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  • Writer's pictureKevin Graham

My Covid diary so far

Here’s my answer to the many friends and family members asking how we’re holding up. Olia and her mother are both stable and miserable. My daughter Alana is hiding from the rest of us and will be tested again when we’ve completed our isolation/quarantine period next Sunday.


My own experience described below. I received the Pfizer vaccine on April 22nd, likely too close to the time of infection to have full value, though I now suspect it has played some positive role.


Thursday, May 6

My mother-in-law (who lives with us) received a positive Covid test result this morning. My wife and daughter and I immediately went to be tested. From there, we went to the hospital emergency room to have my mother-in-law checked out. Four hours of tests sent her home as stable. Instruction was to bring her back in the event of shortness of breath.


Friday, May 7

Shortly after 8:00 this morning, my daughter downloaded our test results. My wife and I came up positive. We’ve both been feeling ‘off’ for a few days, but nothing that raised alarms. Tonight, I was struck by a severe episode of chills.


Saturday, May 8

All over body aches, fatigue, nasal congestion, periodic abdominal twinges, pressure headache (I haven’t had a headache in more than 45 years), cough. No fever which is supposed to be the most common early symptom. Maybe I had one and didn’t know it. Morning blood pressure was 148/87 with resting heart rate of 102. My normal morning BP, which I’ve been watching in recent years in conjunction with my fitness program, is 105/65, HR under 60. That was notable for me. Foggy thinking. I was working through a series of things in my head one moment, and the next, could not remember what the subject was. I still don’t know.

No appetite to speak of. Two small yogurts for breakfast. No coffee for the first time in many years. It’s a diuretic. Ate a bowl of rice with a spoon of blueberry jam for lunch. Drinking plenty of water and juice. Peeing buckets. Keep drinking. Dehydration is the enemy. Two plain slices of rye bread toasted for dinner. Woke up to watch the Leafs beat the Habs. Love the magic of Marner and Matthews. Made the day easier to take.


Sunday, May 9

Coughing persisted through the night. I’m not helping anyone else to get sleep. BP 110/77. That’s a good sign. Resting HR still 92. Still no fever. Rice and jam for breakfast. One coffee. Couldn’t resist. Head still feeling pressure, mostly in the centre of my forehead. Couldn’t smell the basil plant on the kitchen counter. I could smell it yesterday. Rice and eggs for lunch with a single slice of rye bread, melted cheese on top. Spent much of the day in bed. Still aching, though I wouldn’t described it as painful. Our kind neighbours made a pot of soup which the girls all enjoyed. Two more slices of rye bread with cheese for me.


Monday, May 10

Woke up early, not plagued with a cough, feeling much better. Showered and shaved, feeling sort of fresh. Still a bit congested. Traditionally, my answer to congestion is to go to the arena for a good skate with the guys. So... unsure of the outcome, I’ve put my gym stuff on. We’ll see if I’m stupid enough to go downstairs to my home gym, or if my wife physically restrains me. At least a good stretch, I say. Manage or be managed. My sister, Kim, will understand. I certainly won’t be doing my usual 1 hour, 30 km bike ride today. Maybe a light 5 km. Work schedule almost completely scaled back for the week. This is the time to dedicate to recovery. BP 116/75 HR 86.

Coffee!

I lied. Did a good stretch... cat, cobra, cow, etc., then ventured on to the bike with trepidation. Made a promise to myself that I’d stop if my HR hit 150. Eased in, constantly monitoring my HR and breathing pace. 70s playlist blaring in my ear made the ride tolerable. Ended up completing 30 km in 59:03, a minute less than usual. Maximum HR 149. Average HR 141. Both 20 beats higher than they should be, but not outrageous given the circumstances. Typically, I spend four minutes at the end of each workout upside down on the inversion table (for my back). Abandoned that three seconds in as everything rushed to my head. Not a good idea.

Maybe I’ll take it easy today. Maybe I’ll cut the grass.

Am I on the way out? Too soon to say. I understand that symptoms can come and go, so perhaps I’ve just caught a lull. Nonetheless, my own experience in past when bothered by a virus (without lower respiratory issues) has been to work the toxins and congestion out by way of moderate exercise. As I say, manage or be managed.


... May 10 continued

Bike ride achieved its assignment. Congestion down, though the head is still off with pressure. No body aches, though I am somewhat weary. Pink eye has entered the picture, another listed symptom. Resting HR this afternoon down to 78. Slowly, but it is declining.


Stood at the computer for a couple of hours, focusing on a work project. That knocked me over more than the bike ride, so I napped for a couple of hours. All symptoms except the elevated HR are from the neck up. If my resting HR drops to the low 70s tomorrow morning, I’ll be much encouraged. Measure, measure, measure.


Trimmed and cut the grass this evening. No big deal. Only did the front yard. Tractor or no tractor, there’s no way I was doing that hill.

Guessing, by today’s experience that the vaccine has made some contribution. I’ve never had a flu that didn’t lay me up for two weeks or more.


Tuesday, May 11

Morning BP 115/62 HR 90. Persistent high HR. Seems to me that my heart feels it needs to take care of the steady pressure in my head. Watching.

Left eye swollen, blurry, and red. Polysporin. Wants to stay closed. May allow that.


One coffee, lots of water, rice with jam.


The Covid centre in London sent an oximeter for Olia’s mother this morning. All three of us tested on it. All three came up between 95-96%, so that’s good. Shows their heart rates in the high 60s to low 70s. Mine at 92. Hmmm... something going on here. Plan to spend the day horizontal.

O2 down to 90, plus or minus 2. this afternoon. HR steady at 100. Took two ibuprofen (400s) at 4:30 with body temp rising to 37.8.


Sent summary email to my doctor just before 5:00, I think. He called within minutes. His focus was on the blood oxygen reading. While on the phone with him, Olia brought in the ear thermometer (all previous readings used the infrared forehead device). This one read 38.4. His instruction was to take regular O2 readings. As he put it, there’s no way my O2 should drop below 90%, given my overall fitness.


Shortly after 6:00, I felt much better. HR 71. O2 97%. Temperature below 37. I guess ibuprofen is a miracle drug. Challenge is that you’re not supposed to exceed 3 caplets per 24 hours.

When I suggested that maybe I should go down to the home gym for a workout, Olia didn’t even roll her eyes.


Wednesday, May 12

1:00 a.m. severe chills for maybe 10-15 minutes. Temperature 38.6. Took my third caplet of ibuprofen. Put a sweater on over my pyjamas.


2:00 a.m. Not doing well. Took temperature again. 39.6. Well, that’s alarming. Took my fourth ibuprofen in 10 hours. This is not going to play out well. My stomach is going to make me pay.


3:00 a.m. O2 is 92, HR 102. Temperature 37.6. Hydrate. And the beat goes on.


3:45 a.m. HR 84. Wondering about cause and effect of fevers. Do fevers reflect the body fighting infection or do fevers themselves fight infection? If the latter, are we delaying the curative process by bringing body temperature down? Need to google that. Brain is not fried yet. Just did a Sudoku puzzle in two and a half minutes. Stomach beginning to send twinges from all the ibuprofen. Will call Tele Health in the morning. Not looking good for my Zoom presentation this coming evening. Cannot predict when the chills will strike.


4:00 a.m. Okay, google says, “let the fever ride”. Lowering body temperature may prolong infection. Gotta be a limit here. We’ll see what the Tele Health nurse says in the morning.


6:30 Water and juice. Back to sleep.


12:30 p.m. Temperature 39.1. O2 level 92-93% HR 115. Ate a plate of apples and pears. Juice and water.


3:00 p.m. Got a callback within 2 minutes from the nurse at TeleHealth. Gave her a short summary of my concerns. Latest temperature reading 40.5. That was all she needed to send me to the hospital in an ambulance. Dripping buckets, I took a quick rinse in the shower and put on dry pyjamas. By the time I got to hospital, I was soaked again.


Waited on the bench at the front door. Had my phone, yesterday’s and today’s notes and my health card. Oops! That was my driver’s license. No worries. They knew who I was at the hospital. They know everything. The lady driving the ambulance shared in the hallway of the hospital that she had mixed feelings when she saw me waiting outside. On one hand, she was glad, knowing that there were two more Covid positives inside. On the other, she really wanted to see inside. She told me, “if I have to come back again, wait inside.” Had to laugh.


Hooked me up in the ambulance for vitals. HR 124. Ouch! Blood pressure 128/77. Blood oxygen level 94%. This was up to 97% by the time I left the hospital after four hours of excellent attention. BP also normal by the time I came home. They emptied an IV bag of saline into my arm, did blood work, took a chest X-ray, and told me to take two Tylenol, 325s every six hours (with food) for the next three days, whether I had a fever or not. And don’t stop drinking sweet drinks. I go with 1/3 pineapple juice, 2/3 water.


As part of the history taking exercise, they learned that I biked 30 km on Monday. One of the nurses said, “well done”. Another said, “never heard that one before.” The doctor said, “that’s fine, no harm done.. now that you’ve got the full blown symptoms, take a pass on the home gym.” Fine. I’m sure there was a bit of head shaking over coffee later on that one.


I should say that they greatly appreciated my notes. So did I, because I’m sure I would otherwise have gotten facts and timelines wrong. A fever of 40.5 will do that to you. Be advised. If you get sick, in any way, take notes. They could save your life. Didn’t save my life, but certainly proved useful to the attending medical personnel. Measure and document.


Blood work showed elevated white blood cell count, expected. Also showed elevated CRP, a marker of inflammation. Might have guessed that, eh? Both indicative that my body is at war with the virus. Nothing too alarming. This stage was described as the “peak” of my infection, and that things should improve soon, given my general health.


The lowest my heart rate fell during my stay was 99, also an indicator of my body taking arms against the virus. I asked if it might suggest an injured sinus node (governs the heart rate). Blunt answer. No. Your heart is in great shape.


Chest X-ray showed something very minor in the lower region, again expected with Covid, and again, not alarming.


Olia made a huge pot of borscht while I was at the hospital... predictable. Had a big bowl with a couple of slices of rye toast, immediately upon my return home around 8:00. Took a couple of Tylenol with it. Settled in front of the tube to watch the Leafs not show up for a game with the Senators. Temperature 38.1 so I took a single additional Tylenol.


It’s now 11:40. Time to sleep for three hours before my next dose of Tylenol. What food? Maybe a protein bar...


Thursday, May 13

3:00 a.m. Temperature 39.2. Have to admit, I’m getting a little discouraged. Have to hang in there. How often we give up a few steps from the finish line. I’m better than this. Tylenol not doing the trick. Switched to 600 mg of ibuprofen. Toast and juice.


4:00 a.m. Temperature 38.3. Better. Absolutely dripping wet. Forgot to mention, they hooked me up to maybe 10 electrodes, from shoulders to ankles, for the entire time I was in hospital. Not sure why. One of their questions was about my legs, numbness, pain. I have no pain except this pressure headache. Threw off my Maple Leafs extra fleece blanket. I know, I know. I didn’t buy it. It’s the thought that counts, right? Leafs defenders have got to play the body, not the puck. A few times last night stuck with their shorts around their ankles.


5:00 a.m. Temperature 37.1. Okay, ibuprofen it is. No chills so far tonight. Progress to celebrate.


7:00 a.m. Temperature 36.3. Blood oxygen 99%. HR 78. BP 110/68.

Head pressure much reduced. Almost feels like “full blown” just blew away. Way to soon to say that, I know. This said, the big sign of progress is the drop in my HR.


10:00 a.m. Until now, my temperature has been 36.3-36.6. Was thinking, there’s no way I’m going to take the ibuprofen unless it creeps up a bit further. Sure enough, it did. First sign was shivering. Temperature 37.1. Five minutes later, 37.5. Olia quickly made me a small breakfast, two eggs with toast and a coffee, so I’d have some food in my stomach when I took the meds. Didn’t touch the coffee.

Just took the tablets, one hour late. 38.1.

Interestingly, I can now smell the basil plant, though not as fully as normal.


12:30 p.m. I’ve been in bed again since 10:00. New bedding. Of course, while she is battling Covid, Olia is taking care of her mother, taking care of me, protecting Alana, and doing the laundry. Everything you’ve heard about Russian women being tough... it’s true. I worry for her.

Temperature varies between 38.1 and 38.4. Developing a slight cough.

This Covid is an interesting thing. So sudden to move away. Just as sudden to hit again. Won’t delay the 4:00 dose.


1:30 p.m. Temperature 38.1. HR back up to 96. Maybe I’ll give the Tylenol another shot.


5:30 p.m. Slept right through my six-hour dose at 4:00. Temperature 39.8. HR between 108 and 120. O2 between 89 and 91%. Not reliable for me. This is turning into a real WTF sort of day. Borscht with toast. 1,000 mg of Tylenol, same dose given upon arrival at the hospital. Now, I watch. Back in bed. Only slept a bit more than an hour today, and last night was not good either. Set my alarm for 11:00 tonight so I can put something in my stomach before the next dose. I can hold my breath for twelve seconds. Yesterday, a minute easily. Phone appointment with a doctor from the London Urgent Covid Care Clinic in the morning at 10:00. Will try to hold on until then.


7:00 p.m. HR above 110. Temperature 40.1. Oxygen saturation consistently 85-86%. Not happy. I sense this creeping south.


7:50 p.m. Finally, temperature down to 38. Oxygen up to 88-89 HR 94. Maybe I won’t have to take another ride tonight. A bit of a roller coaster this experience.


8:25 p.m. Temperature still 38. Blood oxygen 93% (yay!). Do you think there might be a connection between body temperature and oxygen saturation in the blood? There is. I’m proof of it. HR 87. There is hope.


10:30 p.m. Oxygen saturation 99%. Wow! Temperature 36.4. That took way too long. HR 98 so something is going on. Just took my next dose, shifting back to ibuprofen. I’m cold, and that’s usually a predictor of rising temperature for me. Could also be that Olia opened my bedroom window, now closed. So, I ate some rice with vegetables and medicated an hour early. Now, I’m going to try to get some sleep.


Friday, May 14

4:30 a.m. Got about four hours of sleep. Nice! I was awake, laying in bed for about an hour. The alarm rang at 4:00. I took my temperature right away. It was 38.1.

Threw off the duvet and just lay there for five minutes, wondering if my blankets are making me too warm. Temperature 37.4. Hmmm...

Went downstairs. Drank some juice with water. Ate a banana (electrolytes). Ate a pear Olia had prepared for me. Took my blood pressure. 103/64. Perfectly normal for me. Interesting that only on the 8th was my blood pressure elevated. Since then, just fine.

Took 1,000 mg of Tylenol. It’s supposed to be easier on the stomach.

Back in bed again. Oxygen 92-93%. HR 87. Temperature 36.5. Sleep, per chance to heal.


7:00 a.m. Maybe close to another two hours of sleep. Juice and water.

Blood pressure 105/65. Perfect. Temperature 36.1. Oxygen 98%. HR 78.

Winning numbers all around. I think I’m near the end of this journey. The HR seems less correlated to body temperature, so maybe it will be my ‘watch’ measure to know when I can stop the six hour Tylenol routine. I have a phone appointment at 10:00 with a doctor from the Covid clinic at the hospital, and will ask. My challenge in working through the logic on this has been, if temperature and oxygen saturation levels both behave consistently for a day or two, but I’m in charge of that with a six hour medication routine, are these artificial readings that will collapse when the Tylenol program stops. How can I know with confidence that it’s safe to halt the Tylenol program? Here’s my speculation. Heart rate seems to go on its own merry way, independent of temperature, oxygen levels, and Tylenol. In hospital, the doctor described the elevated HR as indicative of my heart recognizing that there’s a battle to be fought. So... if my resting HR stays below 80 (I think it will be a while before I see a resting HR of 60 again), will I be in the clear? Is the battle over? That will be my only question for the doctor. Feels like a good day coming on.


9:00a.m Temperature 35.8. HR 79. Oxygen 99%. What more is there to say?


5:30 p.m. Pretty boring day, thank goodness. Took a call at 10:00 this morning from a Dr. Fotheringham from the Covid clinic. I think they’re centred at University Hospital in London. Very pleasant, as are all the medical folks I’ve encountered since Tuesday (For my American friends, please ignore everything your politicians, except Bernie, of course, say about universal health care. It’s wonderful, a bit pinched in places, but I would never trade it for anything else.). She started the conversation, after the “Hi, how are you feeling?” niceties, declaring that , having worked with Covid patients steadily over the past year, she has not seen such clean test results: the chest X-ray, super; the bloodwork, excellent; and the EKG (so that’s what all those electrodes were about), absolutely perfect. No damage anywhere in any way. Nice to hear, and very relieving. I’m getting my skates sharpened soon (“Not for the next two months, you’re not,” she answered. I’m sure she was talking about Premier Ford’s repeated lockdown extensions, not my estimated recovery period... or maybe I’ve misinterpreted. Sometimes ambiguity serves well). Given my progress, she said to stick with the Tylenol program until Sunday morning, then watch my temperature like a hawk. At the first sign of a fever threat, re-engage on an as-needed basis. Seems logical to me, and answered one of my two prepared questions. The other was prompted by my friends: Paul, Tony, and Morris. Each had sent information to me, one from direct related experience, encouraging me to ask for a prescription for Ivermectin, a corticosteroid used in some places for treatment of Covid. It’s originating use, and its dominant market, is for veterinarians in the treatment parasites in cattle. I didn’t ask for a prescription, just for her thoughts. Her answer was immediate. “I am not permitted to prescribe Ivermectin. It’s not approved for treatment of Covid in Canada. What I can do is write a prescription for Dexamethasone, also a corticosteroid, and if you’d like, I’ll make that call immediately after our call? Just tell me which pharmacy.” I asked for assurance that it was not contra-indicated by my Tylenol program (you gotta ask). With her assurance, I said, “yes, please.” Next, she was concerned about my up and down oxygen saturation levels, agreeing that 85% was extraordinarily low, especially in view of my hospital tests and general fitness. Upon my report that I (not my wife and not my mother-in-law) got oximeter failures in readings and questionable readings at times, she answered, “I’ll have them send another right away.” When she got to the part of my story that covered Monday’s 30km adventure on the exercise bike, she said, “Well done, Kevin! I must tell you that you are a special and unique Covid patient. Don’t do that again!” She could, in my view, have stopped at me being “special and unique.” When I told her that a case of Gatorade was being delivered to the porch today, she said, “Excellent, make sure it’s not G2, just the regular.” Electrolytes and sodium are lost in the dehydration process, and water alone just passes through without the full recovery benefit. She also encouraged nasal flushing, explaining that it will help to reduce the pressure headache. Not pleasant, but do it anyway. It helps. To close, she told me that a nurse would be calling every day to check on my progress, and that I’d be getting another call, asking about my willingness to participate in a research study over the next month. A research study? Hmmm... well, sure. I’ll hear them out.


Twenty minutes later, I called the pharmacy to ask if they’d received the call and if they could deliver to our front porch, as we are all under quarantine. The pharmacist answered, “Yes, we got the call. Dr. Fotheringham, it was. The prescription has already been prepared and I’m waiting for our delivery person to return so I can send it out to you, no charge. He explained, while he had me, that the dosage is for 1 1/2 tablets. I asked if he could split the necessary number for me so they were accurately divided. No problem at all. Thirty minutes later, the package was dropped at the door. Two bottles, one for the full tablets, one for the splits. Prescription cost, $19 and change.


Soon after, with my phone battery smoking dry, I received the promised call about the study. They explained the purpose, what I’d be prompted by text to do three times a day for two weeks, and twice a day for two weeks. Essentially, oximeter readings with matching heart rates. I think they’re trying to confirm what I already know, the connection between rising heart rate and declining oxygen saturation in the blood. Then they said I’d need to complete one short survey mid-study, and one at the end. I answered, “Two surveys, eh?” She hesitated and then, “Yes... are you comfortable with surveys, Sir?” I just smiled to myself, bit my tongue, and replied, “Oh sure, I think I can handle that.” Held my laughter until the call ended, admirably if I do say so. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been conducting comprehensive surveys for more than 25 years. It’s all I do.


Took my first dose of the Dexamethasone, downed with Gatorade. Took my Tylenol dose at 4:30 and set the alarm for 10:00 tonight (right in the middle of the Leafs/Jets game, last of the regular season. Thank goodness for the pause button. Does popcorn qualify for “take with food?”


Now 7:30 p.m. Oxygen 99%. HR 90. Temperature 36.9. Time to watch the pre-game show.


9:30 p.m. Just had a bowl of rice with fried vegetables. Forgot to mention earlier that Anton treated us with his delivery of Costco’s famous broiled chicken. I had Olia tear off a full leg for me. Fought off Maggie, sniffing a little too closely, and devoured it in short order. Almost (but didn’t) asked for seconds. I suspect it drove my HR up a bit... I know it for Maggie.


Oxygen 99%. HR 87. Temperature 36.2.



Saturday, March 15

2:41 a.m.

This is one for the Covid diary that may surprise a few of you. It may also surprise you that I’m willing to put it out there for viewing in a public forum. Blame Covid. Here goes.


Emotional dysregulation (seems an odd term, doesn’t it?). Emotional dysregulation is the inability to control emotional response. I’ve seen the lists of key warning signs for Covid. None include emotional dysregulation. Yet, it is listed as a potentially lingering after-effect of Covid. Everything I read focuses on mental health issues as after-effects. Not sure why, though I have my suspicions.


Well, I’ve got news for you. It’s an early symptom and it carries right through the period of infection. For me, it’s the experience of welling up with tears, about to cry over the most trivial of things. I find myself in conversation with Olia, and almost every time, welling up. Over how cute the pets look, with their front paws draped over the couch or chair, following some activity outside. I mean, it is cute, but really? Nothing to cry about. Many things that are of very little consequence bring me to the edge of crying in the middle of a sentence, forcing me to false cough or clear my throat while I gather myself before attempting to finish. I have not spoken to her about this yet, though she’s the most sensitive person I’ve ever met, and misses very little in this department.


She’s already given me a few looks during chats that tell me she knows. She knows that I have a few movie experiences that catch me mid-sentence when I talk about them. For example: Robert De Niro’s stellar performance in the 1973 movie, “Bang the Drum Slowly.” Google it. Better still, watch it. You’ll need a box of Kleenex, but won’t regret it. It’s a baseball movie, but it’s really about something else. I’ve linked a (sorry, I just lost control) key scene here.


There are a few more personal life experiences that had life-changing impacts on me. I will share only one, the first and perhaps most traumatic (sorry, I need to pause for a moment to regain control). You’ll understand why I’ve chosen this story over others later. It bears closely to our current conundrum.


I was a Cub In the Scouting program for a short time (pause). Can’t be certain of my age, but I’m guessing six. Brad, or my eldest brother Robert (who spent decades as a leader of leaders in the Scouting program) may recall. Every year, there was Apple Day. We carried around a large wooden tray, supported by a band wrapped around the back of our necks. Also in the tray, held to the bottom by a screw or a nail, (huge pause, and a pause again on this one. Okay, I’m ready) was a medium sized soup can, with a slot cut into the centre of the top for coins. We walked around the village, selling as many apples as we could. I sold tray after tray, going back every time for refills. I wanted to sell more apples than any other Cub in the world. Perhaps most important for me, I wanted to make my Dad proud. But... on my last trip back to have my soup tin removed and coins counted, I was ‘mugged’ by the local bully and his sidekick henchman (I will not say his name here, as he is still alive and nothing would be served by it. He’s probably a community leader somewhere. Rob and Brad will know immediately of whom I speak, and perhaps even the younger Kim. Ian was not yet born, though he may know the family name). I was not physically harmed, but these guys were much older and much larger than I. I was absolutely terrified. They tore out my money tin and left me there with an empty tray.


For a time, I was accused of making up a story, and stealing and hiding the money for myself. That’s why I sold so many apples. I was a greedy little thief. This narrative was convincing for many, including the Apple Day leader... and including my own father. “Honesty and integrity. Have I taught you nothing? There’s nothing more important in a man.” “Right! For me too, Dad.” “Go to your room!” You can imagine how devastating this experience... and that response from... my own father, was for me.


I became the black sheep that day. I never returned to the scouting program, not once, though I was proven innocent days later. They had burned that bridge... with me on it. Not a single apology, from anyone.


More importantly, I lost trust in what could be the most important developmental relationship in a young boy’s life (you guessed it, big pause here, I’m fighting right through it. Let it pour.). There developed a black hole into which I too often tossed opportunities for a healthy, open, if not affectionate relationship (not his style with any of his six children). I would never again expose myself to the vulnerability of being so hurt. Thankfully, I grew out of that declaration, though there remains around me a guard wall of sorts (well, there certainly is this week). How could there not? This said I must also say that my lifelong focus on character and values came most certainly from observations of my father, almost entirely in a positive way, this one, not so much.


False negatives versus false positives.

Damage done is invariably greater from the false negative than from the false positive. It is said to be a lesser injustice to set ten guilty men free than to imprison one innocent man. When we give our children the benefit of the doubt (when there is doubt), we take less risk on their behalf than when we judge harshly without certainty of guilt.


I was forty before I earned my father’s approval, or at least before he articulated it. The saddest part was that I didn’t need it anymore. I had craved it through my teen years and into my early twenties. It came forty years late. By then, I didn’t need it. I don’t blame him for it. It was just who he was. He was a very good man. I was a challenging and needy and nerdy and hyper kid, and he had no idea how to respond. “That’s not news, but that, too, is reality.”


Ironically, my five siblings chose me to deliver the eulogy for him. As Brad said, we haven’t been able to shut you up all these years (he’s right, as you can see). We figured (night before the funeral) that you’d already written one. Hmmm... Well, a bit in shock from that assignment, I didn’t sleep that night, delivered the eulogy, but didn’t cry (bet I would today). May not sleep this night, but I’ll try. Cried throughout the creation of my mother’s eulogy, less during its delivery. Cried bunches when I wrote my sister’s eulogy. Quavered frequently during delivery, but held it together. Almost lost it when I described her final days done “on her terms”, but paused only briefly. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, except mine... the right eye.


(Pause here, not for an emotional... dysregulation, but for a banana, my 4:30 a.m. Tylenol/Gatorade cocktail, and to take the vitals, all good.)


I resolved at that tender age of six... I remember it well... this happened just yesterday, folks... that I would never again put anyone or anything in control or in charge of my life. Life is definitely not just what happens to you. It’s what you do about what happens to you. Get knocked down. Get up. Ride 30 km in the early stages of Covid. Get up again, dammit. You’re not done until you stay down. But when you stay down, you’re done.


Trust me, I’ve been knocked down more than a few times, and have had many wonderful friends and family members as examples and mentors and supporters, as I’ve repeatedly scraped myself off the field of battles, and stood tall to prepare for the next adventure. My attitude, when proper, is to consider each new challenge, asking, “What am I going to learn today? I’ve learned a great deal this week, not least of which is how many good people surround me, sort of from a safe distance, but I see them all. Most of all, I celebrate the greatest unsung hero in my life, my wife Olia. Mother’s Day was ‘the pits’ for her (she gets to learn a new expression today), caring for her mother, for me, protecting our daughter, and sick with Covid herself.


Well, I’m done for the night. It’s 6:40 and I haven’t slept for one minute. Had a few good cries, but none were about Covid. Thank God for that. I’m tired but my vitals are stronger than ever. Should have no trouble sleeping now.


And we’ll keep on fighting ‘til the end.




7:30 a.m. Oxygen level 98%. Resting HR 65. Temperature 36.1

The insomnia is a listed side effect of the Dexamethasone. By my thinking, if the steroid is as effective as they say it is, and if impactful with the first dose, I’m going to fall in love with this drug over the next 9 days... 24 hours a day, apparently. Certainly, it lived up to the claim last night, without one minute of distress... and without one minute of sleep, either. Will try for some compensatory sleep today. Failure here will be counter to the overarching objective.

Just got two hours of sleep after one tablet of Melatonin. Awakened by my phone or would have been more. Tylenol stops at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow. Tomorrow, Alana gets tested to see if her hiding effort was successful. If she’s clear, and I don’t show symptoms, we’re all free, free, free at last on Monday morning.




Sunday, May 16

Measure, measure, measure.

4:30 a.m. After final Tylenol dose.

Oxygen saturation 97%. Temperature 36.8. HR 70

7:30 a.m. After waking up from a short sleep.

Oxygen saturation 98%. Temperature 36.1. HR 65

12:30 p.m. Immediately after cutting the grass in front and the half acre down to the riverbank.

Oxygen saturation 97%. Temperature 35.6. HR 64

3:45 p.m. After vacuuming and cleaning the pool.

Oxygen saturation 97%. Temperature 36.0 HR 74

Had a full lunch.

Eyes still suffering high light sensitivity (by-product of the steroid).

BP now everybody else’s normal, again a function of the steroid. Both should settle within a day or so.

Chatted with my son, Sasha for the past forty minutes. I’m never going to hear the end of that casual little bike ride I took last Monday. Aside from that, if you think I measure a lot, trust me, what I do pales in comparison. If he were in my shoes, this would be accompanied by T-tables, a literature review, and a grant application.

Taking a snooze now.

Here’s how the other two Covid patients are progressing. By the end of the month, I’ll have Tonia on the landscaping payroll.




Sunday, May 16

WTF?

10:00 p.m. Eyes open, still fighting insomnia since Friday. Gotta get some sleep. Tired. No pain, no aches, no fever, no chills, HR good. Oxygen dropped to 89% two hours ago, now back up a notch to 93%. Not feeling badly, just a little weak. Regular phlegmy cough. That’s a good sign. It says my lungs are working to clean the scene. Watching very closely. This wolf has caught me before after letting me think I’m in the clear. I sense it nipping at my ankles again. I took today’s Dexamethasone dose after all when that low reading was consistently confirmed. Something is going on here, but I know not what. Got to maintain my strength and a key part of that is I’ve got to sleep.

You won’t be seeing any Photoshopped pictures of me posing atop the 72 steps leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art very soon. First, because I don’t know how to Photoshop. Second, because I know Mr. Murphy way too well. Third, because I’m not Rocky Balboa. As Brad shares with me, it took a month before he slept. For now, I’m just raising my glass of Gatorade to the clear victories I’ve attained in such a short period of time. Maybe today was a tad on the active side. Maybe this reflects no more than the ending cleanup of residue left over from the battle. Sort of like dredging a polluted harbour and stirring up a lot of crap. The consistently low temperature and heart rate suggest that may be the case. No matter. Time to keep my head down. No longer being infectious is great, but not enough. Watching, watching, watching. As I’ve said more times than I can count over my working career, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Suspect I may still be a weak week away from the second plateau of recovery, and have a month or two to learn Photoshop. Can’t afford to lose the one plateau I’ve fought so hard to win. Hold that hill! Head down. Eyes on target. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Out...


Monday, May 17

9:00 a.m.

So, here’s the most important entry in my Covid diary, ever!!!

Alana texted me just now, asking to bring her health card from the kitchen counter. I stood at the door to her room and read it to her slowly. She said, “I’ve got it.” “No,” I answered. She quickly corrected, “No, I’ve got the number... wait a second............ NEGATIVE!!!”

The whole house breathes a sigh of relief.


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