Treatment vs. Prevention for COVID-19

Miriam ClaireBy Miriam Claire      April 2, 2021

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Treatment vs. Prevention for COVID-19
PHOTO COURTESY OF MIRIAM CLAIRE Miriam Claire shares her story in hopes the information may help save a life.
Dear Topanga Neighbors, In January 2021, my 72-year-old cousin and I tested positive for COVID–19. I lived. He died. Why did I survive? Because my 28-year-old son, Lucas, was my live-in healthcare advocate. He clucked over me and ensured that I got the medical care I needed (at Kaiser) on the same day that alarming symptoms developed. Why did our beloved cousin die? Steve, a healthy widower, who lived alone and isolated in quarantine at home (a neighbor dropped off meals for him). After he tested positive, he consulted his doctor but she made a mistake and that’s why I believe he died. He was short of breath and should have immediately called 911 and asked them to take him to an ER instead of insisting that he agree to be evaluated in an ER, where the doctor prescribed antibiotics that are expressly not advised by the World Health Organization as a preventive or treatment for Covid-19. Anti-biotics treat bacterial infections; COVID–19 is a virus. The doctor was apparently unaware of the various treatments available now for COVID–19 or that they are most effective when administered as soon as symptoms develop. According to the CDC, more than 10,000 people have died at home of Covid-19 since the pandemic began. COVID–19 is a tricky disease as it affects everyone differently and the symptoms don’t necessarily present in a coherent sequence, or they may appear and disappear. Steve asked for my “COVID–19 expertise” via text on the day that I was hospitalized on January 19, 2021. I will forever regret not being able to get back to him immediately as I was being treated for COVID–19 pneumonia. I was symptomatic for about an hour in the morning but then the symptoms disappeared. By the time I saw the doctor at Kaiser, I was asymptomatic, and the doctor remarked that he thought I looked great. It was the tenth day after I tested positive. He gave me an option to go home and return if the symptoms recurred or have an X-ray and lab tests. I chose the latter and was stunned to learn that I had double COVID–19 pneumonia (both lungs). I was admitted by late afternoon and immediately started on intravenous (IV) treatments, Dexamethazone and Remdesivir. I watched the Inauguration of President Biden from the hospital the next day with my doctor and nurses then was released to go home in the afternoon. Not everyone who is admitted to hospital for COVID–19 treatment is put on a ventilator. There are other treatment options now. Until there is a pill or injection that can be administered in a local clinic, an ER or Urgent Care equipped with an X-ray machine, the ability to administer medications via IV, and a team of medical professionals that includes an infectious disease specialist, are your best chance of survival if you receive treatment early enough. Steve didn’t get the benefit of my research and experience, so in his honor and memory I share what I know and hope that the information might help save a life. Public Health messaging since the start of the pandemic a year ago has been focused on slowing and preventing the spread of COVID–19; patient self-care has been neglected in media messaging, leading to death for some patients. While isolation is best to prevent the spread of the disease, it is the worst possible patient care advice because patients cannot self-monitor when confused and unwell. COVID–19 patients need a healthcare advocate to evaluate and assist them with obtaining medical care. I believe that people who have immunity to COVID–19 must rally to serve as educated monitors of people with the virus. Even without immunity, volunteers can still monitor wearing PPE, washing hands, and socially distancing, just like medical professionals. It is important for us all to learn to recognize the danger signals. We must overcome our fear of COVID–19 to help people recover. Ninety percent of those who test positive recover at home. But how many of the nearly 530,000 souls lost in the U.S. since the pandemic began might have survived had they been monitored at home and hospitalized sooner? On January 6, 2021, my son tested positive for COVID–19. I was diagnosed January 9. On January 11, my son’s girlfriend tested positive. Tylenol saved us all while we monitored each other’s condition. None of us had a fever. On January 19, I awoke with a terrible headache and started to vomit. Then I broke out in a clammy sweat. These were new symptoms that I should have recognized as signs of pneumonia, but I was not connecting the dots. My son cooled me down with a wet face flannel on my head and took my oxygen reading on the pulse oximeter. It was below 90 degrees, the magic number that doctors and nurses said indicated that I needed to go to an ER or Kaiser Urgent Care. I did not have shortness of breath, but I did have a fever suddenly of 100.2. Then all the symptoms subsided. Had my son not been with me I might not have gone to the hospital until it was too late to save me. The CDC recommends that people with COVID–19 call 911 or go to an ER if they have the following symptoms: shortness of breath; trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion; inability to wake or stay awake; bluish lips or face. (I had none of those symptoms. But I did temporarily have new symptoms 10 days after testing positive.) Ask about the anti-inflammatory steroid, Remdesivir, Dexamethazone, Monoclonal Antibodies, and other treatments currently being used to treat COVID–19. If your doctor doesn’t know about them seek another opinion from an infectious disease specialist. Symptoms may appear two to14 days after exposure to the virus and include, but are not limited to fever or chills; cough; shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; fatigue; muscle or body aches; headache; new loss of taste or smell; sore throat; congestion or runny nose; nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Some people are at higher risk to get very sick, among them seniors over 65, people with certain medical conditions such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, Down syndrome, weakened immune system from organ transplant, obesity, serious heart conditions, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, smoking or Type 2 diabetes. You must consult a doctor. Experience has taught me that isolation at home without a healthcare advocate is possibly the biggest risk factor of death for COVID–19 patients. We must not let fear cripple our ability to help each other survive this lethal disease. Miriam Claire is a Topanga Realtor, Author & Singer who lives with her son at Top O’ Topanga. – March 12, 2021
Miriam Claire
      April 2, 2021

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