I’m known among my friends as one of the Covid-cautious ones. I wear at least a KN-95 whenever I’m out in the world, which usually consists of various shopping or medical expeditions. But last Saturday, a new friend (yes, I am starting to make friends here) wanted to take me to her favorite Middle Eastern restaurant/grocery, and then to see some galleries. The restaurant was huge and relatively empty when we got there. By the time we had our food, however, it was filling up, including with a table of at least two dozen unmasked men in close proximity to where we were seated. Pretty much everyone else there was unmasked as well, including us when we were eating, but there was something about that scraping chairs table of testosterone that made me particularly uncomfortable. There was hardly anyone at the galleries and by then we had our masks back on anyway.
I started to feel feverish late on Monday. It only got as high as 99 and I decided to leave the government Covid test in the closet until morning. I didn’t want to know at night. Tuesday morning, the fever had gone up to 101.2 and the test came out of the closet. I was at my doctor’s office by 1:30. It took awhile for the check-in line to move and I kept thinking, “You really don’t want me standing here in your lobby for so long.” I also knew that there was nothing I could do other than wait.
The assistant who went through the usual litany of medications and vitals (though, interestingly enough, she neglected to get my oxygen level) wore a modified hazmat outfit: blue plastic smock and gloves, N-95 mask with a shield over that. She left. I waited. My phone rang. It was my doctor’s office calling. “It’s Doctor V,” came her voice. “Uh,” I said, “I’m in the exam room.” “Yes,” she said, “I know. I just want to minimize the time we need to be in the same room so I thought we’d talk first this way.” Made sense but also made me feel guilty about any time her hazmatted self was in there with me.
With my positive home test and a whole laundry list of symptoms – fever, chills, body ache, skin hurting, nose running, headache – she didn’t bother to test me. “No need to put you through sticking something up your nose again.” I had been told when I made the appointment that I’d need to be tested there but whatever. What was important was that she agreed with me that I needed an antiviral as soon as possible.
I’ve learned a lot about the antivirals since Tuesday, but even then I knew that there was a five-day window from onset of symptoms within which you need to start taking Paxlovid, with its 85% reduction in hospitalizations. I waited for her to ask which which pharmacy I wanted the Rx sent to.
“I can’t give you a prescription,” she said. “It has to go to our central pharmacy. Because it’s in short supply, someone from there will call to triage you and, if they decide you can have it, they will discuss where you can get it.” This didn’t make a tremendous amount of sense to me, including the part about deciding my eligibility, as from everything I knew being over 70 alone qualified me, not to mention my history of pneumonia. “So you can’t just write a prescription?” I asked again. “There’s no other way for me to get it?” She shook her head. “Someone will call you,” she replied.
The last time I did a multi-part blog I was crossing half the country to get to my new city. It’s not the same kind of narrative, but it is a saga of a different sort and I will share it with you over the next couple of days. Now it’s time to put myself to bed.