My Corona: Homecoming - the last entry in a Darien man's journal is some good news

Darien resident Daniel Coonan, father of three, has given The Darien Times to reprint his journal entries going forward as he battles with the symptoms of COVID-19. To read the full journal, go here.

He sounded pretty upbeat when I answered the phone. I could tell just from the hello. I had expected a call in 36 hours from testing, but I guess they are turning these things around more quickly. He was pretty happy to tell me that the test was negative but it certainly came with caveats.

Technically they check nasopharyngeal secretions (I had to copy and paste that) but essentially they are just testing to see if the virus is living in your nose. The doctor said that the virus may still resurface but that my body has essentially killed it off. He has seen symptoms return for other patients so he outlined his guidance on my condition the best he could.

The guidance

My health: I still have the effects of viral pneumonia and it will take some time for me to recover. I’ve had windows in the morning where I actually feel pretty good so I should use this time for light exercise to get the blood flowing and the muscles working — fresh air is key. The cough and shallow breathing will go away with time and the fatigue will be the last thing to go.

My isolation: It is a judgment call on when you are 100% not contagious anymore. But given that I’ve had the virus and have isolated for 19 days I should be very low risk. I should clean all my clothes and sheets as well as wipe down all the surfaces in the isolation station. Outside the house I should follow all of the same precautions as everyone else in terms of masks, social distancing, etc.

My work: We discussed what I do for a living and what is required from me on a daily basis. Based on that discussion he told me not to go back just yet. He told me to focus on recovery for the rest of this week and to call him on Friday afternoon. During that phone call we will discuss a gradual return given there will be times during the day where I will need to switch off or sleep. Having charted a recent day on how I felt hour by hour it is clear how erratic this thing is.

How I felt throughout the day relative to ‘normal’The family reunionI called my wife after I spoke to the doctor and told her about the negative result. She had a measured response but I’m sure there was an ‘it’s about time’ bubbling under the surface. A minute later, it sounded like a pack of wildebeest coming up the steps followed by my 5 and 9 year-old girls bursting through the door to give me a hug.

Happy to be home

Our au pair was taking the baby for a walk but they came back a few minutes later. The baby was half asleep when she saw me and was confused that she was allowed to hug me. She spent hours after that alternating between putting her head on my shoulder and poking the unshaven hair on my chin. Both made her equally happy.

Who is this guy?I know it will take time to fully recover but I’m confident enough now to say I beat this thing. I feel lucky to be spared the worst of what it can do. There were times where I thought I should really be in the hospital and times when I wondered if I was going to be ok or not. There were occasions when I thought maybe I was just fine but then the virus took me down again.

But I guess I won. I’m so happy and relieved to be back with my family and to have my health returning…slowly but (hopefully) surely.

Breaking the fourth wall

People have asked me if they can share my story and I’ve always been fine with that. It feels strangely impersonal to publish something so physically, mentally and emotionally draining. But oddly it feels almost the opposite. I would describe it as therapeutically observational.

At the time of this writing, this blog has had 11,000 views from 44 countries. This is frankly shocking to me given the original intention was to simply log how things were going as a sort of personal account. This daily activity helped me deal with the anxiety that comes from isolation, and I hope it some small way it will help others who are dealing with virus in one way or another.

This may be the last post I write but I’m glad it is for a very good reason. Thank you to my family, friends and coworkers for all of your support through this difficult journey.

You all made it bearable. I’m so glad I didn’t have to go through this alone.