Dealing with Covid and Lupus
Last updated: January 2023
After almost 3 years, Covid finally got me. Unfortunately, my husband fell ill first. The day after Thanksgiving, I saw that he was wearing a mask. I asked him what was wrong and he said his throat was feeling weird and he was coughing. I told him to take a home antigen test, and it was positive. The 2 lines showed up within seconds. He took a second test just to be sure, and of course, it was positive. Then he also went to urgent care to do a rapid test and PCR, so he had documentation when calling out for work. Fortunately, for me I was negative. I took a test twice to be sure as well.
Isolating from COVID exposure
Thankfully we live in a house so isolating wasn’t hard. My husband stayed on the second floor, and I stayed on the first floor. I also double-masked at home even though we were on separate floors. I also tried to open the windows for a few hours each day to air out the house. The only time I saw my husband was to give him food and tea.
Lupus and Covid
My husband developed chills, a stuffy nose, and a sore throat and cough. I think the sore throat and cough were the worse for him. We both kept testing each day. On the 6th day, my husband became negative, but I became positive. My worst nightmare had finally come true. I took a second test, and it was still positive. I did a rapid PCR test as well that same day.
We began the whole isolation process again. He stayed on his floor, and I stayed on mine. It was just tricky when it came to meal times because the kitchen was on the first floor. I also messaged my rheumatologist right away, and he because of my lupus and past lung complications, I was eligible to take Paxlovid. In NYC, Alto pharmacy is contracted to deliver Paxlovid to anyone who needs it. I thought that was amazing since I didn’t have to leave my house. The medication came within hours, and I started my treatment. I knew that this was still investigational and research was ongoing. But, with my prior history and everything I know about Covid, I was not willing to risk it. I wanted to do whatever I could to prevent worsening symptoms, hospitalization, or death. The risks outweighed the benefits, and I was ready to cross that bridge when we arrived.
At the time, the FDA authorized the emergency use of Paxlovid. The package contained 2 medications: nirmatrelvir tablets and ritonavir tablets. There are 2 nirmatrelvir tablets and 1 ritovinar tablet. The package is neatly labeled and color-coded for day and night. The 2 medicines are taken together 2 times each day for 5 days for 30 pills. That may seem like a lot for a healthy person. But, with someone with lupus, this was nothing.
Recovering from covid
By day 4, I tested negative. I was so surprised! My symptoms also seemed mild. I just had a stuffy nose, a headache, and body aches. I probably would have thought I had a bad cold if I didn't test. My symptoms were also milder than my husband's. Paxlovid worked wonders for me. Thankfully the only side effect of Paxlovid I felt was this weird metallic taste in my mouth that lingered. But, by the time treatment was done, that went away.
After my treatment, I kept testing because I was warned there could be a Paxlovid rebound. My doctor explained that some people get better and test negative but then become positive a few days later. The whole isolation period would need to be done again. I kept testing, and by day 7, I was still negative and very relieved. Unfortunately, the rebound period varies from person to person, so I had to continue to test every other day for 30 days.
My husband still had a nagging dry cough for a while but continued testing negative. I still experienced a lingering stuffy nose weeks later, and only on my left nose. My husband and I are both vaccinated and double boosted and I think that also helped prevent worsening symptoms. Many reports show the effects of long Covid and the recovery period. We both will be very vigilant and hope for the best going forward.
Have there been things you have learned along your lupus journey that you wish had been explained to you by a healthcare provider earlier?