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Avera Medical Minute: I have COVID, now what?

Published: Dec. 6, 2020 at 6:18 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Shane Gerlach can remember the moment he started to feel sick.

“I went back to my office closed the door, turned off the lights, and did my notes in darkness because I had such a horrible headache,” said Gerlach.

A few hours later, he was home with a fever and chills. More symptoms developed.

“I can only imagine what someone who has crippling arthritis goes through, but I think I had a glimpse of it, because every single joint, even into like the joints and the toes, was swollen and painful,” said Gerlach.

Despite taking precautions, COVID-19 swept through his home. Gerlach worried for his wife and son, both cancer survivors.

“My son’s just one year removed from his cancer therapy from his chemotherapy,” said Gerlach.

Yet he still maintains a sense of humor.

“Going through a lot of Kleenex. Buy stock in Kleenex. You’re gonna make money off of my family,” said Gerlach.

Avera Medical Group’s Dr. David Basel says finding out you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 can raise many concerns.

“There can be quite a bit of anxiety with that and we get a lot of people, a lot of frantic calls... now what,” said Dr. Basel.

A lot of things are set in motion simultaneously, starting with contact tracing, which is forwarded to the Department of Health.

“Then we talk about doing a quick assessment of how sick they are, and the big thing to watch for with coronavirus is obviously going to be the respiratory standpoint... how short of breath, are they? Getting enough oxygen into their blood. Do they have any other serious complications blood clots those sorts of things,” said Basel.

Managing symptoms is next.

“A lot of severe fatigue. I’ve heard reports from individuals just not being able to even crawl to the shower to take a shower to try to get to feel better and so we do a lot talking about symptomatic care and what they can do to try to care for themselves,” said Basel.

Although COVID-19 affects every person differently, there is hope.

“Ninety percent of patients plus are gonna recover from this and have no adverse effects, a month down the road it’s just going to take some time and they’re not going to feel at all well for a while,” said Basel.

Gerlach believes taking precautions can still help slow the spread.

“Protect each other, that’s what we do best in South Dakota. We take care of each other, and we need to do that now,” said Gerlach.

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