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COVID Survivors Tell All

On July 14 we embarked on a 2+ week west coast trip to visit family and friends in California. We started this trip with a two-day RV camping trip with another Seattle family in Ocean City State Park and then planning to spend about a week each in the Bay Area and the LA area. We have done this run in Curiosity twice already so it's a very familiar itinerary. We were really looking forward to reconnecting with people and building some new connections.

After a wonderful camping trip that included campfire, s'mores, horseback riding on the beach and walking in the Pacific Ocean surf, we spent a quick night at the Manzanita rest area in Oregon before arriving in Orinda just outside of Berkeley/Oakland on 7/17.

Ro woke up on 7/20 shortly after arriving in the Bay Area with low fever, body aches and fatigue. She took it easy and slept much in the next few days. We were honestly not thinking COVID at the time because we had no known contact with anyone sick-- we were mostly outdoors and had taken the usual precautions.

Many have been asking us how we got infected with COVID. We started asking this question after Ro got her positive test result. Backtracking 7 days from the first day symptoms appeared, we were working at home in Seattle and then got on the road. The most likely way that Ro got infected as at the campground using public facilities and riding horse in a large group where I don’t recall anyone was wearing a mask. We did have a strong breeze though.

Upon arriving in LA on 7/24, we went straight to dinner with Caleb who was very alarmed by Mom's condition. Upon his urging we visited Glendale Memorial ER to see about getting a diagnosis However, the hospital doesn't provide COVID testing unless the patient is formally admitted. So the next day, she visited UrgentMed clinic in Culver City to get a 15 min turnaround test using Quidel Sofia Antigen test. The wait was over an hour under the hot sun and shelling out $125 to confirm she was indeed positive. We immediately begin the quarantine protocol, contact tracing and notifying everyone we came into contact with recently, including David's Mom, the most vulnerable person on our list. Thankfully all but one person tested negative and that sole person was completely asymptomatic.

We scrapped plans to visit and stay with friends and booked ourselves into a hotel. Thankfully after Ro's positive results, we received care from long time friends Dr. Cheryl and Evelyn, both ER docs at Glendale Adventist. At the time David wasn't thinking that he could get it because we kept some distance after her initial symptoms appeared. But on 7/26 David woke up with chills, low fever, and body aches. The line of transmission is quite clear here, even the symptoms were identical. Now we know what we are working with and can set the calendar and begin the monitoring and quarantine process. Just to be sure David booked a test at the LA Dodger Stadium, a self-administered oral saliva swab in a very efficient drive through set up. Thank you LA for the free test. Got the positive result that I expected in 2 days.

Our friends gave us a box of N95 masks and a thermometer. Caleb delivered a sushi meal and groceries to our hotel and loaned me a big computer monitor so I can get work done. We had an arsenal of immune boosters. The real question is can we survive 10 days in a small hotel room.

Dr. Cheryl told us to closely monitor our oxygen level with a pulse oximeter and temperature. We each measured SpO2 (> 94%) and heart rate (<100) several times a day as well as reporting any other symptoms. We took Tylenol to manage the fever and aches. We were also taking Umcka, Vitamins C, D2 and Zinc.

Dr. Cheryl texted, called regularly and gave us some great tips to help us manage the symptoms and know what to expect. Whenever Ro’s lungs felt tight (whether because of COVID or asthma), she was advised to lie down in a prone position face down to give the lungs maximum space to open up. This helped greatly as the virus ran its course. David gurgled salt water twice a day per advice from Taiwanese doctors. Can’t say what it did but he never had any cough or lower respiratory issues. However, the body aches and chills made it hard to sleep the first few nights.

Compared to some of the horror stories we’ve been hearing about getting COVID, and Stephen's experience as he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, our symptoms were relatively mild. We were so blessed by all the love and encouragement from friends and family all over the world. Exercising regularly and eating healthy had kept our immune system in good shape to fight off COVID naturally. We were quite relaxed, hanging out in the hotel and going about our work and life almost normally. The hotel staff were wonderful and implemented their protocol once we informed them of our test result.

After a week of hotel our wallet was running light and we were a bit stir crazy so on 7/30 on we moved back to our friends' house in Orinda to finish out the mandatory 10 day quarantine starting when the symptom first appeared. We were blessed to have the whole house, a kitchen to cook a nice pot of chicken soup and separate areas to do our work. For David the quarantine ended on 8/5 but we stayed two extra days just to be sure we were symptoms and meds free. We also scheduled another round of testing in Redding on 8/7 as we head home to confirm we were indeed virus free.

Project Baseline provided a self-administered nasal swab sample collection in the Rite Aid pharmacy drive-thru. The experience was quite efficient but no, you don’t want to do nasal swab unless it’s the only option. We got the negative results back on 8/12. We were told to expect delays but 5 days is just doesn't make sense although we feel we now have a pass to return to normal life. I continued to stay away from my office for another week just to be super sure but we were feeling great and people were quite surprised we didn't get knocked off our feet or checked into a hospital.

Even though for us it felt no worse than a flu; in fact, I had flu much worse than this, we still want to caution us to not underestimate SARS-CoV-2. The combination of prayer, world class medical care from our physician friends, early intervention on top of being in good health and diet all contributed to the mild symptoms, speedy recovery; and as far as I can tell, no lasting damages. Having now landed on the other side we also understand a little better about the stigma of "those careless people who got themselves infected" and reflected about how we need to be more careful to protect the vulnerable loved ones. Ultimately God is in control and we don't want to live in fear of sickness or death. It comes down to us living our life simply and delighting in every moment gifted to us.

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