Two boomers’ brushes with the pandemic

As we all know, baby boomers are one of the oldest generations alive today, which means that with immune systems that just naturally weaken with age, we are considered amongst the most vulnerable to the coronavirus. In Los Angeles, Patricia Greenberg-Grunfeld and Aaron Grunfeld learned that in spades. For BoomerCafé, Patricia documents Love in the Time of Corona.

My husband Aaron and I are on the opposite ends of the baby boom. He was born in 1946, I was born in 1960. We came together 25 years ago, an unlikely match, but we have each other and our children, and that’s all that counts. I am the hypochondriac and he is the voice of reason.

But our age gap is closing in. We are both now seniors, and need to pay attention to the risks that come with age. Knowing this, I was on-board with home isolation as soon as the coronavirus started to spread, which hit the news around March 8th. We attended a family gathering on March 10th: no hugging, no shaking hands. I went food-shopping once that week, had a short doctor visit to follow up on my parathyroid surgery, and we were home for the weekend.

Aaron and Patricia with their daughter, Gabriella.

Meantime, I was arranging for my daughter to return home from her program in Israel. She didn’t want to come home but I was begging her to leave. But there was worse to come.

Aaron’s journey

Day 1
On Saturday evening, March 14th, Aaron started to feel hot. I took his temperature, 99.6. By 10pm, 100.7.
He took a Motrin and slept through the night.

Day 2
7:45am. Temperature 101. Sore throat, sniffles, a cough. By 2pm, 103.1.
We switched over to Tylenol after hearing the warnings that Ibuprofen is harmful to corona patients.
Our doctor said there is no reason to go to the hospital and get a test unless Aaron couldn’t breathe.

Days 3-6
Temperature varied from 99-101 and fluctuated all day and night.
Aaron became progressively weaker each day. Chills, sweating, loss of appetite.
But the hospital would not see him as long as he could breathe.

Then the cough started.

Day 7
The cough was so bad and all he could do was take tea and sports drinks.
He was so weak he couldn’t hold the Tylenol in his hand. We tried Tamiflu and Z-Pac. No response.

Days 8-10
Fever hovered between 100-102.
Aaron was down 11 pounds by then and coughing up blood.
Still, the hospital would not see him as long as he could breathe.

Days 11-14
Fever ranged from 99-102 we were always hopeful when it came down. But then it went up again.
I arranged for a mobile nurse and X-ray tech to come to my house and take Aaron’s chest X-ray. No pneumonia and no chest infection.

Days 15-16
The fever started to come down, between 98-100, finally stabilizing at 98.6

Days 17-21
Aaron gets tired easily but has a normal temperature. HE HAS NEVER COMPLAINED ONCE DURING THIS WHOLE EXPERIENCE.
We’ve survived accidents, surgeries, the loss of all of our parents, financial ups and downs. Nothing has ever come close to the fear I have felt the last three weeks. Watching my husband become so weak, so thin, and so sick was harrowing.

Patricia and Aaron… safe at home.

I was so distraught with what was happening I didn’t even notice that I was sick too!

Patricia’s story – Aaron’s Day 5 was my Day 1

Wednesday, March 18
I woke up with severe muscle aches, a sore throat, throbbing head and the most severe pain across my back.
My temperature was 99.9 and by that evening, it was 101.6

Days 2-5
I was very lucky! My symptoms were milder than Aaron’s, so I continued to take care of him. I never noticed that I had lost my sense of taste and smell. Telltale sign.
The hospital would not take us though because we had no problems breathing.

At the height of sickness for both of us, my daughter returned on my Day 3 from Israel. We sent someone to get her at the airport when she arrived. She stripped everything off, threw it in the laundry, and quarantined herself away from us until today.
The pain of not being able to touch your child for two weeks is excruciating.

Days 6-10
No fever. I was able to get up and walk around, and my taste and smell were slowly returning and I am so grateful that we are recovering.
We still haven’t been tested and continue to follow all the guidelines. We are looking forward to the antibody test to know for sure.

Our story is a happy one, because we are here to share it with you, and to let you know that most people make it to the other side.

Stay safe and follow all the guidelines, no matter how silly they may seem. The life you save could be your own.

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Patricia’s book is Eat Well, Live Well, Age Well.

2 Comments

    1. So glad you are well and thank you so much for documenting your journey back to health!

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