PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — COVID Is Real

I have COVID. You can take all the right precautions, wear a mask at all times, socially distance, wash your hands, etc.,  and still get it.

As luck would have it, I hadn’t left my house for more than 72 hours before showing symptoms, so no one else was exposed. That made contact testing much easier!

I got tested after losing my sense of smell and taste, and the rapid test came back positive. At first, my symptoms were very mild, and I was relieved, since I have issues that make me a high risk for COVID. However, as much as I thought I knew about the virus, I was unaware of the steady progression and the likelihood of it moving from mild to severe very quickly.

Thankfully my sister, who is a physician, was on her game and she urged me to find out about getting the monoclonal antibodies that are reserved for high-risk patients, which need to be administered within 10 days of onset and cannot be given once a person needs oxygen.

I reached out to my physician  who wasn’t aware of their availability. However, my sister’s relentlessness, along with some determined detective work from my other two sisters, helped me get in the queue for the antibodies at the Bristol Hospital in Bristol, Conn.,  just as my condition was deteriorating. I was VERY fortunate to have made contact when there was some available — it is a highly rationed medication— and I was “at the right place at the right time.” It was like winning the lottery. Only the prize is better.

I was able to go to the ER for the infusion, which doesn’t reverse the course of what is already in the body but essentially is intended to stop the virus in its tracks and fight against its progression, allowing the body to heal and not deteriorate.

I believe that is what it has done — I have not gotten worse. I’m still very tired, sore, and it’s hard to talk without collapsing in a coughing jag. But thankfully, I live alone, so there is no one to talk to. Today, my fever has abated, and I am very hopeful that the worst is over. However, this is a very strange disease, so I am being careful and cautious. I also know healing takes time.

I share all of this a bit reluctantly. My nature as a pastor is to be focused on others well-being and care and not have it  focused on me. Also, as a single mother, I learned to soldier on and to not draw attention to myself when sick. I prefer to share when in a position where I can reflect back on what happened, not what is happening. But after some gentle urging, I realized that letting people know was important, in part to let them know what can happen with COVID. And in part to receive prayerful support.

I also wanted to share some of the details of what transpired to alert people of the fact that if you are diagnosed, you should be proactive not reactive. If you are immunocompromised, you should seek out the cocktail, Bamlanivimab, before you get too sick. I highly recommend the Bristol ER, if you happen to be in Connecticut. I know I was lucky, as it is rare.  They said it was “like gold only worth more” in the ER.  However,  it is my understanding that they are making more and hopefully more than a handful of people in the U.S. will be able to get it each week.

As Jesus said, “Those to whom much is given, much is expected.” And I feel like I was given the gift of life, or at least the avoidance of time in the ICU. So I feel I am expected to share to help others facing the same issues.

Moral of the story: Wear a mask and if you feel sick, get tested. And if you are high-risk, fight for the treatment you need. Don’t assume if it starts slow it will stay that way. Be proactive.

Sadly, this is also a story of privilege — I have insurance and had my sisters looking out for me. I wish we lived in a country where there was equitable health care for all.  Once I am stronger and back in the game, I will continue to fight for a fair health care system where those who are in the greatest need get the care they need. My need was real and profound and I am grateful. But the same should be true for everyone. Health care should be a right not a privilege!

I appreciate the prayerful support as I heal. Remember: Wear a mask. Stay safe. Avoid crowds. Socially distance. And get tested. Because anyone can get COVID. Even a person who always wears a mask.

The truth is, you wear a mask to protect others. Not for yourself. And no decent person wants to give anyone this virus.


One thought on “PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot The Rapids — COVID Is Real”

  • Therese Tiedeman December 14, 2020 at 5:44 pm

    thanks for sharing this Paula.


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