MDN Off Today for Veteran’s Day & Jim’s COVID-19 Update

MDN will not publish today, Veteran’s Day. We thank our veterans for their service and sacrifice.

An update on me and my wife’s COVID-19 diagnosis. I’m happy to report we are both 100% recovered. Neither of us required hospitalization. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the many emails of well-wishes and for your prayers during our illness. Your prayers helped! It took about three weeks from first symptoms to full recovery for both of us.

Here’s my experience with COVID…

Folks who have not had this disease typically have the same questions when they find out you have had it. What were the symptoms? How bad was it? Did you take medicine? Were you hospitalized? Any lingering effects? I try to answer those questions below.

The best way I can describe having COVID-19 is to say it’s like having the flu. But whereas the worst of flu symptoms lasts maybe 3-4 days, COVID symptoms (for my wife and me) lasted a good two weeks. After that, the symptoms, while still there, gradually lessened.

Interestingly, my wife and I experienced differing symptoms. She had headaches while I didn’t. I had diarrhea while she didn’t. I know, TMI. We both had a cough and head congestion that, thankfully, never entered our lungs. We both lost our sense of smell and taste for several weeks and we both experienced a slightly higher temperature than normal (close to but less than 100). Fatigue and tiredness were constant throughout the entire period of symptoms.

At the very onset of symptoms in early October, I had chills on-and-off for a couple of days, which was the reason I contacted my doctor in the first place. For me, it was having the chills that was the tipoff I may have contracted COVID, or possibly the flu. We both see the same primary care physician (nurse practitioner) and she immediately ordered COVID tests for my wife and me. It was our physician who called us less than 24 hours after the tests, on a Saturday morning, to tell us we were both infected. And it was our physician who kept track of us, calling us several times during the illness, to make sure we were OK. When was the last time your physician called you!

There is no prescribed medicine (yet) to treat “mild” cases of COVID-19. Only if you end up in the hospital do you get special meds. I took over-the-counter medicine for nearly three weeks to control the coughing and lessen the congestion.

According to our county health department and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 10 days after first symptoms you are no longer infectious–you can’t give it to anyone else. And now that we’ve had COVID-19, we cannot, according to the best available information, recatch the disease for at least 5-7 months, and possibly much longer. We are currently immune.

We still follow recommended guidelines of wearing masks in public and social distancing from others. We do so not from fear that we will catch it again, but as a sign of respect and to reassure others that they have nothing to fear from us. It’s interesting to watch the reaction of those you tell that you’ve had COVID. They instinctively move back a step or two. I guess in their shoes I would do the same.

Here’s the one thing I’ve learned about this disease: COVID-19 affects everyone differently. Some get the disease hard and end up in the hospital, or dead. I can’t imagine how traumatic that must be for those families (some who have emailed me about their experience). More data is coming in every day that shows folks with certain blood types, and with certain underlying health conditions, get it harder. Older folks tend to get it harder. Men tend to get it harder. Without revealing my medical history, I checked many of the boxes for those who typically get it hard, so when I got it, I was scared.

Thing is, you just don’t know how your body will react–and that’s the hardest part of all. It’s the not knowing. The hardest part is the psychological aspect of fearing this disease because of the cases you’ve heard about in the media. Other men of my age/medical history have died from this. Am I next? Those are the thoughts that swirl through your head.

Is COVID-19 something to be feared? I would say yes, but in a healthy way. Perhaps respect is a better word. COVID-19 is something you don’t want if you can avoid it. But catching it is not an automatic death sentence. In Broome County, NY where I live, as of this morning, there have been a total of 4,086 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic in March. There have been 117 deaths attributed to the disease in Broome. That’s a death rate of 2.9% for those who catch it. That’s a number to respect with a healthy fear. (The death rate from the regular, annual flu is so small it’s statistically zero. I checked.) I don’t have exact numbers, but going from memory something like 25% or more of those who have died were nursing home residents.

So, catching COVID-19 is not “just a mild flu bug,” but it’s also not an automatic death sentence either. Broome County has a total population of 190,488 (as of 2019). My wife and I are part of the 2.1% of residents who have had the disease in our county. Put another way, 97.9% of my fellow Broome residents have not had it. Statistically, the number of all Broome residents who have died from COVID-19 is 0%. Yet every one of those 117 lives lost to this disease is precious, I not minimizing that. Just trying to give you perspective on how to think about it.

I have intentionally not listed the various vitamins and supplements I’ve taken both before and during the disease because (a) everyone reacts differently to COVID, and (b) I’m not a doctor. You should ask your doctor for guidance. I’m guessing the supplements and vitamins helped me recover and lessened the severity of the disease, but honestly, I don’t know that for sure.

If you or someone you know and love has been diagnosed with COVID, send an email to me at jim (at) and I will be happy to pray for that person the same way you prayed for me and my wife! We’ll get through this, together. A vaccine is just around the corner now.

– Jim Willis, MDN Founder & Editor