Surviving COVID-19 with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Friends!

I am a good patient. I work with my rheumatologist and follow my treatment plan. The first call I made when COVID-19 appeared in my state was to my rheumatologist. I began working from home on March 16, 2020.

Isolating and working from home

When I announced that I would be working from home, my boss said, “Well, we can discuss that. I think it’s a little early for that.”

I then responded by saying, “Oh, you thought I was asking permission. I was just telling you what’s going to happen based on my conversation with my rheumatologist.” The deer in the headlights look was almost hilarious!! I don’t think anyone had ever told this woman “No.”

I stayed home, ordered groceries online and drive through for pick up, quit going to restaurants, get-togethers, movies, church. Basically, I became a hermit. Just like all of us on this site.

COVID-19 transmission

So, how did I get COVID-19? On January 20, 2021, I lost my sense of taste and smell and felt achy. I had the COVID-19 test the next day. My test and my son’s test came back positive on January 22, 2021.

We eventually traced it back to a customer at my son’s grocery pickup. This customer arrived without a mask. When the huge order was finally loaded into the car, he told my son he had COVID-19! Half of the employees in my son’s department were sick with COVID-19.

Managing symptoms

The body aches began to require medication to manage. The sinus drainage and cough that followed were miserable. The fatigue rivaled my worst rheumatoid arthritis flare. It was hard to eat and stay hydrated when nothing had taste or smell.

Bamlanivimab to help treat symptoms

By January 26, 2021, I was coughing so hard that I bruised my ribs and felt like I had been doing a continual ab routine. I was unable to get my inhaler to stay in long enough to help. I went back to my primary care doctor and asked for a breathing treatment.

Fighting for care

After the nurse practitioner listened to my breath sounds, she said everything was clear and there was no wheezing. She wasn’t sure if the insurance would pay for a nebulizer treatment! I told her, between coughs, that I didn’t care. My chest was tight, and I was in pain.

Finally, I received the nebulizer treatment and a steroid shot. The nurse practitioner returned with some forms. She told me I qualified for IV monoclonal antibodies. I agreed to the infusion (bamlanivimab). I received it the next day. Within three days, I was able to stop treating the body aches. The cough became manageable, and I was able to tolerate my inhaler.

COVID symptoms update

As I write this, it is now March 5, 2021. I still have “hide and peek” fatigue, a mild cough, and some sinus drainage. However, I was able to return to work from home by February 3, 2021 part-time, and February 8th, 2021 full-time.

I honestly believe the IV infusion of bamlanivimab saved me from worsening COVID. Because I had the antibodies, I must delay my COVID-19 vaccines until 90 days after the infusion.

Focusing on the small pleasures

Now, I focus on the small pleasures of life. I will never forget the smell of coffee on the morning my sense of smell came back! The taste of fresh garlic, the smell of our first spring breeze - all these and more are amazing to me now.

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