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SARS CoV2 aka COVID-19: Am I Infected? It’s all Guesswork and Other Things Could Explain?

See also Kicking the Can Down the Road? and other SARS CoV2 posts.

Update Sept 1 2020: I finally got the COVID-19 IgG antibody test for COVID-19 and it was negative, although the lab doing the test was not considered as the most accurate one by my doctor (and he works at the facility!). Also, it’s unclear how long the antibodies persist after infection and it has now been 4.5 months.

2012-08-31: SARS-COV-2 IGG QUAL Neg
Test performed using Diasorin Liaison XL methodology which is designed to detect IgG antibodies to the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2.

I have had a couple of recurring bouts of this problem causing me severe fatigue and making a major impact on my energy level. I am trying to track down the cause with my internist (doctor); I suspect a gastrointestinal issue due to continued loose/watery stools and bloating—bloodwork is all totally normal. No idea yet if it could be something like giarardia or an amoeba or bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or pancreatic or something else entirely.

Update Sept 3 2020: blood tests show 4 flags: thyroid peroxidase is 233 (vs high end of range of 60), Lipase is slightly low, bilirubin is slightly high, positive for EBVNA (Epstein Barr virus). All my life my blood work has been poster-child perfect, so this is a distinct 90° turn off-route.

Update September 4 2020: diagnosis of Hashimoto’s disease and recent Epstein Barr Virus infection.

UPDATE October 10 2020: still fighting energy problems. For a decade I would ride 90 minutes / 1000 calories every day no problem. Now I am lucky to get 2 such days a wek. Conversations with a doctor friend were interesting: his doctor friend is suffering strikingly similar EBV problems following a COVID-19 infection. I now suspect that I really *did* have COVID-19 (antibody test 4 months later are not reliable), and that it kicked off this whole nasty process.

UPDATE October 24 2021: here I am 18 months later, and while I have seen much improvement in the past few months, my sleep needs remain high (as much as 12 hours some days). I have intermittent physical ability, so I feel like I am at the halfway point between the worst of it and full function. I have not yet been able to resume anything like normal training. At best, I can do 1/3 my former training load at lower intensity. Brain fog is long gone though.

... original post below ...

Just sharing how hard it is to know about SARS CoV2 infection—I don’t feel all that bad but I am way off my game mentally and physically even while a peaceful location, which has as low a stress factor as is possible anywhere.

Is this what infection with SARS CoV2 might mean for most people? I can check off some of the boxes on the SARS CoV2 symptoms list:

  • Diarrhea (resolving after 3 days)
  • Headache (worsening)
  • Concentration and motivation problems (not improving). Odd memory issues like finding my way back after a ride or hike.
  • Pronounced physical weakness (worsening).
  • Mild aches/pains a day or two.
  • Mild small airway impairment, stable but treating. (but could it just be allergies?)
  • Runny nose two days, resolved (could it just be allergies?)

All pretty darn generic. There could be other explanations (bad food, pollen in the air, a fatigue cycle to which I am subject at times, etc). No way to be sure.

I’ve been self isolating for nearly two months, so I am just going to keep doing so, monitoring myself for any significant downturn. At this point I don’t feel testing is warranted, and it’s basically a whole day affair to even try (Bishop and Ridgecrest CA are not exactly big cities and a 4-hour round trip and would tire me in my present state even if I can find a facility).

If I were infected the LAST thing I’d want to do is go home or near others anyway unless I really needed help. My feeling so far is that whatever is having its way with me, rest and extra sleep should take care of it.

Timeline follows below...

Self isolation with a world-class view
f1.8 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 64; 2020-04-25 19:10:26
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0mm f/1.8 @ 4mm ENV: altitude 6982 ft / 2128 m

[low-res image for bot]

Timeline and info

Potential exposure

Tuesday April 21, I resupplied with food at two stores (N100 face mask, fresh gloves each time), along with a very brief entry into an AT&T store to inquire about a hot spot (no luck). At one store all I did was pick up from an outdoor table (no entry into store). I did enter Vons Supermarket, frequented by most people in the area and there is a low infection rate in the area. At the AT&T store I touched a door handle minimally and avoided the usual hand placement area, but I used hand sanitizer after and was not wearing a mask there. Total exposure time perhaps 20 seconds.

If indeed I am infected, that would suggest something extremely infectious, given the exposure time and the precautions I took.


Day 3: strong vigorous bike ride from 4500' to 7500' in elevation in hot conditions, felt great.

Day 4: I felt oddly tired with leg muscles not feeling recovered from prior day’s ride. Confirmed with a substantially lower performance on my bike ride (confirmed with hard data via power meter on bike). But it was hot and given yesterday’s ride—inconclusive. That night, diarrhea started along with pain ache in my chest wall (non cardiac) which I periodically experience when stressed or fighting a bug. Roasting hot for several hours at night, but that is fairly normal for me, so inconclusive.

Day 5: slept and rested 12 hours, took a short morning walk and then worked two hours ineffectively, then slept 3 hours. Concentration on work difficult. Went for an easy mountain bike ride and actually felt better for it, though I was not feeling strong so I took it at low aerobic speed. I had a curiously hard time remembering my route back (very unusual for me in the outdoors), and that had been true of the morning walk also. Small airway impairment began that evening, and I treated it with prescription inhaler twice (all out of CBD which works better for me). Roasting hot for ~3 hours at night at 50°F ambient—too hot to have covers on—but that can be normal for me so inconclusive.

Day 6: got some work done, but wore me out and tired by noon. Slept and rested for 2 hours, then hiked up a ridgeline 700' vertical gain that normally would take me 30 minutes and be great fun and very easy. I felt strangely weak— breathing seemed OK and not even very fast and yet it felt like not getting enough oxygen to go more than at a very slow pace for a short distance before needing to rest (and I am well acclimated to the altitude for weeks now). I had to stop and rest so often that it took more like two hours. Very tired after hike, but after resting I got some strength back. Mild headache, and headaches unusual for me.

Day 7

Slept 9 hours, went for very easy 40 minute walk in sun with shirt off (aiming to get Vitamin D production high as on previous days). Ate breakfast and did a little work, but energy is low and cannot seem to motivate or concentrate without effort. Mild headache with feeling of pressurized skull. At 2PM feeling like I really need a nap.

Went for a late-day bike ride, taking it really easy and slow, about 2/3 of baseline effort (super easy). Nearing return, was finding turning the pedals feeling more difficult than at the end of a double century—extremely weak. I want some exercise each day, but clearly I need to cut it in half.

As a rare treat here in the desert, I took a “shower”—a gallon of nice hot water I had let sit in the sun all day, drained from my ice chest in the morning. No source of water where I am at present, so only waste water to use—all other liquid for drinking only.

Day 8

After yesterday’s ride ending in fatigue, I felt stronger after resting a few hours, stronger as in not feeling wiped out. So resting is clearly the best idea.

Slept about 8 hours. Whatever was causing the radiating heat the prior 3 nights did not happen last night—so if that was fever, it seems it has broken.

This morning, I took my usual short walk (with shirt off for production of Vitamin D in the sun), but after 50 feet up a slight hill of modest grade, I found myself breathing hard. Stopping, it took two minutes or so for breathing to drop back to baseline. For me after such a mild effort, that’s a waving red flag given my exceptional physical fitness (normally, it might take two minutes to drop back to baseline after an maximal-effort 90-minute climb of 3000 vertical feet to 10000' elevation). Today I will limit my late-day exertion to an easy 15-30 minute gentle walk to conserve strength, and nap whenever I feel the need.

Writing this, I notice there is significant small airway impairment, which I just treated and will continue treating. The inhaler is effective, but I wish I still had some CBD, which my personal experience suggests acts as an immune system moderator.

I took a 90 minute nap and woke up groggy at 4 PM or so, but even so still feel lethargic here at 8 PM. I went for a short walk of 15 minutes and have little energy. Maybe that and another night’s sleep will bring something better tomorrow. The hummingbirds and insects are buzzing; it is wonderfully peaceful as the glow settles over the Owens Valley with the sun behind the Sierra Nevada. My food choices are getting boring and I long for a nice hot meal or baked chicken or grilled steak...!

Day 9

Did not ride yesterday, took only short very easy walk. Spent 12 hours in bed, slept ~10 hours (waking 4 times), but had trouble clearing my head at 9 AM.

I have the continuing sense of not feeling a need to breathe harder, yet as if not getting enough air. And yet lungs are nearly clear, with full expansion and nearly full function after using inhaler. Having much experience going from sea level to high altitude in very short time (as much as 500' to 14500' in less than 24 hours), I feel like I’m at 14000' here at 7000'—and 14500' does not bother me in the slightest when acclimated, as I am at present. It’s as if the lungs are working but oxygen transport is impaired. I also felt myself breathing harder just standing while talking on the phone. Low oxygen would explain the difficulty concentrating, even after a prescription stimulant and caffeine. For example, last night I sat down wanting to some work done, but found myself just staring at the screen. After 10 minutes, I just gave up, unable to concentrate or focus. This might indicate low oxygen levels. Too bad I do not have a pulse oximeter with me.

I will talk to my doctor today (telemedicine), and I am making myself assess myself every hour or so, and I have a plan to get out of here and down nearer a hospital if I feel I am worsening. I might have to drop down to 4000' elevation, but that would cause heat stress with temps hitting 100°F or more, so I am holding off on that. Better might be to return to the Lone Pine area at 7000', which is a much quicker trip down to the main highway than way out at the end of a dirt road off Death Valley Road as I am now. Returning home is an option, but I am reluctant to do that if this is CV19, and driving 10 hours might be more demanding than I can hack. So for now I’ve decided to rest in this peaceful place, and let my body sort it out.

Day 10

Last night at 10PM I felt distinctly better, more rested and less in need of sleep (maybe because of cutting out all but very modest exercise?). Waking at 6AM, I was sure it was going to be a markedly better day (feeling notably better), but by 8 AM my head went 'cloudy' again (slight headache and pressurized feel) and by 9 AM it felt like nap time in a demanding way, so I lay down at 9:40, obeying the biological imperative. Still, I’ll take even a short improvement as a good sign that I may be gaining strength back.

Napped in afternoon as usual, but notably stronger over course of day.

Day 11

No question about it—my immune system has beaten off the infection. I hope to be back at full strength within days, but I won’t push it until I feel strong again—still was quite weak on very short and easy bike ride last night.

Bad stomach ache at 11 AM forced me to lie down and rest for a while. Slowly eases and I feel OK by late afternoon. Diarrhea returned.

Day 12

Raging gut ache at 11 am took me out for 3-4 hours. Whole-body fatigue and achiness. Recovered late im the day and felt fine. Odd that same gut ache at 11 AM yesterday also. Diarrhea returned.

Day 13

Woke up feeling best yet, but stomach ache starts right at 10:45 AM or so in spite of nothing but hydration this morning—so it isn't something I ate. Relatively mild today compared to yesterday. Diarrhea returned.

Day 14

Woke up good and no stomach ache today and no overpowering need to take a nap... I seem to be out of the woods!

Day 15

No stomach ache and feel good. Looks like I have this thing beat and done with! Would have gone for bike ride, but it was a long day to do resupply.

Day 16

No stomach ache, no diarrhea, went for a 3 hour moderate bike ride with good strength and no downside after or later. Sleep patterns back to normal.

Day 17

I consider it over and done with.

Back in form
f1.8 @ 1/2000 sec panorama, ISO 20; 2020-05-17 16:24:00
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0mm f/1.8 @ 4mm
ENV: Horseshoe Meadows Rd, altitude 8231 ft / 2509 m, 75°F / 23°C

[low-res image for bot]

Reader Comments

Abe H writes (Day 7/8):

That sounds promising but don't relax your self-care regimen yet! I've read that some people can start to feel better and then relapse.

Possibly related: I've also read that your 1st stage immune system can give you the fever as a general protection. Then your adaptive immune system kicks in to design and produce antibodies. Gotta support the antibody production! That being said, all the severe cases I've read about have persistent and maybe escalating fevers, so losing your fever is a very good sign indeed.

DIGLLOYD: maybe it was a fever but only at night... I don’t know how that works.

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