Just over three years after the world found out about covid and despite being drilled and encouraged, I eventually caught the virus. Although I may have had it in January 2020 when I was in South East Asia, since I had the same symptoms, I never got tested as there was no evidence yet. And by the time an antibody test became available, more than 6 months later, the antibodies he might have had weren’t showing up.
So I’m going with the idea that this was my first experience with Covid. I got the disease from a good friend who got it while attending his 4 year old granddaughter’s birthday party, definitely a super spreading event with lots of kids and parents around. He and I went out to dinner 3 days after the party and the next morning he texted me that he tested positive! Oh great, I thought. I’ll have to wait in a few days!
Sure enough, 3 days after our dinner I started to feel a bit unwell and had a very mild cough. The next morning I found out I had Covid and a test confirmed my suspicion. Say what you want about the reliability of home tests. They can show a negative result when you’re positive, but they don’t show false positives.
I called my friend to let him know and see how he was feeling. He said that she had felt pretty bad a day or two before, but that she was beginning to feel a little better. He was still fatigued and somewhat congested, but not as severely as before. He was hopeful that he was beginning to recover.
It was now Saturday afternoon, so calling my doctor for the antiviral medication Paxlovid meant contacting the answering service and having them contact her. Since my friend had already started to recover, I thought I’d wait to see if my current mild symptoms worsened. The next day they did.
So on Sunday I contacted my doctor who ordered a prescription for Paxlovid. At the time the pharmacy was closed, but since my symptoms weren’t terrible and I was still within the recommended time, I felt fine waiting another day. On Monday I was definitely starting to feel a little better, but I took the Rx anyway. I didn’t start the regimen that afternoon (it’s 3 pills twice a day for 5 days) but decided to wait and see how I felt the next morning. I was concerned that the drug was still experimental and that some of the side effects could be serious. Also, I had read that taking a statin for high cholesterol is not recommended and had already taken my statin.
When I woke up the next day, the cough was deep in my chest and I was worried it might lead to pneumonia. I decided that I would take the drug that morning.
It wasn’t more than an hour or two after taking the 3 pills that I started to feel the effects. The accompanying documents mentioned 7 side effects. The first was “altered sense of taste.” Since I had read that it would affect the taste, I was careful not to let the lozenges touch my taste buds. It did not matter. I started getting that horrible metallic taste in my mouth very soon after swallowing. I described it to my wife, who said it reminded her of how she felt when she received chemotherapy years ago. I also noticed some new aches and pains that I hadn’t had before and then started having diarrhea, two of the possible side effects. In the afternoon the taste was horrible and nothing really helped to get rid of it. My diarrhea got worse, as did the aches and pains and the “malaise” effect. And this was only after one dose!
I spoke to my friend, who was by then almost fully recovered from his covid bout (off Paxlovid), so I decided I really didn’t think continuing the drug regimen was a good idea. I called my doctor again and explained to the nurse what was happening. She had been through the same ordeal and was extremely understanding. She said her side effects didn’t happen right away and my effects seemed much worse much faster. She said that she would talk to my doctor, but that she should probably stop taking the second dose. That was a great relief. I couldn’t bear the thought of taking the drug again. My doctor contacted me and with his blessing, I thankfully stopped taking the medication.
The next day I started to feel much better, with only a mild cough and little congestion. And two days after that, I tested negative for Covid.
The entire ordeal lasted 6 days, beginning and ending with a mild cough and congestion, both of which were easily remedied with over-the-counter medications.
Was taking Paxlovid a good idea? The short answer is yes.” Although I’m not necessarily committed, I am in my seventies. So despite my reaction to the drug, I think it was the smart and right thing to do to take the drug. There was no way I could know what so severe would my reaction be, and if the disease worsened, I could easily end up with pneumonia.
Risking side effects to prevent a serious condition is smart. Only a small proportion of people taking Paxlovid experience diarrhea (3% according to the manufacturer) and even fewer experience some of the other reported side effects. Apparently many more have an altered sense of taste, but that’s a small price to pay to prevent the potentially serious complications associated with Covid.
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