Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A visit to Corona (virus)

Some of you, I suppose, figured I'd be posting photos of the ultra rare crescent chested warbler today from Arizona, and despite it all, I'd be down on the west slope of the Chiricahua Mountains finding a great bird, but well...that would be irresponsible.  To put it simple, I just can't go.  You see, today is day #10 in my probable experience with Corona, Coronavirus, or COVID-19.  Nine days ago when I suspected I was coming down with it, I fully expected to be on a ventilator today, or dead.  I was writing letters to my wife and children last week but I got too sad and could never finish. I was writing down all of my passwords and thinking about my past.  I had been a good run. Such is this dreaded disease, one that moves fast but slow enough that you sit and wait, hoping for the best but fearing the future. It seems you either got it hard, or you hardly get it, luckily, I got off easy.

I say presumed, as my wife made contact with two clinics, one never responded and the other: we didn't meet the criteria for a diagnostic test.  I even wrote to the State department of health for South Dakota, wondering if since I had been thinking if things got bad in Grant or Day County SD, and knowing if we had it, we'd volunteer as doctors to help, and since both counties, have as of yet have had no confirmed cases, it may be good to show it is around to keep people from being reckless, that email, went unanswered.  I will only say to you, trust me, people with this disease are closer than you think.

It was an odd illness and an odd feeling.  I dreaded the nights, not that they were so bad, but that the unknown awaited in the morning.  It is hard to sleep when one thinks about would I be short o breath, would I even wake up in the morning?  But each day I did, and so did my wife.  We had GI symptoms, a persistent gut ache that was just there to remind you that things were wrong.  We had a really mild Upper respiratory symptom, a little sore throat, headache, a severe case of malaise, and well, some night fevers, but I am not complaining, it was pretty calm.  It was odd at times, though, I could feel something wrong in my chest and occasionally had to force myself to breath....the rare times I coughed it was like I didn't want to stop and then...I did, and I said a prayer every time the coughing ended, and it was only rarely.

It is clear that we either got it from buying milk in town or from our two sons, which if you work backward, our son Tyko was in Seattle late before they closed the city down in March and timing wise, he could have brought it back, then gave it to his brother (he is now holed up in Madison WI with his twin) and then they came to visit two weeks ago, thinking they had been isolated for a week and had never had any symptoms.  Six days later, I had a fever....So, at least it was the West Coast variety...I think that is a milder strain, but it is hard to know.  Oddly, our cat was also diagnosed with mild pneumonia at the VET last week, he had a UTI to boot, but he seems to have also gotten by with a slight case.  Kitty is out stalking again but it makes you wonder...did Tiger have COVID?  The Vet didn't think it was worth the test which he wasn't sure he could get.  There was a real tiger with COVID in New York....

I also might have been lucky as I did have Yellow fever vaccine series a year ago, another RNA virus and there is some studies that if you get your immune system turned on for RNA viruses, yellow fever is an RNA virus, oral polio is maybe a better one, that can help you fight it off, but who knows.  Yellow fever was a nasty vaccine for me so anything it helped with later is a good thing.  I also spent the worst days in the sauna, figured what didn't kill me made me stronger and the Finns had good survival numbers

The fact that we probably got it, considering how out of touch we've been with people, makes it important to realize how contagious this bug is.  The USS Kidd has not made port in over a month , yet, cases suddenly appeared on the ship at sea, I think we experienced the same situation.  It harbored in our kids for a month until they spread it to us.

You may ask, why have I been going out?  Well, we haven't seen anyone.  Even talking to a neighbor who seemed to want to get closer, I stayed 10 feet apart.  I felt the fresh air helped clear the lungs as did moving.  We tired quickly but we still went looking for stuff, the birds are migrating and in some cases, our deck was the best place.  I am lucky to be where I am and seeing each bird made me believe that it would be the last time I would ever see the species....kind of a last of life list.  It was very very macabre.
A pair of Solitary Sandpipers, part of a "Contradiction" of solitary sandpipers, the approved name for a group of them, a group of solitary birds?  A true contradiction

Wilson's snipe

common loon and FOY red-necked grebe
field sparrow
Harris sparrow

Black and white warbler
white-throated sparrow
Well, the stories and thoughts of (my) our demise have luckily been premature, now we just wait to fully get rid of this virus (assuming our symptoms are over and we did beat it) and then we can worry about the future to find out if we can catch it again, maybe next time, we won't be so, though I think I've lived to bird another day,

There will be other rare birds in Arizona, ones I can safely chase and be safe to the other birders and fliers.  For those of you doing things....take this seriously...The Beast is a beast.  I (we) was (were) VERY very lucky, assuming this was the real deal, and just because it appears that this virus isn't nearby beware of people like me, or others who don't appear sick but yet harbor the Beast.



  1. Glad you and your wife are feeling better and over it.

    There are quite possibly 3, even some say might be 5 Crescent-chested's. AND one was nest building right at the parking lot this Wed AM, so quite possibly they will stick around for a bit and even have off-spring.

    Jim DeForge and I will drive over from So CAL Friday morning - in separate cars - just keep together the whole trip over and back and possibly get there Fri PM with some daylight. Will let you know. But consider driving (not that motor home that has constant probs! LOL). Or if they nest and things get quiet on the Corona Virus front, you'll be able to fly.

    For me, it's my last "Photo Bird" of my warblers (seen 4 of them in ABA and no pic!) so don't want to miss this and will be all rigged up with exam gloves, N95 mask, and full plastic wrap around face shield.

    1. thanks, be safe and hopefully you'll nab it, I dipped on the fan tail couple years back, so i got some work to do yet....we'll see if they stick and I feel I'm not too contagious, just a big haul in a car from here

  2. Big O: Well, glad your symptoms are subsiding.
    As Monte says the Crescent chested pair were carrying nesting materials today, so will likely breed in the area.
    Monte: Yesterday the birders there were kind of social distancing, but no one was wearing a mask or any other kind of protective equipment. The cases in Arizona are not quite as numerous as in other states/counties, but, obviously, all it takes is one infected person. The parking area from which the birds are seen is big, and so social distancing is definitely possible while still observing the birds. As you know, the birds are primarily canopy feeders, and, often in leaf clusters of one kind or another, so photography can be tough, although I am sure you will find a way. My pics were good enough for i.d., but not much else. There was another bird photographer in the group, who, from what I could see got decent shots. As you know, patience is the key, and, luckily, it seems most birders, once they have seen the bird leave. Yesterday on site, there may have been 8 birders initially, but by 11:00 a.m., there were only 3 counting me. The last bit of road through Coronado National Forest is a bit rough, so good to take it slow through there. Take care.

  3. Good Luck and Be Safe. I got the Fan Tail in Madera Canyon in May 2011, bird stayed 3 days in the creek bed below the B&Bs.

  4. You win! First person I know personally to have (probably) had covid-19. Glad to hear you and Silja (and probably your kids) have recovered without perceptible damage...Whew!

    1. I'm not sure I feel like I won much, maybe a duel with the Devil, and I hope whatever I got helps me in the future being exposed to whatever is floating out east....lots of unknowns

  5. Glad to hear that you and Sara are on the mend....What do you suppose is the reason that you couldn't get tested? Are they "saving" the test for others or are there just so few test available? Do you agree with the "timeline" of the virus getting to the United States sometime in January or was it earlier?

    1. Rationing tests, even though the SD Director of Health was noting how few tests have been ordered last few days, maybe 33% of capacity and doctors needed to be made aware of more "liberal" criteria

  6. So glad you escaped unscathed. We have been holed up except for early morning walks in our immediate neighborhood. Our son who lives in Amarillo started having persistent severe non-crampy (epigastric) stomach pain along with low grade fever, no heartburn or nausea or bowel disturbance. A doctor diagnosed "gastroenteritis" and sent him home. Blood count was OK except for "low white cells" and he was sent home. The doctor said he had seen 3 other patients with the same symptoms earlier that day. No thought given to COVID-19 and I will admit (even though I am a physician) I feared he might have a penetrating ulcer and was quite relieved that he probably was over-reacting to the pain. It persisted for about 24 hours and he was able to go back to work after missing only two days. Now your experience has me wondering about the spectrum of symptoms and whether he too was one of the "unapparent" infections.

    1. Yea, GI problems are not that odd with COVID, if someone would have said I had pancreatitis, I would have said, sure, but it wasn't that bad, I don't think....I don't ever get nauseated, and not sure what that even feels like, but the other end was on and off for quite a few days. Normally, I would have shrugged this whole thing off, except that short of a food borne illness, we've been in contact with no one, just two asymptomatic 24 year old children, so hard to figure alternatives, IDK, thanks


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