When you Become a Statistic

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Way back in my work career, I used to analyze data sets to calculate things like survival curves. When you just look at numbers, it is easy to forget that there are real people behind those numbers. There is a certain level of detachment that happens because you’re focused on the overall analysis and results and not the individual stories behind the data points.

I’ve done quite a bit with COVID numbers trying to understand and maybe anticipate trends. Now I’m part of that total. Saturday, I started with symptoms that felt much more like a cold than anything else. I’ve got the whole seasonal allergy thing going on and sometimes you can’t determine whether the sneezing and congestion is from that or something else.

Sunday night, I got really tired in the early evening and went to bed much earlier than usual. I never had a fever although I did get some chills and some aches in my shoulders. This was enough to suggest that something wasn’t quite right so I went out Monday morning to buy a home COVID test. Right up until the moment it came back positive, I was still convinced that there was no way I could have picked up COVID. As far as I know, I’ve not been around anyone who was positive and I really don’t spent a lot of time in close quarters with other people.

Even when you know the survival rate for my age group is somewhere around 99%, I couldn’t help but have this bit of fear in the background. I mean we’ve heard nothing but horror stories and bad news since this whole thing started and I guess I’ve been programmed along with everyone else.

The home test recommended contacting a health care professional. Since it was Labor Day, the only things open were the immediate care places and I made an appointment with one of those. They ran a confirmatory test which also came back positive.

The weird thing to me is that there were kind of nonchalant about the whole thing. They were more interested in how the home test I took worked than the fact that I just tested positive for the virus. They just sent me home with some self care instructions because I guess that’s all they do. Manage the symptoms and wait and see if it gets worse. Not the most reassuring thing in the world.

I did follow up with my doctor’s office this morning and it was more of the same. The nurse had obviously dealt with other COVID patients and her tone was calming and reassuring. But in the end, the advice was the same. Just wait it out and watch for signs of it getting worse.

We did discuss one potential treatment and I’m looking into that. It does kind of astound me that we are 18 months into this and there really hasn’t been a lot of good research on early treatments. I read the news and know there are things being tried in other places and I know that with small studies and a high survival rate, you are going to have a hard time actually proving that something works. Still it just seems wrong that the only advise you can get it is to just wait and watch for things to get worse.

Right now, I’m four days into this. No fever to speak of. The coughing is way down but not totally gone. Same is true of the headaches and body aches. That would suggest things are moving in the right direction and I remain optimistic.

It will just make any future post I do about COVID numbers feel a little weird since I can’t be detached anymore.

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