance at the grocery store. I think it was a stupid decision on my part, because I thought there’s no risk to me because I was so socially isolated. Naïve and stubborn.
During the worst times my days would consist of sleeping for 20 hours, conducting phone interviews for articles, writing articles and then going back to bed. I had no motivation; doing the simplest of journalistic duties was physically and mentally daunting. I honestly don’t know how I accomplished anything.
On June 6, profusely sweating and very sick, I went to a medical clinic across from Beaufort Memorial Hospital, because I thought I was going to die. A doctor in full protective clothing talked me through a long list of questions to determine how my physical condition lined up with then-known COVID symptoms. I answered “no” to every question and she conducted a swab test up my nose.
I stood up after she was done, wobbled and nearly fainted. A nurse told me to sit down and got me a bottle of water.
Strangely, I never experienced the two most prevalent COVID symptoms: respiratory issues with difficulty breathing, and a dry cough.
My test came back negative a few days later, much to my surprise. For some time I was thinking I might have acute anxiety and the test result confounded me. “Well, if my condition isn’t COVID, it must be anxiety,” I thought. But what did I really know? Nothing.
Nothing got better until July 2 when all of my symptoms disappeared. Poof. Here yesterday, gone today.
I’m having a blood test next week to see if I have virus antibodies to determine if I actually had the virus.
Today, I’m pretty much back to normal. I’m clueless as to what happened.
The positive in this is my advice to others: Don’t take your health for granted, question the validity of your COVID-19 test result, and see a medical specialist as soon as possible after experiencing any of the more than 100 symptoms of COVID-19.
Lowcountry resident Dean Rowland is a veteran senior editor and freelance writer.