Break on Through to the Other Side

Well, it happened. Despite being fully vaccinated the very first day I was eligible, I got sick with COVID-19. A couple of weeks ago, I started feeling off. I got the first available appointment for a “Rapid” test the next afternoon.

Within a couple of hours, I got the call that the test was negative:

“A negative test result does not completely rule out being infected with COVID-19,” indeed.

How it Started…

So, I just thought I had a run-of-the-mill head cold / upper-respiratory inflammation. I took some OTC meds to reduce sinus discomfort, drank a lot of water, and I started to feel better — at first, anyway. I had a couple of nights w/ feverish sensations (despite never having an abnormal body temperature), but then my symptoms abated. I started to feel mostly back to normal ™️.

Then, all of a sudden, my sense of smell disappeared.

Short animated clip of Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation showing visual frustration at an unexpected turn of events.
The 👃🏼knows.

Yeah, I freaked out. I cancelled my lunch date & tried to find an appointment for a rapid test, but they were all booking two days out at this point, so it was off to the walk-up testing location downtown for a PCR test.

I knew that it would be two days minimum for those results, so I asked a family member to grab an Antigen Self-Test At Home Kit from the drug store. It is sold as a two-pack for under $25 in my area.

Picture of my BinaxNOW Covid-19 Antigen Self-Test with a positive result indicated by two pink lines (one pink line would have been negative).
Both came back positive 😫.
Two and a half days later, my PCR test confirmed.
Short animated clip of Donald Glover as Troy Barnes in Community. The camera is zooming into his face and rolling right and he is mouthing, "I knew it!"

Now What?!

Once I had a positive result, I went into isolation. I’ve racked my brain to tie the information I know to a particular place and time where I was exposed, but I can’t. I really haven’t been many places outside the home recently as I’ve been pretty mindful of the spike in local cases:

That 3rd / Delta Wave hit hard & I fell ill almost exactly three months after being “fully vaccinated.”
Short animated clip Chad Kroeger (lead singer of the band Nickelback) from the video for the song "Photograph" but he's holding up a framed graph instead of a portrait.
Look at this COVID Graph….

How it’s Going

At this point (2+ weeks post-infection), I’ve been feeling mostly fine and have been gradually improving daily. My sense of smell is very slowly starting to return. Now, rather than a total lack of sense of smell (Anosmia), I’ve progressed to Parosmia. I perceive most strong scents tinged with something I can best describe as rotting cucumber mixed with wet cardboard. As someone who usually has a strong reliance on my sense of smell, this is pretty disorienting, but I’m practicing some therapeutic techniques that seem to be helping. The improvement to my sense of smell is a good sign that my Olfactory support cells are healing.

There’s also a slight lingering cough and a general fatigue, but it’s not really keeping me down.


So, here I am, a statistic. I got sick at the height of the largest wave of documented cases to date even though I got the jab. I can hear the comments section now:

“Why even bother getting vaccinated, right Jeff? Everyone is just going to get it anyway! Hey, you didn’t even get that sick!”

Your distant relative, probably.

I’m extremely fortunate that I’ve come through this relatively unscathed (knock on wood!!!). I’m beyond thankful that, so far, none of my immediate family has been affected (that we know of 🤞🤞). If that holds true, I fully attribute that to the vaccine (hashtag #TeamModerna!) helping to drastically reduce transmissability.

My experience is yet another data point that contributes to the conclusion that vaccines prevent serious disease and improve outcomes if breakthrough infection occurs. If you don’t yet have a family member who’s fallen seriously ill after rejecting the vaccine, it’s statistically a matter of time.

I know other fully vaccinated people who are experiencing breakthrough SARS-Cov-2 infection and COVID-19 disease. Our kids who are too young to get vaccinated are freshly back to school while our governor holds national politics above local public safety by attempting to block mask mandates.

Case numbers are spiking lots of other places, too, but things are really bad here in northeast Florida right now. I’ve heard my county described as the “epicenter” of the latest wave and it’s thanks to our comparatively low rate of vaccination and laissez-faire approach to masking. We’re recording record deaths, our hospitals are above capacity, and we’re making national news for the utter inadequacy of our public health institutions:

Covid-19 patients await treatment at a Jacksonville library.
Covid-19 patients await treatment at a Jacksonville library.
Source CNN (archive)

Calls to Action

If you’re reading this and haven’t gotten vaccinated, please, please, please make it a priority to do so if you’re medically and physically able. The Pfizer vaccine gained FDA approval today. It’s safe. It’s effective. It’s the fastest way to get back to normal as a society. I’d argue it’s your moral duty.

If you feel under the weather, isolate and get tested (Yes, I admit I could have done a better job of this, myself). Wait a few days and get tested again.

It’s a really dangerous time to be out and about right now. If you can, please stay home. (I admit I could have done a better job of this as well)

If you must go out, please wear a mask — even if you’re vaccinated. Masks protect the people you encounter. You could be contagious and asymptomatic. My mask protects you. Your mask protects me. Even cloth masks are better than nothing!

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Wow Jeff. You really laid out your symptom progression in detail. I like the part where you said wear the mask to protect others and your self. And, get the vaccine for the same reason. It only makes sense.

    1. Thanks, Velda. ♥️ I’m feeling better every day, so 🤞🏼 there won’t be any lasting effect other than more antibodies!

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