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Positive but Not

Richard Quinn

MY EXPERIENCE with COVID-19 began on March 4, 2020. That morning, I got off a plane in Buenos Aries. While standing in line with my passport, I noticed several people wearing masks, so I put one on as well. Back then, we were being told to go about our business. “It’s like a bad cold.” If only.

We boarded our ship for a 30-day cruise, which I documented in five articles for HumbleDollar. On that cruise, the real nature of COVID became clear as they announced a new death among the passengers every few days.

My wife and I got through those 30 days unscathed, despite eating and traveling by bus and plane with a friend who, after returning home, went on to spend two weeks in the ICU.

We got vaccinated as soon we could. Having taken every vaccine available during my lifetime, and experienced childhood diseases now rare, I have no tolerance for the anti-vaccine crowd or even those who claim personal choice over the common good. But that’s another story.

Having been fully vaccinated against COVID, I had confidence in my immunity. I may even have picked up a few antibodies on the ship. Or maybe not.

A month or so ago, my daughter was having a family gathering. I had a runny nose and a cough, but no fever. I really didn’t feel bad. My daughter and my wife ganged up and insisted that I get tested. Confident in my immunity, I went to a local testing site.

They took the swab and left me sitting alone in the room. “I will be back in 10 minutes,” the technician told me. All the while, I was watching the testing device tick away. Then it made a noise and I looked at the screen. “Positive,” it read. I was shocked. How could it be? I’ve been playing by the rules for the past year and a half.

When the technician returned, despite the protocol, I convinced her to do another test with a different machine. Ten minutes later, she returned and said, “Bad news, it’s positive.” I was shaken.

The good news is—because I was vaccinated—my breakthrough case was indeed mild, like a bad cold. I was lucky. But the state health department called to be sure I quarantined for 10 days. I’m making progress. Last time, after the cruise, it was 14 days of quarantine. By the way, my wife tested negative.

But now, I feel vulnerable like never before in my life. Could it happen again, but maybe worse? Leaving the house without my mask has become as traumatic as forgetting my phone.

My stress grew after I told a few friends—with whom I’d had contact—about my test results. The word got out, triggering an email alert—in red text—from our condo association. It said there was a COVID-positive person in the complex. No name was given, but I felt shunned nevertheless.

We received our booster shots three weeks after I tested positive. But even that hasn’t diminished my feeling of vulnerability. I’m on edge when shopping or in a restaurant. Every time one of my grandchildren doesn’t feel well, I worry. It seems nothing will be the same again.

The good news—I suppose—is that my new concerns have gotten me to take action. I’ve better organized my finances and papers. I’ve also updated my final instructions, thinking more about what my children need to know. I’m ashamed to admit it took a global pandemic to motivate me to act.

I have a $10,000 credit from our ill-fated cruise that must be used in 2022. I’m thinking that it will go in the loss column, despite my yearning to travel again.

My outlook on life and my retirement are forever changed. I suspect that’s true for many people, especially those less fortunate than me.

Richard Quinn blogs at QuinnsCommentary.net. Before retiring in 2010, Dick was a compensation and benefits executive. Follow him on Twitter @QuinnsComments and check out his earlier articles.

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SanLouisKid
SanLouisKid
5 months ago

I watched a PBS Documentary on the Great Influenza Outbreak of 1918. They never “saw” what they were dealing with (the microscopes weren’t powerful enough). Eventually it just went away (I guess the survivors all developed some kind of immunity). It’s fascinating that with all of our advanced technology we are still wrestling with Covid. In case you want to check out the program. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/influenza/

packercd
packercd
5 months ago
Reply to  SanLouisKid

Thanks for the recommendation. I read this book on it a few years ago. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000OCXFWE/

Andrew Forsythe
Andrew Forsythe
5 months ago

Dick,

Glad your case was mild. What gets to me about the “vaccine hesitant” is the complete disregard for how their “personal choice”, “constitutional right”, etc., increases the danger to everyone around them, as well as to our health care system. Pure selfishness in my book.

One of the joys of retirement is having more time to read. This summer I took on Ian Toll’s terrific 3-volume history of the War in the Pacific: Ian W. Toll – Wikipedia, and I’m now on the third volume of Rick Atkinson’s monumental trilogy on the War in North Africa, Italy, and Europe: Rick Atkinson – Wikipedia. One of the many things these great works impress on you is how united the American people were in their commitment and their sacrifice in order to win the war. If back then we were as divided and self-centered as we are now, I wonder how the war would’ve turned out.

Last edited 5 months ago by Andrew Forsythe
R Quinn
R Quinn
5 months ago

How right you are. Very sad state of affairs.

Rick Connor
Rick Connor
5 months ago

Dick, thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. From reading your stories I can tell how important family is to you. I wish you and your family a healthy and happy holiday season.

Jerry Pinkard
Jerry Pinkard
5 months ago

I am glad your case was mild. Do you have any idea how you got the virus?

In the past 2 weeks, we have had 3 elderly relatives get the virus. Their cases were relatively mild and they each were vaccinated. This week we learned of 7 people from our Sunday school class or Bible study that had Covid (our SS class has more than 120 people). No obvious link between the people.

Our cases in NC are low compared to the whole US, so not sure why so many cases in our sphere right now.

R Quinn
R Quinn
5 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Pinkard

No real idea. Since I wrote this a step grandson caught it- his father wouldn’t allow him to be vaccinated The poor kid was miserable for over a week, not to mention missing school and sports.

Now my daughter has it, probably contracted in day care center where she works part time.

David Powell
David Powell
5 months ago

Glad you had a mild case! Since this thing is more infectious than chicken pox, don’t feel bad about getting it. There should be no shame around any health condition. Heart disease still kills more Americans than Covid. While many of those deaths are also preventable, we don’t feel shame for having it.

All measures like masks, vaccination, outdoor gatherings, or the new oral anti-viral meds from Merck and Pfizer will “load the dice”, improving your odds of avoiding a “snake eyes” case. The more we use these tools, the less likely we are to crush our local hospitals and cause needless death by our neighbors when hospitals start turning away new patients. Most of us are able to live our lives without fear now, as long as we’re smart about how we do it. Science-based public health policy is a part of that.

Like the flu virus, this is an RNA virus. And since RNA is less stable than DNA, it naturally mutates more easily and often, which makes it hard to create a vaccine, especially one with long-lasting protection. We may still get there, but it will take time. Meanwhile, by next October annual flu+Covid boosters should be available.

mytimetotravel
mytimetotravel
5 months ago

I’m glad you didn’t wind up in hospital! However, you have been lucky not to feel vulnerable the whole time. I am immuno-compromised, and despite getting vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible, my life has been on hold since March 2020. I am also at high risk because of age: three quarters of the people who have died from Covid in the US were over 65, and I am over 70. The FDA just approved an antibody injection for the immuno-compromised, so finally there is some hope for us – otherwise the only attention paid to us was advice to “consult your doctor”, who had no useful information because we were excluded from the vaccine trials.

R Quinn
R Quinn
5 months ago
Reply to  mytimetotravel

I hear you, I’m 78 and have bouts with asthma.

Jerry Pinkard
Jerry Pinkard
5 months ago
Reply to  R Quinn

Me too! Age 77 with moderate asthma

Newsboy
Newsboy
5 months ago

Dick – thank you for sharing this bit of unfortunate news. It’s a reality check for many of us who read it. Hang in there, my good man!

IAD
IAD
5 months ago

For the vast majority, life has returned to normal. For the last nine months, the only place I’ve seen masks worn were in an airport and on the aircraft. I’m not saying this to be political, but it seems the more liberal the state, the more restrictive they are. I don’t live in Florida! For those that are older, have health issues, or are overweight should have concern, but for most COVID shouldn’t be a source of fear.

I do have to comment on your “anti-vaccine” comment. The majority are not “anti-vaccine”, just “anti this vaccine”. Why? Its isn’t a vaccine. It stops no transmission, it doesn’t prevent anyone from catching COVID, and its efficacy wanes after approximately 6 months. Adding fuel to the fire, all COVID manufacturers are shielded from liability and at this current time FOIA requests are to be released in 75 years. This should concern everyone.

If everyone was honest, the COVID shot is a flu shot. There is a protection from specific strains for a limited period of time. The COVID shot is not like the polio vaccine, for example, where once vaccinated one is protected for life. Much like the flu, there is a certain population that benefits more from that annual shot than others. In my case, having both the COVID shot and having a “breakthrough” case, the discussion of natural antibodies is still a forbidden topic.

I understand the fear of this virus and all the uncertainty that comes with it. Unfortunately, the COVID “vaccine” is not the savior some want it to be. Even if everyone in the world received the shot it would not go away. Live your life.

Philip Morgan
Philip Morgan
5 months ago
Reply to  IAD

First of all, the COVID vaccine is a vaccine. It provokes an antibody immune response from the host, which is the definition of a vaccine. You are arguing it is not an effective vaccine, which is different.

But to be frank: yes, COVID is difficult to create an extremely effective vaccine against, because it is a variant of SARS, and is related to the flu in that they are respiratory tract viruses. There viruses mutate very quickly, and for a variety of other reasons, can’t be prevented as effectively as tetanus. However, the vaccine is extremely effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths.

Before COVID, many anti-vaxxers lobbied against the measles vaccine. They argued that for most, measles is a bad flu, and natural immunity from getting the disease is better, so why innoculate all children? They still argue this. Did you know polio only causes flu like symptoms most of the time? In fact, much of the time, polio is asymptomatic. Do you feel that the vaccines for measles and polio are not necessary?

People’s risk tolerances are different – but when you make a stand against COVID policies, ask yourself if you have the same feeling about polio – and if not, why not?

Last edited 5 months ago by Philip Morgan
Mik Cajon
Mik Cajon
5 months ago
Reply to  IAD

Agree…natural immunity is proven to be more effective…for those at higher risk not so much.

Last edited 5 months ago by Mik Cajon
Mike Wyant
Mike Wyant
5 months ago
Reply to  IAD

The stats don’t lie. People who are vaccinated (yes, it is a type of vaccine) are MUCH less likely to get Covid, than unvaccinated, and therefore MUCH less likely to transmit it. Not to get political, but red states have much higher infection rates than blue states due to the disparity in the % of people vaccinated. The vaccine has been proven VERY safe and VERY effective (with booster). With the exception of a tiny minority, everyone should be vaccinated. Even if a yearly booster is required, that’s a small price to pay for our society to get back to some semblance of normal.

R Quinn
R Quinn
5 months ago
Reply to  IAD

I don’t believe anyone ever said the vaccines would prevent COVID in all cases or eliminate it, It certainly does prevent it in many people, perhaps most. In any case the goal was to minimize the spread, and minimize the impact for those affected – like me. The reduction in hospitalization and death among those vaccinated has been well demonstrated.

As far as masking goes, the primary purpose is not to protect the wearer, but the spread to others. It’s a matter of respect for others because an infected person may be asymptomatic or simply dismiss symptoms as a cold – which I was initially willing to do.

I agree this is all with us for the long term and most likely will end up an annual jab, perhaps eventually combined with a flu shot. In the meantime those who spread misinformation about COVID and vaccination in general are doing us all a disservice IMO.

Dwayne 73
Dwayne 73
5 months ago
Reply to  R Quinn

I just wish they stop calling this a vaccine. To me a vaccine prevents the disease in most people. This covid “vaccine” only reduces the severity. Do you get the annual flu shot or the annual flu vaccine? They might as well start calling it the semi-annual covid shot. It appears by Mr Quinn’s experience that natural immunity didn’t work and the “vaccine” didn’t prevent another case. It is doubtful that a booster will prevent a 3rd case. Best hope is that it will lessen the severity again.
I am not anti vaccine, but I think that the government put out too many false/mixed messages and the media censored opposing opinions that our expectations where set too high. “Get the vaccine and life will go back to normal”. It is time to admit that science can’t beat covid no more than the common cold and it is time to find ways to live with it. Living the rest of our lives with mask on is not the answer but maybe booster shots every six months will be the future.

Mike Fuchs
Mike Fuchs
5 months ago
Reply to  R Quinn

Thanks so much for sharing your story . Stay safe!

Last edited 5 months ago by Mike Fuchs

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