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From Tamiflu to Paxlovid

Updated: Feb 23

The week of January 29, the Hubster Bill was fighting a cold, or so we thought. We've had a plethora of flu and Covid vaccines so we did not suspect either of those culprits. But his respiratory symptoms worsened until Saturday morning, when he awoke and told me he was short of breath.

Of course, this had to be on a weekend, when your choices are either a hospital ER or doc-box urgent care. Since Bill's complaint was shortness of breath, and he has a history of heart disease, I chose the ER.

Oh, my. You cannot stop the wheels of heart-related testing at Mountain View Hospital in Las Vegas when a septuagenarian presents at the ER with shortness of breath. No matter that Bill's chief complaint was shortness of breath due to a respiratory illness, off the eager residents went in an endless series of tests and procedures to measure this or that related to Bill's heart.

Things got so complicated with CT scans and X-Rays, I reminded the head physician that the source of Bill's complaint was respiratory, not pain or associated symptoms of a heart attack. But that didn't stop the intrepid team that thankfully cleared Bill of any heart-related issues.

However, they did find that he had Influenza A. The darn flu!

Too many days late in the flu game for Bill to take the antiviral drug Tamiflu, we left the ER armed with only ourselves and my fears that I was going to succumb to the flu next. By Sunday, yes, I was coughing, congested and running a fever. I called our new doctor's office on Monday to request a prescription for Tamiflu, but evidently the Internal Medicine Specialists of Las Vegas do not return calls. (Medical care in Las Vegas may be as inaccessible as it was on Hawaii Island.)

However, there is a plethora of online urgent care available here. I jumped on CVS Minute Clinic's online virtual care, immediately got a knowledgeable nurse to attend my case, and lo' and behold, I got a script for Tamiflu.

This stuff was magic. No side effects for me, and my aches, pains, congestion, and cough were immediately lessened. Within three days, I felt very much better, but Bill, ah poor Bill. By the following Wednesday, his respiratory symptoms had worsened to the degree, I asked him if perhaps we should do a Covid test.

And darn it, the Covid test was positive.

Stupidly, I did not think of testing him until well after 10 p.m. on a Wednesday night, when all urgent care centers are closed. I called the ER at Mountain View Hospital and asked what we should do. They sent me to an online nurse who recommended that with Bill's heart issues, we should go to the ER.

Not again! Back we went about 11:30 p.m., and the young head physician even recognized us! But no matter that our chief concern was Bill's Covid infection, our visit sent the eager residents into another round of heart-related tests, to which I eventually pushed back.

"The problem is Covid, not heart," I exclaimed.

Undaunted, this hospital's protocol requires staff to jump through every heart-related hoop, no matter the contributing malady. After several hours passed, I had hoped Bill could be given the so-called wonder drug Paxlovid, but alas his medical history eliminated him as a candidate. So, home we drove about 3:00 a.m., Bill in the back seat to avoid infecting me, and the only medicine we had was a script for a cough suppressant.

We both agreed that we would not return to this ER unless he was indeed having a heart attack, to which we both knocked wood to prevent from happening.

We planned to isolate from one another, so Bill took the bedroom, while I took the guest room. Setting this up at what was now 3:30 a.m. was not exactly fun times. As I tried not to touch Bill's glass of milk that he'd left on an end table, I grabbed it with a pair of large tongs but clumsily dropped it. The glass shattered all over the tile floor, with pieces of milky glass going everywhere.

What a mess. As I swept up the broken shards and mopped up the spilled milk, Bill peeked out from our bedroom and told me, "I'll miss you!"

I was so furious about all this ... the flu, the Covid, the 10 days ahead of my trying to isolate myself from his infectious arse, I told him, "Go back to bed, just go back to bed." At that moment, I was not going to miss him. I did not want to catch this horrid Covid and was going to do everything I could to escape it.

But, as the doctor had warned me, "You've been exposed."

That next morning, I awoke with a spinning loss of equilibrium, as if my head had turned into a giant, juicy watermelon. Trouble was, the rest of my body could not handle the load. My balance was so skewed, I could barely walk without tipping over.

I realized I had Covid and used the last of our tests to prove it.

Darn! Again, I called my doctor's office and left a message, to no avail. (Clearly, we are going to have to change doctors.)

I got online with a different urgent care group called CareNow. Within minutes, I found myself chatting with another well-informed nurse who sympathized with our situation and prescribed Paxlovid.

From flu to Covid, all within a week's time!

My prescription for Paxlovid was in hand but I had to finish the Tamiflu first, the nurse had said. So I waited two days, finished my final Tamiful, then began the Paxlovid regimen.

Tamiflu had been no problem, but this Paxlovid stuff is nothing to fool around with. First, there is a long list of drug interactions and side effects that should not be taken lightly. Because I am rather sensitive to some medications, I did have an allergic reaction to the Paxlovid, primarily a thick tongue and sensation of having a golf ball in my throat.

My husband, retired physician that he is, recommended I take a Benedryl in advance of the Paxlovid, and that has helped with subsequent doses. (This is not medical advice. Contact your own medical provider, please, as I don't want to be sued by your estate if you die. Seriously.)

By Day 2 of Paxlovid, I was feeling much better, although I developed what's called "Paxlovid Mouth." This is a very bitter taste that overtakes your tongue and ruins any delicious ideas you might have for dinner. This condition is supposedly temporary, and I looked forward to Day 6 when Paxlovid would be over. Then again, another side effect appeared on Days 3, 4, and 5. Sharp abdominal pain. This is another known side effect, and I could only ease the pain with creamy foods like yogurt, soup, ice cream.

Should I ever kiss Bill again?

Bless his heart, Bill is doing fairly well, although he has far more chest and nasal congestion than I do. Still, even his more severe case is proof that the repeated flu and Covid vaccines we've taken indeed worked. Vaccines won't prevent us from getting these diseases. But they did lessen the seriousness of our symptoms.

What I need now is for my dear Bill to get himself back in shape to gain better resistance. And I need to get back into the lap swimming pool. These horrid bugs are all around us now, and we've both got to be as strong as possible to fight them off.

May you and yours never have to experience what we've experienced. However, we are not alone. The ER doc said, "This is actually not uncommon. We are seeing lots of double whammy cases."

Should that make us feel any better?

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That is awful. I hope you and Bill get well soon.

Replying to

Thanks for your note, Rena. I love your card! We've really HAD IT these past three weeks but hope for recovery and regained strength.



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