My Covid Experience


Following the prostate surgery I got great nursing care in the hospital. Two days after the surgery (the day after I went home) the hospital called me to advise that I may have been exposed to Covid while in the hospital and they asked me to come back in for another Covid test. I went in for another test and the infectious disease officer called to tell me I was Covid positive. Six days earlier I was negative. That caused an interruption in my physical therapy for the hip operation. I still had a few weeks to go with the hip and my therapist knew I was considering a knee replacement as well. He did mention that he didn’t realize that I would be applying for lifetime membership at the physical therapy practice.

The hospital quickly offered an infusion of a monoclonal antibody, an experimental drug that had been just approved by the FDA for emergency use. It was supposed to lessen the effects of the active virus and reduce the long term effects. I opted for the infusion that takes a little over 3 hours, one hour for preparation, one hour for the infusion and 1 hour to monitor me for unwanted side effects. I had a mild case of Covid with a slight fever for two days and a mild cough for 7 or eight more days. Because I was at home, I wore a mask all the time from the onset of symptoms and my wife never caught it, partly because I continued to sleep in my recliner.  After Covid I developed a fairly significant balance issue while still taking physical therapy for the hip operation. By chance, the therapist I was working with had done his thesis on balance issues and was a bit of an expert. He included a lot of balance exercises in our routine. A week later I was supposed to report to the urologist to finally have the catheter removed. Nope, since I was now Covid positive I could not go into the office. And since I had been infused with a monoclonal antibody, I would probably register as positive for Covid for 90-180 days or more, so I could not get a negative test result.

Fortunately, my doctor had discussed the possibility of me removing the catheter myself so I would not have to go into the office, have it removed and return in the afternoon for the bladder scan. I could remove it at home in the evening, drink lots of fluids and report to the urologist’s office the next day for a bladder scan. Like most guys I was thinking “no f’ing way I’m going to do that”. The nurse at the hospital showed me how to remove the catheter, reviewed the cautions and gave me the tool to accomplish the task. But no, uh-uh, no way was I going to even attempt it. THAT was their job.

On a side note, I used to be an EMT (a LONG time ago) and my favorite advice was “if you have a weak stomach, never have lunch with a bunch of EMTs or nurses. They have the grossest stories and will talk about them anytime”. I was telling this story to a nurse friend of ours and she smiled and said anytime a similar procedure is discussed in a group with male doctors or nurses, they unconsciously cross their legs and squirm a bit. It seems this is a universal reaction among guys. Admit it, guys – you were just squirming, weren’t you?

Anyhow, I’d been on this catheter for too long. We knew each other well but it wasn’t my friend, and I was tired of it. I decided to remove the catheter myself. I think. Kinda. I waited until I had no symptoms for 10 days in case I had to return to the ER to be re-catheterized. I wanted to be sure to not expose the ER staff to the Covid virus. I knew there was no halfway measure. Once I began the process of removing it, it had to come out. There was no reinserting it on my part. What if I started to remove it and chickened out? At home, I spent an hour summoning enough courage and making sure I really wanted to be free of the contraption and then removed the catheter myself. Geez, it was no big deal. It felt a little weird, but there was no pain or even discomfort. I was free!! And I could pee!! And since I was more than 10 days after cessation of Covid symptoms, I could now return to physical therapy.

About a week later I was awake most of the night with chills and night sweats. I called my nurse practitioner at my hip surgeon’s office and he referred me for a test for an urinary tract infection. Yep, positive for a UTI, leading to a week on antibiotics.

The next post will cover the run-up for a knee replacement.

Published by barnberry

Well over aged 60 (well, OK, a lot more than that...) father of one outstanding young woman, unworthy husband of the most patient and talented woman in the world, retired small business owner, lover of all the wrong foods, political junkie and resident of NH. A conservative with a libertarian streak, and a thoughtful, impish, dedicated curmudgeon.

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