Pandemic Gets Personal with Strikes
During Trip through the Danger Zone
November 17, 2020
Some people don't want anyone to know when they've come down with the coronavirus. I clearly am not one of them.
After trying for nine months to tell the story on COVID-19 in Texas, my role in the pandemic took a wild turn on Monday when I became the 1,027,890th person to test positive for the disease in my home state since its debut here early this year. That's actually a conservative estimate that's based on the official state undercount of infections in Texas where the cumulative number of cases surpassed 1.1 million today in the more realistic New York Times tally.
Sharing this private health information is a professional obligation as a journalist who hasn't written a single story since March without the coronavirus at the center or on the edges at least. We all know that this unique malady has wildly different effects and driving factors from case to case. But we only seem to hear about the virus victims who are asymptomatic or those in the ICU - the outlier extremes who are unable to share the stories on their own unique experiences with the disease that's held us hostage most of this year.
The good news - knock on wood - is that it looks like I won't be joining the list of more than 20,000 fellow Texans who've died with covid infections including a countless number who probably would still be alive if their health and safety had been higher priorities in the minds of the politicians who run the state and federal governments. That's a separate but related subject to which we might digress from time to time in this special Capitol Inside coronavirus diary for the holidays.
Mine appears to be a mild case - having shown up on Saturday with a ticklish little cough that was easy to dismiss as standard sinus allergies that most of us get this time of year. But two symptoms makes a trend - and alarm bells went off late that night when the chills and hot face flashes set in. The achy back started up the next morning - and I knew I was in trouble when I spent most of Sunday afternoon on my back on the couch listening to NFL Red Zone on the TV with my eyes closed. The sun had gone down before I ever got around to checking my fantasy football game scores. That's when it's getting serious.
Never one to have much patience, I coughed up $130 for one of those curbside antigen tests with the nose swabs and results that popped up in a text when I walked back into my place 15 minutes later.
JOHN tested POSITIVE. That's me - John Michael.
My official Austin doctor advised me over the phone to take aspirin for a couple of days to prevent blood clotting. She told me it can get worse between the seventh and 10th days. This is only day four for me based on my symptoms timeline. One of my old best friends from college is an emergency room physician in a small town not far from a giant Texas city. He said I might feel like laying around the rest of the week with this Smoky Mountain fog in the brain as a common spinoff of low-grade fever. As someone who goes to the gym most every day and won't even turn 68 until December, I appear to be getting a dose of covid light up to now.
But I am one of those people you hear about who adhered religiously to the emergency mask law that Governor Greg Abbott imposed in July. The largest gathering I've attended in months was the road trip last week that another old friend and I decided to take to the southern Rockies. The first signs of the disease inside my space came somewhere in the vast expanse of West Texas between Amarillo and Wichita Falls. There's no way to know if the droplets that we encountered were indigenous to West Texas where they've seemed to be raining from the sky as one of the most dangerous places to be in America during the autumn outbreak.
The folks who oppose government intervention in times of monumental crisis will love to hear about two old friends getting blindsided by the coronavirus during a trip through rural Texas as two of the few people who'd been sporting masks in compliance with the emergency laws in the stores where we'd stop along the way. These same people will claim that our experience shows that masks and other sorts of behavioral restrictions don't work. But that's ok because we think they're nuts.
The moral of this particular saga up to now should be that the coronavirus is everywhere in this state and should never be taken for granted. I will let you know how things progress in quarantine. I'm feeling better at this moment in time than I have in days - thanks to some degree on the delivery of a Cabo Bob's chicken bowl to my door mat tonight.