I don’t want to milk this endlessly so I’ll start by saying I did get the antiviral in time, no thanks to the central pharmacy, which never called. The morning of Day 4, last Thursday, I woke up with a fever of 100.2, feeling, if not sicker than ever, then certainly no better. I didn’t have the energy to haul myself out of my sweaty bed, so called the doctor’s office from there. I made my case to the woman who answered the phone – I sounded so terrible it wasn’t hard to do – and she put on a triage nurse. But I didn’t need to be told how to take care of my symptoms; I needed the antiviral.
An hour later, the nurse I’d been speaking to over the last couple of days called me. I asked again if it was really true that Dr. V wasn’t allowed to write me a prescription. Yes, she said. Then she suggested I try a different route. “You might be able to get it from a CVS clinic,” she said, and gave me the state website with the link to possible sources of Paxlovid.
An hour after that, I was in the local CVS Minute Clinic being expertly cared for by a Nurse Practitioner, who not only knew what she was doing but also seemed to give a shit about me. She was thorough, she was interested, she was concerned. She listened to my chest (“You do have a wheeze.”), she looked in my ears (“Do they hurt? There’s a fair amount of fluid in there.”), she looked down my throat (“Red.”) and up my nose (I felt bad about that one; yuck). Not only did she give me Paxlovid but she also made me see the wisdom of an albuterol inhaler, something I’ve avoided using in the past. She managed to communicate that I was at risk for serious lung complications. I knew that already, but it’s different when someone actually listens to you through a stethoscope and, without being alarmist, hits you over the head oh so gently to get your attention.
Within the first day of taking Paxlovid, I started getting better. I also doubled my walking, doing 4.7 miles that afternoon and 4.3 the next day. The day after that, I went back to the Minute Clinic. I wanted someone to listen to my lungs. The same nurse was there. “Your lungs are clear,” she said. “You keep up that kind of walking and you won’t need albuterol.”
I can’t tell you how relieved I felt. Also grateful.