I’m grateful to be back at my desk after a more than monthlong battle with COVID. I’m a statistic now — one of the unlucky few fully vaccinated people who wound up in the ICU.
My husband and I together went to a FEMA-run site in Jacksonville, Florida, where we live, and obtained the Pfizer vaccine as soon as we were eligible, receiving the first dose in late March and the second in early April.
Over the next few months, our lives returned to “normal.” (One could argue that there is nothing normal about life in Florida under Gov. Ron DeSantis, but I digress.) Then came the deadly delta variant.
In late July, my husband contracted COVID, most likely from an unvaccinated person. (C’mon, people, the COVID vaccine will not make you sterile or turn you into a zombie or allow the government to track your movements.) It was a mild breakthrough case, similar to what most fully vaccinated people experience — a few days of fatigue and a low-grade fever.
I was getting ready to run errands on Aug. 1 when I suddenly felt incredibly tired. It was only about 11 a.m., but I needed a nap. When I woke up, I was running a fever. I knew I had COVID, but I wasn’t worried. My husband slept a lot for about three days and then felt much better. Over the following week, I didn’t feel better. My fever would break only to return hours later. I was told by my primary care physician’s office that nothing could be prescribed for a breakthrough case of COVID. I just had to wait it out.
By Aug. 10, I couldn’t wait it out any longer. I’d lose my breath just taking a few steps. My husband drove me to the ER. (Because of COVID restrictions, he had to drop me off at the door and leave. I had no idea I wouldn’t see him again for two weeks.)
Thanks to the quick actions of the ER staff at Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside Hospital, I had an oxygen mask on my face within about five minutes of my arrival. After several hours in the ER, I was transferred to the ICU, where I spent nine days.
I don’t remember what day it was when I asked a doctor, “Am I going to be OK?” She reached for my hand and said, “I can’t tell you that. The mortality rate with the delta variant is very high.” It’s not easy to get your head around news like that, and I certainly had moments reminiscent of Nancy Kerrigan’s “Why?” wailing after she got whacked in the knee before the 1994 Winter Olympics. But then I got mad — really mad, mad at the unvaccinated who don’t take others’ well-being into consideration, mad at the nonsense coming out of Tallahassee. I was told several times during my 14-day hospital stay that the only reason I survived was that I was fully vaccinated. I know that to be true. I think getting fighting mad helped too, and I vowed to make a federal vaccine mandate a mission if I lived.
FreightWaves CEO Craig Fuller announced last week that the long-planned F3: Future of Freight Festival, an in-person extravaganza slated for Nov. 8 to 10 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, will instead be a virtual event because of continuing COVID concerns. I emailed Craig to thank him for making what I strongly believe was the right decision, telling him I don’t think people from throughout the country should stand shoulder to shoulder until there is a vaccine mandate.
Craig responded, “I am glad we are able to put safety before profit.” So am I. I know a lot of people put in a lot of work planning an in-person event. But FreightWaves did the right thing, and I have never been prouder to be part of the team. More companies, CEOs, politicians and citizens need to do the right thing. Follow CDC guidelines. Get vaccinated.