Day 17: Road tripping in the time of COVID

So it turned out that my cold was not to stress from Jag’s driving but instead COVID. In fact, we all got sick with COVID in 24 hours, which isn’t surprising since we were all cozy in a sedan on the road trip. Even though we wore our masks in crowded places, those around us who didn’t and gave us the unwelcomed gift of COVID. Here is a perfect example of why it is important for everyone to mask up, especially if you are sick, so that your freedoms don’t infringe on the well-being of others. Alas, not everyone shares this opinion, and so we caught COVID.

Thankfully we were isolated on a farmhouse in Goshen, NY. It allows us to be socially distant and close enough for DoorDash deliveries, pharmacies and hospitals – which turned out to be important given our trip to the Emergency Room for my kids. Both Avi and Rishi’s fever wouldn’t break. The trip to the ER over the Father’s Day weekend was a good reminder that being a father isn’t all about getting cards and treats. Having said that, this was the fastest trip to the ER at only under 2.5 hours. The staff was very accommodating and considering that all four of us were sick with COVID, they rushed us through.

There were three very interesting things that I noticed through this episode. Firstly, the COVID symptoms themselves. Beyond the usual (fever, chest congestion, cough, etc.), we found that we were constantly hungry. Jag’s Fitbit, which usually reported 1,400 – 2,000 calories burned daily, was not reporting 2,500 calories just by midday. By the end of the day, she was at 4,500 to 5,000 calories. We suspect that the increased heart rate as the body fought the infection was causing our body to expend more calories, and hence we were feeling hungry constantly. So we had to increase protein and meals. Thankfully DoorDash to deliver food/groceries and a fully functioning kitchen at the farmhouse meant we could feed ourselves with good healthy food.

The second interesting thing was the effect of Paxlovid – an antiviral medication that stops the reproduction of the virus in the body, giving the immune system a better chance to fight the virus without getting overwhelmed. Within hours of taking the first dose, our symptoms improved dramatically. It really was a dramatic shift. Also, our hunger pangs dropped, and calorie burn came down to normal levels. In fact, within days of completing the course, we were all recovered except for a slight cough.

The third was the lingering tiredness and COVID brain fog. Yep, it is a thing. Even though we are testing negative, I have found that I get tired more quickly and can feel cognitive tasks requiring additional effort. Yesterday I took a short drive around Goshen, and I found myself needing to focus intently and being more aware of the tiny corrections that I made while driving. After 20 minutes, I felt like I had been driving for an hour. Considering this, we have had to change up our plans. We are skipping Niagara Falls and Toronto and heading west with shorter driving segments of no more than 3 hours a day. We have also coordinated with our Airbnb host to do extra deep cleaning for the space when we leave. They have been so accommodating and helpful during our ordeal.

We have had a rough week and are now on the mend. Thankfully we happened to be in the right place and at the right time to have the space, treatment and facilities to recover. I suspect that we caught the Omicron (BA.4/BA.5) variant, which is mild compared to the Alpha and Delta variants of COVID. If this benign variant had such an effect, given we were triple vaccinated and Paxlovid treatment at hand, I shudder to think how scary things would have been early on in the pandemic for those sick with Alpha and Delta variants. As always, I greatly admire the scientists, nurses, doctors and pharmacists who have discovered and treated those in need, and grateful for their expertise in helping me in areas in which I’m not an expert.

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