“It has been miserable”

Tom Elliot shares his experiences since testing positive for the coronavirus June 21. Elliot discusses typical COVID-19 symptoms as he has experienced them, and describes the discomforts and inconveniences that accompany the virus that has directly impacted more than 2.7 million Americans. (Photo courtesy Tom Elliot)

What are the initial reactions of a person when he or she tests positive for COVID-19? Fear, surprise, sadness, panic or perhaps denial?

And what do the symptoms actually feel like, and how is the victim impacted initially, and over time?

Does every single victim suffer fever and shortness of breath?

Where did the victim contract the disease? Do they know? Has the victim been wearing a mask and practicing social distancing?

Have health officials contacted the individual regarding social tracing, and if so, what all does that process entail?

One such victim, 44-year-old Fairplay resident, Tom Elliot, has generously offered to share his story as a means of spreading awareness and sharing valuable information related to a disease that has currently affected more than 2.7 million Americans and resulted in 129,000 deaths.

Elliot tested positive for the virus June 21.

Elliot’s first message is simple: “It has been miserable, and my doctor said it could be a three-month experience,” Elliot said. “I have a crushing headache during most of my waking hours, I’m on oxygen constantly, I have been in and out of the ICU a lot and the shortness of breath has been terrible.”

Elliot is a photographer by trade, and has been taking photographs at many of the Black Lives Matter protests that have occurred in recent weeks. He speculates that he contracted the virus at a protest in Denver June 6, where he took photos of Denver Broncos who were on hand at the rally.

“Some of the Broncos I took pictures of and talked to on June 6 have since tested positive,” Elliot explained.

Interestingly, Elliot has not had any fever as of yet. Nor does he have the dry cough that so many COVID-19 patients report having.

“My symptoms started with watering eyes and a runny nose,” Elliot said. “Then I started suffering from a shortness of breath, headache and a severely upset stomach. At one point it felt like stakes were being plunged into my stomach. The pain was incredible.”

Another noteworthy fact is that Elliot claims to have been vigilant at all times in wearing a mask and gloves.

“I stayed very isolated throughout the month of May, and have worn a mask and gloves constantly when out and about since then,” Elliot said.

Elliot pointed out his lack of fever because many health organizations include the taking of temperature (in part) as a means of determining if people are COVID-19-positive.

“My temperature has not risen above normal yet, which sort of blows a hole in the theory that if some has no temperature, then they are not COVID-19-positive,” Elliot said.

Elliot clarified that point by saying that taking one’s temperature might be useful in many cases, but that it certainly isn’t fool-proof in determining if someone is infected.

Elliot was prescribed DexAMETHafone, an experimental, steroid-based drug after testing positive. He reported feeling better almost immediately after taking the drug, but added that symptoms came back and continue to come and go as of June 28.

“The social tracing thing has been a story unto itself,” Elliot said. “I have recounted over and over where I have been, whom I have had contact with, and reported that information to a number of health-related entities. My phone has been ringing off the wall with those types of calls.”

Elliot, who is healthy, lifts weights and gets plenty of exercise, is not a smoker and lives a drug-free lifestyle. Even so, he has lost about 14 pounds as a result of the virus thus far.

“My appetite came back when I started taking the medicine, and that was really a good thing,” Elliot said. But most of my symptoms are still hanging on.”

Elliot said his willingness to come forward about his COVID-19 experiences was born primarily from his desire to share with others the seriousness of the virus.

“I just figured that this information might be helpful to others, and wanted to share what I knew about this virus from my own experiences,” Elliot said. “This is what has happened to me, and other people can take it for what it is and hopefully learn something from it.”

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