Updates from Elsewhere

So, my cold symptoms came back somewhat today, so I took another sick day and took it easy. And now I’m feeling better, so, yay.

The last few days I’ve been having trouble with my sleep apnea again so I’m giving my CPAP another shot. Since I’m on new insurance and getting healthcare at a different place now maybe I’ll get a new sleep doctor who actually listens to my concerns instead of just taking shortcuts based on simple apnea.

I also of course still want to get tested for COVID-19, if only for peace of mind. I’m not fond of this constant uncertainty. If I can get a clean diagnosis I can stop having an anxiety attack every time I cough or feel short of breath. And on the off chance I do have the virus I know what to prepare for. (Plus I switch to no-contact grocery and food delivery for a while.)

Inside I’m going to ruminate about the virus itself.

Read more… (COVID-19 rumination)

Normalcy returning?

My symptoms have mostly cleared up, so I went out to get some cat food and cat litter. At the store everything seemed like it was back to normal; the crowd wasn’t quite as massive as usual for a Sunday afternoon, but the shelves were, for the most part, well-stocked. The canned beans section was still somewhat depleted (but there was still plenty to go around), and paper products and bottled water were back to normal stock levels. Hand soap was a bit scarce (and there was a “limit 5 per order” sign prominently placed there) and hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol were completely out. I didn’t think to check the rice section, though. Anyway I did end up buying some more hand soap since I’m running low. Just the usual amount1 I’d need for a reasonable amount of time, of course.

And while I was feeling up to it I finally got around to doing a Sodastream canister exchange at Bartell’s. I only went to the Sodastream section and also picked up some of their actually-sugar-based-we-mean-it raspberry mint syrup2 so I didn’t check their product availability myself, but while checking out the cashier handled a phone call and said, “Sorry, we’re out,” and then after hanging up said, “If I had a dime…”

Masking symptoms

This morning my prescriptions finally came through (I don’t know why they weren’t available same-day as they were filled, but whatever). So I donned one of my N95 masks (which I happened to have on-hand from years of preparedness around summer wildfires) and headed over to the drug store next door, to pick those up as well as some other medical things.

Unsurprisingly, the pharmacy didn’t have up-to-date insurance information in their system, and my prescriptions — a short course of prednisone, a prescription cough suppressant, and a steroid inhaler — came to around $450! When they updated with my new insurance it came down to $50, mostly for the inhaler. Even that’s a lot for a lot of people to handle, and I can’t imagine trying to afford these things without insurance. We need universal healthcare, already.

Also I dislike wearing the mask in public. People look at me like I’m either a paranoiac or like I’m one of the people who’s been hoarding necessary medical supplies that could better go to others. But I am very specifically in the category of people who are supposed to have and wear masks — people who are symptomatic and/or high-risk for infection! (I happen to be both.)

The pharmacist was completely okay, but I also went to get a few other things (cough syrup, thermometer probe covers1, nasal rinse saline2, stuff like that) and the cashier was a bit… weird to me about the mask.

Yesterday when I was walking to the doctor and back I made extra-sure to cough audibly whenever people looked at me funny.

Which reminds me, I still need to get a cane for when I’m having a pain flareup and want people to not give me dirty looks when I sit in the priority seats on the bus.

I hate that so much of illness has to be performative. Can’t people just, like, assume that people only take what they need? Then again, the massive hoarding of masks and hand sanitizer just indicates that people generally don’t, and that’s a big part of the problem.

But, whatever. I have my meds and I have no real reason to leave the house for a while. Well, except I need to buy more cat litter and I have a bunch of coupons that expire tomorrow anyway. Maybe I’ll just go maskless and cough on everyone. That’ll learn ‘em.

Ironically, when I wear the mask outside I don’t need to cough as much, because the air inside it is warm and moist.

Prognosis: good

Just got back from the doctor. She says I definitely have a virus but it’s probably not COVID-19; I probably have one of the many other emergent respiratory viruses that’s going around, many of which also cause the symptoms I’m feeling. Notably I’m not having any signs of pneumonia, which is what I really need to look out for.

She prescribed me prednisone and inhaled steroids and says I should continue to self-isolate (of course) but otherwise I don’t really have anything to worry about. Of course I should go back if things get worse and keep her in the loop about any changes.

Incidentally, I am quite pleased with One Medical so far. They were super-friendly and compassionate, and they asked my pronouns and are elated to call me “fluffy.” It’s annoying that this kind of healthcare is only really available if you’re able to spend $200/year for concierge care, but I’m glad to be in a position where I can.

I mean, Kaiser was pretty okay! But they still felt bureaucratic and, well, HMO-ish. (And they were still better than any of the major care clinics/hospitals in Seattle, like Swedish or, worse yet, Virginia Mason…)

Anyway. Folks were asking for updates so here’s the update.

Current status

My shortness of breath has gotten somewhat worse, and my peak flow is around 400 L/min, which is somewhat lower than my average healthy level.

I had a video visit with one of the nurse practitioners at One Medical and while my symptoms aren’t severe enough yet that they think I need urgent attention, they do want me to come in this afternoon for a secondary screening so they can check out my lungs and see what’s going on with my asthma, at least.

Despite the current administration’s advertisements, there’s still no test kits available, and they’re not expected to be for a couple weeks. This h*cking country, am I right? And the CDC still only care about suspected direct exposure or people who have themselves traveled internationally, despite the growing epidemic and the fact that almost none of the confirmed cases (including deaths) fell into those categories.

If this were just an asthma flare due to a cold they’d be putting me on prednisone (which is a standard course of treatment which works well for me), but they’re concerned about the immunosuppressant effect if I do have COVID-19.

Read more…

Living in a future ghost town

Pretty much all of the tech companies (mine included) have moved to a “work from home unless absolutely necessary” policy. We’re all suddenly getting into a remote-worker mindset — which I think is a long-term good thing, but it’s jarring. Looking out my dining room window I still see a typical amount of foot and car traffic for this time of day, but there’s an air of desperation and paranoia. Maybe I’m just projecting though.

My own symptoms have all but cleared up. I do have a persistent ache in my back and shoulders, which I’m not sure if it’s attributable to this mystery illness or is simply my fibromyalgia flaring up as always. My temperature is back to normal. I’m still coughing on occasion but it’s infrequent, and it’s gone from dry to productive. My shortness of breath is… well, still lurking, but doesn’t feel like an impairment at the moment. I’m still glad that I have a pretty strong reserve of albuterol, all the same.

Read more…

Health update

I took a sick day today, because I was feeling very much under the weather, and had a mild fever and a bit of a cough. I rested up a bunch and I’m feeling a lot better now. Still slightly short of breath. So I’m probably going to continue to work from home for the next few days at least (a shame, I really want to try out my new chair which finally arrived today!) and if I hear that COVID-19 test kits are both reliable and available I’ll probably see about getting tested, even if it doesn’t progress any further than this. I’m also going to skip my drawing group this week.

Read more…

Cold in a hot zone

So, COVID-19 has made it to Seattle, and there’s been enough localized outbreaks that people are absolutely flipping out because of it. Store shelves have been cleared of nonperishables, paper products (especially toilet paper!), hand sanitizer, face masks, and bottled water (even though there’s been absolutely no concerns about our water infrastructure whatsoever and this is only causing problems for people who need to, like, fill their CPAPs and humidifiers and whatever).

Hospitals are completely overwhelmed and unprepared, and there’s no test kits to go around. I have people shouting in one ear about how terrible everything is and how we’re all going to die, and people in the other ear saying how everyone who’s overreacting is being silly and there’s no reason for anyone to do anything differently.

Somewhere in the middle, I am concerned about the pandemic, but also about what this will do to this city while everyone’s in a panic.

And meanwhile, I’m coming down with something. I don’t know if it’s my usual winter cold, or something worse; I don’t think I’ve been in a situation where I’d have been exposed to COVID-19 in particular, but for the past few days I’ve had persistent shortness of breath, and today I started feeling nauseous and came close to vomiting; not a typical COVID-19 symptom but not without precedent either.

I contacted my new doctor about it and they gave me the usual CDC guidance and that if I’m feeling ill and haven’t been directly exposed to coronavirus I should come in for an exam, and if I have possibly been exposed they can do a video visit to get a better idea of what’s going on. Meanwhile I had a hot shower and some toast and fried eggs for dinner and I’m feeling somewhat better. Not great, but better.

Read more…