FIRE.140 Breathing Around…

I’m interrupting some of my CampFI sequential thought-posts for this out-of-nowhere surprise.

I guess I’ve been out-and-about, and irresponsibly breathing around.

So, the crowns attacked me.  I can’t believe with all my healthy lifestyle activities and my double-dose vaccine barrier, that the little crown viruses attached themselves to me and broke through my defenses.  I also cannot believe after living in near-total isolation most for 13+ months that my lockdown barely mattered.

In the middle of October, someone spread their virus to me.  I have been practicing the safety protocol for so long that I’m shocked I something wrong. 

Oh Sh!t

Thursday afternoon I flew to Texas for a small conference.  Everything was normal, maybe a little tired from the stress of my first airport activities in almost two years, or my very early morning workout.  Upon arrival, I visited with some people in the evening and as often happens from talking too much (since I’m usually not talking so much) my throat got a little scratchy.  Our hotel room was cold 66 degrees (in Phx our house is 82) but the room warmed up, maybe too much—by midnight and it was hot.  I slept poorly in the hotel and didn’t get up to run in the morning because I was tired.  This was strange as I really enjoy my morning travel runs, especially in Texas along the river.  When I got up I noticed I had a headache.  That is normal when I fly or drive long distances because I get dehydrated from drinking so little water.

At lunch, I was eating my vegetables and felt a little queasy and thought “that’s not normal!”  Up to this point, my previous “symptoms” were common and explainable, but not stomach strangeness. 

After lunch, I looked up Covid’s symptoms on my phone and told my wife “I have covid.”  She said that I was “being crazy.”  I said, “nope, I have it.”  We found a little doctor’s office a few blocks away and I tested positive.  They gave me a steroid shot, antibiotics (which I didn’t want crushing my microbiome, but I figured, better safe than stupid), and an inhaler (if I didn’t need it for covid, it would be a nice running enhancer).  Oh, the doctor told me to isolate for 10 days.  WHAT, I’m 1000+ miles from home and staying in a little hotel room with one desk chair and no food.

We walked back to the hotel and I walked through a crown in the lobby and had to tell my friends at the conference I tested positive and I’m going into lockdown.  Most everyone looked at me with stress or fear like I was carrying full-on danger in my lungs.  Turns out that was the worst part of the whole ordeal. 

I felt so horrible that I was breathing in their presence (before my test) without having a clue that the crowns were in me.  If this occurred a day earlier I would have stayed home, but a day later, and I would have been in a room with 120+ people and been the super-spreader beast.  I’m still super upset about being the problem.  I never want to cause anyone problems, or worse.

Back in the hotel room, we’re sitting there with our masks on, 10 feet from each other as we discuss that we’ve been together non-stop for  6 days and I’ve already spread it to her.  She removed her mask realizing that the crowns are already out in the open.  Turns out, she never had any symptoms and tested negative 5 days after my test, following the 3-5 day testing CDC recommendation.  More on how this is amazing later.

Isolating and Safe Travels

WE could not fly home on Sunday.  I was infected and my wife was “exposed” to me.  I calculated the options for getting a better long-term hotel, one with kitchen options, and chairs or couch.  No good options.  A hotel also meant that I, or we would have to interact with restaurant people twice a day for 10 days (20+ interactions).

I thought, let’s rent a car and drive home for two days.  Our interactions will be minimal, getting to the airport, the rental counter, gas station pumps (0), one hotel, grocery store, and maybe a drive-through meal.  Total interactions ended up being 4-5ish with my tight N95.  That’s <25% of possible interactions vs. staying in a hotel.

Rental Car unavailability!  It turns out that it wasn’t easy getting a rental car in Texas for a one-way to Phoenix.  It was impossible on Friday evening and impossible on Saturday.  But luckily one company had a three-day minimum rental to Phoenix for $1100, done deal.  Then I happened to find a different company that had a 50 hour rental (time zones) to Phoenix for $588, better yet, it was the Rav4 class.  [oh, did I mention that on Friday that since no rental car options were available that we considered buying me a new Rav4 and driving it home?]

We ended up with a super-nice lady behind the rental car giant Plexiglas shield finding us a Rav4 XLE to rent.  I stayed back and masked!  Awesome a Rav4 test drive bonus. 

The Drive

We grabbed the rental car safely as there was hardly anyone around the rental car facility.  We drive to an Aldi which was very quiet on Sunday morning and grabbed a cart of food.  We were the only masks in the place…and for good reason.  The cashier was behind another large Plexiglas divider.

I drove the Rav4—loving being able to test it and compare it to my Florida 2020 Rav4 rental—towards the aliens in Roswell.  After about 5 hours I was getting VERY tired and asked my wife to drive, which hasn’t happened in the past 25 years.  I reclined the passenger’s seat, munched some PB pretzels, and slept on/off for the next 2 ½ hours to Roswell.

I picked the Roswell Inn as our little motel.  Tiny lobby, outside room door, no hallways, fridge, and microwave, it seemed the safest I could keep everyone (except my wife who was in the small multi-cubic foot area of the Rav4 with a biohazard husband).  I checked in through another huge Plexiglas barrier while N95 masked.  In my room munched on bags of Aldi goodies happy to be almost halfway home and still very isolated from others.

The next morning we drove out with no sighting, incidents, or abductions that we remember.  I skipped visiting Lincoln NM which is on my ToDo places even though it was only 10+10 miles out of our way.  My logic was that it probably had little museums and buildings to visit, and I couldn’t bring myself to be irresponsible and put anyone at risk—those that I could avoid.  I felt as if the travel industry would have precautions in place for their interactive workers, and they did.

We decided to stop at White Sands National Park since it was outdoors.  It was really cool seeing the sands and driving on the little sandy road loops.  The park was practically empty this early Monday morning.  We then drove to my wife’s childhood home at NM State University.  All-day it was easy to isolate outside just staying away from people.  To be honest, I barely breathed out much when I was near anyone, even being masked up N95 style.

In Las Cruses I popped onto I10 and the GPS said: “370miles to your next turn” to the exit on our street.  It was one LONG direct segment from Las Cruces to our everyday freeway exit.  Amazing how the southwest is so (almost) empty.  I really wanted to stop in Tucson to check things out, but I respected my isolation protocol just as I did skipping Lincoln.

To end the rental car section of this post, we accidentally returned the rental car two hours earlier than scheduled which put us at the 48-hour mark for a two-day total of $504.  NICE!

Total added cost of not being able to fly home on Sunday’s schedule: $853 = mostly car/gas 617, food $123, and one hotel $83, but we visited three sights and found something positive from the drive/experience.

Symptoms

I’ve read about multiple people catching and having covid.  I read about vaccinated and unvaccinated.  I learned from a doctor at CampFI SW that unvaccinated people have much higher viral loads and can spread the virus more intensely, and those vaccinated have less viral load (per the immune system awareness and quicker attacking before expansion in one’s body).  At least that’s what she said.  Turns out that could be a reason my wife’s vaccine kept her safe from me.

My progression per my Google Doc tracking.

  • Thu1 evening-probably had symptoms starting a little. 
  • Fri2 by lunch noticing symptoms in my stomach.  Test positive 4pm Friday.  Evening dry light cough.
  • Sat3-congestion started slowly, fever at night, didn’t sleep at all, but was comfortable, just not able to fall asleep.
  • Sun4-very little dry coughing in the car, tired also no sleep night before.  The hotel room was a little warm, but sweating at night.
  • Mon5-little headache in am, today I could feel slight vibration starting in my chest when breathing.  Little coughing.  Arrived home 5pm
  • Tue6-at home now-I felt normal in the morning but at noon started heavy coughing and used the inhaler (useless?).  Wed7- cough hit harder in the afternoon but was fine all night.
  • Thu8-felt pretty normal all day and on my 20m bike ride (I skipped the last 5m to take it easy).  Some light coughing in the afternoon.
  • Days up through 14-very light dry coughing throughout afternoon and evening. 
  • Days up through 20- very, very light coughing in afternoon or evening.  Just once every few hours just to remind me that the crowns are still trying to take over but my body has crushed those little #$!@#s.

I had “mild” symptoms, but definitely “noticeable and annoying,” but not unnoticeable or worse significant.  My takeaway from this infection

  1. even with the vaccine protecting me, it was scary testing positive with the unknown. 
  2. it was scary as the symptoms moved from my headache, to a runny nose, to a light/dry cough, to a heavier cough, and the chest vibrations when breathing while sitting on the couch. 
  3. I only felt significant stress reduction (I wasn’t too stressed because I knew I would be OK if my body was truly efficient and vaccinated) as the symptoms reversed and congestion and heavy cough disappeared (day 8, but day 5 of significant coughing) back to a light/dry, then very light cough.
  4. I never had the symptoms I hear most often, no loss of smell, no loss of taste, no aches.

Additional Thoughts

  1. Based on the fact that I was not out and about engaging in unprotected breathing much in the days before symptoms, we concluded that I probably became infected at hockey—probably in the locker room before/after skating.  This really sucks because I avoided hockey for a LONG time to be extra, extra safe.  I did not skate for 17 months, even after having the vaccine in me.  I guess it goes to show you that not having protection one time can be enough to cause danger.
  2. Once home, isolating for the remaining week was not any different than the previous year and a half, not realy.  Actually, it wasn’t different than my normal life at all.  I still ran and biked in the desert preserve, but I did do my weight workouts at home instead of the gym to be respectful and extra safe.
  3. One final note on renting the Rav4.  It turns out my wonderful, amazing experience with the Rav4 in Florida last year was been a little overshadowed by the purchase of my wife’s new Toyota Venza.  The Venza (Limited) is a MUCH nicer vehicle than the Rav 4 (XLE), from the engine, the steering wheel, the displays, the seats, the ride, etc.  I know the Venza is adjectivized as “elegant” but it’s built on the Rav4 chassis so it should be quite close.  I’m glad we did not buy an emergency “covid positive” Rav4in Texas.   Ironically, we bought our Venza from a Texas dealer and had it shipped to Phoenix because I didn’t want to fly & drive, which is exactly what I was considering for the purchased Rav4, and did for the rental Rav4.  You never know what’s going to happen in life.  I’m glad that now a couple of months past my virus attack that I have life and it’s been good great.

*** Nothing in this article is to be construed as financial advice.  I am not a financial planner, nor do I pretend to be.  You should always consult your own professional when seeking advice. This post is not a piece of literary mastery, just a random thought I had.

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