Letter from the Health Editor: Upside Down

The editor's letter from the 2021 issue of Columbus Monthly Health

Sherry Beck Paprocki
Columbus Monthly
Sherry Beck Paprocki, editor of Columbus Monthly Health

“If a health crisis occurs, it turns our world upside down.”

When I wrote that sentence in last January’s issue of Columbus Monthly Health, I had no idea what would unfold.

At the end of January, I hopped on a flight to Maine to celebrate my grandson’s first birthday, then I flew from Maine to California to attend a business conference. After a few days back in Columbus, I took yet another flight to Florida to visit my parents, and for a weekend in the sun with another grandson.

By the time I returned to Columbus I was developing a cold and the worst cough I’ve had in years. I stocked up on my usual supplies, rested and worked. Despite my incessant cough, my husband, somehow, stayed well. I continue to wonder if I had an early case of COVID-19.

It’s not unusual for me to land a week of bronchitis at the end of a cold so I didn’t panic. I took plenty of meds and used continual cough drops. But several days into the cough, I checked out the website for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention to see how long I should allow for bronchitis to clear up. This bout was going for the gold.

I’ll never forget this. Even though I’d heard of the formidable virus striking Wuhan, it was Feb. 26 when I first read about it on the CDC website. I was lazily stretched out on my couch after leaving the office early, where I had huddled in my own space and tried to avoid others. “Wow,” I thought as I read. “I’m not going into a doctor’s office. I’m going to catch something much worse.” My symptoms were not matching the few that were listed there, specifically the fever.

Over the coming days, I dragged myself to several stores, looking for sanitizers and stocking up on cough meds now knowing what was rolling into the country. Shelves in Central Ohio were bare. News reports reported the first cases of COVID-19 were found in Washington state.

Later during a telephone press conference with city officials I found out there were few COVID tests in Central Ohio. Officials were still awaiting their arrival. It was early March. Eventually my body healed and I regained my normal level of activity. Feeling fine, I attended a large business gathering on March 9. Not one person coughed; I was listening. Two days later the World Health Organization declared the pandemic, and non-essential businesses shut down.

In May I tested for COVID-19 antibodies and nothing showed up, but experts will say I may have been too late for that test. About the time I retraced the pace of my early winter travel, researchers were saying COVID-19 had likely been in the United States since December. If only I’d known.

Last year turned all of our worlds upside down. As we continue to work through this pandemic, I hope you stay healthy and wise to new research as it unfolds. It’s a riveting time to be watching medical advancements in a lot of areas, including the ongoing development of COVID vaccines and treatments.

I, for one, don’t want any cough close to what I experienced early in 2020. Occasionally I take a COVID-19 test just to be sure.

Wishing you the best in 2021!

Reprinted fromColumbus Monthly Health, which was published in January 2021.