Too close for comfort… STAR Sports Editor shares brush with COVID-19

Published 9:53 pm Friday, April 3, 2020

When anyone begins a conversation about the COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy for some to brush the virus off as maybe some kind of hoax or just another virus that the world is making a big deal about.
However, unless you have been in the crosshairs of the pandemic, it’s hard to really grasp the emotions and feelings one goes through while awaiting word on a test result to either confirm or deny if the virus has infected your own body.
For this writer, I can speak directly to those thoughts and feelings as I am one that has been tested for the virus. I felt it was important to share my encounter so others who may possibly think they are infected or are wondering what happens can read my account and hopefully encourage you to seek medical help in the event you have the symptoms.
The early stages
I hadn’t been feeling good after returning back from the TSSAA State Wrestling tournament in Williamson County and I knew something wasn’t right.
Fatigue and almost daily running of a low-grade fever between 99.4-99.9 degrees had greeted me each day. My wife, Cathy, encouraged me to contact my doctor but I thought it was just all the running that I had been doing.
This went on for about a week and a half until one Thursday morning about 2 a.m. my wife and I awoke simultaneously with bad nausea and the side effects that come with that which almost resembled a stomach bug.
Friday morning came and Cathy was feeling faint and said she felt worse than she ever had and I knew I needed to contact our personal physician.
We both were told to come in and when we arrived we were provided with masks and immediately taken back to a room. Our doctor, Dr. Barnabas Hines, gave us both two bags of IV each in the office and sent us home with instructions to self isolate through the weekend.
By Saturday afternoon, I thought I was feeling some better while my wife was still a little nauseated so I thought maybe the IV was just what I needed.
A quick change
Saturday evening came and as I laid down I was still feeling pretty good and looking forward to starting off Sunday feeling better.
That didn’t happen.
About 5 a.m. Sunday, I awoke with terrible nausea again and struggled with that from 5 to 9 a.m. The nausea went away but I felt horrible with a headache and I ran a temperature of 100 degrees plus all day long plus I had started to cough as well.
I sent an email to my doctor that night via our medical portal advising him of what was happening because had asked me to do so.
When the nurse called the next morning, I was asked a series of the same questions asked on Friday morning but this time, not only did he ask if I had been out of the country but asked if I had been out of the area.
I shared with him about the wrestling tournament in Williamson County and he said that he was going to talk to the doctor.
It was no time that my phone was ringing with instructions that since I wasn’t feeling better to go to the emergency room with a concern that I may have contracted the virus from being in an area where several cases were showing early.
The test
On the way to Franklin Woods, my mind raced about how full the emergency room was going to be and how many might already be there that might have the COVID-19 while my wife drove me.
Cathy dropped me off at the emergency room where I was quickly logged in and to my surprise, there wasn’t anyone there but me.
It took very little time to get called back and once back in the room, the nurse tried to start an IV but struggled and called for assistance. I was lucky that the nurse that came was from Roan Mountain and we were able to chat about some things we both had in common.
She was able to find a vein after being stuck about five times combined and blood was drawn for the lab. A chest x-ray followed and then came the test for the COVID-19.
If anyone has ever had a flu swab, it was exactly the same as the swab was placed deep in the nasal cavity followed by a throat swab. They also did another regular flu and throat swab which already had been done with a negative result at the doctor’s office.
The doctor came in while IV and medicine were flowing into my veins and said that the blood work and chest x-ray appeared OK and said that he wanted to send me home and to self-quarantine until I received my results.
I asked how long that would take and he said about 2 to 3 days. I left the hospital still feeling terrible.
Three days turns to four
Following the doctor’s orders, I returned to my house along with my wife and followed the doctor’s orders. We didn’t go out anywhere spending the days looking out the windows of our home waiting with long anticipation about the results of the test.
Cathy was feeling better and wanted to go and work at her part-time job but out of respect and concern for others at the job, she remained home with me in quarantine.
The truth of the matter was we both had two different lines of thought going on – she was worrying about me because of me being a diabetic and the potentially deadly results the virus could bring and I was concerned with trying to remember who all I had contact with because if the results came back positive, I was going to do my best to let others know.
I let Delaney Scalf, the general manager of the STAR, and Robin Johnson who does our pagination of the situation and asked for prayer and to let them know I was staying away from everyone in quarantine.
My pastor was also informed and along with our family and a couple of friends but I didn’t want to say too much until I had the final result.
Three days went by with no answer so I contacted my doctor and asked what to do. I was told to stay in quarantine until I received the answer.
Sleepless nights
I wasn’t concerned about the COVID-19 virus itself because my faith in God allows me to know regardless of what I am facing that He will always be there in life and in death.
However, my mind continually worried about my friends and loved ones that I had been around.
The what-ifs stirred heavily and it would often be anywhere from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. before I could rest a little.
Those thoughts ranged from what if I have it how will people react if I notify them, what if I have it how will I be able to do my job effectively, and what if I have it will people treat me. You know the thoughts that Satan typically fills your mind with when you are going through those times in your life.
Again, I wasn’t afraid of the virus – just those who I might have possibly infected.
Nerves on edge
After no call on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday which had been days four, five, and six, my nerves were starting to really wane on me as I had to have an answer.
I had followed the doctor’s orders to the hilt by drinking plenty of liquids and staying isolated. I contacted him once again and asked if he thought the hospital even sent the test off and whether I would be notified either way.
He followed up by having his nurse call the hospital and they verified they had sent the test off and had my information ready when the results came back. He even had the nurse call the State Health Department who verified test results are given either way.
That still didn’t ease my nerves even after reading that some people that had tested had waited up to eight and nine days to get results back with a mixed bag of results.
If it wasn’t for family
My son, Michael, became our knight in shining armor as he made grocery runs for us and left the food outside our door for us to retrieve once he left. He also gave our lawn its first mowing as the grass was becoming thick.
Our daughter and her family along with our parents interceded with God for a healing touch and a negative result.
Probably one of the hardest things was standing at our glass door and waving to our son and granddaughter, Zoey, as they came to take care of us. Just missing the ability to give a hug or a little nose rub to the granddaughter was tough but we were determined that we weren’t going to take a chance.
We were also thankful for Walmart having free grocery pickup because it was easier to order the groceries and have Michael pick it up rather than trying to tell him each and everything we needed.
There were times we did have to send a photo text, however.
Tuesday morning and Tuesday afternoon came without the first ring of the phone. I was really ready to yank my hair out by now as I was wondering what in the world was going on.
Again, the virus didn’t scare me because I knew I had already been in quarantine and even though I had mixed days of how I physically felt, I believed that if it was truly present that hopefully, I was working through it.
And at last, the call came.
At 4:20 p.m. on Tuesday, eight days past the time I had the test – the answer arrived.
N-E-G-A-T-I-V-E. Praise the Lord was the first words that I could echo along with my wife.
We had escaped the virus this time with the realization that it could still creep in as we continue to use Stay at Home as much as humanly possible while washing our hands frequently and wearing disposable gloves when needed.
One last word
The hope and reason for sharing my story is really very simple.
I hope and pray that if there is anyone out there who is showing signs of potentially having this virus that you do not push it to the side. Sure, you may be tough and aren’t worried about it but you are forgetting one thing.
Those around you!
While you may be able to shake off colds and flus easily, this is not the time to try and be a Superman or Superwoman. I find it ironic that only one person has tested positive in Carter County when the cases are daily rising around us.
My concern is that people aren’t being tested because of fear or whatever.
Undoubtedly, there are people right here in our county right now that are infected and you continue to go on with life as normal. I urge you to please consider those around you if you don’t care about yourself.
Young and old alike are dying daily. Physically strong and healthy individuals are falling to this virus. I am not trying to be a doomsday person either in my plea, I am just using the common sense that the Lord gave me.
I know from everything I am hearing that the only way to defeat this disease is to identify who has it, stay home, and use common sense by following CDC guidelines. We are in this together and I care about our community and my family.
Do you?

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