A Trip to the ER and Still Waiting for C-19 Results

OK, while I wait for my C-19 test results, Uncle Erich has some time to tell more of the story this morning. My brain is lifting from some of the fog, but I’m still feeling a bit ornery and sarcastic, so be ready for some of that. Honestly, there isn’t much funny in this update, but it might be interesting to see how things are going right now if you need medical help. TLDR: it’s a bit confused.

When I last left the story, I had been nasally assaulted with an insanely long swab that took some samples of what felt like brain tissue and that was sent away for C-19 testing. That happened Tuesday, I’m writing this on Friday and don’t have results yet. I know it takes time, but I’m currently self-isolated from the fam and pets until I hear back.

The “Incident”

So, anyway, let me tell you about Wednesday. I can summarize by saying this, “It sucked”. I’ll tell you why. 

I have sleep apnea and have for many years. That means I use a CPAP machine to keep me breathing at night. Well, Wednesday morning I woke up gasping for breath. I yanked my mask away from my face, was able to breathe, so I restarted the CPAP. My brain was a fuzzy mess, don’t judge what we do in that 1/2 awake time, MKAY?

Fast forward some amount of time, I have no idea how long, and I woke up again, this time tearing the mask off my face gasping, but I still couldn’t really get a breath. I couldn’t speak, but I if I slowed my breathing, I could get some air. I cranked the shower to “Burn your bum off” hot and let the steam relax my chest. It helped.

Having not died, I was happy-ish. It was about this time my wife, who had been sleeping in the living room (I am quarantined to our bedroom/bathroom right now) yelled in and asked me if I was OK. I was honest, and told her I wasn’t and that we should go to the hospital.

Now, I will tell you that the steam helped a lot, so we didn’t do the ambulance route and instead drove to the VA hospital (I’m a disabled vet). We arrived about 3am. I’m not going to lie, I was pretty shaken up. I’ve never felt unable to breathe like that, even through some anaphylactic episodes in the past. I couldn’t cough anything out, it wasn’t like there was just crap in my chest, I just couldn’t breathe. I would have to gues this is what asthma is like. it sucked.

Arriving at the VA hospital, I had my wife go in and let them know that I was awaiting COVID test results while I waited in the car. This was to give them a heads up and it worked out well. They directed us to the ambulance entrance and moved me in, avoiding the waiting room, and in to an isolation room. I was surprised, but they did let my amazing wife in the room with me. My breathing was still a bit rough, but I was doing much better. I will say that most of the rooms in the VA ER were empty, which surprised me.

From here, the med folks suited up in to positive airflow contraptions and proceeded to treat me. It was interesting here because it was fairly obvious that I was one of, if not the, first people with possible C-19 infection they were treating for something like this. It was made obvious as they were trying to figure out how to do things like take a chest X-Ray without infecting the X-Ray lab or the mobile equipment. In the end, they rolled a mobile machine in to the room, but then had to do a full disinfecting when they rolled it back out. 

There were a number of other little things too that they were having to deal with, such as making sure the door was closed completely each time they left and how to deal with the waste products from the needle sticks, etc. 

In the end, we did some flu tests (more huge swabs in my noggin) and strep, both came back negative. They pumped me up with some steroids (pun intended) and about 7am they let me go home with a note that if I started coughing up green crap, to let them or my PCP know and get some antibiotics started.

On a side note, they had me exit via the ambulance bay as I had come in and had my wife go to the pharmacy to pick up the meds they sent home with me. Well, she got me to the car, then when we went to enter the building, the security folks almost wouldn’t let her in to get my meds because she had been near someone that was undergoing testing. They finally relented when she explained that she had just come from the ER. This was another catch-22 that would have to be worked out. Hard to tell someone they had to pick up meds from the pharmacy, then not let them in to get them.

Now things are getting fun

So, fast forward to Thursday morning when I started coughing up green crap now. I woke with my head stuffy and chest congested (but I could breathe at least) and again the wonders of steam in the shower helped. 

It is now Friday and I am still no closer to getting antibiotics and my chest/head stuff is getting worse. I called my PCP, left a message, got a call back and told the receptionist what was going on. She relayed the message to the Nurse Practitioner and called me back saying the NP wouldn’t give me an antibiotic since she had not seen me but offered to have me come on Monday (in 4 days) if I wanted to see them. That whole process of calling, getting called back, relaying messages and calling back again, took about 3.6 hours with no result.

Try number 2 was recontacting the VA. I called the number for the hospital and surprisingly got through to a nurse in less than 30 minutes or so. I recalled the story, told her what the doc had said about green stuff and the next steps. She took the information, said she would relay it and get back to me.

That was yesterday afternoon. Nothing from them yet, although this morning the chest and sinus crap is worse than ever. My chest is really starting to get very sore and I am still no closer to antibiotics.

I have now tried Teladoc again and I am about 1 hour and 15 minutes in to being on hold in the “waiting room”. Here’s to hoping I can get somewhere with the antibiotics soon. 

I’ll keep you updated.

Erich Kron is the Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4, and has over 20 years’ experience in the medical, aerospace manufacturing and defense fields. He is the former security manager for the US Army 2nd Regional Cyber Center-Western Hemisphere.

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