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John’s Journal: Welcome To Covid World

The Positive Test Came At The Worst Possible Time

Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2022 - 7:48 PM


My adventure started with a scratchy throat on a busy day. It was Thursday, June 9, and I spent more than four hours behind the wheel that day, driving to the MSHSL state softball tournament in North Mankato in the morning, then heading from there to St. Michael-Albertville High School for the 4 p.m. session on day one of the state track meet.

It was a glorious, 12-hour day, watching high school kids and teams compete on the biggest stage. For me, one of the best parts of such days is seeing friends that I don’t see often enough and making new friends; it’s not rare for someone to see me walking around with an MSHSL credential hanging around my neck and asking very nicely, “Are you John?” That always leads to a friendly chat.

On Friday I spent the day at the track meet. My throat was not a lot worse, but it wasn’t better, either. I had that feeling we all know: “Uh oh, I’ve got a cold coming on.” That night, I opened an at-home Covid test, just to be safe … and the result was negative. Thank goodness.

Saturday was basically a normal Saturday for me during a state tournament week. After five days of state tennis, softball, and track and field, I was tired and I knew it. Honestly, the biggest health concern I had was the sun. I’ve been literally burned before at such events, so I applied and re-applied sunscreen each day. I came home Saturday with no serious sunburn but I was even more worn out than usual. I’m 63 years old and I have diabetes, and I have been very Covid-aware since the pandemic started. You just don’t mess with this disease.

It was hard to sleep Saturday night. My sinuses were clogged, I had a nasty headache and I took Tylenol. I felt much worse Sunday morning, which was a special day. June 12 marked exactly 40 years since my wife Beth and I were married. We had planned to leave Sunday for a brief North Shore getaway before another week of state tournaments (baseball, golf, lacrosse) began.

I took a second Covid test Sunday morning and that’s when everything came crashing down. I was positive for the virus. We quickly scrapped our North Shore plans (I’m grateful to Grand Superior Lodge in Two Harbors for allowing us to reschedule our trip at no further charge).

This was uncharted territory. Neither Beth nor I had tested positive for Covid before this. We’re fully vaccinated and boosted, because we believe in science. We trust the medical experts and cannot figure out why some people, from the highest levels of government on down, think these vaccines and treatments are some weird plot.

All three of our children and both of our grandkids have had Covid and recovered. They immediately offered support, based on their experiences. Stay hydrated. Rest, rest, rest. Have your doctor prescribe Paxlovid.

I did some reading. I learned that Paxlovid is an oral treatment that can be taken at home to help keep high-risk patients from getting so sick that they need to be hospitalized. It has an 89 percent reduction in the risk of hospitalization and death. During a video visit with a physician, I mentioned Paxlovid and she nodded in the affirmative. Beth picked up the pills at our pharmacy and I took the first dose on Tuesday afternoon. Like vaccines and boosters, it's a real medical remedy, recommended by medical experts who do this for a living.

My goal since testing positive was simple: Keep my butt out of the hospital. I also hope that I see no long-term effects from Covid, but that’s down the road. Right now (I’m writing this on Thursday evening), I feel better than I did early in the week. There were rock-bottom times when I thought that if my health took even a minor turn in the wrong direction, I might end up hospitalized.

I never lost my sense of taste or smell, but I sure lost my appetite. Beth has been a saint, making sure I ate, but it wasn’t much. A bit of soup for lunch, some mashed potatoes later in the day. My wife also must have superhuman immunities, because she has tested negative throughout this process. She’s done all the household chores, she mowed the lawn, she has taken care of everything. The doctor told me to do absolutely nothing, which I discovered is pretty easy when getting out of bed is no simple task.

The headache is still there, but it’s not as bad as it was a few days ago. Breathing is easier, too; I’m sure the vaccines and boosters were a great help in making sure the virus didn’t take root in my lungs. I have experienced body aches, sore joints, a major lack of energy. I told a buddy that I now know how it must feel to be a very slow-moving zombie. I also had bouts of minor mental confusion (to which some of my smart-aleck friends would reply, “So what’s new?”)

The doctor said someone in my situation needs to quarantine for 10 days, so I’m locked into the home front for a while longer. I’ve walked the dog a couple of times, which seems pretty normal but was unthinkable earlier in the week. This morning, Beth and I sat on the deck to enjoy the summer breeze as it blew softly through the trees in our backyard; I’ve never relished that simple scene as much as I did today.

I know people who have died from Covid. In every case, I learned that they had fallen into internet and/or TV rabbit holes and lost all sense of, well, sense. I will never understand any of that. My friends lost their lives, and their families lost loved ones. For what?

My experience with Covid has made me think back to March 2020, when the pandemic began and the MSHSL and other groups across the country shut down all events. I never doubted that this was the proper decision, but having my own Covid encounter has really made me understand how important it was to stop gatherings in those days before vaccines. I cannot imagine contracting this disease without vaccines and boosters, and having to face the serious circumstances that so many people dealt with. More than a million Americans have lost their lives to Covid. It’s not a hoax.

Timing is everything. If I had tested positive one week later, Beth and I would have been able to take our little vacation on our actual anniversary, and I wouldn’t have missed the final week of MSHSL tournaments for 2021-22.

I’ve been tightly tied into the Minnesota high school sports world for decades, and this is the first time I’ve had to stay away at such an important time. Of course, my attendance isn’t vital. The games go on, with kids and teams competing on the biggest stage.

And that’s what’s really important.  

Be well, friends.

--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at jmillea@mshsl.org  


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