Eric the OR surgeon, covering Corona Care triage at St. Luke’s Hospital

I have a wonderful body,

I love more every day.

It self heals and renews,

In an effortless way.

Jacob Glass, The I AM Meditations

I am going to share my personal Corona-like flu story today — uncertainties, non confirmation, and all. I hope it helps you, and dispels your fears of the unknown.  Here’s the Good News: Once you think you have Corona, you can stop worrying what will happen if you get Corona!!!

Where I Am: I happen to be in a small valley where the virus descended rapidly; the tidal wave of cases here has been fast and furious.  The mood is snowy then sunny, then snowy then sunny. A reflection of life, with and without Covid. I’m on house arrest-  first because we are under a “Shelter in Place Isolation” mandate, and second, I have been told I likely have Corona.

The Ketchum Corona Scene:  Tale of a small western town.  Lots of people in town are suspected to have Corona.  The hospital is closing so they can ramp up their triage–more ventilators, and relief doctors from outside of town because a bunch of ER doctors are sick. The biggest problem is the state is not test ready.  Idaho doesn’t have many cases (yet). This sunny valley does. Here’s why: lots of tourists from all over. Lots of people coming and going from Seattle and other hard hit west coast towns. It’s small, lots of people touch the same whip cream container to doctor their apres ski drink at River Run Lodge.  A lotta older people live here who are inspiring and rockin ‘it at 75; hiking and riding and skiing and super active, but still are an at-risk population for Corona. There’s one hospital, limited in scope but very good quality. What there is, is tremendous community, support, respect, and team spirit.

Tons of Spirit !!! 

How do I feel?  Medium. Not great. Feverish, thirsty, wiped from doing nothing.  Occasional indigestion. Short of breath for sure. A handful of big dizzy spells off & on  (for the last 10 days, not sure if related. Never had like that before.) Little pain in my chest and back, occasionally feels like an elephant is sitting on me. Dry cough.  Breathlessness–kinda, yeah–not a fun one–try not to focus on that one too much, lest it set off a panic attack, for which I will then have to think I am dying of Corona. Thick throat, as if there is congestion in my ears, and kinda raspy voice with drainage down the back.  Sounds pretty terrible. Really isn’t that bad. 

When did I get it?  I honestly don’t know. My son and I have had similar bugs for about 10 days. Mine started digestive, headache, achey and then kinda quieted for a couple days. Then I started getting the above symptoms which really came on yesterday. I have no way of knowing if I had something else and then picked up this “Corona-like” flu, or if it is all one.  Sorry if this scares you because I have been with or near you at an event in the last two weeks, or you greeted me and my dog in the airport the other day. I really am. I had not never heard of any digestive annoyance as being part of the start of Corona, and it was minor. Not even sure it is. Like I said, just my story. Now, I have a fever of 101 and am in a high Corona concentration spot with the above symptoms.

How did I get it?  No way to know.  Especially since I can’t know for certain when it started.  Likely you will have a similar story. My son thinks he got it from the dog (no question the dog has been sick, no question the dog licked up O’hare last week. Her symptoms, by the way, are not eating and throwing up.)  She’s fine after about a week of that. I’ve been east, west, south, and midwest in the last six weeks, and now I am with children and husband who have been as well. Your guess is as bad as mine. 

What I am doing? Going with it. Trusting it will run its course.  Resting. Writing. Sleeping. (Good news insomniacs–you will sleep!)   I am assuming I have “it,” as the OR surgeon who is helping out at the drive through nose swab station said to do (and let’s be honest; that’s not a nose swab, more like a brain swab!  You’ve been fore-warned.)

note length of q-tip, 1/3 in!

“You have the symptoms, we all have been exposed, it’s all over this valley, assume that’s it. Go home and treat it. Call your doctor if you get worse. We’ll call you in ten days.” So I’m following orders.  And I am hoping, because as my friend who is much sicker than I am said, “This better be Corona, because if it’s not and I get Corona on top of this, then I’ll really die.”

Some reflections:

First,  there is much good to having it.  Better to have the enemy in your sights.  I knew I’d get it, and I plan to live to tell. I don’t anticipate being someone who will need a ventilator, so I don’t plan to be taking a bed from someone with a compromised immune system who needs the support.  (I hope I will not be jinxed for saying that outloud.) Today this is how I feel. I may feel better or worse tomorrow. Hopeful for the former. I look forward to feeling better, and having this in the rear view mirror, because once I do I can live free of Corona fear. And help YOU!  I just assume get it out of the way and get on with things.  

Second,  one of the worst parts of this health crisis right now is no tests. There is not enough information out there, and information IS power! 

People with mild symptoms, presumably thousands, are not being tested.  Once testing becomes available, and routine, we will know of mild cases.  Hopefully I am sharing one with you now that will make you less afraid. That will also bring death rates way down to miniscule percentages.  Assume you will be in the 99.+ percentile of survivors. I AM assuming this too!  

Another bad part of the no tests and no info – you get sick with mild to no symptoms and you assume it’s not Corona, and you spread it to a couple hundred people.  I hope I didn’t do that. I hope you haven’t done that. Another thing we can’t know. There’s nothing either one of us can do now, but share our stories, perpetuate information, and hope. 

I went with my son to get tested yesterday. They screened both of us and said we both “qualified for testing” but only one could get it (that’s how they are rationing tests.) “If you’re both symptomatic and one tests positive, you both have it.”  Thus the one per household solution. You can talk your way out of this, but the truth is, Corona is uniquely contagious. So don’t expend energy on dissecting that. Or point fingers on who started it once someone you know gets it. Trust me, that part is not fun.

Third,  Uncertainty is the Worst Part of this.  As David Brooks said, “Screw Corona. Screw Uncertainty.”  Like most things in life, the fear is the worst part.  Uncertainty breeds fear, and then comes worry, which is a fruitless attempt to gain control over all this.  That’s a natural response, but a totally unproductive one. Let that go.  

“Worrying is using your imagination to create something you don’t want.” – Abraham Hicks

Fear drives people to say (or not say) and do weird things, that it is hard not to take personally.   As has been said here and elsewhere, there is so much good going on.  So much community, love, support; it is tremendous. As this reality gets closer keep feeding that.  Public panic feeds the negative seeds. Stay positive, and hopeful anyway. 

I just spoke with my very sick friend, who does sound much better, but mostly because she was at the hospital yesterday getting fluids and oxygen. She is also a bit stir crazy–that’s a  good sign. She has been diagnosed by x-ray with pneumonia from the Covid virus. Her swab test results are still not processed.  

We talked about how weird people can be, and the silly things they’ve said.  She’s too tired to care. It’s all said in fear. I spoke with a couple out of town doctors yesterday, and they were wigging out, too. These are unprecedented times, for doctors and patients alike.   We’re all doing our best, with not enough info to be credible or certain of anything. Uncertainty is the worst, for healthcare providers, too.

Anticipate being frustrated. Cut others slack, especially if they don’t feel well.  Let go of trying to understand everything about this. It’ll drive you crazy. You don’t want to be sick and crazy!

Know there’s a lot you won’t know.  Let go of needing to know. 

Focus on what you do know about self care.  What centers you; what feeds you? Practice that! Breathe deep into your lungs. Deep belly breathing in last two days been has helping me tremendously. I nordic skied two days ago, jumped on the trampoline yesterday, got a family member to use the Theragun on my back today.  All opened up my breathing and got the elephant sitting on my chest to move for a while. 

Drink tons of Gatorade, listen to recorded meditations, be in touch with your doctor if you feel sick, and be supportive, not scrutinizing, of others. We are all dealing with a lot.  And forward the hilarious videos and emails, because laughter is good for the soul. 

My sick friend and I laughed so hard today about all this. It IS crazy, on so many levels. We had to get off the phone because neither of us could breathe, and needed a rest.  Comedy is curing, at least for a couple bedridden 50 year olds with Corona-like symptoms…

It’s gettin’ real in Idaho, or as the saying goes (No, U-da-ho!) .... Warning: redneck humor, not for the sensitive. Among many laughs out loud I had today…

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Susan Merlin

    Thank you for sharing E. I’m so sorry you are feeling so awful. Take care and hope you are on the upswing soon. Sending love xo Susan

  2. Jen Pen

    A brain swan?!?!🤢
    Continued hugs and prayers!
    I’m glad I was shoulder to shoulder with you on the 8th in Community – hopefully both germ free at the time – and look forward to being together soon.
    Your detailed account does dispel fear.
    God is using your blog for so much more than you or we expected! ❤️

  3. Jim

    Amen to this post. Sending you lots of love and wishing you a speedy and fear free recovery!

  4. TD

    Prayers for you and all the Jannotta clan right now…

  5. Marni

    Elinor- stay well and thanks for sharing! It really helps. xo

  6. Kathy morrison

    Speedy recovery for you and your family. Love and hugs from CP

  7. MB

    Thank you for this…I am on day 9 and all of what you have written resonates deeply with how I have been feeling. Hope you are better soon, take deep breaths. Be safe…

  8. Carey Lennox

    Hi El, thanks for the perspective, and the laughs!!I got a fever last night, and I think one of your elephant’s siblings is now sitting on my chest. Mac is probably next. Time for self-care, rest, and thanks for the reminder about deep breathing.
    All of you take care, sending lots of love,

  9. Jenn B

    Elinor – your post helps! Thank you for sharing. Sending you lots of good vibes for all the Jannotta family to feel much better soon!

  10. Francesca H Kelly

    Hang in there, Jannottas. Good for you for writing about this so transparently. God speed and good health! (And the video is funny!)

  11. Paige Baldwin

    Be well Elinor! Thank you for sharing. I have been wondering if /when I get COVID19 , my underlying chronic Lyme will make it worse. Since there are body aches involved in both it’s probably impossible to tell. But LMK if you have any insight.

  12. Leslie

    This blog is such an education for those of us not in a highly infected area, yet. Your positive spirit and humor will serve you and your readers well. Thank you! Hope this virus clears up for you and your family quickly. Glad you are all together! Much love to each of you! Xo

  13. Katie

    Thank you for sharing

  14. Tara Dabney

    Sending all positive, healing thoughts to you & your family, Elinor. Sending lots of love from me & INVC❤️

  15. jen dies

    Very informative, transparent and heartfelt post. I hope you feel better soon. Keep them coming if you feel up to it. You are inspirational to us all. Love the video! peed in pants

  16. Kim Nyland

    AMEN sista! Your words are inspiring as usual! Prayers to a speedy recovery. 😘

  17. Darrell Bloom

    Thanks for sharing your positive spirit. Love stamps out all fear when we act on it.

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