All too often in the current atmosphere within society, all you get is doom and gloom and click bait headlines. Let's be honest, that's what sells. Who wants to hear about a boring old recovery, right? The daily urge to discover how many new cases, how many active cases and how many deaths is what dominates everything we see and hear, it seems. I was enthused to see how many people were quick to offer up their questions when I confirmed I had the opportunity to interview a local person who had recently recovered from COVID-19. Just remember, all over the world, for every death there are 6 recoveries (and counting!). Here is one man's story.
Today I had the pleasure of "sitting down" with Doug Conrad to discuss his journey and experience with COVID-19. Doug grew up and still lives in Truro, Nova Scotia. Doug has a passion for horses and rugby runs through his veins. The indoor rugby 7's in Truro are like a religion (trust me, I've seen it). Doug is well known in the Truro bar tending scene, having been immersed in it for 15 years in many of Truro's most popular establishments (both present and days gone by). Doug pursued his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Dalhousie University's Agricultural Campus in Truro, and he currently works for one of Truro's largest employers - a local lumber yard owned by one of Atlantic Canada's largest companies.
I compiled all of your questions and posed them to Doug in an attempt to get a complete picture of his COVID-19 journey. I think we all understand that everyone's journey and experience is unique, so this is not meant to generalize anything; it is simply Doug's story. Shall we?
inFACT: Hey Doug, thanks so much for taking the time to open up about your experience with COVID-19. I know I have lots of people waiting to hear all about it! It's something we don't hear enough about unfortunately, even though there are so many recoveries!
Doug: No problem at all. Happy to help, hopefully it offers some perspective, though I'm sure there are many different stories out there from mine as well.
inFACT: True story! Well let's dive in, shall we? Can you please confirm for my audience your name, age and where you are from?
Doug: My name is Doug Conrad, I'm 34 and from Truro, NS.
inFACT: I understand you had COVID-19 and have since recovered, is that correct?
Doug: Yes that is correct. I have been recovered for about a month now.
inFACT: Let's talk about the specifics surrounding your diagnosis - Did you get tested because you had symptoms, because you were in contact with someone who was known to have it (contact tracing), or another reason?
Doug: Well, we had an employee at work who tested positive on Thursday, March 26. I happened to be off work that weekend but I woke up Sunday morning (March 29) with a dry cough and tightness in my chest, so I called 811 right away. My co-worker was very open about his diagnosis so it helped make me more aware of any potential symptoms.
inFACT: Where did you take the test, and can you explain that process? How long did it take you to get the test after your first contact with 811?
Doug: I received a call back from 811 a couple hours after I initially called them on the Sunday. A lady took some information and told me to self quarantine while she passed my case off to an RN. I was contacted by an RN shortly after who then put me in the system to go to a COVID-19 clinic. In Truro, at the time it was at the RECC (Rath Eastlink Community Centre). I was called Monday morning to book an appointment. I was able to get in Tuesday morning for the test which was a swab in the back of my throat and in each nostril. The back of the throat was mildly uncomfortable, but didn't hurt or anything. So I was tested within 48 hours of first calling 811.
inFACT: How long did it take to get the results back?
Doug: My test results came back Wednesday afternoon. An RN called me to confirm my positive test. So a little over 24 hours, I guess.
inFACT: Once your diagnosis was confirmed, what instructions were you given?
Doug: I was told to stay in self quarantine until I was cleared by an RN. I had daily check-ups via telephone from multiple RNs and had to report any symptoms as well as my daily temperature.
inFACT: Walk me through a timeline of your symptoms.
Doug: My symptoms at the beginning (on Sunday morning) were just a dry cough and chest tightness. By Sunday night it started feeling like a mild flu - upset stomach, body aches and pains, headache and just generally feeling like crap. After about a day of that, it was essentially just like an everyday cold except I was especially tired. I was told the recovery is typically 10 days, but my headache was persistent so I stayed in quarantine an extra few days. I had no further symptoms aside from the headache around the 10 day mark and I was completely symptom free as of Monday, April 13. So 15-16 days total.
inFACT: At any point were you fearful for your life?
Doug: No, but there was a bit of anxiety the first couple of days waiting to see if it would become more serious.
inFACT: What contact did you have with public health between when you were diagnosed and when you were determined to be recovered?
Doug: I had daily check ups from RNs until the last couple of days. Once I was almost none symptomatic, it became every other day.
inFACT: What was the process to be determined recovered? Did you have to get tested again?
Doug: After 10 days from onset of symptoms you are considered recovered provided you have no lingering symptoms. They extend it to 14 days if you do and then it is a day to day thing after that. Where I didn't have a severe case I did not need to be re-tested, I just had to have no symptoms. The one exception is your cough as it can last up to 6 weeks after recovery.
inFACT: Do you have any underlying health conditions? If so, and you're willing to divulge, what are they? Did they cause any complications?
Doug: I had very bad asthma growing up but I grew out of that in my teens. I haven't needed a puffer since I was 13 or 14. I do tend to get bronchitis easier than most people as of a result of that, but even still I haven't had that in probably 10 years. COVID-19 didn't seem to bother my lungs more than any other cold I've had.
inFACT: Did you require or were you offered any kind of treatment for COVID-19?
Doug: No, I just took Tylenol a few times for my headaches.
inFACT: What are the circumstances surrounding how you contracted the virus?
Doug: My job is very hands on so we think it's very likely that it was contracted at work since we had a positive case not long before mine and at times we work quite closely together.
inFACT: To your knowledge, did you pass it to anyone else?
Doug: Another co-worker seems likely to have contracted it from me.
inFACT: What can you tell me about the experience either of your colleagues had with COVID-19?
Doug: As far as I know, they were both very mild as well. In fact, I think mine was likely the worst of the 3.
inFACT: Who were you in close contact with in the days prior to receiving your diagnosis? Do you live with anyone else and did they test positive as well?
Doug: I live alone so my only close contacts were co-workers.
inFACT: Do you feel any different now that you are recovered? Any lasting symptoms or effects that you are aware of?
Doug: My lungs still haven't fully recovered which I find frustrating seeing as it was a mild case, but I have noticed my workouts have gotten a lot better the last week so I'd say I'm really close to 100%.
inFACT: Have you had any further interaction with health services since your recovery? Have they said they will be following up with you in the future to check in on your long term recovery?
Doug: No, they just told me if I were to get any symptoms again to call 811.
inFACT: What can you tell me about contact tracing? Once you received your diagnosis, did you have to provide details on anywhere you had been or anyone you had contact with for a certain number of days prior?
Doug: They did ask me where I had been but luckily I had been only to work and the grocery store in the 14 days prior. I'm not sure if they followed up on anything outside of work or not to be honest. They never really said much about it to me once I gave them the information.
inFACT: Are you part of any studies regarding immunity or anything else?
Doug: No I am not, but I would be interested in seeing if I do have enough antibodies to donate plasma.
inFACT: Has anyone been in touch regarding this?
Doug: No, they have not.
inFACT: How would you compare your experience with COVID-19 to a bout of the flu, assuming you have had the flu?
Doug: I haven't had the flu in a long time but I would say for me, the flu was worse when i had it.
inFACT: Do you smoke or vape?
inFACT: What's your diet like? What would you typically eat over the span of a couple days?
Doug: I generally eat rather healthy. Between sports and working a labour intensive job, I find my diet is important. On the weekends I do tend to stray from it but generally a lot of my meals are chicken, rice and vegetables at least 5 days a week. Eggs, yogurt and a muffin for breakfast usually. There is a mix of snacks, mostly healthier stuff but I do eat more potato chips than I probably should!
inFACT: Do you take any vitamins or supplements?
Doug: Just fish oils and some probiotics.
inFACT: Anything else you would like to add to help my audience understand your complete experience with COVID-19?
Doug: For the most part I have told everyone my experience was best described as a cold that left me extra tired. Any dealings I had with nurses through the whole procedure were very positive. Seeing as I was one of the earlier cases - I think the province was around 200 positive cases when I tested positive if i remember correctly - I believe some of their procedures may have already changed a little. I know being young, in good health and relatively decent shape probably made my case less severe than some so I consider myself lucky in that regard.
inFACT: Final question for you Doug. What are your thoughts on wearing masks in public, and social distancing as a way to help reduce the spread?
Doug: Well, I mean I'm by no means an expert, but I do think masks and social distancing when in public helps as long as people don't use it as a false sense of security. I think being diligent about washing your hands and respecting each others space is probably one of the better ways to be safe. If you do have any potential symptoms, stay home and call 811. Nova Scotia seems to have a fairly prompt system so it's worth taking the couple days to make sure. Just be considerate of others and use some common sense really.
inFACT: Doug, thank you so much for taking the time to let me dig around your experience. You've been incredibly thorough and very honest. I know it will be greatly appreciated by my audience and I've really enjoyed this chat! It's been incredibly helpful and the only local experience of a compete recovery I have heard with anywhere near this much detail. I'm happy to see you have come out the other side seemingly no worse for wear, something to be thankful for!
Doug: No problem at all. More than happy to help. If I can answer anymore questions in the future, just let me know.
There you have it folks, a first hand encounter of a local man's COVID-19 experience from diagnosis to recovery. I think the interview speaks for itself, so no more commentary required; I'll leave it at that. Look forward to hearing your thoughts!