My Personal Experience with COVID-19

Alan Tanabe/ January 11, 2021/ Medication Management/ 0 comments

Greetings everyone! I hope this article finds you and your families doing well and staying safe!

I’m writing this post in a different fashion than I have before. With the encouragement of Betty Chaffee, PharmD., I am going to share with you my personal experience of having been infected with COVID-19.

The timeline:

On January 1, 2021, I started to experience some minor nasal congestion. No big deal, right? Colds are expected to occur this time of the year. My congestion remained mild, but continued throughout the weekend. Therefore I thought I would have a COVID-19 test performed to rule out infection, just in case my work wanted some evidence that I was fine.

My test was done on January 3rd. The procedure was simple; make an appointment on-line, answer some questions, and have the test performed through a drive-thru service. It was a very convenient and efficient process (Kudos to the ones who make this service possible and easy!). The test itself is approximately 3-5 seconds of some discomfort while the swab is inserted into the nose. It was not the most pleasant experience I’ve ever had, but certainly not horrible considering the intent. I had even told the Physician Assistant who administered the test that I suspected that I just had a cold.

In less than 48 hours, I found I was incorrect.

I received notification that my test was positive for detection of the COVID-19 virus. Imagine my shock. I had been wearing my mask. I had been cleaning and limiting physical contact with others. There weren’t the symptoms that we’ve heard so much about, including difficulty breathing, severe cough, fever, loss of taste/smell, or others. All I experienced was some stupid, mild nasal congestion.

Yet there it was, and no amount of arguing or rationalizing was going to change the result.

My Reaction:

The first thing I did was to inform my coworkers about this, and believe me, that was difficult for me. Why? Because those who know me understand that I take my job and responsibilities very seriously. I don’t miss my scheduled shifts; it just doesn’t happen. During my many years as a pharmacist, I’ve established trust with the patients I serve. I’m a health professional who is supposed to be caring for others, and now I’m being told I cannot do that for two weeks.

However, I also realize that this is not about my ego, pride, or work ethic. This is about knowing when I need to step back to protect others, especially the ones who may be most vulnerable. Like many others, I have friends who have lost loved ones due to complications from COVID-19 (my thoughts remain with them). I know others who came very close to losing somebody, as well. I realize that this infection is not just about me.

My next steps:

So now I’ve accepted my quarantine at home without the ability to go to work or visit others. I could sulk and be angry about it (I’ll be honest; I’m not happy about it). Furthermore, I could spend my time worrying about when “the real” symptoms are going to appear, leading to my need for more medical care. However, I realize that isn’t going to be helpful to anyone. So what have I decided to do? I’ve decided that it’s necessary to take care of myself, both physically and mentally.

Taking action:

Here are some of the ways that I’ve been caring for myself during my quarantine:

-Monitoring my health. I have continued to check my temperature several times throughout the day. Fortunately I still have not developed a fever, but if I do, I know to report it to my primary provider.

-Sleeping. I admit that the evening I received the news that my test came back positive for COVID-19, I hardly slept at all. I was still feeling guilty about knowing that I wouldn’t be at work. Additionally, I was wondering if my symptoms would worsen. However, rest is very important for your body to recover from illness. Even when healthy, I often have some difficulty sleeping because my mind sometimes has trouble “shutting down” for the night. But telling myself that I’ll be alright and I’lll get through this is helping me get some much-needed rest.

-Eating: Fortunately I have maintained my senses of smell and taste, which makes it easier for me to make sure my body is getting the calories and nutrients it needs to help me recover. I’ve even spent some time browsing the internet for recipes that I may consider trying to prepare in the future.

-Staying mentally active: For me, this is one of the most important steps. If I am not able to find ways to stimulate my brain, then I would risk focusing on negative thoughts. Therefore, I have continued to go onto professional sites to stay knowledgeable and learn new developments in healthcare. Also, as a fan of word puzzles, I’ve playing some internet games available to keep me thinking. I’ve also been spending some time on Duolingo, in my continued efforts to improve my language skills for when working with patients whose primary language is not English.

Planning ahead:

In addition to returning to work, here are some of my plans for when my quarantine is completed:

-Donating my blood: The American Red Cross is looking for blood donations from people who have fully recovered from a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. This is because this blood contains antibodies that can be helpful in the treatment of newly diagnosed patients who are at high risk of complications.

-The COVID-19 vaccine: While my antibodies may provide me with some protection against future COVID-19 infection, I still intend to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s available to me. Betty Chaffee has written an excellent article about her experience and knowledge about the vaccines. Here is a link to that article:

The Takeaway Messages:

Many of us are experiencing COVID-fatigue. It becomes tiresome to continue wearing a mask. We miss being near our loved ones and friends. We want things to be “normal” again. However, COVID-19 is very real, and even when you believe you have been taking precautions, people are still at risk.

Yet the messages are not all bad news! I’ve been fortunate that my symptoms remained very mild, and I’m not the only one. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 40% of positive COVID-19 cases are from people with few or no symptoms. Therefore, a positive result for COVID-19 does not automatically mean a bleak prognosis.

Also, I hope this experience highlights the dedication of the people who continue to work everyday to minimize the disruptions we experience in our lives due to COVID-19.

What experiences have you had with COVID-19 that you can share with others? How did you pass the time? What steps did you take to aid in your recovery? Please share your stories in the comments section, and as always, we encourage asking questions.

Wishing you continued health and safety!

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#COVID-19 #Healthcare #Patientcare #MTM #Medicine #Coronavirus

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About Alan Tanabe

Alan Tanabe, PharmD. has been a registered pharmacist in the state of Michigan since 1991. In addition to working as a pharmacist in a community setting, he has specialized in patient services including Medication Therapy Management to help patients achieve better health-related outcomes.

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