I went away for Labor Day weekend and came back with an unwanted souvenir, a case of COVID-19.
Thankfully I am fully vaccinated (Pfizer vaccine) and am able to manage my symptoms so far at home. I would not call my case mild but probably a moderate case.
My extended weekend of music actually started here in D.C. at the Eagles concert on Tuesday, Aug. 31 at Capital One Arena.
The next morning I got up and drove to Jeffersonville, Indiana (a suburb of Louisville, Kentucky) for a five-day Beatles festival called Abbey Road on the River.
The festival was super safe and the promotor, Gary Jacob, is to be applauded for the strict protocols he put into place. All attendees had to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 48 hours. These protocols are standard here in the DMV, but in other areas of the country, not so much.
The festival was completely outdoors with lots of room to socially distance. I brought my own chair so I was able to spread out.
Of course I really can't be sure where I picked up COVID. Was it on the drive out, perhaps at a gas station bathroom?
Maybe the hotel I stayed at? I chose not to stay at the official festival hotel because I found a hotel room closer to the festival site that had a kitchen. I also figured I'd be less tempted to gather with crowds of people at the official hotel for the usual late-night sing-alongs.
The hotel I stayed at served its purpose...walking distance to the festival site and a full kitchen. However, it was not nearly as clean as it should've been. I had to be moved out of my initial room, and the second room I was in wasn't much better. I chose not to have housekeeping service during my stay because it would be safer not having someone enter my room.
I was surprised that most of the hotel staff was not wearing masks including the staff at the front desk, even though there was a sign instructing guests to wear a mask. There was plexiglass between us, so I wasn't overly concerned.
I also made a trip to the store to get some food and drinks for the room. While all the employees at the store were masked (although some sloppily, with nose exposed), I was one of the only customers wearing a mask. This is so different from what I am used to experiencing in the DMV, especially living in Montgomery County.
I had a great time at the festival, and think this shot above was taken on Thursday, Sept. 2, the first day of the event. Thursday, Friday and Saturday I saw lots of great bands and danced and screamed my head off! By Saturday night I started feeling some scratchiness in my throat...totally normal for a music festival where I've been screaming for three days.
I was really tired on Sunday, so I limited my time at the festival and only watched a few bands. By Sunday night, my throat was getting worse, and I had a slight cough. Still pretty normal for me at a music festival, I thought, and since I was doing temperature checks in my room 2x daily, it couldn't possibly be COVID, right?
Sunday night I barely slept because I was up most of the night coughing. I immediately decided I need to leave the festival a day early and get home and get a COVID test.
Side note - On my walk to the festival site on Sunday night, a small dog escaped from his yard and came up and bit my heel. It was a mild bite. I didn't bleed, and I washed it out thoroughly when I got back to the room. But, this plays into my story later...
I packed my things and checked out of the dirty Jeffersonville hotel at 5:30 a.m. and drove back to D.C. Driving close to 500 miles alone when you feel like crap is no fun.
And, getting a COVID test is not always as easy as it sounds, especially over a holiday weekend or following a holiday weekend. I first tried to call the 24-hour number listed on my health insurance card. Of course it wasn't a 24-hour number at all, but an automated system only manned on weekdays, and certainly not on holidays.
I then searched every CVS and Walgreens within a 25-mile radius of my house. I couldn't get an appointment for a test at any of them on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday! The earliest I could get a test was on Thursday morning at a Walgreens about 45 minutes from my house.
Thankfully, there must've been a cancellation or something, because I was able to get in for a rapid test at a CVS near my home on Wednesday morning. I had my results in about an hour. Even though I kept hoping that this was simply a bad summer cold, the test confirmed I have COVID.
If you need a COVID test, in Montgomery County there are free walk-up sites, but unfortunately for me, these are not open on holidays. Also, the results can take several days to get back.
There are also many places offering same-day COVID testing and advertising 'no wait, fast results' etc. These places are legit but are expensive and probably not covered by your insurance. I know they're not covered by my insurance, anyway.
My symptoms continued to get worse each day and included:
Congestion and runny nose
Chills and sweats
Loss of taste and smell (not severe...like with a typical cold or flu)
Extreme fatigue (cleaning the litter boxes literally wore me out)
Shortness of breath (out of breath walking up a flight of stairs)
MAJOR MUSCLE AND JOINT PAIN
This last one is what scared me the most. I expected the other symptoms, but major pains in my limbs, back and neck? What is this all about?
I had such extreme pain in my lower legs, even when lying down, that I couldn't sleep. Then I would get pain in my arms and neck and back too. Then sometimes my limbs would feel numb. Numbness in the limbs can be a warning sign of a stroke, so you can understand that I was getting a little freaked out.
Plus, remember I told you earlier how that little dog bit me on Sunday night? All kinds of crazy stories are going through my head...what if that dog had rabies? Maybe the limb pain is some bizarre reaction to the dog's saliva? It's amazing the crazy stuff that goes through your mind...
Oddly, I did not really have a temperature. Of all the temperature checks I did, only one was elevated. Temperature checks are not always a great indicator of whether you have COVID-19, especially with the Delta variant. Many of the symptoms are similar to minor cold symptoms.
More on symptoms to watch for with the Delta variant HERE. One thing that's certain with the Delta variant is the symptoms hit you much quicker than earlier variants, and more and more vaccinated people are getting it.
With the worsening symptoms, I wanted to get a virtual visit with my doctor ASAP. My doctor had no openings all week! I was finally able to get a virtual appointment with a Nurse Practitioner at 4 p.m. on Friday. He alleviated many of my fears and told me that the dog bite had nothing to do with my muscle pain, and that I was not having a stroke. The severe muscle and joint pain is all part of COVID and about 20 percent of people with the virus experience this. More on that HERE.
He told me that my body is going crazy working overtime trying to fight the virus, and that there's a tremendous amount of inflammation in my body, and that is what is causing the pain in my limbs. He and the doctor he works with prescribed a bunch of meds to help with the pain and other symptoms I've been experiencing.
I'm finally starting to feel more like myself, although I'm certainly a ways away from being 100%. This is a tricky disease with many different symptoms and we still don't know what the long-term effects of it will be on our bodies.
I am grateful to be vaccinated and will be first in line when it's my turn to get the booster shot, probably in January. I know that my case could've been must more severe without vaccination.
Of course, I am not a medical professional, and I am writing this only to share my own personal experience. If you're someone who has said, 'I don't know anyone with COVID,' or 'I don't know anyone who is vaccinated who has gotten COVID,' well...now you do. The vaccine is an essential part of the battle against this brutal disease, but it is not a bulletproof vest. We all need to be diligent in keeping ourselves safe.
My bout with COVID will not keep me from going out and doing the things I love. I enjoy ballgames, movies and concerts, and will eventually start going to them again, but probably less frequently. Instead of cramming three or four events into a weekend, maybe I'll be happy attending one. Got to get over the whole FOMO thing...
I realize that even though I'm vaccinated, and have had COVID once, it's still possible to catch it again, especially since the virus keeps mutating. It's not likely, but I'm still staying as safe as I can with mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing.
I hope to be back on the air on Tuesday and am looking forward to it! I'll still be under quarantine, so I'll be broadcasting from the home studio for the next couple of weeks. Please do everything you can to keep you, your family and your community safe during these challenging times.
And in the words of Ringo, peace and love, my friends...