Thursday, May 27, 2021

The TWO "Cs" (and I don't mean Chanel)

(Written on May 17, 2021)

Been a minute. You already know that I'm in treatment for breast cancer...

But I also caught friggin' COVID. 🤬 I'm sure that I caught it at the hospital. I had to have my mask off for an hour and a half for some tests and 3 days later I started coughing. I have allergies and sometimes I wake up with a cough or sneeze or a random sore throat. I'll take allergy meds and I'll usually get better later in the day. I felt better that afternoon so I chalked it up to allergies. 

THEN I woke up coughing for the next 3 days and each day I felt worse & worse. On the 4th day, which happened to be the day before I was to start radiation treatment, I looked at my face in the mirror and I didn't like the way my eyes looked. I decided to get a rapid COVID test for my own peace of mind, and I tested positive. A friend suggested that I get the PCR test because it's supposed to be more accurate, so the next morning after postponing radiation for 10 days and canceling a podiatry appointment, I went to CVS for drive-up testing. Two days later, my results came back negative, which puzzled me because I was clearly sick: coughing like crazy, no appetite, headache, low-grade fever, upset stomach for a couple of days, shortness of breath (which was very scary). Another friend of mine told me that I should ask for monoclonal antibodies. I had been under the impression that I needed to wait until it looked like I might need to go to the hospital to request them, but he told me he had seen commercials that said I needed to ask BEFORE it got that bad. I thanked him and decided to err on the side of caution - I scheduled a virtual appointment with my primary care doctor for the next day. 

My doctor told me that I had called too late and that I was supposed to get the antibody infusion within a certain number of days after the onset of symptoms. All I could do was keep monitoring my oxygen with the oximeter and take cold & flu meds to manage my symptoms. I was very upset, because basically all I could do was monitor my oxygen, go to the ER if it dropped below 90, and pray for the best in the meantime.

My doctor called me back a couple of hours later and told me that the criteria had been updated, that I DID meet the criteria, and that she was sending an email to the department that did intake for monoclonal antibodies. Apparently there had been a meeting the night before but she "forgot about it, hee hee."😒 She said that she didn't have another way to get in contact with this department but if they didn't call me by a certain time the next day, I was to call her.

LUCKILY they called me, asked me a bunch of questions, determined that I was eligible and scheduled me for the next day. By the time I received the antibody infusion, a week had passed since the onset of symptoms and I had already started to feel a bit better. I was nervous about the infusion but even more nervous about the COVID taking a turn and ending up in the hospital with pneumonia. I expected a roomful of people with IVs dripping into their arms, but it turned out to be just me and a very personable, animated Cameroonian nurse named Cassandra who told me entertaining stories for the entire 2 and a half hours that I was there. I wondered what side effects I would get, but the only side effect was extreme fatigue. For the next 36 hours, I could barely keep my eyes open, then the next day I started to feel like myself again. Over the days that followed, I continued to feel better and better. I went from coughing all day everyday and being short of breath to zero shortness of breath and coughing maybe a couple of times a day.

By the time day 10 rolled around, I awoke feeling 98-99% well. I can't say 100 because I did still (and do still) cough my head off about once a day and my right lung feels peculiar when I take a deep breath. I'm declaring it a victory though.

In the time since, I've completed 8 of 21 radiation treatments. We'll talk about those later.

Glad to be moving forward despite the detour,


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