People RECOIL speaks with a COVID-19 Survivor Mike Searson April 21, 2020 Join the Conversation The COVID-19 virus has taken hold of our country and the world at large in the form of a pandemic the likes of which none have seen in our lifetimes. At first, many of us thought it was another seasonal influenza outbreak, but as the number of reported cases increased, it was clear that this was something different. With much of the country on lockdown or stay-at-home orders, we saw huge surges in the purchases of firearms, ammunition, bottled water, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, bleach-based cleansers and thermometers. Misinformation runs rampant on social media, and it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. We have heard everything from “it’s all a hoax,” to “it’s a conspiracy to launch the new world order.” One of the annoying things we see repeated over and over is the question, “Do you know anyone who has COVID-19?” I know a number of people who have been infected. A man I went to high school with died from it this past Saturday. Three others I know are going through the symptoms now and under quarantine, and another is going into the hospital tomorrow. Amidst the gloom, I know one person who was infected, suffered for weeks, and survived. He's a member of our community in this huge tribe of students of the gun. Like the true warrior he is, he beat it and decided to share his story. He survived COVID-19. If you are symptomatic for COVID-19, get to a hospital for testing. Name: Brian Jones Location: Broward County, Florida Occupation: Security Consultant Age: Early 50s Brief Biological sketch: I’m entrepreneur, writer, tactical and wilderness skills instructor, and personal security consultant who has worked in many regions of the world. I am currently with a boutique security firm that consults for celebrity and executive clients. Overall health prior: Excellent Healthcare workers have had to come up to speed quickly to combat COVID-19 What were your original symptoms? It began with a small dry cough the evening of Wednesday, March 11. My fever came on overnight and by the next day it was full blown. I was able to get tested Thursday Mar 12, and got results in 48 hours, which was surprising, but I think the fast turnaround was because I was an early case. How long did you have those symptoms, and did they change over time? By Day 3, my fever shot to over 103 and I felt like I couldn’t get a breath. I’m usually pretty stoic by nature, but being unable to breathe definitely induced a certain level of body panic, so I went to the hospital. Coughing didn’t help at all because every time I inhaled, I’d cough involuntarily in response. I went straight to the hospital and while there my symptoms eased. An X-ray showed no pneumonia, so that was a relief. My fever eased up so I wasn’t admitted. By day five, my fever went down and averaged at about 101.4, with mild fluctuations up and down but overall pretty steady. That went on until around day 14, when my temperature returned to normal, my symptoms went away, and stayed like that for four days. I was immensely relieved that I’d beaten it. I was convinced it was all finished with me. I was good to go. Then, BAM! Out of nowhere I couldn’t breathe again and my fever went right up to 102. I had another body panic and went to the hospital again. Again, an X-ray showed no pneumonia and my fever came back down. The hospital instructions were basically, “Take Tylenol and water and don’t come back unless you’re so bad we have to admit you.” Where do you think you got it, although it might be hard for someone to say that now, you were fairly symptomatic before this thing really gained momentum? I thought I knew when and where I got it, and from whom, but the timeline between my supposed exposure and the onset of symptoms was way too short. I’d met a friend for lunch March 11, but the cough started that night. So far, incubation appears to last at least 2-14 days before symptoms begin. In fact he did end up testing positive as well, so now I’m fairly convinced that I’m the one who gave it to him instead of the other way around. So, bottom line is I really have no idea how I picked it up. Do you think you may have infected others prior to you diagnosis? It still concerns me, everyday, that I might have been a walking virus time bomb and didn’t know it. Were you told by doctors to contact anyone? Yes, everyone I could think of that I may have been close enough to infect. Luckily my current work and life keeps me pretty isolated, yet my immediate colleagues tested positive, but only one developed mild symptoms that went away, and the others have been asymptomatic. We have been holed up together in two separate buildings for three weeks. I’m alone in one and they are in the other. None of us have seen our families in person for a month now, because we were working the whole week before this Corona party started. So, it’s been difficult from that aspect as well. Did you feel an obligation to contact anyone beyond that? Anyone I might have infected, of course my family and friends. Testing is critical if you have symptoms of COVID-19 What prompted you to get tested? It was an immediate group decision as soon as I was symptomatic. We all went together. Did you have problems or any delays in getting tested? No, for us it was very easy, but we also work for a person that I’m pretty sure was able to pull a few strings. I hate to say we may have had an advantage over others who don’t have those connections and can’t verify it, but I think we may have been moved to the front of the line, as well as it having been early on before too many got sick. It’s just speculation on my part, though. What was your emotional response when you were first diagnosed? I already figured by the symptoms that I had it, so it wasn’t some kind of devastating bombshell when it was confirmed. I tend to be very “can-do” by nature and have learned from years of experience that you can’t waste time worrying about things you have no control over. So you just dig in, and try to mitigate the circumstances as best you can. I came up with a daily hygiene routine that’s not based on any particular medical advice so much as it helped my mindset stay in a positive place, and feeling extra clean everyday just made it less miserable. It kept me occupied. How did you feel physically throughout this ordeal? There were many times when all I could do was sleep, but that happened in fits and starts. The coughing would often wake me up. So it was two hours sleep here, two or three hours awake, rinse repeat. My sleep cycle has gone completely haywire. Coughing came and went in waves daily. It would come on gradually, get bad, then gradually recede. So, I was feeling pretty worn down and will admit I cursed like a baby a few times to myself. Did you ever feel completely hopeless or helpless? Not hopeless, but helpless during those autonomic panic reactions I felt when I couldn’t breathe. When things get miserable, I tend to go straight more to cursing like a pirate. When it got miserable like that, what helped pull you out of that mindset? Just reminding myself that it’s all temporary. When you feel really intensely horrible, you need to chant that mantra that even the worst misery is temporary, and stay confident you’ll come out the other side. I learned that the more intense our negative emotions are, the more they seem like they’ll be permanent. They won’t. Physically, emotionally and mentally we usually come out the other side of it if we can just remember to hold on and endure until it happens. I mean, you still have your moments of weakness, but you try to snap right back out. You had COVID-19 in the midst of the madness. Were you well stocked on supplies, etc? We are superbly prepared for two reasons: it’s part of our job, and we live in hurricane territory and having supplies laid in for a long haul is part of life here. Did you have someone help you out? Yes, my team and innumerable friends, some of whom are medical personnel who advised me multiple times every day. What kind of precautions did you take? In our case we have food and medical supplies for 6 months. And plenty of ammo. Did you run short on anything? No. I guess that speaks well to the preparedness level that many of our readers have. Was there something that could have helped you feel better or given you comfort? I miss my dogs. It would be nice to have them with me. They are my four-legged children. And I can’t give them the virus. My human family obviously can’t be around me now. Did you miss not having anything or have to go without? I enjoy biking along the beachfront and try to do it daily. Just not being able to be active and move around in general. I am, however, pretty good at solitude so I’m used to it, and don’t mind long stretches alone. When did you start feeling better? Day 14 until I lapsed again. Were you officially cleared by a doctor on day 14 when you felt better? I have not been cleared yet as my symptoms have come back. This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Do you think the precautions in place by the government are effective or not? I think we could always do better when it comes to the government handling anything. It’s a big overblown bureaucractic mess. And that’s on a good day. What was the stupidest thing you heard about this while it was going on as far as conspiracy theories, hoax talk, germ warfare, etc.? Too many things to count, most of it on social media. Just a lot of misinformation being shared without any sources or verification. A lot of snake oil remedies. Do you have any advice for others? Words of wisdom from the front line, so to speak? Years ago when I was very young, I had an experience out at Glacier National Park in Montana where my friends and I thought we weren’t coming out alive. We were stranded, cliff-side on a ledge right on the continental divide with a 2000 foot drop right were our tents were, and there was sign of grizzly bears and skeletons of the animals they’d eaten. The wind was a sustained 80 mph and gusting over 100 mph, and we couldn’t stake our tents because it was pure rock. We ended up piling rocks two feet high around our tents hoping to hold them in place and not get whipped off the ledge. That was certain death if it happened. We hoped the grizzly didn’t find us to be a convenient meal. Our dome shaped tents were being blown so hard they became deformed and the roof was violently flapping just above our heads all night, and all we could do was ride it out and hope we made it. We were worried a snowstorm or blizzard would hit and strand us. That was a very valuable experience for me. The predominant lesson I took from it was how to handle uncertainty in extreme circumstances. When we go through scary times and our negative emotions become extremely intense, the intensity makes it feel like it’s going to be like that forever. I truly believe that’s the reason for many suicides. But look at your own life and think back to how devastated you’ve been from breakups or deaths of loved ones and it was so painful, you felt you couldn’t endure it. But here you are today. You got through it. The agony was not permanent. You made it out the other side. In this current crisis, remember to hold fast and endure. We will come out the other side. This crisis is not permanent. 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