The Lungs Watchers
My COVID-19 Experience

Sorry, this is not my Happy New Yeah! email/newsletter/update although it was initially planned to be. I just finished two paintings and was enjoying easy January with kids being on a winter break, writing postcards and preparing New Year’s packages, when all hell breaks loose.  My wife caught a bug that initially seemed like a sore throat with common flu. We called our Health Center / Family Doctor to see if she needs to do PCR test and they said that we shouldn´t worry- for the last 7 days they haven’t had any Covid positive results, only common flu patients.  If things get worse or she doesn´t get better in 5 days we should check in. We were not advised to go in self-isolation, quite the opposite, we were advised to continue living as we are “not” positive. In the beginning we were able to get temperature down with paracetamol but after 3 days we couldn´t. Temperature was going above 38,5C and only ibuprofen could get it down. Five days later Larisa´s health got worse, temperature was higher, and she had symptoms of bronchitis. We took a cab to see a doctor and do a PCR test, and they tested both of us. We went to a private clinic for Larisa to do lungs x-ray and to be checked by a doctor because she was feeling worse and Public Health Care Doctor wouldn´t check her without her PCR test results. She got azithromycin because of the bronchitis and aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), vitamin C & D, for temperature we were told just to use paracetamol and avoid ibuprofen. In the evening time we got the test results and we were both positive to Coronavirus. We called Covid Infirmary to be informed what to do next. Our self-isolation started and it was counted from the first day when my wife had symptoms (January 30) five days before we were tested. Nobody asked us with whom we had contact, so there is no cluster control what so ever. We asked what we were supposed to do next since we met some friends, the kids went to swimming and basketball training, and I just had coffee and cake the day before with my brother for his b-day… they said we should inform them and they should contact Covid Infirmary in case they develop any symptoms in 5 days after meeting us. That´s it. Larisa had to go next day to Covid Infirmary to get checked since private and public health care systems don´t share database. I didn´t since I didn´t have any symptoms. They confirmed the therapy and that was it. The following two weeks are a bit blurred and inconsistent in my memory, but I will try to recall them in appropriate time line.

The first emergency we had was because Larisa was on blood pressure pills and nobody told us that she should stop taking them because of temperature and aspirin. Her temperature was now up to 39C and we could get it down to 38,2C with paracetamol and showers. At this time she had temperature for already 6 days. So around 2 in the morning she woke up feeling extreme fatigue, dizziness, vertigo and tinnitus. I called Ambulance/ Emergency department and paramedic told me that it is probably low blood pressure and I should give her instant soup to drink. Since we have blood pressure monitor at home I tried to check her blood pressure with no success, it was so low that monitor only showed error message. I called again and I got doctor on the line, and she said not to measure pressure but just to concentrate on water/soup intake, get her in laying position and elevate her legs. We should try to measure blood pressure in 30 minutes. We did that and we got first reading of the blood pressure and heart pulse in 30 minutes. With the doctor on the line, in the next hour and a half we stabilized her blood pressure and we were out of emergency.

The second emergency we had was the evening after the first one. Larisa´s temperature started hitting 40C, paracetamol and showers didn´t help at all. At this moment I also started developing first symptoms but at the time I thought that I felt fatigued, headache, and a little bit elevated temperature (37,5C) because of tiredness and irregular sleep. I called Emergency department and explained situation, and paramedic told me to we should administer Voltaren suppositories (diclofenac). I told him that we didn´t buy diclofenac as we were told not to, that we were both positive and in self-isolation, that I also started to have temperature and it was curfew hours. So I asked him if they could bring us some medicine to what he replied that they didn´t pay visits to Covid patients and that I should go to Pharmacy and buy some myself or call someone to buy medicine for us. At that point I knew we were screwed by public service system and that we can only rely on ourselves. Home alone with sick wife and two kids. My world collapsed. I went into frantic checking of our medicine box(ies).  Luckily I found old box of Voltaren that didn´t expire. Later on we will find out that there is another number for Covid patients to call in case of emergency and they are dedicated Covid Emergency department that works all night at the City Hospital. It is just that half-baked information gets you, for example they tell you that when you use oximeter that if you get readings of oxygen saturation bellow 90 you should call or go to Covid Infarmy immediately, what they don´t tell you is that when you have high temperatures around 39,5C you will usually get hypoventilation because due to shallow breathing and results will be below 90 down to 85. All you need is to get up a deep breath few times and result will be above 90. So you are lying, feverish, you read result 86 and you think – I am dying, just because of my shallow breath.

The next morning we both went for checkup since Larisa was feeling worse and I now had temperature and headache like I have sinusitis. We went to this dedicated Covid Emergency department at the City Hospital and it was a real nightmare. I now realized a full horror of broken and crumbled Public Health Care System. The entire department was improvised; in front line – young doctors and nurses were pushed. We were examined by burned out staff. The doctor didn´t even examine Larisa, she just called pulmonologist and read an old x-ray and blood results, with complain that she didn´t react to 10 doses of azithromycin so they prescribed new antibiotics – doxycycline. For me, I complained about my sinuses, I have a cyst, but they checked my lungs and took blood sample. A nurse came in, she just administered patient with 39,9C with IV infusion cocktail of antibiotics and pain killer, and she was carrying the needle and bloody tupfer with blood spilling on her protective rubber glove. She sprayed glove with bactericide and poured some water over it, then took another rubber glove over an old one. She came to me to take a blood sample. I thought to myself, now I am definitely getting sick. Luckily, when I told her that I have trypanophobia  (fear of needles) she asked another  nurse to take my blood. After that I went to X-Ray where I had to hold film plate in my hands and hold still, and I just imagined someone having fever and trying to stand still while holding a film plate in the hands. X-ray technician didn´t have any help, so he had to get out in the hall, where he could use table to write down name of the patient and the date, after that he would have to go to the third floor to develop a film in the speed of snail in turbo mode. The whole system was just insane; few times we had patients coming in Covid restricted area looking for laboratory, or plaster room. My blood results didn´t show any strong infection. So I was off with paracetamol, aspirin and vitamin C & D. Upon returning home I found out I had a few missed calls from the same number, when I called back, it was police checking if are in self-isolation. I got scolded over a phone for not telling them that we were leaving our apartment for checkups. Well, you can guess my reply, nobody told me to.

In the next two days I developed temperature above 39C. Couldn´t get up in the morning from bed and I had strong fever. I would take paracetamol, feel little bit of relief for an hour and that fever would kick back and my temperature would go 39,5-39,9C. I took showers but they didn´t help. At one point after taking shower my temperature stayed 39,9C. I couldn´t lay down in bed because I felt I would just burn out, so I started cooking – I took a frozen piece of veal meat and I started cutting it with big knife, I wanted to make light diet meal for Larisa, and I was chopping it into small pieces. I cooked it on small temp, with some vegetables and olive oil. Took few potatoes, made some purée and I felt great. Checked temperature, it was 38,5C. I guess working with cold meat and cleaning potatoes under the water took the temperature down.

The next few days I would try to go through the day somehow, and wait for the evening so I could administer Voltaren suppositories that gave me relief and I could sleep through the night. Worst was in the morning when temperature was kicking in. Kids would like to have breakfast, and I am accustomed to prepare and serve them but I just couldn´t, or to make fresh tea for Larisa.

Fear of dying

Three days after the last checkup I started to fear that we were goners. It was Monday, Larisa had zombie gray-green color, and she was puking for the last 48 hours, hardly able to stand. I was in bed with 39C, couldn´t help her. She said she was going to see a doctor because she felt like dying, and I couldn´t help her. I thought this was it. I was trying not to think that way but when she came back, she told me she had inflammation of the tonsils and the whole throat and mouth. She complained to doctor and finally the doctor decided to do physical checkup.  Again they changed her antibiotics for the new ones – cefuroxime. She complained for the pain in her lungs but the doctor said that she was just panicking. Larisa insisted that it was real pain, and the doctor decide to check her lungs by doing a new x-ray. Few hours later they called her to check into Covid Infirmary because she had pneumonia and they had to do additional exams so they could decide if she should be hospitalized. At this point I fuckin´ lost it. I thought she was going to get hospitalized, in 7 days she will be gone, and I would get the same treatment and die too, just in 5-7 days delay. I wasn´t afraid of dying, I was just asking myself, who will have to tell the kids. She came back; they put her on new antibiotic – ceftriaxone – intravenous therapy. Also they proscribed levofloxacin orally, but put that on hold, just in case there is no response. For 14 days of IV antibiotics and two shots of blood thinners into belly, and if there is no change in two days – to add levofloxacin orally, if no change in 4-5 days, hospitalization. Next 48 hours were nightmare, I was wreck, didn´t show it, but I was afraid to the death. First day Larisa cleaned her inflamed mouth and throat with gauze dipped into sodium bicarbonate, and the next day early in the morning I heard her cleaning tonsils from pus. She also gargled proscribed medicine and sea salt. Her temperature dropped from above 39,5C to 38-38,5C. My hope was back too.

What is a role of Doctor?

Now I would like to say a few words about doctors and their behavior. First, they were mostly inexperienced; second, they were always scaring us. For example, they would tell me that I was doing well, not to worry but that I could die from pneumonia in two days if I am not careful. Larisa was getting this kind of treatment on daily basis for 14 days. Her doctor would freak out and leash out, with examples of how she could die from this and that. So what is the role of a doctor? To put fear into you or to help you cope with situation you are in?

Larisa was having blood checks every two days and on the fourth day a young doctor freaked out and told her to take levofloxacin orally in addition to regular IV therapy. When I went to the Pharmacy, a pharmacist told me the she would never take those antibiotics outside of the hospital. The following day a pneumogolist took her off levofloxacin. Now, her liver was wracked.

We got a call from Covid Infirmary one day. It was a doctor there who heard from other patients that we were sick for a long time, 7 days for me and 13 days for Larisa. He put me on antibiotics over the phone for 10 days. I asked him for some sinuses medicine, and he added them too. He also wrote referral to do X-ray of sinuses after Covid because of the cyst. Two days later my temperature was gone.  Also we were not in self-isolation anymore. I had argument over the phone with a doctor, and she said I no longer had Covid, nor Larisa, we were cured but we have complications from Covid and that is another story. Basically I can send kids to school or outside to play because the virus is miraculsly gone and we were not anymore able to transmit the disease.  I would believe her if I hadn´t had fever still, like 39,8C and Larisa 38,5C with multiple aches. I asked for retest and she said it was absolutely unnecessary. When I asked her about my sinuses pain she sad now I should go to my Family Doctor. So I did and she freaked out, almost jumped through the window when I told her that I just had Covid and that I haven’t had temperature for the last 24 hours, and that I have been out of self-isolation for the last 48. She immediately asked me if I did  a retest J Anyway she send me to do blood check, and after three visits  she finally asked me how I felt  – really good doctor.  I got to my otolaryngologist 7 days later and she said I was doing great. And I was. I am.

Larisa on the other hand was still doing regular blood checks, antibiotic and blood thinners shots at Covid Infirmary and listening to do daily dose of scare. After 24 days her temperature started to drop and for the next 4 days it will come and go by itself, around 37,2-,37,5C. Now she is on a sick leave. Turned out that she had liver inflammation and urinary tract infection too. Right now we are working on liver and lungs recovery, next is blood pressure and heart.  She is getting better.

Role of Police

Police was supposed to check if you are in self-isolation. They would call on daily basis, asking us if we were home and that was it. We could be at sea side and they wouldn´t know. So yeah, no wonder virus spreads like new flavor of ice cream.


They didn´t have symptoms and we couldn´t isolate ourselves from them.  They went through all fear of possibility of Larisa going to hospital and they experienced fear of possibility of us dying. Also they had online school and they had to do all school chores at home at same time. An example of disconnection from reality in online schooling is when Isak had one class and a teacher told him, that he had a nice winter break and he should be full of energy and have lots of enthusiasm to learn new things. At the same time, in the same room, next to him Larisa was in bed, pale, with high fever. And just before a class I had to setup camera and microphone for Zoom meeting and I had fever too with 39,9C. And a few minutes before Isak was crying and asking for his birthday gift for his mom- he wished for her not to die. Larisa did have her last day of temperature on his birthday.

Family, neighbors and friends

First 4 days I was cooking and baking, but our family immediately started to bring us food. And neighbors and friends jumped in when both of us were sick. We had fridge full of homemade soups and kids had hot meal when we couldn´t get out of bed. And that was real help. So let your friends and family know if you get sick and need help with fresh food and cooking. It means a lot. And if you know someone who is sick, cook for them.

Also we had friends and neighbors who couldn´t understand what we were going through. For example, some of our neighbors asked us, when it was all over, was it like flu, she heard it was like flu, are we sure it is not like flu… and that she doesn´t wear mask because Corona virus was spread through airplane vapors so there is no point. I have some other examples but it is too depressing to think about those examples. So if you are not helping, please, don´t be a dick.


It is not like flu. I eat flu for breakfast. If you have symptoms like flu you are lucky. But it is not flu. Unfortunately if you are in a country that follows WHO textbook for Covid treatment, expect to be flooded by antibiotics. So take care of your liver. Thing is this virus hits where you are the weakest and then goes after another organ. This will not be of importance to Covid doctors because they will just observe your lungs.  If you have good family doctor, check in with him/her for your other conditions and symptoms. They can adjust your therapy or add additional treatments and reliefs. Drink lots of tea and soup. And let your friends, family and neighbors know of your status so they could help. And try not to get sick, before vaccine.


I started going to atelier and I am preparing 3 new works. When I finish them I will write Happy New Yeah! email/newsletter/update and I will add update for last 2 works. Larisa is on her way to full recovery, doctors predict two to three month for her to fully recover. I am hoping that our country will start vaccination by then.

Stay safe, wear mask, help those in need and don´t obsess about your own comfort,

Peace, love, udon & sake

(and I hope in a month my liver will be good enough for some Yamazaki whiskey with sancha)