I'm not sure anyone on Long island or in the NYC metro area still thinks it's overblown. I found this first-hand account very sobering- it's from a friend of mine, in his 30s, and very fit:
"Some people have asked that I share my entire experience, in hopes that it may help those who are sick at the moment and either don’t know what to do, perhaps don’t know if they even have the virus, or those who are in the throes of the sickness and don’t know what to expect. So, here’s my experience, start to finish. Hopefully it helps someone out there...
I first got a fever on March 13th seemingly out of nowhere. It was about 102.7. That night I had severe chills and was woken in the middle of the night with shortness of breath and a cough.
The next day, I called my Primary Care Physician and I was told to go to CityMD. At that time they were not testing people for the virus unless you fell into a severe risk category. Although they would not test me for COVID-19, they tested me for Flu and took a lung x-ray. Everything came back negative. They gave me a nebulizer treatment and sent me home. I later found out that nebulizer treatments make the virus worse, but again this was really before a lot of this information was out there.
The fever continued for the next two days, ranging between 100.7 and 103.5. I slept most of the time and Tylenol would not completely break the fever. On Monday, March 16th I returned to CityMD as I felt like my breathing was getting worse. This time, the rules had changed regarding testing and I was swabbed for the Coronavirus. However, I was told I would have to wait 5-7 business days for the results. In my mind, this was almost useless because (silly me) I thought I’d be better by then! Little did I know I still had another 16 days to go!
They took another x-ray of my lungs which again came back normal and gave me another nebulizer treatment. I was very skeptical, but what could I do? All I knew was I had a tremendous fever and I couldn’t breathe right. They prescribed me an albuterol pump and sent me home again.
This time I was determined to just stick it out at home. I couldn’t eat, I slept most of the time, and my fever would not break. That lasted until Thursday night when I seriously began thinking about going to the ER. I called the ER on Thursday and was told that there was really nothing they could do for me, I was better off staying home.
On Friday, I made a last ditch attempt to go to CityMD to see if someone could help. The Dr. took one look at me and said, “you need to go to the ER now.” My blood pressure was 77/47, my O2 was at 94%, my pulse was at 190, and my fever was at about 103.
On March 20th, my wife dropped me off at ER where I waited on line to check in. I felt faint, like I was gonna pass out right there in the waiting room. I think they noticed this and they came over with a crash cart for vitals. They saw the numbers and sent me to a tent outside the hospital for evaluation. At that point a nurse upgraded me to an ER bed.
My check in experience was relatively good since I don’t think the numbers of people going to ER had spiked yet. However, by the time I was checking out of Hackensack Hospital, I was hearing people were waiting for more than 24 hours for a bed. I was very lucky.
In the ER, they took a chest x-ray which immediately revealed bilateral viral pneumonia. They gave me a test for coronavirus which came back positive that night. They started me on steroids, z-pack, and hydro-chloroquine.
The ER doctor told me that night, that if my O2 levels didn’t improve with oxygen and medication, they would have to intubate me. He said, “we aren’t there yet, but you need to know it’s a possibility.” I couldn’t even comprehend this at the time. So I just went to sleep as best I could. By now my fever was at 104.1.
I got to a regular room at some point in the middle of the night of March 20th-21st. They began checking my blood gas levels by sticking a needle into my wrist and down into the artery to draw blood directly from the artery to check the carbon-dioxide levels in my blood. At this point I was probably on about 4 liters of oxygen.
The blood gas levels were checked this way several times a day. The numbers were not looking good. I was given an oxygen mask and my O2 was increased to about 6 liters. My O2 levels were still not good.
The only thing that seemed to help with the fevers at this point was when they combined Motrin with Tylenol. However, after a day or two of this, they were told to no longer give me Motrin as it wasn’t good for Covid patients. They went back to giving me regular Tylenol, which didn’t help at all with the fevers.
On Monday, March 23rd I was changed to a High Flow oxygen machine and was moved to ICU. I was probably at about 8 liters of oxygen at this point. This continued for two more days.
On the 25th, a doctor finally came to tell me that I will need to be put on a ventilator. Perhaps 2-4 weeks, but since I’m young, it should be closer to 2 weeks. I had to give my consent. They told me to sleep on my stomach for 24 hours and I wouldn’t be able to eat or drink anything in preparation for intubation. The reason they had me sleep on my stomach was to try to get blood flowing to the lungs which helps keep the O2 levels up. This was something that I noticed became more prevalent throughout my stay for covid patients. I heard that by the time I was leaving, they were having covid patients put on their stomach almost immediately after getting to the ER.
While on my stomach, I sent video messages to my two boys. Their 5th and 7th birthdays were coming up, and I thought I would be on the ventilator at that time. I sent my wife a couple of videos to play for the boys on their birthdays.
While in ICU, my roommate had to intubated in the bed next to me. I heard his phone calls to his family letting them know. It was heartbreaking to hear him go through that and even more terrifying to think that I was next. They drew the curtain back and they intubated him with me right in the room next to him. I pray he made it out ok.
Now around this time, I got a call that I had been chosen to be put onto a clinical trial for a drug called Remdesivir. I signed the consent forms and hoped for the best.
That night I slept on my stomach and the next day they stopped the hydro-chloroquine and started me on Remdesivir. From that point on, things started to get better.
I stayed on my belly the next night and the next night too. By March 26th, my fevers finally subsided and my blood gas readings started to go in the other direction.
The doctors were actually astonished at what they were seeing. The doctor who had asked for my consent to put me on the ventilator two days prior was back to tell me that things were looking so good they were going to move me out of ICU.
On March 28th, I was moved to a step down unit and was taken off the high flow oxygen machine. I continued to sleep on my stomach and slowly the oxygen was lowered down to 5 liters, then 4, then 2 liters.
While in the step down unit, I was moved three times to make room for more ICU patients. It seemed like each unit that I moved to, was transformed to ICU for covid patients. The hospital was forced to turn the cafeteria into a ward to treat non-covid patients.
At the end of my stay, I was in a room with a man who was in desperate need of a ventilator and a room in ICU and for three days he was forced to wait. When I was discharged, this poor man still had not gotten the help he needed. I continue to pray for him and his family.
One night his oxygen came off the wall in the middle of the night and I was forced to disconnect myself and go reconnect his oxygen for him.
The nurses were working in rounds, where they would come to your room for 30 minutes and try to give you whatever you needed in that 30 minutes. Then they would throw away the protective dressing, scrub and go to the next room. It was a little worrisome sometimes because you knew after they left they wouldn’t be back for hours. They were overwhelmed and doing the best they could, of course.
I was finally discharged on Tuesday, March 31st the day before my oldest son’s 7th birthday. We got to celebrate together for which I was really so thankful.
I have been home resting since. The only issue I have is that my lungs suffered some damage from the ordeal and are still a little tight. I have a pulse oximeter to keep track of my O2 levels and they are still not back to normal, but this is expected. It may take up to 6 weeks for my lungs to get back to normal functionality again, but they should return to normal. Obviously, had I been on a ventilator, the recovery would have been much worse.
I’m waiting for a delivery of an oxygen compressor (hopefully today) that will help to keep my levels steady, especially at night while I sleep. But other than that, I’m really feeling much better and so happy to be alive and home with my wife and kids.
I’d like to send out my heartfelt thanks to all the Doctors and Nurses at Hackensack Hospital that helped me to get better and back to my family.
So I hope this helps some of you out there. Please stay home and stay safe and if anyone has any questions, feel free to DM me."