Bill Plaschke Describes Surviving Horrid Covid Experience; Advocates for Season Cancellations

Bill Plaschke (LA Times)  —  It hit me in an inspired bit of irony, at the exact moment I filed my column on the NBA restart opening game between the Lakers and Clippers.

After marveling about the return of the intensity of a live sports event, I literally curled up with the chills.

After celebrating how our local teams renewed their rivalry with exhausted passion, I was so fatigued I could barely walk from my office chair to my bed.

It was a night filled with hope that this country’s long-stalled sports machine was finally chugging its way out of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

It was also the night I began showing symptoms that later resulted in a positive test for COVID-19.

Yeah, I’ve got the ‘Rona. Who’d have guessed? After I spent four months writing about how this nasty incurable coronavirus should shut down the sports world, it laughingly shut me down too. It didn’t care that I respected it. It didn’t matter that I used noted scientists to warn sports fans of its perils.

It was as if my ominous words were lifted from the page and injected directly into my veins. In an instant, my fears for others became prayers for myself.

I picked up COVID-19 at the end of July, tested positive a few days later, suffered through it for about a week, and now am quarantining for the rest of this week while waiting for the danger to pass.

I am lucky. I am blessed. According to the latest numbers, I am one of the around 212,000 confirmed cases in Los Angeles County, but I am not among the around 5,000 deaths, and I had the incredibly good fortune to avoid hospitalization.

I basically lived through a really strange and bad flu. You’ve heard the stories, and mine is actually one of the better ones. Many victims would love to be alive to tell such a relatively benign tale. The depth of their nightmare resonates deeply in me now. This column honors their struggle and commemorates their spirit. May we never forget that behind every coronavirus statistic there is unquantifiable human suffering.

I’m the first person I know who has had the coronavirus. I would occasionally hear acquaintances wonder if it was truly that awful. I can now offer indisputable confirmation. Yes, it really sucks.

My temperature hovered in the upper reaches of 102. It felt like my head was on fire. One night I sweated through five shirts. I shook so much from the chills I thought I chipped a tooth. My chest felt like LeBron James was sitting on it. My fatigue made it feel as if I was dressed in the chains of Jacob Marley’s ghost. I coughed so hard it felt like I broke a rib.

I would fall asleep in a chair and wake up terrified from a hallucinatory dream where I was chased through a playground by old women with giant heads. During phone calls I would get confused and just stop talking. I would begin crying for no reason. I lost my sense of taste, smell, and five pounds in the first four days.

None of this is probably news to anyone who has read about these cases. Everyone knows what happens, even if they never believe it will happen to them.

But still, there are things about this insidious illness that nobody tells you. There are things that surprised me, things that stick with you long after the fever has spiked and the headaches have stopped.

Nobody tells you about the dread. From the moment my doctor phoned me with the test results, to the moment I am writing this column, I have been scared out of my mind.

I know the minuscule overall fatality percentages. I know the overwhelming odds of survival for a 61-year-old male in good health with no preexisting conditions. It doesn’t matter. Once you realize you have a virus that could kill you and there’s nothing anybody can do about it, you live in constant fear.

With every trickle of sweat off your forehead, you worry. With every deep cough, you wonder. You check your temperature 53 times every day, and every single time that thermometer is in your mouth, you close your eyes and pray. You stick your finger in the pulse oximeter every hour, and beg for the number to rise.

Then there are the late nights, when your quarantine feels most acute — when you are the most alone. You start coughing into a wet pillow and you can’t stop and your breath becomes ragged and your bed is soaking and you wonder, is now the time? Do you try to drive yourself to the hospital? Do you call an ambulance? Are you just being a baby? You can’t call any friends or family for help because they can’t be exposed. You can’t call your doctor because he’s already told you there’s nothing he can do. You don’t know what to do, so you simmer alone in the darkness doing nothing, paralyzed by fear and chasing your breath and praying that 102.1 does not become 103.1.

The other emotion nobody tells you about is the anger. You followed all the rules, you wore countless masks, you never strayed far from home, you spent four months battling this thing, and still it hits you with a sucker punch.

In my social circles, I was considered among the least likely person to contract the disease because, basically, I abandoned the circles. For four months I avoided all crowded driveway happy hours and cul-de-sac cocktail parties. I didn’t set foot inside my church even during the brief time it was open. I didn’t set foot inside a grocery store as my youngest daughter Mary Clare, who was quarantined with me for most of the summer, did all the shopping.

I wore a mask everywhere. I followed all the rules, but a couple of weeks ago I didn’t follow my instincts. I briefly let my guard down. The coronavirus came out swinging.

The weekend before my symptoms appeared, for the first time in four months, I met friends for two dinners at two socially distanced patio tables. Nobody is required to wear masks at the tables, so I removed my mask when I sat, as did my dining partners, and we left them off during the entire time we were at the table.

I didn’t do anything that was prohibited, right? I was just following the rules, right?

My guess is that I caught it there.

I’m angry not at the coronavirus, but at myself, because I should have known it doesn’t fight fair, because I was stupid enough to relax around it for even a second, and now my mistake could fester in my system forever.

Framed against the sports world of which I write, my illness has further convinced me that organized team sports played outside an NBA or NHL-style bubble don’t have a chance this fall.

This is why all of college football should follow the smart Pac-12 and Big Ten conferences and cancel their seasons. This is why the NFL should shut down training camps before they begin practicing in earnest. This is why baseball needs to get into a postseason bubble if it has any chance of crowning a champion.

I’ve written all this before, and so I write it again with feeling. It didn’t take much for COVID-19 to make my unexciting life hell. Imagine the increased risk for someone who actually hits and hugs and huddles and hangs out with other people?

The novel coronavirus is not a statistic. It’s not an agenda. It’s not a debate. COVID-19 is real enough to rise up and beat me senseless. We need to stop giving it license to do the same to others.

latimes.com

__________

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gametv
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gametv(@gametv)
August 14, 2020 10:31 am

I am starting to believe that CV is going to get much worse before it gets better. I have been watching stats on this closely, mainly for investing purposes, and here is my thesis based on the data. While CV cases in California, Arizona, Florida and some of the other southern states have fallen in the past 2 weeks, after a big peak, we are currently in the hottest time of year, when the disease spreads less aggressively. Some of the northern states are not seeing declines, but are seeing cases and even positive percentages increase. So as we head… Read more »

PN4SC
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PN4SC(@pn4sc)
August 13, 2020 8:10 pm

Glad Plaschke recovered, but he is still a leftist turd, who thinks his fears override everyone else’s freedoms. It is still hard to believe the PAC 12 won’t be playing football, but considering how pathetic the leadership we have, It’s not really a surprise.After All, people under 18, who don’t die from this, or transmit the disease, can’t go to school.

redondob
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redondob(@redondob)
August 13, 2020 1:31 pm

Three members at my Southern California country club have caught it. Also three workers there have caught it. They haven’t disclosed outcomes due to privacy concerns.
Also know somebody who died from it. It is real.

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.(@atl-d-d-s)
August 13, 2020 7:08 pm
Reply to  redondob

People have died from the bad years of flu strains, also. Again, medically compromised need to watch themselves.

gametv
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gametv(@gametv)
August 13, 2020 1:07 pm

I’ve had 3 close relatives that caught it. The young one got over it in a week and it was no more than a pretty bad cold, the two mid-ages one were hit harder, with the female not going to the hospital and the mid-aged male with a missing gall bladder in the hospital for a week, bad enough that he was not sure if he would make it.

All have survived, but it is definitely not a joke and you never know if you are one of the people whose body cant fight it off.

Steveg
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Mt Rushmore
Steveg(@steveg)
August 13, 2020 12:37 pm

It is obvious that when you have had it your point of view can change quickly. So far so good for myself and family. I still do not know anyone who has had it. Going into fall worried about getting a virus instead of an upcoming game just flat out sucks. One thing I cannot figure out is how will it all work out if 2 or 3 conferences play anyway.

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.(@atl-d-d-s)
August 13, 2020 12:08 pm

Glad you recovered, Bill. Perhaps you got Wuhan from wearing said mask over and over all day long, rebreathing harmful things your lungs were trying to expel by exhaling, which is of course what the respiratory system is designed to do. Instead, you kept recirculating the viruses and bacteria until they finally established a beachhead in your lungs, leading to the fight of your life. There are studies that confirm the questionable efficacy of masks constantly worn in a non-medical setting for an extended amount of time which indicate that the masks do more harm than good to the person… Read more »

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
August 13, 2020 12:45 pm
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

So just a coincidence he got it after a dinner party without a mask? I would bet Bill didn’t wear a mask around the house, only if he went out. Tell me DDS, did you not wear a mask when working on a patient before China Virus? Do you not follow guidelines in your office now?

Last edited 1 year ago by Golden Trojan
ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.(@atl-d-d-s)
August 13, 2020 7:06 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Don’t tell me about my profession. My comment, if you will review (because you obviously just wanted to jump in my chowder because I cited some information you didn’t want to hear) cited wearing masks in NON-HEALTHCARE SETTINGS can indeed be a problem because of rebreathing your own exhaled respiratory products. And you are OUT of LINE talking about dentistry (mostly because YOU don’t know my practice) because since the AIDS discovery in the late 80’s, all dental care treatment providers have been working in aerosol clouds of uncertain composition. So YES, I DO WEAR A MASK. Wuhan is not… Read more »

gametv
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gametv(@gametv)
August 14, 2020 10:35 am
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

ATL – You say that contact tracing and wearing face masks is not effective, but South Korea effectively eliminated the virus through massive testing, contact tracing and wearing face masks. I have read that they did not really shut the economy down.

Do you know if there some other reason SK was able to whip this thing and we cant?

Just interested in what you have heard, not attacking you.

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.(@atl-d-d-s)
August 14, 2020 11:46 am
Reply to  gametv

Contact tracing for a respiratory, airborne virus is notoriously difficult to perform.

SK used its experience from the more recent epidemic (Sars? H1B1 flu? I can’t remember) and recognized similarities. They mobilized based on their experience. SK is also, for all intents and purposes, an island because of the impenetrable border with NK. That makes things easier to control early on. We have had a rebound of positive test results in the southwest from illegal border crossings….

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
August 14, 2020 10:35 am
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

Easy DDS, I was asking a question not Telling you about your profession. My dentist has always worn a mask and wears even more protection now. Must be some reason for it. For the last 5 months and some time into the future, I wear a mask when seeing patients along with gloves and a gown. I don’t wear a mask in and around my house, in my car, pumping gas or riding my bike. Masks are not a 100% but they help slow the spread and that’s all we should be trying to do. Yes a lot of people… Read more »

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.(@atl-d-d-s)
August 14, 2020 11:33 am
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Masks were touted as not being effective until sometime in March by Faucci and the rest of his merry minstrels. They have become a symbol of how much control govt. thinks they can push down the public’s throat. The science, if really studied is so far from conclusive about the efficacy of masks worn by the public. Yes I have seen other dentists wearing the full spaceman garb. That is reserved treating an uncontrolled Wuhan virus patient–in which case you are only doing emergency treatment. If you are treating a screened patient so that have a high level of confidence… Read more »

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.(@atl-d-d-s)
August 14, 2020 11:39 am
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

I am sorry to go on about this–but I see otherwise intelligent people stop using their common sense about this whole damn pandemic. Especially when our “betters” in the various government agencies have anything but public health in mind–no, it’s control of the public that they want. My proof–look at how they try to hide contrary information about this Wuhan pandemic–including from doctors in the field who have had success with simple therapeutic solutions for Wuhan. We will have ways to cure you from Wuhan before we have a vaccine for this virus–if we find one at all.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
August 14, 2020 12:15 pm
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

‘Lanta, would love to be able to sit with you and have some beers and rant about all this, Wuhan Bat Fever, inept bureaucrats, commie politicians. There is a lot more we agree on than not.