My Experience with COVID-19

September 2, 2020

I should be out riding. That’s what you do on the weekend in the Colorado Front Range. You go for a bike ride or a hike. Instead I am sitting at home watching my wife’s Wahoo Live Tracking as she takes on a 47 mile gravel ride. I wish I was out there with her, but I’m not ready for that right now.

It all started on March 18th. We went on a 26 mile ride after work. My upper back was really bothering me. Was it because I was on my road bike for the first time in months instead of my gravel bike? Did a do something to my back at work packing an e-bike? I couldn’t figure it out. I had a glass of wine post ride but it just didn’t taste right. I chalked it up to a bad day and didn’t think much of it. You see, at that time you weren’t hearing that taste and smell could be affected by covid-19. I had no idea that the back pain wasn’t my back at all, it was my lungs. The following day I went to work as usually. As the day went on my throat starting bothering me and I was feeling worn down. When I left that Thursday I told my supervisors that I had a sore throat (again, this wasn’t a symptom they were talking about yet). I wouldn’t return for 5 weeks. 

The first week was the worse. I would be lying in bed and it felt like someone was sitting on my chest. For 23 hours a day I stayed in the bedroom with the humidifier on high. For that lone hour I would sit by myself on our porch to get fresh air and sunlight, often wrapped in a blanket. I only saw my wife 3 times a day when she would deliver my meals. Talking was almost impossible. I couldn’t get more than a sentence or two out, and when I did, it hurt. Then there was the night that I felt like I was hiking one of our Colorado 14,000 foot mountains. I could not catch my breath. I desperately wanted oxygen but didn’t want to go to the hospital. I had to tell myself that I’ve hiked a few mountains this high and survived. Just think of it as altitude training… while lying in bed at 5,000 feet. If I can fall asleep I can get through this.

I did get through without going to the hospital, and now I am back at work almost full time. There were plenty of phone calls and emails with my doctor’s office since they weren’t seeing patients in person. Somehow I was able to keep myself calm even though there are so many unknowns. I knew how important staying hydrated was, especially with a fever. Every day I had at least one packet of Skratch Labs. Some days it would be the Wellness Hydration Mix and others the Hydration Mix (Passion Fruit is my favorite). I’m pretty sure I had more Tylenol in those 5 weeks than I did all of 2019. 

Secretly I was hoping Dirty Kanza and Robidoux Quick & Dirty would be postponed (which they both were). There was no way I could race in May or June. Throughout my 5 weeks off from work I did try to go on short, slow walks to try to get my body moving a little. Four months later I’m still dealing with chronic fatigue, asthma, and cognitive issues but I’m seeing improvements. My need for the inhaler has dropped which means the asthma hopefully will go away.

I now have a Whoop Strap to track how I am doing with my recovery and strain. I can ride 40 miles and do some hikes. Last year I was hiking 14,000ft mountains here in Colorado, now I am excited to get up to 12,000ft. I’ve signed up for the SBT VRTL Red Course (64 miles). Fingers crossed my recovery speeds up and I can do 64 miles. It’s good to have goals to work toward, but I know inside if I have to drop down and do the shorter course it’s okay. I’m just happy it wasn’t worse for me and I didn’t end up in the hospital. I’m happy to be able to get outside. Stay well and Happy Trails.

Thank you to our Ambassador Amy Parulis for sharing her experience with COVID-19. On August 16th, Amy rode 36 miles for her SBT VRTL commitment: “I wish I was able to ride 100 miles or even 100k but I had to settle for 36 miles. The air was clear of smoke and the course was beautiful. We even ended with a dip in the Yampa River afterwards.”