On March 9th, 2020 – 13 members of my family boarded a cruise ship out of New Orleans for a 5 day trip. Today, with all that’s known, that sounds like a crazy (or stupid) idea, At the time, there wasn’t a single case of Coronavirus in the state of Louisiana – not one.
When we were boarding the ship, there was staff there to check you for fever. I didn’t see anyone pulled from line, but I assume they were if they had a fever.
We started the cruise and everyone had a great time. We didn’t know that the world was going crazy while we were gone. When we returned to port and got off the ship – ‘disembarkment’ as they call it. NO ONE took our temperature, no one asked us anything, no one said anything. In fact, I recall it was the fastest we got off a cruise ship (this was our third cruise).
We got off the cruise ship Saturday, March 14th at about 10:30 AM. Within a couple of hours of getting off the ship, I developed a cough. It was a dry cough and it felt ‘deep’ – if that makes sense.
A few hours later, I had body aches. The kind of aches that one normally gets with a fever, so I took my temperature and, sure enough, I had a low-grade fever (100.4) as I recall.
That’s two of the “big three” symptoms of CORVID-19. The third being shortness of breath. I didn’t get that and, to this day, I still haven’t.
Sunday morning, my temp spiked to 100.9. That’s not the end of the world, but certainly noticeable. By now, we were fully aware of what was going on in our state and in the country.
I felt like it was my responsibility to inform my place of employment that I could work through it (I feel like I had worked through worse in my life), but with everything going on, they may not want me to. They agreed that I should spend the week at home and keep them updated.
That first week (last week as I write this) was pretty rough. I didn’t feel very well at all. My fever never came back after Sunday night, but there was an overall fatigue and just not feeling well.
I went online to make an appointment with my doctor. Let me be clear about how this was going in the earliest days. I made my appointment online because; if you called the doctor’s office and said that you were on a cruise ship, they immediately transferred you to the CORVID hotline. I sat on hold for an hour and a half. I finally got to speak to someone at the hotline and they said that I needed to see my regular doctor FIRST! So, it was a big circle. When I made my appointment online, I had limited space to list my reason and I didn’t have enough to list my symptoms and mention the cruise – so I left the cruise off.
My appointment was for Tuesday, March 17th. Upon arriving at the building, I was met with a police officer who’s first question was; “Have you travelled outside the country in the last 30 days?” I replied that I did and that it was a cruise. With that, he issued me a mask to wear. Then, near the building entrance door, there was a nurse in a mask who took my temperature. I didn’t have a fever and I knew I didn’t because I checked it myself before leaving the house.
The remainder of the appointment went as it normally would, except that the chairs in the waiting room were spaced out at about 6 feet apart. The doctor listened to my breathing, checked in my ears and felt my glands, he announced that it was probably an upper respiratory infection and that I should continue to take the over-the-counter meds, drink plenty of fluids and get rest.
By the end of the week, I was starting to feel better and I told my job that I would be fine to return to work by Monday, March 23rd.
Then, on Saturday, March 21st, I received a letter from Carnival stating that they ‘just’ got information that 2 people, who were on our cruise, have tested positive for the virus.
I immediately forwarded that letter to my supervisors as I feel it was my responsibility to inform them. I still had a pretty bad cough. My employer asked me to contact the doctor and see if I could / should be tested. I did that and my doctor replied (on a Sunday!) That there was no need to be tested and that I should continue to do what I was doing “unless my symptoms worsened.”
Here’s the thing – and the reason for this story. People who are not ‘IN’ this situation don’t understand. If you don’t have a fever at the time you try to get tested – you will NOT be tested.
In fact, although you won’t hear it on the news, the procedure is;
- Conduct a virtual visit with a health care provider
- If you have a fever and get past that step, proceed to a testing center
- If you have a fever at the testing center, you’ll first be tested for the flu.
- If you don’t have the flu – then they’ll give you the CORVID-19 test – only then.
You can not just request to be tested (unless your a pro athlete or a congressman I suppose)
You will not be tested unless you have a fever and they’d prefer you had all three of the main symptoms.
Here’s why; Let’s say I was able to go down there and get a test at will. And, let’s assume that it came back positive. What would I do differently than I’m doing? I would still self- quarantine and still stay away from people. My test would take a test away from someone who may need to be hospitalized and tests are still in short supply.
What if I tested negative? Would anyone be comfortable with me hacking like I (still) am?
Another local doctor said everyone should stay quarantined until three days after ALL their symptoms resolved. A cough IS a symptom and it certainly isn’t resolved. In fact, It isn’t much better than it was that first day!
I’m ready to go back to work – I’m bored out of my mind! Even though it’s not what the WHO or CDC recommends and even though others may be at risk of catching it from me (If I have it), I’m ready and willing to go back. Is it the right thing to do? Is it that important to do now?
What’s the safest thing to do for everyone? This illness (whatever it is) has certainly weakened my immune system. If I don’t have it, I’m now more at risk of getting it, so that’s not good.
So far, this story has been only about me. The footnote to my story is that 12 of the 13 of my family members who were on the cruise got sick – to one degree or another. As I write this, most are still sick. NONE of them have been tested as they didn’t have a fever at the same time that they could get an appointment.
So, are the reported numbers accurate or, are there a lot of people like us. People who probably have it, but have never been tested and…… probably never will be.
Stay safe out there. Hopefully this will all be over soon.