Weird back pain, sensitive eyes, bad leg cramps, migraine headache, shortness of breath and congestion. This was not what I was expecting when I woke up on Monday, July 6th. With that said, maybe it should have been. I spent the previous several days over the long 4th of July weekend working out hard at the gym every morning, golfing in the hot sun for 4-7 hours a day and throwing back probably a few too many adult beverages. That Monday, while I was laying on the floor in my apartment trying to work, COVID wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. I thought to myself, This couldn’t be happening to me, not like this, if I did get COVID I don’t think my body would be reacting like this. I’m 32, relatively healthy, I would probably be asymptomatic, maybe a minor fever if anything. I chalked it up to overdoing it the previous several days and being severely dehydrated. It wasn’t until about five days later that I thought I actually had COVID.
What happened five days later? It was Saturday and I was signed up to play in a WSGA Mid Am golf tournament in Janesville. I was feeling better, still a little off, but like you would after recovering from a normal sickness. I also really wanted to play since I had a qualifier the next week and wanted to get some tournament rounds in. So, I drove the ninety minutes to Janesville Riverside Golf Course. Things started off pretty normal and I was playing well. Then, at about hole five, I started feeling fatigued. By hole seven I was standing in the fairway having trouble breathing. The breathing issues continued and I ended up withdrawing after nine holes. I made the drive back to my apartment on the east side of Milwaukee and proceeded to take a long nap. This was when I knew something was off and, actually, there was a good chance I had COVID. This wouldn’t be officially confirmed for another nine days since it took me thirteen days to get test results back from my CVS drive up test. The weird lingering shortness of breath lasted about two weeks. Today, I am feeling normal and carry a new perspective of what the virus is like, how symptoms are different for everyone, and that no, even if you are somewhat young and healthy, you are not immune. The virus doesn’t really care who you are.
As you know, COVID rates are rapidly rising across many areas of the country including here in Wisconsin. In fact, I was one of 1,117 positive tests that set the single day record last Tuesday. Even with COVID’s prominence in March and April, before we “flattened the curve,” I only knew one person who had COVID. Now, I know about twenty and those are only the people who have told me or posted about it publically. One of those people being Danika Tramburg, 2019 Miss Wisconsin USA, who joins me on the podcast to share her story. Although our COVID experiences share some commonalities, they were also very different. Different from a symptom standpoint and different from the fact that mine only involved myself. Her story involves her entire family. Her sister, brother, dad, and boyfriend all came down with it after a weekend trip up north with her extended family. Everyone in her family got it, except her mom. Her Dad ended up in the hospital after having a TIA mini stroke and is thankfully doing better now.
Along with Danika sharing her experience, we are joined by infectious disease expert Dr. Mary Beth Graham who is the Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Froedtert Hospital. Dr. Graham helps dissect our experiences and answers a lot of questions including: Can you get reinfected if you’ve already had COVID? How is the virus changing? Do face masks really work? Should schools re-open? Are outdoor bars OK? What is herd immunity and would it work? And more!