Covid and Notes

August 12-24, 2023

Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,

For three years and five months we have avoided the dreaded plague. No longer. On Tuesday (the 15th), Marianne needed to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew her driver's license. While there, she noted that it may have been a mistake to not wear an N-95 mask, because the waiting room was quite crowded. Her instinct was correct.

C testYesterday (Friday) Marianne woke in the middle of the night feeling terrible. By breakfast time, we had broken out a Covid test kit and, for the first time, saw a positive result. Now what?

First, we called the Kaiser Medical help line to see what treatments were possible. The nurse recommended the actions we already knew: rest, drink liquids, monitor oxygen and temperature. We set up for a teleconference with a doctor to see if Marianne qualified for more active treatment. At 2:30, a Doctor Chen called, asked several questions concerning Marianne's condition, and closed the conversation with a prescription for Paxlovid and generic cough medicine, from our closest Kaiser pharmacy.

I went to that pharmacy, but learned that the medicine was only available at the larger, hospital-associated, pharmacy. As I was leaving the clinic, I received a call from Kaiser. This time, it was the office of my own doctor, informing me that, when I had visited him on Monday, I had been exposed to Covid. This warning of exposure was another first and completely independent of Marianne's gift from the DMV visit. Make no mistake, Covid is showing up again! (As of Saturday morning, I have tested negative and am symptom-free.)

At the hospital pharmacy, the drug order was ready in just a few minutes, but Paxlovid apparently requires in-person instructions, so I waited some more. The pharmacist was friendly and helpful, clearly describing the six-pill-a-day regime for Paxlovid. Not as simple as take-two-aspirins-and-call-me-in-the-morning, but doable.

We chatted about the possible interaction of the cough medicine with Marianne's heart pills. The discussion of heart medicine slowly migrated to a realization that the cough medicine was probably OK, but Paxlovid was NOT. The friendly pharmacist, now clearly worried, went to the back office to call the prescribing physician and the cardiology department. This eventually prompted a phone call to Marianne from the physician, informing her that Paxlovid was not allowed for her and would be replaced by a different drug, one administered intravenously - whenever that could be arranged. (Nothing, so far.)

By the way, have I mentioned cancer lately? A couple of weeks ago, Marianne had noted a bump on her chest and went to the dermatologist to have it checked. The bump was cut off and sent away for biopsy. Of course, this brought memories of biopsies past. While lying in bed with Covid, Marianne got a call from the dermatologist, with the good news that the sample was benign. Not cancerous. It was definitely a good news bad news day, but I think "negative-for-cancer" outranks "positive-for-Covid".

OK. Enough health news. We do not want to be defined by health news.

FleasCathy'sA week ago, we went over to the the Fresno High School Flea Market, as recommended by friend Priscilla. Her niece works at the school and volunteers to organize the Market in order to raise funds for international travel by the some of the students. While there, we discovered Cathy's Bread kiosk and took away an excellent cinnamon roll for our Sunday French toast.

After a French toast breakfast, we exercised a little, enough to get hungry again, and sampled Mexican fare from nearby El Patio. Fresno has scores of Mexican restaurants, thanks to its Hispanic majority, but we were glad to find one that is both traditional and a bit different. A recommendation.

El Patio

mapsOtherwise, we are concentrating on plans for our Germany-Italy-France tour, our Great European Road Trip (GERT). ( In my spare time, I have been making puzzles with this European theme.)

The twelve-day start in Germany is pretty well set, with visits to old haunts and meet-ups with friends in Frankfurt and Bavaria. After that, on our way to Italy, we will stop for a few days Moena, in the Italian Alps. The craggy Dolomite ridges are among our favorite mountains anywhere.

Our first week in Italy will be auto-centric Modena. There are at least a half-dozen museums and fancy-car factories (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Pagnini). We will also get selfies outside the CPC Group, where our Aptera's carbon fiber body pieces will be made.

After Modena, we plan to spend a week or so in Asti in Northwestern Italy. Beyond that, our plans are conceptual, other than a need to finish by early November, with friends back in Germany and in Maastricht, The Netherlands.

By Sunday afternoon, Marianne had been through two-and-a-half days of Covid. She didn't like it. On the first day, she just slept. On Day 2, she mostly just rested in bed or in "Mamo's chair", the big, comfy, recliner she inherited. Later, she tried her best to be more active, but with only a little success. We consoled ourselves that the trend is right.

my covidMeanwhile, to no one's surprise, I tested positive. My throat was sore and I had a headache, but nothing too dramatic and we hoped it would stay that way.

I went to visit neighbors Vern and Joan, just to keep them up-to-date. Vern had just completed his own positive Covid test. He seemed OK, but at 94 years old, everyone worries. Joan had symptoms, but not yet a positive test result. She was trending the wrong way.

By Sunday evening, I was feeling poor enough to consult with the Kaiser Medical help desk to see if my case warranted Paxlovid. It did, and the tele-doctor prescribed it, but now that I had a positive test, I was not allowed to visit the pharmacy in person. Fortunately, Joan and Vern's daughter-in-law Trish contacted us to see if there was anything she could do, since she was in care-errant mode for both her contemporary in-laws Susan and Rick as well as our neighbors, her senior in-laws.

PaxlovidpuzzlesOn Monday morning, I had my Paxlovid and looked forward to the help it promised. Marianne was stable, at a pretty puny state. For the rest of the week, there seemed nothing to do but wait out the disease. She slept and watched Netflix. I watched YouTube and did a trio of colorful puzzles.

Every half-day, we kept convincing ourselves that we were getting better. Eventually, we were. By Thursday, Marianne met the five-days-since-symptoms-start criteria for no longer being isolated, so she shopped. Only one stop or two. Only an hour or two. (For me, this Friday-morning Starbucks diary session is my return to normalcy.)

breathingFor the record, my Fitbit clearly traced the relatively brief course of my Covid symptoms: three nights of quick breathing and relatively low blood oxygen. The device did not indicate our other symptoms: loss of taste, or rather replacement of regular taste with something ... weird and general malaise (where else do we get to use that word/). Our inoculations, the most recent just a couple weeks ago, seemed to have done their job of limiting Covid seriousness, and for that we are grateful.

Wear masks, avoid crowds, get all the inoculations you can, and wash your hands for good measure.

Now we need to get on with our last 11 days of trip preparation. Stay tuned.

John and Marianne.