- The Oolong Drunk
My Covid Nightmare and Loss of Taste
Friday morning, August 7th 2020, I woke up and something was wrong. I’d normally turn over on my back and open my eyes before reaching for my phone. Except, I couldn't. I was stuck on my stomach, and I couldn’t even open my eyelids. I must still be asleep, I thought to myself as I lied there. Except, my skin was covered in chill bumps all over like having a bucket of beads poured all over my body, and I was lying in a pool of sweat.
I need to get up, I thought to myself as I was now more awake, and realizing something is terribly wrong. I start to move to turn over, except for when I turned over, every single muscle from my head to my toes immediately erupted in an ablaze of sharp-lava-infused pain. The pain was acute yet specific to every single music that was being moved — so much that I almost let out a scream as I struggleed to turn over.
Now on my back, I forced myself to lift my head — muscles shaking as I struggled to turn over and open my eyelids as I realized I couldn't move my neck. I was still freezing all over despite the blankets, as I huff and puffed as hard as I would when jogging around my neighborhood. I tried to catch my breath, and as I did, I could feel every fiber in my pecks rip apart with every inhale — almost at a point of gasping for air. My nasal cavity was numb, and I was dizzy and light-headed from struggling to catch my breath. I lifted my arm to reach for my phone and struggled as my arm, shoulder refused to move — almost as if someone was sitting on my entire body.
In the time it took to wake up and turn over and get my phone, thirty minutes had gone by. I want to panic at the pain and my slow moment, but I couldn’t. I also realized that at the clock, I slept for fourteen hours that night. I felt perfectly fine before bed. How can I be in this much pain overnight? I kept trying to think of something logical, but couldn't. I opened my phone to dial 9-1-1, and in the process of doing so, I forgot what I was doing, or who I was even dialing. Now, after struggling to dial 9-1-1, an hour had gone by singe initially waking up.
After struggling to formulate words, and realizing that most of what I was saying was coming out a mumbling blur, the 9-1-1 operator stressed that I make it to the ER, and asked if I needed an ambulance. After remembering that I don’t have insurance, and financially strained since lock-downs, I couldn’t afford an ambulance. I hung up, struggled to get dressed, and got to my car.
From waking up to turning over, to calling 9-1-1, and to getting a shirt on to sit in my car, it was now three hours later. I paused for ten minutes to catch my breath and continued to the ER. One and a half miles later, I arrived an hour later at the emergency room at Cox Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri.
I explained to the front desk all of my symptoms, as they told me to wait in the Covid-designated waiting area. At some point or another, while struggling to sit up-right in a chair, I got up walked over to the receptionist's desk to ask about how much longer. While waiting for them to acknowledge me, I leaned against the wall and fell to the floor, as my legs were too weak and too hot to stand up anymore. Two receptionists rushed over, and frustratingly urged me to get up and off the floor. While assisting me to my feet, I asked how much longer. With an annoyance and sharp attitude, they told me that I’m in line like everyone else. Although I stressed to them that I couldn’t physically sit upright and it hurt to do so, they irritatingly pointed out that I could lie down on a window ledge.
An hour after lying on a hard, cold piece of granite for an hour, while struggling to catch my breath and shaking from the fever, a nurse walked over to me to escort me up, and held me up-right as she guided me to my room.
Now in my room, I still couldn’t move without the siting and burning sensation — including the weight and difficulty of breathing. After doing a few tests, and showing a high-fever, they took a covid test and concluded my body was violently reacting to a viral infection.
After a doctor came in, he determined that something was wrong. Unlike most traditional covid patients, my lungs were experiencing a dry-inflammation. They held me for several hours and made sure no fluid was building in my lungs. After putting me on a hold, and due to the lack of fluid in my lungs, they determined that I wasn’t experiencing the pneumonia-like symptoms that they typically saw in covid patients. They also explained that they were limited on supplies, and because of the inflammation, that unless a lung shut down completely, there was nothing they could do. They gave me an inhaler to help the inflammation, and while gasping for air, they guided me out of the ER and sent me home.
Now at home, twelve hours after my initial arrival at the ER, I sent a group text to both of my roommates explaining to them that I’d be self-isolating. I also explained to them that I tested for covid, and they should get tested too. I lied back down, realizing I haven’t had food all day. With the pain of moving and breathing, the emptiness from not eating was drowned out. An hour later, my newer roommate placed food at my door.
That night, I slept for nineteen hours straight. I woke up again and still had a fever. Although the inhaler made a mild-improvement, and along with ibuprofen, nothing was improving. After going to the bathroom, getting another roommate-made meal from my door, and watching an episode of Golden Girls on my desktop, I went back to bed, called all of my family for the next hour, and went back to sleep.
Fourteen hours later, now Sunday night, I woke up and still with a fever. I got a missed call from the hospital, and upon calling them back, they confirmed my covid test came back positive. They also told me that I and my roommate were to self-isolate for two weeks. I texted the roommates the update, ate another quick meal, and lied down.
I got a call from my other roommate (not the one feeding me), saying that he shouldn’t have to miss two weeks of work because I got sick. He was angry and was making accusations; almost as if I chose to be this ill on purpose. I hung up on him, turned over, and dozed off. While dozing off, I heard him talking to the other roommate and said, “Well, fuck that. I’m not staying home. It’s not my problem. If my co-workers get sick because I’m carrying it from Cody, then that’s his problem; not mine”. I fell into another deep sleep — now heartbroken.
I woke up again, now Monday, after another 16 hours of sleep. I text a few friends, as one brought me food from my favorite restaurant in town. I also tried sitting upright and watched more Golden Girls. After three hours of sitting up and watching TV, I check and I still had a fever. I also noticed that this time, I was breathing harder and harder. It now became so hard to breathe, that I had to consciously make an effort to breathe in and out. I was starting to panic but was so tired and in so much pain, I started to close my eyes again. I forced my eyes awake, went over to my desk, wrote something down on a piece of paper, and went back to bed. While awake, I had enough brainpower to text my mom and grandmom that I loved them, and as I went to dial 9-1-1 again, I turned over and fell asleep.
I woke up 14 hours later to see my phone had died. I also checked again, and this was now day 4 in a row with a fever. I could breathe a little better than than the night before, so I ate some food, charged my phone, and lied in bed. I repeated this for another two days until my fever broke — making it almost 6 straight days of fever.
I got enough energy to go over to my desk and start cleaning up some of the trash. While there, I saw the piece of paper that I had written. And on this piece of paper, I had a list of phone numbers to family, passwords, and banking information, as well as a hand-written letter giving one of my closest friends power-of-attorney to handle my things, and a letter to my friends — telling them how much I loved them.
I read that piece of paper, collapsed on the floor, and began to shake and teared up. I had no memory of writing this paper and barely had any memory of anything else from that day.
Why didn’t I go back to the ER? Why didn’t I dial 9-1-1?
I kept asking myself these questions while trying to come up with a reasonable answer, but couldn't. I was so physically drained and disoriented that I didn’t even mentally make the effort to do more. I was now more scared, and panicked than before. I crawled into bed while gripping that piece of paper and cried until I fell asleep…
Now twelve days after getting sick, the Health Department called me to tell me my self-isolation was to be lifted. They also conducted a short interview of all the places I had been, who I was exposed to, etc. It struck me as odd because, in those twelve days, others could have been spreading it. It felt wrong.
I went to drink tea, and when I did, all I could taste was bitter. And after several days of drinking tea, I had several panic attacks -- afraid I'd lose my taste forever. What's the point of a a tea blogger who can't taste tea? I'd ask myself that daily. I went into a depressive episode and had several full-blown panic attacks when fearing I'd lose my taste forever.
Thankfully, after a month and a half, I was able to drink tea and most taste it like normal again. However, since getting sick (now three months later), I’ve been diagnosed with chronic asthma, chronic fatigue, and since my white-blood-cell count is still abnormally off, they’re screening for a wide variety of autoimmune diseases, and also, cancers.
Currently, my chronic fatigue is so bad that I can’t go on a shift at work without wanting to fall asleep standing up. It takes several hours for me to get out of bed, and on some days, I can barely do simple tasks such as take a shower or do laundry. I even tried to exercise by going on a short-hike (something I’d do regularly since getting sick), and after posting a photo to the tea subreddit, I was bed-ridden for three straight days.
I also got a second job that doesn't start until January, but currently, struggling financially due to my limited physical capabilities of getting sick. I'm running out of savings to keep paying for doctor's visits, and I’m scared. However, to help with finances, I did start a Patreon page to help introduce new people to tea and do tea-education in hopes of financially making-up for some of my doctor's visits (feel free to join and help support me at the link at the bottom of this article).
Although my plethora of health issues, and despite being terrified of my next doctor's visit, a piece of me is still grateful to be alive. I also opened my Instagram to find SO MUCH love and support from everyone in the tea community, that it made me cry of happiness.
However, despite everything, I still drive by town and see nightclubs and bars packed-full of people not wearing face masks. Packed restaurants. Clubs full of people, not taking this any more seriously. Being reckless with the life they have, not caring if it’s thrown away. And although I did everything right (stayed at home, didn't go out, always wore a mask, kept distance, etc.), I still got it. I was one of the unfortunate ones.
As I sit here still struggling to breathe and awaiting my next test to help find out why my health is still failing. As finances grow, a piece of me breaks inside when seeing all the crowds. These are crowds of people who are mindlessly throwing something away that my doctor doesn’t think I’ll ever get back…
Number of days with straight-fever: 6 (140 hours) where it wouldn't break
Number of days without taste: 44 (1,056 hours)
Number of days with chronic fatigue: 105 days (2,538 hours) and still ongoing
Weight lost in the first two weeks: 12lbs
Number of days with severe asthma and severe breathing issues: 105 days (2,538 hours) and still ongoing
Click the link below to support me by joining my Patreon, where proceeds will help go directly to my doctor's visits/medical bills.
Thank you for reading, and also, please be safe...
"Blissfully Tea Drunk"