I avoided COVID the first time around, but it’s back, and finally caught up with me. Fortunately, the current version isn’t nearly as lethal, more like the flu, a bad cold, or a combination of both. Still … I’m not in a very good mood. I’m stuck in a hotel room in Atlanta, Georgia. W.C. Fields’ gravestone supposedly says “On the whole. I’d rather be in Philadelphia.” That expresses the way I feel right now. Well, maybe not Philadelphia.
Here’s what happened. Last Thursday I flew to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend a four-day writers’ conference called Killer Nashville, so named because it focused primarily on the mystery/thriller genres of fiction writing. It ended on Sunday, and I drove my rental car to Atlanta, to spend a couple of days with my son, Bob, who has a restaurant here. (Here’s a shameless plug: next time you’re in Atlanta, check out his restaurant, El Viñeto Local, on Peachtree Street in Midtown, a block from the Fox Theatre. You won’t be disappointed.)
I felt a little punky on Sunday, but mainly attributed it to being worn out from the conference and then the five-hour drive to Atlanta. But Monday, I was feeling worse: achy body, fever, scratchy throat, and cough. My hotel room is right across the street from the Fox Theatre, so I walked about eight blocks along Peachtree Street to a CVS Pharmacy and bought a COVID antigen test kit. Everything went downhill from there. When I got back to my hotel room, I went through the procedure, stuck the evil swab into my nose, put it into the little tube and swirled it around, dropped the four drops onto the test strip and started to wait the fifteen minutes to see if the second line would appear. I didn’t have to wait the fifteen minutes, because that red line started to show up immediately, loud and clear.
It’s scary for a guy who’s lived the last 51 years in a town of 7500 people to suddenly find himself in need of medical care in a hotel room in a city whose metro population area is six million. Calling 911 seemed a little extreme, as did driving to an emergency room. So, I spent a couple of hours googling/researching the different levels of medical care here, and finally came up with Peachtree Immediate Care, which has what they call a Telehealth Clinic. Once I figured out how to do it, I scheduled a productive visit with a nurse over the phone. It was face to face, like a Zoom call, so we could see each other while talking. The only thing different from a traditional office visit was that she had no means of directly collecting my vital signs — pulse, heart rate, temperature — but had to rely on me to describe them verbally as best I could.
I don’t know much about these things, but I suspect that, until recently when COVID changed everything, such a process would not have been an accepted medical practice. But I am grateful to have been able to do it. The nurse was professional (and very attractive, although over the years every time I’ve ever been hospitalized, I’ve fallen in love with my nurse). She prescribed a much-needed medication, which Bob picked up for me from the CVS pharmacy down the street. Although rest and hydration are standard treatments for COVID, the medication is also important, especially for people otherwise at risk or those 65 and older. At 81, I definitely fit into the latter category.
The protocol is isolation for a minimum of five days, as that is when you are most contagious. I had originally planned to come home today (Wednesday), but now I’m stuck in this damn hotel room till at least Saturday. Oh well … it could be worse. I’m feeling a little better each day, and I’m eating very well, as Bob keeps bringing me delicious food from his restaurant. Some people lose their senses of taste and smell when they have COVID. Thankfully, I didn’t.