From the Managing Editor: Dealing with COVID-19 and seeing a way out
I’ve tried to write this column many times over the last month or so, and I’ve never quite found the right words.
Hopefully now I have.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first reached Colorado in mid-March 2020, I wasn’t really worried because I honestly didn’t concern myself with something that sounded like the flu.
For six months, though, I wore my mask, washed my hands, and stayed home, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our professional and knowledgeable Moffat County Public Health department’s recommendations.
In late September though, I fell ill. In fact, everyone in my house did. My wife, young son, and I were all tested for COVID-19, which all came back negative. As did our flu and strep tests, leaving us puzzled as to what was going through our house.
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
Once that initial bug went away, we were able to return to work and daycare after being cautious, but two weeks later — in early October — I fell ill again, this time testing positive for the coronavirus.
When I first received the news, I was scared. Scared for my wife, who was a little over four months pregnant with our second child; scared for my 2-year-old son, who has dealt with a number of bugs since moving to Moffat County; scared for myself, hoping that my history of asthma wouldn’t complicate my battle with COVID-19.
There was a lot of unknowns at the time, and with one haymaker of a positive COVID test landing, the pandemic sent me another haymaker that I never saw coming.
A few days prior to testing positive, my arm was really bothering me near my shoulder. I never thought much of it, but the pain never really resided. Once I started experiencing some of the signs of COVID-19, I went in for a test at Northwest Colorado Health and mentioned the pain in my arm.
Twenty minutes later, I was racing up to Memorial Regional Health for an emergency ultrasound on my neck and arm to determine if I had a blood clot.
Lying on that examination table that night, my mind was racing. I had never dealt with anything like this, but I had no idea how to treat any of it. Nobody did.
The next morning, a call from the doctor confirmed what I figured was the case: I had a decent sized blood clot in my left arm and would immediately go on a cycle of blood thinners and aspirin. On top of dealing with all that, I had to quarantine myself in our basement from my wife, son and our three dogs.
When I look back on that week or so I spent in the basement battling the symptoms and just praying I would come out of this alright, dealing with the cold sweats, the nighttime chills and the inability to consistently catch my breath wasn’t the hardest part.
No, the hardest part was having to talk to my wife and son from the bottom of the stairs, playing catch with my son up and down the stairs, watching him not understand why Dad couldn’t be upstairs, or why he couldn’t come down and see me.
Watching my wife deal with her pregnancy on her own for that time and have to try and do everything for our son, while also trying to help take care of me was tough, too. I felt helpless and hopeless, mindlessly laying on the couch watching episode after episode of “The Office.“
Thankfully, my wife and son never caught it; she was able to go through her pregnancy with no complications, and gave birth to our second son, Cameron, on April 5.
That whole experience changed me though; I think it’s safe to say anyone who has had COVID-19 is a different person now.
Prior to catching the virus, I knew there was no way I’d get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. I believed it was rushed (I still do) and I believed there were too many risks involved.
Once I came down with COVID-19 though, my thoughts changed. I was frustrated that wearing a mask, socially distancing, washing my hands, etc hadn’t worked, but I’d be damned if I wouldn’t do everything in my power to ensure that not only I wouldn’t catch it again, but that my family wouldn’t either.
So, in late January, I received my first dose of Moderna, followed up with my second dose in late February. During that time, I watched our Public Health department work their hardest to try and push the vaccine to anyone and everyone who wanted it.
To date, they’ve reached their goals of vaccinating 70% of the vulnerable population, and are closing in on vaccinating roughly 38% of those eligible (over 18 years of age) in Moffat County.
Those numbers look strong, but we as a community can do more.
Yes, there are no health restrictions in place. I, for one, am excited I don’t need to wear a mask anymore, or need to worry about violating some sort of gathering mandate here in our community as the weather warms up and our best days are ahead.
However, we’re still fighting this awful virus; there’s no debating that. Just because we don’t have restrictions doesn’t mean we’ve beaten COVID-19.
The only way to beat this virus is through vaccinations. There will be no herd immunity without vaccinations — we can beat COVID-19 by getting 70% of our community vaccinated, thereby pulling the rug out from underneath COVID-19.
I know many who read this don’t want to hear that, but it’s the truth.
I can personally attest that I didn’t grow a third arm or a second head, or any other deformities from the vaccine. Though I did have a rough go of things for a day or two after each shot, I can’t recommend the vaccine enough.
It’s allowed me to feel protected when I got out into public, and confident that I’m very unlikely to catch this virus again. Is that for sure the case from a scientific standpoint? Probably not, but it’s allowed me to feel normal again…for the first time in a long time.
Managing Editor Joshua Carney can be reached at 970-875-1790 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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