A Funny Thing Happened After My Last Bout With Covid

As I mentioned back in the middle of October, I had a second bout with Covid-19. As soon as I tested positive, my Primary Care Physician sent me to the Emergency Room of Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, New Jersey for a monoclonal antibodies infusion. 17 hours later, the fever broke and I felt GREAT!

Feeling “great” lasted for all of 2 days.

I woke up that morning and my right arm was numb, VERY numb. I thought I must have slept in a weird position and maybe pinched a nerve. 2 more days passed and my arm wasn’t getting any better, in fact, it was getting decidedly worse! I had almost no strength in my right hand (or arm) – I was so weak on my right side, I couldn’t even grasp my coffee mug. It was time to see someone, since it was Sunday, off to the Emergency Room I went. The young physician’s assistant that cared for me was certain it was just a pinched nerve, so he gave me some steroids to ease any inflammation and sent me home. I did check in with my regular doctor the next morning. He was concerned, but advised me to continue the course of steroids and keep him posted of any progress, and to immediately call if it got worse.

The next day was worse, much worse.

I woke up that Tuesday morning and had no feeling at all in my right hand, zero, zip, nothing. I could move my fingers, but even something as simple as grasping a pen was out of the question. As soon as the office opened, I was on the phone. I happened to get an RN on the phone who has had some relevant experience. She didn’t tell me, but as I was told later, she suspected that I was having an auto-immune reaction to the monoclonal antibodies. I was told to come in right away.

Well, long story short, I was indeed having an auto-immune response. Unfortunately, there is precious little that the doctors could do for me, so I had to tough it out and try to exercise my right arm and hand as much as I could to rebuild strength and prevent muscle atrophy.

So here I am, 124 days later. While I’m somewhat better, I still deal with a significant loss of sense of touch in my right hand. Some days are better than others, of course, but all in all, I would say I’m no better than 70% of my pre-monoclonal infusion self. It’s been an uphill battle, and the challenge of restoring sewing machines with a diminished sense of touch has been a monumental obstacle to attempt to overcome.

If I were to turn back the clock to the date of my infusion, knowing what I know now, I would still accept the treatment, albeit in my non-dominant left arm instead of my right! My first bout with Covid was pretty bad – especially because it was before we even knew what Covid-19 was (this was in January 2020). I was running a very high fever (104.3F) for 4 days, and only massive doses of steroids kept my airways open so I could breath. The recovery period was long and arduous. Eight months later, I still could only barely perform any physical labor. Compound this with a heart attack in October of 2020, and I think it’s pretty clear why I didn’t want to get Covid a second time. Liz also came down with Covid within a day of my getting sick, but luckily, she didn’t have as bad a time as I did.

When the vaccine became available, we both took the jab. We were not yet eligible for the booster shot when we both were diagnosed a second time. Liz too, received the monoclonal antibodies, but fortunately, she suffered no ill effects.

I write all of this, not to seek sympathy. I write this to share my perspective as someone who has had the disease more than once, and over two years since first contracting Covid, am still dealing with the aftermath.

I have lost too many friends to Covid, the most recent is my old friend Sam. Sam and I shared a birthday, though he was 8 years older. We worked together in the Audio Visual Department at Fort Monmouth for many years. He was a funny guy, always quick with a joke or a humorous story. He left behind a wife, two daughters, and some grandkids – and he was way too young. Rest in peace Sam…

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