What I’ve learned from getting COVID at age 89 (Town Square)
By DAVID JONES
Special to Montclair Local
So this is my Covid story.
I drove on a Thursday to the Montclair Golf Club for lunch with six old guys like me at a single table in a large open room. I had received two Moderna vaccine shots months before, but thought I was still being cautious. My wife and I had been avoiding travel or crowds, and had not been to Manhattan for 20 months. I understood my luncheon friends were all vaccinated, and this was only the second time since the pandemic began that we had dined in person.
That evening, I felt particularly tired, so I went to sleep early. The next day I felt quite fatigued, but on Saturday felt better. Although I felt even better on Sunday, I was suspicious, so I took my temperature before breakfast, and it was normal. So Mary Lee, my wife, and I drove from our Montclair home two hours south to our Long Beach Island shore house to close it for the winter. Then we drove home, and that evening my temperature was still normal.
On Monday morning, my temperature was normal before breakfast, and again when we had it taken with a temporal scanner by our physical therapist. My oxygen level was also normal. But by late afternoon, I was sinking again. When Mary Lee noticed me picking over her good dinner, she asked me what was wrong. Then I found my temperature was bouncing around 100.
I called the RN who is our geriatric care specialist. Within 30 minutes she dropped off a COVID home test kit at our doorstep. I tested positive. By then, my temperature had spiked at 101.7 and our RN told me to take an ambulance to the Mountainside hospital emergency room. I called 911, the Montclair Police and Glen Ridge rescue squad arrived within 10 minutes, and two nice guys swept me away about 8:30 p.m.
At the hospital, I said I had tested positive and wanted a confirming COVID test. I waited alone on a metal folding chair for two hours in a deserted hallway before asking what was going on. I was told a room for me had suddenly become available at that moment, where I waited again for about 90 minutes on an examination bed. I talked by cellphone with my wife and our daughter in Brooklyn. I got a chest X-ray and blood test, and finally had my nose swabbed for COVID around 2 a.m.
I was told it would take an hour for results. About 90 minutes later, a busy doctor arrived, apologizing for the delay and saying he had 30 patients. Yes, he said, I had COVID. But I had no breathing or lung issues, seemed to be doing well, and would soon fully recover after he gave me an infusion of monoclonal antibodies, which he did. But I would have to isolate at home for two weeks.
I finally took a taxi home, arriving around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, to be greeted by Mary Lee coming downstairs to make coffee. We immediately informed my lunch colleagues and therapist that I had COVID. Mary Lee had taken the COVID home test while I was gone. She is negative.
It has been a few days now. My temperature is normal, my nasal congestion is clearing and my fatigue is ebbing. I never felt really sick, and have fared far better than millions of other Americans.
I have no idea where I got my COVID, but there are some things I do know.
That this is an insidious disease. That no one is safe. That at my age — 89 — my life might well have been saved by our RN and the dedicated scientists at Moderna. That it is a very good thing that I had those shots. And that if you have not had them, you damn well should. It can happen to you.
David Jones is a Montclair resident, a retired New York Times assistant managing editor and a member of Montclair Local’s governing board.
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