Yes, I had my first night out since the San Francisco Bay area shelter in place order was issued in March. Unfortunately, it was to the Emergency Room.
I was running a high fever that kept rising and I felt like a Boeing 747 had landed on my chest. I wasn’t coughing (much) and I still had a sense of smell and taste. It seemed more pneumonia than COVID-19.
Talking on the phone with my doctor, he agreed but said “No matter” to the ER I had to go and since enough of the symptoms overlapped with COVID-19, I needed to enter through the specially-designated coronavirus entrance, carrying a handmade sign saying “I’m here for testing.”
Handsome Hubby dropped me off. We waved good-bye and I admit I worried it might be for the last time. I admit I was terrified.
Through the Door
But once I crossed through the threshold of those doors of Alta Bates Hospital, my heart rate which had been pounding painfully suddenly slowed. I instantly felt safe. There was calm everywhere. And I knew I was in good, caring, unrushed, focused hands, hearts, and minds.
I first sat, alone, in a fairly large isolation room, staring at a TV screen watching news stories of projected soaring COVID-19 death rates mixed with eHarmony dating ads!
Then, a nurse walked in and things started happening, one, two, three. Pulse-ox, temperature reading, questions, lab work, EKG, chest X-ray, and the dreaded COVID nasal swabs. Note the use of the plural — swabs. Maybe I’m special, but I got two swabs. One for each nostril. Not pleasant, but quick and necessary. (Although I did offer the nurse $2, a buck per nostril to skip it. She just looked at me like I was well, sick.)
Each step of the way, I was informed about what was happening and what the results were. There was none of that “you’ll have to wait for the doctor for the results.” No cumbersome forms to fill out. In fact, I only signed one form when I left. No repeating 10 times what medication do I take. None of that. It was all straight to the business at hand. What the hell was making my chest hurt? Why did I have an alarmingly high heart rate and why did I have such a high fever?
After six hours in an immaculate private ER room being cared for by the kindest nurses, technicians, and doctors, I got my diagnosis. No COVID-19. No pneumonia. And no blood clot in my lungs. Instead, some variation of your basic flu virus exacerbated by an untreated thyroid condition which made my whole system go haywire.
Tylenol, IV fluids, and pain medication brought the fever and heart rate down, slowed my racing (and admittedly frightened) heart. It also made it easier to breathe. And with that, I got to call Handsome Hubby to come to pick me up and go home. Never did Telegraph Avenue in Downtown Berkeley look so pretty at 4:45 a.m. It made my heart race — in a good way.
Oh, what a night.
So, went night 49 and Day 50 (since I slept all day).