It took nearly three years, but the virus finally found me. For five days, I’ve had aches, sniffles, and fatigue, but I’m on the mend and should be back to work next Wednesday. I’ve been isolating at home, propped up on pillows with time to think. Here’s what I’ve concluded:
- “Mild COVID” isn’t mild: Compared to the disasters I’ve seen in the MICU, this is nothing. But it’s more than a mild cold.
- Don’t work while sick: No one should have to work with COVID, even if remote access makes it possible. I’m sad to think anyone felt obligated to work remotely while sick. I’m thankful to everyone who made it easy for me to rest.
- Paxlovid tastes awful: The pills taste metallic in your mouth, and the metal suffuses your saliva throughout the day. Thankfully, I’m halfway done.
- It starts innocently: My throat was slightly scratchy Tuesday night, so I tested the next morning before work. I was negative, but by evening, I felt congested and wiped out, and my wife, Dr. Heide, advised me to test again. That was a good call.
- Mask up: I’m glad I wore my KF94 all day last Wednesday, except for lunch, sips of coffee, and asking questions at Pulmonary Grand Rounds. Otherwise, the mask was on, and hopefully this protected patients and friends.
- Share the news: The first thing I did after testing positive was call the patients I’d seen that morning. They were gracious and wished me a speedy recovery. I then told everyone I remembered spending time with that day, and they were equally gracious. Sharing the news seems right. People deserve information so they can look out for themselves and loved ones.
- Leverage remote access (selectively): Though I mostly rested, I didn’t want to miss Klar Yaggi’s Grand Rounds and Sanju Garimella’s POCUS report. I also Zoomed into Thursday’s Clinical Competency Committee Meeting (in bed, camera off), most of which was spent hearing the APDs and Chiefs gush about how wonderful our residents are.
- Binge: Binging on Seinfeld won’t reveal universal truths,* but the laughing felt good. Now that I’m better, I’ve moved on to Phillip Roth and Jon Meacham. I still plan to finish Seinfeld Season 6 by tomorrow night.
- Get outdoors: I was hoping to share a link to support this advice, but alas, public health recommendations advise sick people to stay home, presumably to keep them out of stores and restaurants. I know how to be responsible, so I strolled around the neighborhood and up East Rock alone. It felt good to breathe fresh air.
- Be careful: I don’t know where I caught the virus, but it didn’t happen caring for patients, since we’re all masked. Most likely I got it socializing, which seems like the price of living in 2022. We should choose our exposures wisely, wearing masks at work and most indoor venues. This effort needs to be balanced by our fundamental need to share meals with friends and family, especially during the holidays. So let’s be careful and be good citizens- monitor your symptoms, test frequently, open windows, and isolate yourselves if there’s any chance you’re sick.
I knew it was just a matter of time before COVID got me. Today, I’m grateful for the progress we’ve made with vaccines and antivirals, which makes COVID more of a nuisance for most people instead of the nightmare it once was. That said, please remember that millions remain vulnerable to serious illness from COVID, influenza, and other respiratory viruses. Let’s stay responsible and vigilant until life is safe for everyone.
Today will be quiet for me. I’ll be reviewing applications for Tuesday, which will be the first interview day I’ve ever led from home. Thank you to everyone who covered for me last week, and thank you for all the get well texts and emails.
Enjoy your Sunday, everyone,
*Then again, it may.
PS- For further reading:
- Anthony Fauci: A Message to the Next Generation of Scientists
- Covid-19 Isn’t a Pandemic of the Unvaccinated Anymore
- A multivalent nucleoside-modified mRNA vaccine against all known influenza virus subtypes
PPS- Arts Night is returning on January 24 after a 3-year COVID hiatus. We need singers, dancers, musicians, comedians, magicians, poets, storytellers, and artists of all kinds. If you want to perform and/or display your work, please contact the Wellness Committee (Joshua.Rusheen@yale.edu) to sign up.