I have not posted a video in a very long time now. That does happen from time to time because I am indeed a busy teacher. However, as you might have guessed from the title, the situation is a little different this time.
Yes, even though I had been careful, for over a year – a year and a half, I somehow caught the coronavirus last month, and as a result, I got COVID19!
So, for today’s post, it’s story time! I’m going to share my COVID19 experience, and in the process, also share some vocabulary related to the disease and being sick in general. Now, this is going to be a long story, I think, so I’ll divide my story into two parts. This is part one.
Of course, please remember that I am an English teacher, not a medical doctor, so I’ll only be sharing my personal experience with COVID19. No medical advice here. Also, note that other people who have had the disease may of course had a very different experience than I had. I recently read that over 200 different symptoms of COVID19 have been recorded, but I’ll just talk about mine and some of the most common symptoms.
COVID19 is the disease or illness or sickness that results from catching the coronavirus. COVID19 stands for corona virus disease 2019. I had coronavirus (or I had the coronavirus). I could say also that I tested positive for coronavirus. I can also say that I developed COVID19. It’s now been, I guess, well over 30 days since I first recognized that I was sick.
Part One of my Story
On Saturday, June 26th, I woke up with what I thought was the basic flu. I had a headache, fever, chills, and aches and pains in my body. I gradually developed a cough as well. I generally felt unwell and spent the whole day in bed. The next day, Sunday, I also developed a little bit of a sore throat. I wanted to go to my local clinic, but it was Sunday, so it was closed. So, on Monday morning, my fever was worse, so I called work and told them I would be absent, and then called my clinic. A clinic is a small health facility, like a hospital, but people who go there are only treated or given advice as outpatients. They cannot stay overnight. The clinic staff told me to drive to the clinic and wait in the parking lot. Fortunately, at this point, my fever was not so bad that I could not drive, and yes, I’m also lucky that I have a car.
By the time I got to the clinic, though, I was feeling pretty bad. The weather was hot, humid, and rainy, and I was very uncomfortable to be away from air conditioning. I started to sweat profusely. Profusely means a lot. My back and hip joints were also very sore. A nurse fully dressed in PPE, or “personal protective equipment” came out to see me in the parking lot. PPE includes things like masks, gloves, and plastic coverings. The nurse took my temperature and asked me about my symptoms. Then she asked me if I wanted a PCR test to check if I have coronavirus, and of course I said yes. PCR stands for Polymerase chain reaction. All I had to do was spit several times in a plastic container. This is a safer, less invasive test to detect (or to discover or identify) novel coronavirus infections by analyzing a patient’s saliva – the wet liquid or spit in your mouth – that’s saliva.
Invasive means that an instrument or tool of some sort goes into the body. I didn’t need that. Oh, and novel, by the way, means new. The current global pandemic is the result of a novel or new coronavirus. Anyway, the PCR test I took was developed here in Japan, and once someone’s saliva sample arrives in the lab (or laboratory), you can get results within just 30 minutes.
So, the nurse left, consulted (or talked) with the doctor inside the clinic, and came back to me with a prescription for some medicine. A prescription is a piece of paper signed by a doctor that tells the pharmacist what medicine to give you. I then went to the pharmacy next door to pick up the medicine, but I stayed in the car again and the pharmacist came out to give me the medicine. He was wearing PPE, too, and he told me that I would receive a phone call later in the day.
So, I drove home, took some medicine, and went back to bed. Six hours later, I got a phone call from the clinic. I was told in a very sad voice that I had COVID19, and that I would be called by the prefectural government coronavirus task force in the morning. A task force is a group of people created to deal with a specific problem. I started to worry at this point. I was worried about how the disease would develop in my body. I was worried about all the people I had been in contact with, mostly students. I was also worried about the extra work that my colleagues would have to do because of my absence. I realized right away that I would be away from work for at least 2 weeks. Well, in my case it turned out to be much longer.
Anyway, at this point I was obligated (meaning I had no choice) to contact my employer and tell them the situation. They ended up closing school for a day and professionally cleaning the entire campus. The day following that, they had students, faculty, and staff than had been in recent contact with me take PCR tests. Very thankfully, everyone’s tests – everyone who took the tests… their results came back negative. I was relieved.
However, I was also concerned. Why? Well, while it’s possible that I contracted the virus elsewhere, statistically, the probability of that is very low, in my opinion. Younger people are more likely to carry the virus and be asymptomatic. Asymptomatic means that you do not show any signs or symptoms of being sick, but at the same time you have coronavirus, and can spread it to other people. I cannot be 100% sure, but I think I probably caught the virus from an asymptomatic student. Who knows, though?
Like most teachers and students, I prefer face to face classes more than online classes, but I do wish our school had been continuing with hybrid classes – meaning some classes face to face, and sometimes online.
Anyway, the next day – Tuesday, June 29th, I got many phone calls, and it was difficult to answer all the questions because I had a fever and just wanted to sleep. I didn’t really have much of a cough, so I didn’t think my situation was bad. Nonetheless, I was instructed to drive to the COVID ward (or the covid section or division) of the public hospital nearest to me to get properly checked. In a special outdoor attachment to the hospital that was made especially for situations like mine, I met with a doctor and nurse for a series of questions and medical tests. They took my blood and made me get a chest x-rays, and gave me stronger medicine.
They tried to convince me to go to hospital because my x-ray and blood test results were not so good, but I really did not want to. As a vegetarian, I knew the food in a Japanese hospital was going to be a big problem. Also, generally when I feel sick, I just want to be at home. And at that point, I really thought it would be no problem. After all, I had friends who had already offered to shop for me and deliver food to my door.
Well, I was wrong, actually. I started to quickly get worse. On Wednesday, June 30th, someone from the prefectural office left an oximeter at my door. You put your finger in here and wait. The devise tells you your blood oxygen levels, and I was told to contact the hospital immediately if my levels went under 95%. Thankfully, my oxygen levels never did go below 95 – not even when I was in hospital. I already had my own thermometer to check my temperature. In Japan, you put the thermometer not in your mouth, but in your armpit. Is this common in your country, too?
The next day I got a call from the prefectural task force who asked me to report my temperature. My fever was high, so I was told to check in to the hospital. I didn’t want to go, but now I had no choice. Unfortunately, in my confused state of fever and in my rush to get to the hospital by a certain time, I forgot my computer on the kitchen table.
Although I forgot my laptop, thank goodness I did remember my smart phone, and I did have Internet connect in the hospital. Thank goodness!
And that it is for part one. Part two, which I will post very soon, is about my stay in hospital. returning home, where I needed even more time to recover.