Danny De Gracia: How My 2-Year Lucky Covid Streak Came To An Abrupt End - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.

Opinion article badgeLate last month, my cousin, who works for a major biotechnology company, bemoaned how she and her family had made it through the entire pandemic, only to finally catch Covid-19 after her daughter brought it home from school.

I sympathized with her, but told her I couldn’t understand why I seemed to be part of the “no-Covid club” and somehow made it through countless confirmed close-contact encounters without ever getting the symptoms or even so much as a positive test result.

“Just be careful out there,” she warned. “Hope your lucky streak continues.”

Unfortunately, when we get too lucky, we sometimes have the tendency to believe we’re invincible and get sloppy. And that’s precisely what happened to me.

To begin, I should have taken the bivalent booster shot, but I didn’t. I had my most recent jab in April of this year, and I calculated that was probably more than enough coverage to last at least until October.

I didn’t like the way my body responded to the original vaccine primary series and booster, because it gave me tinnitus and every time I received an mRNA vaccine, I’d suffer from terrible nightmares for weeks. My body reacted in the worst way every time I got a shot, so much so that I joked with my friends that each shot was the equivalent of Paul Atreides from the movie “Dune” going through the soul-agonizing ritual of drinking the Water of Life again and again.

To have to go through that one more time was something I didn’t want to have to experience, and who knew? Maybe I just couldn’t catch Covid at all.

Second, I feel like rapid test kits offer a false sense of security. For the last two years, I repeatedly tested myself after I’d attended a conference, or gone to a crowded public place, and since I repeatedly tested negative, it sort of gave me a pattern for the level of acceptable risk I thought I could take.

Me doing this was walking on thin ice, and as Chinese author Cixin Liu warned in his book, “The Three Body Problem,” approaching life like this is what he calls the shooter hypothesis, where a grouping of lucky shots is mistaken as an unalterable law of the universe. It’s dangerous, and I should have been more careful.

So, it happened around Saturday last week, when I had just returned from a big conference on the Big Island. I remember feeling unusually winded walking around the airport and carrying my luggage, so much so that I wondered what had happened to me. I went to sleep, woke up feeling no different, and took a rapid Covid test, showed negative, and assumed I just needed to hydrate and rest a little more.

By Monday morning, all my muscles were extremely tight and all my joints felt sore. I’ve been suffering from arthritis since 2018 when I was hospitalized for an infection and treated with Levofloxacin, so I had assumed this was just another flare up, but just to be safe, I did another rapid test to see if I had Covid, and tested negative.

By Tuesday, I was really hurting, and additional symptoms of itchiness in my ears and nose emerged, but I couldn’t reconcile why I was still testing negative with these symptoms. However, late that evening, I tested one more time, and finally showed positive. I had lost my no-Covid club card and joined the ranks of the hundreds of millions of people who have caught the virus since the pandemic started in 2019.

Abbott Covid-19 test negative. December 16, 2021
Sometimes negative rapid tests can be deceptive. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

I’m the kind of person who doesn’t respond to respiratory illnesses well, so finding out I had Covid really worried me. I have small sinuses with poor drainage, so all throughout my childhood, allergies, cold and flu would wreck me for weeks at a time. I probably spent more time growing up in the ear, nose and throat specialty clinic than most people spend in total lifetime doctor’s visits, so getting a Covid positive result had me wondering if I might end up on a ventilator.

But much to my surprise, my sinuses never got congested by Covid, and I rarely had a runny nose at all. In fact, the majority of the symptoms I experienced from Covid were just tightness in the chest, severe body aches and overwhelming sleepiness.

I checked my temperature regularly, and never got a reading above 98 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning no fever. (That also suggests temperature checks for detecting a Covid infection are not effective.) My Apple Watch’s blood oxygen app also showed I had a blood oxygen level of 96% on average, which was not too bad, suggesting my lungs still worked.

I’ve now completed my CDC-recommended isolation period and for the most part, aside from hearing loss in my left ear and a very scratchy-sounding voice, I’m OK. I say that with great humility, knowing that several of my friends and family members earlier in the pandemic either died of Covid or suffered severe organ damage as a result.

But this leaves us with some troubling implications. The coronavirus has mutated so much that any symptom in your body now could potentially be an early warning sign for a Covid infection. It also makes testing a kind of security theater, since you could be like me, showing negative, but still infectious to others. And if this is an all-year virus, how many times per year can we catch this thing?

I’m definitely going to be more careful moving forward, and for the next 10 days, I’m also going to have to wear a high-quality mask. I hope the rest of you can learn from my mistakes, and not have to experience an infection. But as for me, you’ll have to excuse me — because for now, I think I need to take another long nap.


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About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.


Latest Comments (0)

Well, at least all the boogieman hype wasn't true and like most you recovered and are now better off for it with natural anti-bodies.

wailani1961 · 2 months ago

What’s next? Are they going to take back unused COVID funds back from each state now? …..

sheep001 · 2 months ago

I got sick six months ago but tested negative. It had been years since I felt as terrible as I did then but lacking a positive result I couldn’t say that what I had was Covid. Two weeks ago, my wife was sent home from work after she tested positive. I then took a test at home and had my first-ever positive reading, so after two years, Covid found me. My symptoms included fever, runny nose, coughing, brain fog, and fatigue. I’ve mostly recovered at present though my energy level is still diminished. I’m pondering getting the bivalent booster but I probably will wait for a while if I do decide to.

Dayle_Turner · 2 months ago

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