While not pleased, I was also optimistic on Tuesday when I left Dr. V’s office. The way she talked, I was pretty sure that someone from the central pharmacy (whatever that is) would be calling me before the day was over.
The nurse from Dr. V’s office, however, did call. We discussed what to do to take care of myself. Tylenol. Robitussin or Nyquil. Honey tea. Lozenges. Salt water swishes. Electrolytes. Yes, coconut water was good for that; better, in some ways, because less sugar. Some of these things I had in the house, some I didn’t and I wasn’t about to go out again that afternoon.
I had gotten a pulse oximeter in those first frightening weeks two years ago when grocery and drug store shelves were emptying of goods and we didn’t know how to keep ourselves safe. I remember walking the crowded aisles of Costco gathering supplies. No one was masked yet and it seemed the best we could do was keep our eyes averted from each other, as if the infection would come through eye contact. “Check your oxygen level,” the nurse said now. “As long as it stays in the 90s, don’t panic. The best thing you can do to support your lungs,” she went on, “is to take deep breaths. And get up and move.”
When Chris Cuomo got Covid at the end of March 2020, he shared his experience with his viewers, broadcasting from his basement and taking us through each day of his illness. He told us about the importance of deep breaths and keeping the body moving, despite the strong urge to just lie down and rest. I’m still appreciative of his doing what he could to demystify this new plague. Two years later, it’s making a difference in how I navigate it.
I got off the couch. By the time I went to bed that night, I had walked two miles in my apartment. Also by the time I went to bed, my teeth were chattering and my body was shaking. This Covid thing knows how to play the drama card. Even with a relatively low fever of 101.1, I felt pretty darn sick. Thank goodness for Tylenol.
At a little after 1 A.M., my nasal passages were so swollen that I couldn’t breathe through them at all. I heated water and sat with my towel-draped head over the same bowl that I remember steaming myself over twenty years ago when I had pneumonia. It took awhile, but it worked.
Wednesday morning, I had almost no voice and a temperature of 100. I called Dr. V’s office to harangue whoever I could get on the phone about needing to get me the Paxlovid today. We were now into Day 3, counting down to 5, and, despite the somewhat lower temperature, I could tell I was getting sicker.
The nurse called again that afternoon, but still no word from that central pharmacy. With her approval, I washed my hands, put on my N-95 and went off to Walgreens to get myself cold remedies and a humidifier. Only I had neglected to transfer my wallet into the jacket I was wearing so my trip to Walgreens turned into two trips to Walgreens. Among other things, Covid doesn’t improve one’s mental acuity.
And feeling powerless to deal with the health system doesn’t improve one’s outlook. I was heading into Day 4 and starting to feel somewhat desperate. My little cache of cold remedies seemed like an inadequate arsenal with which to fend off the attack to my system.