This is my story on how I got COVID-19. And recovered without infecting anyone else in my family. So if I missed your birthday, didn’t call, ignored your emails etc. – now you know why! I’m putting this down in a blog post not for any sympathy (no, thank you!) but just to document an experience. For others to learn from my experience.
I’ll cover preventative guidelines first, followed by where we might have gone wrong. I’ll close out with my personal experience. As you can imagine, this made COVID very ‘real’ for us versus just something you track in the news.
So … Prevention?
My middle school judo master once told me the best way to win a fight is to never get into one. So the best way to beat coronavirus is through prevention. Now there is a saying about prevention that goes something like this:
Prevention is better than cure.-Your mom
Unfortunately in the US, prevention strategies are being manipulated by our politicians. I don’t about who you vote for, please do NOT take medical advice from politicians. Instead use the collective knowledge of all the medical experts as well as all past and current COVID-19 cases. How? That knowledge is embodied as the CDC guidelines. If you have CDC trust issues like a friend of mine, look at other developed national guidelines (e.g. UK or EU or Singapore).
Prevention focuses on reducing the probability of this virus entering your body, typically from your mouth, nose or eyes.
Basic Prevention Checklist
- Wash your hands – With soap, for 20 seconds, between fingers etc. Your mother told you this too and you should listen to her. This minimizes the chance that your hands contaminate your food or your eyes (e.g. rubbing your eyes). Thankfully politicians haven’t made soap and water a political issue (yet?).
- Wear a mask – This simply minimizes transmission of virus bearing droplets. These droplets typically originate from someone else’s cough or loud speech. It’s unfortunate a simply mask is being politicized. I’ll say this – if masks are being used by nurses and surgeons to protect themselves and their patients – they’re good enough to protect you and your loved ones. My N95 masks kept my family safe from me, more in my next blog post (how to maintain a sub-quarantine in a household with an active COVID incident).
- Maintain social distancing – Physical distance reduces the chances that people will breathe each others breath or touch common objects or touch each other (e.g. handshake, hugs etc.).
Ultimately, nothing is an absolute guarantee and you’re only managing the odds. For example, you could be a safe driver, in car with airbags. But it’s still a good idea to wear a seatbelt. Use the same risk reducing strategy here. Each individual approach isn’t foolproof but combined you’ve got yourself something that is quite effective.
How did I get it?
“Prevention is great! But how the heck did you get the Coronavirus, Sid?” you ask. Excellent question and honestly Poonam and I struggled with that too. The short answer is we don’t know with 100% certainty. While I’ve raced motorcycles, climbed a 5 storied college building from the outside or jumped from an airplane (skydiving with Poonam), I’m very conservative when it comes to my kids. All through the quarantine, I know that we were way more careful that most of our friends. We avoided social events. We quarantined our Amazon deliveries. We had groceries delivered and then wipe each item before storing them away.
In contrast, we had friends travelling to Vegas, taking flights cross country, going out to restaurants, protesting (with masks) or had their kids play in the park. And not a single person we knew had fallen sick. So we thought we might have been overdoing it and decided to loosen up. Just a little bit. We thought of a good baby step, one that wouldn’t expose the kids directly. Our pick?
A quiet dinner at an ocean facing restaurant in Del Mar.
Boom! Ultimately, we think this is what got us because every other contact checked out. It kinda sucks we got hit in our first attempt to open up but that’s how accidents happen.
When did I get it? Family members?
There is never a ‘good time’ to get COVID-19 but it absolutely sucked that I got it just a couple of days before a family vacation into the wilderness. Given our operational procedures, I didn’t think it was COVID-19 at first. I thought my tiredness would pass the next day but just to be careful, I self-quarantined myself in the office room. Next morning, I had a fever and got a test scheduled for that afternoon.
That test proved it was COVID-19 🙁 ! YIKES!
Poonam was (understandably) in shock and denial given our operational protocol during the lockdown. I was immediately thinking of her and the kids, so next day we got them tested and thankfully they were all negative. We had recently discussed (but not legally completed) our living trust for our kids, so some of the uncomfortable conversations around incapacity or death had already taken place.
Back to testing and data, a single PCR test coming negative has a sizeable false negative rate, but to have Poonam’s AND Jei’s (7 year old) AND Reina’s (2 year old) tests all come out as false-negatives? Extremely unlikely! So while we just spent $500 on expedite testing, I was very happy and confident that they were in the clear.
However, they would be sharing the house with me over the next 2 weeks. We needed an operational plan, one that would work with a strong-willed 2 year old who demands undivided attention. Our plan (next blog post?) worked because nobody else got sick despite staying in the same house for weeks as I recovered slowly.
How does Coronavirus feel?
For those who don’t know, I had asthma as a child but outgrew it by focusing on sports (soccer, track and field athletics, swimming and few other) during my middle and high school days. I’m happy to say that the childhood asthma didn’t come back or complicate in any way.
I also have detailed daily logs but I’ll spare you the details. So on the evening of day 1, I had a fatigue that kicked in very rapidly and very aggressively. The next day I had a mild fever (100.8 F) but that fatigue was intense. I also had a mild sore throat but never any shortness of breath. Day 2 was also when I took the instant COVID-19 test (Fast PCR test) and it came back positive. After a few days of fatigue and fever, the fever died down for two days and I thought I beat COVID-19.
Boy, was I was wrong. So wrong!
After being fever free for 48 hours, the fever returned. For many many days, it just cycled between 98.x F and 99.y F every few hours. Nothing I did seemed to shake it off and I felt I was losing the effective-anti-body-production battle. Not seeing any improvement for weeks when you’re stuck in a house with little kids and a highly infectious, 3% lethality rate virus was mentally exhausting.
Does it change you?
Loaded question! So I’ll just say – yeah, even if it’s just by a bit. Most will recover just fine, but it’s the forced downtime that forces you to reflect on your mortality, your priorities and the finiteness of your experiences. Without going into existential nihilism (“we’re inconsequential at geological or stellar scales” aka “In the long run, we’re all dead”), I know I’ve been killing myself the past few years chasing deals and building sophisticated technology. Moving forward, I do want to balance things out with more time for family, friends and social experiences. Maybe improve people’s health more directly if my training and experience ever allowed for it.
For now, I’m just happy to be healthy again 😉 ! Don’t take your health for granted. In realty, it’s the only real thing you have.
Bonus: Optimistic Nihilism
As a bonus for reading this far, here is a video I saw a couple of years back that came to mind while writing this article. While I don’t subscribe to any particular philosophy, it’s a good one. Enjoy!