Hello, friends. It has been a minute! And yes, this column is a day late, for a multitude of reasons. Doing the best I can over here. It has also been a unique challenge to focus on writing this week’s column while watching an attempt to strip women and people who need abortion care in America of their hard-won right to have full autonomy over their own bodies. Infuriating comes close to explaining how this all feels, but there are many more levels of emotion (rage, horror, disbelief, fear, and an overarching desire to burn the patriarchy to the ground). It’s (yet another) really dark time in our country. I know we’re all SO TIRED of SO many things, but please stay loud, engaged, supportive, and mobilized for reproductive justice and body autonomy. And if you’re going to tell me to “just stick to food” in this column, please, just unsubscribe right now, I don’t even need to hear it. My body, my column.
Personally, I have already been pretty wiped out the past two weeks…I’m about to do a big, personal share here, and it’s because I care about your health and well-being more than my own privacy. After participating in my first in-person event in two fricking years, I ended up (most likely) contracting Covid from a friend who I chatted with for about a minute (she reached out the next day to tell me she just tested positive, although she didn’t have any symptoms when she was at the event). I was taking what I thought was a somewhat-safe, calculated risk (the room where I was hosting my canna bar had a fourth wall completely open to the outside, so it was extremely well-ventilated), there was a vaccination policy at the event, and I was able to keep my distance by staying behind my table. I’m vaxxed and boosted. Nope, that Miss Rona, she still got me. (I told her she wasn’t on the guest list, but she still had the nerve to show her ugly face!) This variant is crazy-contagious, I can’t believe the infection and reinfection stories I’m hearing lately.
Three days later, I started getting a sore throat and strange body aches. Ruh roh. I did a rapid test at home, which came up negative, so I decided to get a PCR to be sure, because I was definitely starting to feel bad (runny nose, fatigue, feverish). When I got the positive results back on Sunday, things had definitely gotten worse, with horrible congestion, sneezing, and a deep cough. Both my sister (a family nurse practitioner) and a good friend who works with the City’s Covid task force said I should get Paxlovid, which I have been reading about as an effective antiviral medication that diminishes Covid symptoms and severity (and helps keep you out of the hospital) if you have underlying conditions that could lead to developing severe Covid. But it’s crucial you take it within five days of symptom onset, so I was on the clock. (It’s kind of like Tamiflu in that way.)
I called my doctor’s after-hours service, shared my worsening (and worrisome) symptoms, and they said I needed to come into the ER for observation. After measuring my oxygen levels and taking my blood pressure (and that’s all they did, they didn’t even listen to my lungs, thanks for forcing me to get out of bed), they handed me the scrip for Paxlovid, but then said, “Here you go, but we have no idea where you can find it, look at the URL on the scrip. It’s really tough to find.” Great. Thanks a lot. I was like, can I have a clue? Have you heard of any pharmacies that have it so I can go there right now? What’s up with the Paxlovid treasure hunt, and on a Sunday evening? This is why Test to Treat is so important (more on that below).
Of course, our 24-hour pharmacy in the Castro didn’t have it, and thanks to my friend for sending me this exceedingly helpful spreadsheet that outlines Paxlovid supply around the Bay (and other Covid therapeutics), it was easier to read than other resources I was provided. Fortunately, my sister is an ace, and remembered there was a 24-hour pharmacy in Alameda, where she was able to fill my scrip and drove over to pick it up for me. FIVE GOLD STARS.
Considering the importance of taking this medication early on after symptoms, it was extremely disheartening to be on such a wild goose chase to find it, and if I didn’t have someone amazingly helpful with a car to go get it for me, I would have had to wait until the next day to get it. Hello, the clock was ticking! This pathetic lack of accessibility is so wrong. (Here’s an important resource for you that I wish I knew about sooner, the Test to Treat initiative, which will help you get tested and receive medication on the spot if you’re eligible. Sounds great in theory, check it out.)
Something else I wanted to tell you to be aware of in case you get sick and want to get Paxlovid: the system automatically defaulted my scrip to one day less of treatment, assuming I had “moderate renal impairment,” which was not true. After reviewing my labs from a few years ago, my sister was able to confirm I didn’t have any kidney issues, and called the ER doctor to update my prescription. She asked why they gave me the reduced treatment (four days instead of five), and the doc admitted it was a system default and didn’t question it. Great, thanks! Again, if it wasn’t for my sister in healthcare advocating for me, this would have been a very different story. She also got her stethoscope to listen to my lungs since the ER doc couldn’t be bothered. I just love American healthcare!
I sent out a Covid exposure notification on my iPhone (do you have that turned on?) before falling back into my crypt, and started noticing a difference in about 24 hours—primarily, that my symptoms (and breathing) weren’t worsening, and then two days later, the fever, nasal congestion, and cough weren’t as bad. I had extreme fatigue throughout the first 10 days, and am still quite tired (I have to take a daily nap, which isn’t like me at all). I was also a bit spacey, and it has been hard to concentrate. I made sure to drink a ton of water—I have to say, those pills were potent (you could taste them before you even swallowed them), and I occasionally had a weird metallic taste in my mouth (for six days).
Does this sound like Covid is “just a cold?” No, it isn’t. Covid is no fricking joke, and even though some people barely got sick from Omicron, it doesn’t mean that’s going to be the case for you. The last time I felt this ill, it was when I had the flu about nine years ago, and couldn’t leave my bed for a week. This felt about the same. So, I’m just saying: don’t get complacent or cavalier. Stay vigilant, stay healthy, and think about diminishing your exposure, especially right now. Dr. Bob Wachter (my Covid barometer on Twitter) says there’s more Covid around and is estimating that every 1 in 30 people in SF is positive with asymptomatic Covid—based on the numbers of friends getting sick right now, I’d say that sounds about right. Miss Rona is back on the town, and she is really in the mixx! You might think you have bad allergies, but odds are that it’s Covid. Test often, especially if you have any symptoms (however slight!) or have been at a gathering, and mask up on essential public spaces like public transit.
I have been extremely cautious the past two years (my friends can attest to my freaky ways)—I haven’t been dining inside restaurants unless there were some very specific conditions met (sitting by a window, or in a huuuge booth, or the dining room was empty). No bars, no clubs, no parties. It has been tough to be so vigilant, trust me, and I’m upset she finally got me, but I made a choice to be at that event, and with so much sneaky Covid around, I sadly broke my healthy streak.
Well, now that I’m testing negative (let’s hope it stays that way) and feeling better, you can trust that I’m taking this hybrid immunity on the town for the next 60 days, at least! I will be in the club, in the bar, at your packed sushi bar, and at your communal table. Hopper in the house! (As soon as I have some energy back.)
I’m going to write a recap of some of my favorite home-sick tips (soups, baby!), and what to do for a friend who’s sick. But first, I had to get this column out since I’m so behind on sharing the news.
Quick reminder: this Saturday May 7th is the California Artisan Cheese Festival in Santa Rosa, with over 100 local artisans, and a lot of fresh air. It’s a great place to take Mom for an early Mother’s Day outing (that’s what I’m doing!). And I just have to say, whether Mother’s Day is a joyful day or a bittersweet one or a sad one, I am sending you lots of love.
Lastly, I wanted to share my first piece for The Examiner, which ran on 4/19 (mymilligram’s fourth birthday): Why I celebrate 4/20 the day before. It was a pleasure to write about microdosing and why I love it as a highly functioning lady! I sure as hell am thankful for the weed to chill out with everything happening right now, boy, do we need it. If you have always wanted to try something, order some CANNs on Sava (I love the lime basil), or get Mom a nice topical like Sweet Releaf for her tired, achy hands; use code mymilligram for $75 off your first order through 5/12, meowza.
Best wishes, stay healthy, and Happy AAPI Heritage Month! Marcia Gagliardi
Been eating a whole bunch of noodles over here. This bowl of creamy kabocha-chicken udon from Kagawa-Ya really hit the spot. Photo: © tablehopper.com.View tablehopper Newsletter from Wednesday, May 4 2022