What’s it Like For a Runner To Have COVID-19? A LetsRun.com Visitor Shares His Story of Being Infected With Coronavirus
March 20, 2020
Update: March 23, 2020 Justthefacts’ condition continues to improve. Update here.
COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe. The disease has killed thousands and severely impacted the lives of billions of people throughout the world as economies have come to a grinding halt and people’s daily routines have drastically changed nearly everywhere. Many experts predict the devastation will get much worse.
Despite its devastating impact, the disease itself remains an abstract concept for most people across the world. At the time of writing, there are over 270,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the globe. With an estimated 7.8 billion people in the world, roughly 1 out of every 28,000 people has been confirmed to be infected (the number of confirmed cases is increasing rapidly and confirmed cases are an unknown magnitude less than actual cases).
As the number of confirmed cases expands, COVID-19 will become less abstract and a disease that has infected a friend, a neighbor, or a loved one.
That point hit the LetsRun.com community today when poster “justthefacts” took to the LetsRun.com forums and stared a thread titled: “I tested positive for COVID here is my story.”
We spoke to the poster, who wished be remain anonymous, on the phone to confirm his identity. He actually had met one of the LetsRun.com founders, Rojo or Wejo (they’re identical twins), in the early 2000s. Now with his job and family he doesn’t have as much time for competitive running but he was a sub-5:00 miler and a 17-minute 5k guy back in the day. As he told us the reasons why he wanted to share his story on LetsRun.com, he had a persistent cough throughout the call. Finally, he said he probably should quit talking and get some rest. Before we share his reasons for sharing his story it’s best to let his post speak for itself. Here it is:
Dear Lets Run Peeps,
I tested positive for the COVID-19 on Wednesday 18 March. In order to try and bring some rational thinking to the boards, here is my story with some of my personal details obscured.
I am a 49 year old male who lives in a large SE US City. I run 25/30 miles a week and also lift weights 3x week.
Normal Blood pressure 110:70. Normal Resting HR 49. I have Asthma and suffer from infrequent attacks.
At the End Of February, I had to go to UK and Switzerland for work. At the time the Italy meltdown had not happened yet and there was 1 confirmed case in Geneva. Therefore, no travel warning or ban in place.
Returned to US on Friday 6 March. The only question I was asked was what countries I visited, when I responded truthfully, they let me through no questions asked. I flew DIRECT from London to my home city (no transit through JFK, etc).
Late Sunday night 8 March, started to feel Body Aches and what could have been the beginnings of a fever. Did not suffer from cough at that moment. From there, the aches intensified and I developed a low grade fever (99.5). By Tuesday Morning, I felt bad enough to go to the Urgent Care and drove myself to one that is affiliated with a large hospital in the city where I live. I immediately alerted the staff I was having symptoms and that I had just returned from overseas. They responded they couldn’t test me for COVID because I had not been to China, S Korea, Japan, or Iran and at that point CDC was only authorizing tests from those origins. Doctor then proceeded to diagnose me with an URI and sent me home strong cough syrup and a Zpack with instructions to only take it if necessary.
Thursday 12 March my wheezing started to get bad along with the cough. At this point, I returned to same Urgent Care and explained I had been there 2 days previous. Doctor took blood work and a chest x-ray. Blood work came back totally normal and Chest Xray showed no signs of an infection. Doctor concluded I suffered an asthma attack and gave me prednisone. I again asked about the testing and mentioned again my trip to Switzerland and UK. Response was they are still not authorized to test for it and Doctor told me they saw people who fit the symptoms but they had to send home without testing them so the conventional thought was that the COVID was already present in the community. They felt somewhat powerless to stop what they thought was about to become a big issue.
By Saturday 14 March, my fever spiked to 101.5 and the coughing was getting very bad. I got into my car and drove myself straight to the ER that is affiliated with the same Urgent Care. When I arrived I told them what was going on and I had them bring me in through a different entrance to an isolation unit of the ER. The ran a ct scan of my chest and concluded I had viral pneumonia. Because I was also under suspicion of having an asthma attack, I was admitted to the hospital. That was when things really went surreal.
The doctors identified me as a possible COVID case and everyone who came in to look at me wore a hazmat suit. I am trying not to freak out in all of this but is is very difficult because I am wheezing from pneumonia and asthma. They FINALLY decide to give the COVID-19 test and they stick a cotton swab all the way up my nose (very uncomfortable but it is only a temporary feeling). I am then told the results will take 48-72 hours. By now- it is 3am on Sunday morning and I am exhausted and scared and I just want to try and sleep and breathe normally again.
My condition starts to improve on the overnight but I am hooked up to a machine reading all my Vitals, I notice my O2 saturation had gone from 99 on Thursday to 94 in the hospital on Saturday night. However, the Doctor told me they were releasing me because my condition started to improve.
I went home and IMMEDIATELY went into self quarantine. Very scary situation because I am married with a young child. They are staying in another part of the house and my wife will prepare meals and leave them in front of the door for me to collect. We are all wearing facemasks even though we havent seen each other (except for Face Time) since Saturday. So far they have not developed symptoms.
Wednesday 18 March I was informed I had COVID. Strangely enough my quarantine ends on 23 March as they are counting 14 days from the moment I actually started showing symptoms AND if I have 3 consecutive days of no fever without taking meds. My family is mandatory home isolation until the 29th because apparently for them it applies as 14 days from when I was given the covid test.
This experience has been very scary as I thought when they admitted me to hospital, I might be staying a long time. Also having pneumonia with Asthma is very disconcerting because there were times I literally thought I wasnt going to be able to breathe. Luckily, I turned the corner in a positive way on Wednesday and I am getting my strength back gradually.
Please minimize your exposure to others. Just by slowing down the rate of interactions we have with others, we are buying precious time to contain this Virus. I realize many of you on these boards are Invincible. But, the fact is that we can inadvertently pass this disease to others who are in the more vulnerable category.
Best of Luck and God Bless.
For those of you doubting his story, he emailed us from a company email address that matched with the IP address of his post. He shared pictures of himself with famous runners you know. He even told us to verify his race times. He also called us and told us his story. He said there are no written records confirming he has COVID-19 but we believe his story 100%.
We asked him why he wanted to share it on LetsRun. “I just wanted to give the facts of what happened to me and give as much of my story of what happened, so people could start to make their own decisions. If one or two people can read it and use it as guidance maybe it’s helping some people,” he said.
”Justthefacts” is a long-time LetsRun.com visitor. “I’ve always gone on. I’m not a competitive runner anymore. I just went on and saw a lot of people saying this is a conspiracy or just a common cold…It’s crazy. People don’t want to admit this could be different than what they know,” he said.
“Justthefacts” stressed the actual number of people with COVID-19 is much higher than the official numbers because the testing has been so limited. When he first wanted to get tested, he was told he would have to apply for a special exemption to get tested and do a lengthy interview with the Department of Health in his state. He felt the doctors were encouraging him it wasn’t worth it. He said the whole thing reminds him of how in the TV series Chernobyl, at first officials thought the level of radiation was 3.6 roentgen. Turns out the machines could only test that high and the level was actually 15,000 roentgen.
“Justthefacts” said there were times in the hospital it was easy to think of the worst. “Any time you get pneumonia, it’s really tough, but I have asthma and any time you get it is really scary. I thought they were going to put me on a ventilator,” he said. “It’s very easy to become irrational,” he said as he wondered who would take care of his family and whether they would be safe.
When asked what he wanted to tell the LetsRun.com world about this disease, he thought of others. “Take care of yourself and your family. Above all make sure they are safe. Don’t be irresponsible and go out and do reckless things when you know there is a reason people are being asked to stay home. It’s not always about your individual health. It’s about others who may get sick. Even if you don’t think you’re going to get it, worry about others.”
Before he needed to hang up to give his voice a rest, “justthefacts” had a request for us, “Do you think I can buy a LetsRun.com singlet when I get better?”
What?! We told him his request would force us to actually make more LetsRun.com singlets and he would get the first one.
“I really appreciate your website. There are some extreme characters on there but overall it is good. There were times when your message boards kept me sane, during tough times in my life, when my mom died a few years ago…It’s a place that I could go to find comfort. It was normalcy, even with some of the silly threads asking for dating advice,” he said.
As “justthefacts“ remains quarantined in his own house apart from his family, there is one thing he is able to do more than when he was travelling all over the globe working. “I’ve checked it (LetsRun.com) more when I was going through treatment than when I wasn’t,” he said.
Be safe and responsible everyone.
Update: March 23, 2020 Justthefacts’ condition continues to improve. Update here.