My Corona

Daniel Murphy
5 min readJul 27, 2020

I got the ‘rona and recovered. Since we’re still collectively struggling with mask-wearing, testing and even eventual vaccine adoption—you’re probably going to get it, too. Below are a couple insights from my ride.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Symptoms and severity seem to vary. The following is simply based on my experience.

A mild case is not nothing.

Here’s the detailed journey in case you’re curious.

In a pre-COVID world, my experience would have been almost unremarkable. I may have only skipped work a couple days. The worst of it was lethargy, congestion and headaches but there was also anxiety provoking total loss of taste and smell. Coffee, Red Bull and pickle juice all tasted like water. Eating a habanero hot sauce burrito was simply stuffing my face with tasteless mush. Chopped onions, a jar of diced garlic and cologne all registered as air to my nose. Since this loss hit when my other symptoms were on the decline and internet horror stories of taste/smell not returning abound, there is a psychological cost to this “not the flu” worth pricing into the equation.

Luckily my senses have returned and I feel 100% back to normal. However, I remain surprised by how long my symptoms lingered. I’ve had an average number of colds and flus in my 40 years but never one that hung around for almost two weeks.

Your good health might not save you.

My mom, brother and I all agreed if we got COVID, I’d surely have it the easiest. I’m young-ish (40), not overweight (6'2" /185 lbs) and was running about 25 miles a week. I ate my daily vitamins and boosted with 600 IU Vitamin D. Mom was in good health but older. My younger brother was in decent shape but has never been a fan of any exercise.

Drumroll please… my symptoms turned out to be the worst. Martin never lost taste or smell and was back to normal in 5 days. Mom had the lightest symptoms and was in and out after about a week.

It seems there is an X factor(s) that science has yet to fully identify which impacts your go of it. I’ve encountered studies that suggest blood type, genes, initial viral load exposure and diet may play a role but nothing is fully definitive or predictive. Old age, weight and preexisting conditions didn’t apply in our N of 3 experiment.

It can spread through your family unit quick.

My brother showed symptoms first. He and I share a pretty spacious two bedroom/two bath and I did my best to isolate. Two days later I had the exact same cough. Mom’s place is nearby and we avoided her but she still got it, too.

Although you can find reports that claim asymptomatic spread is very rare and 6 feet distance is plenty, that seemed not to be the case for us.

Don’t fear the test (if you can get one).

There are different types of tests for COVID-19: a blood test for antibodies, a brain poke sinus cavity swab (ouch) and the much more humane, self-administered Q-tip swirl 1" into your nostril. The latter is what I did twice at CVS drive through testing. It is truly no big deal and nothing to avoid—your finger has surely been in further. I can’t speak for accuracy between the three, but the gentile one gave me a confirmed positive.

Testing availability and results timing seem to vary wildly. Here in Nebraska (where ironically I have camped out since March to avoid corona) I waited 3 days to take the test and results were uploaded 48 hours after. Meanwhile in Florida we have a family member who still hasn’t gotten results 6 days after their test…

Be a pal to your friends (and strangers, too).

My first two days of symptoms were so mild that they bordered on psychosomatic — a tiny cough in the AM that went away and a very slight headache. They began on a weekend where I had much anticipated plans— a socially distanced outdoor BBQ with a buddy, dinner with another old friend and a family backyard brunch. These past months of corona time have been lonely and boring so I really didn’t want to cancel my best weekend yet. I’m sure glad I did (and no doubt they are, too!).

A journey through COVID transforms you from the worst person to be around to potentially the lowest risk as antibodies seem to armor you for at least a bit. Sealing yourself off from the world the moment you think you might be coming down with something is a wise policy.

You probably won’t know where you got it from.

In my chats with a few friends the “how’d you get it” question seems to be the most pressing. Unfortunately, I don’t know. 13 days prior to symptoms I had been on a lightly booked flight from NYC. That’s technically within the advertised 14 day window but I’m not convinced that was the culprit.

Otherwise my exposure was low. Nebraska has one of the lowest per capita case rates. I wore my mask on Whole Foods and Target runs that averaged only a couple a week. We ate outside at a restaurant a few times and inside once. I never was in a crowded gathering and I don’t remember hearing a cough or sneeze in public. As unlikely as picking it up from a door knob or gas pump handle seems, I guess the roulette wheel hits 00 every now and again.

Well, that’s my corona. Thanks for making it to the end. Hopefully some of this was mildly informative. If you have any specific Q’s, feel free to DM.