I might have COVID-19 (and, week 2 weight update for Project 135)

Picture of Dr. Jen Kerns

Dr. Jen Kerns

It’s Friday morning at 7:30am. I’m going to be tested for SARS-CoV-2 today.

As you know, I am an obesity medicine specialist, but I am also a hospitalist half the time – and that entails coming in to take care of hospitalized patients. I’ve served on a team caring for COVID-19 positive veterans several times since March, and my highest risk exposure happened when I worked next to another provider for the 48 hours before she was diagnosed with COVID-19 herself — it’s thought that people are the most infectious during that 1-2 days just before they develop symptoms. That was at least 3 weeks ago, though, so I think I was careful enough during my time on that team (masked, using hand sanitizer religiously) that I stayed healthy then. Last week, I was on service on one of our inpatient teams caring for veterans who had tested negative for the coronavirus, so I was theoretically lower risk… but I was still in the hospital. I worked through last weekend until Tuesday, and then came in to the hospital the past 2 days to mostly take care of work in my office without much contact with people.

Last night, my nose got a bit clogged in the middle of the night — really minor, but unusual. I’ve had spring allergies for years, and I’ve also been using nasal steroids for a slight runny nose due to my CPAP machine that I use for my sleep apnea (a common condition called “CPAP rhinitis”). So my nose was a little more stuffy than usual, and I woke up a bunch last night and slept less soundly than usual. I would’ve blown it off, but when I awoke and opened the app for my Oura ring, it flagged me to watch out today because my body temperature was 0.8 degrees higher than my usual baseline. The Oura ring is a biohacking piece of technology that purports to tell you details about your sleep phases – when and for how long you were in deep vs. light vs. REM sleep; I’ve found it to be wildly inaccurate — for instance, 2 nights ago it told me that it took me over an hour to fall asleep when in fact I’d fallen asleep before my 5 minute meditation wind-down even ended. The ring also measures your body temperature as you sleep, as well as your resting heart rate, and I believe those two measurements to be more accurate. I don’t wear it to gather sleep data on myself anymore now that I’ve realized how bad it is at that, but I’ve been wearing it as a study participant for some clinical research being run out of UCSF called TempTrack. They’re investigating whether the Oura ring can predict COVID-19 in people. So I dutifully wear the ring to bed every night, and when I wake, I open the app and answer a few questions they have about whether I have any symptoms of COVID-19 and whether I’ve been diagnosed with it.

So, my Oura ring told me my temperature was up a touch. Then I had a tickle in my throat and coughed a few times this morning. Nothing crazy, and I know that postnasal drip from allergies and CPAP rhinitis does this… but this was unusual only in that it has not happened to me yet this spring. So the combination of a slightly worse runny nose with the few little coughs and my minimally elevated temperature worried me (I checked it myself and it was 99.6) – more so because a friend at work who recently recovered from COVID-19 described their symptoms as being just like allergies for the first several days.

So, I am going to go to ask our occupational health office to send me to the specialized area at work today where people with suspected COVID-19 are being swabbed to check for the virus. I’ve texted my resident whom I worked with this past week and warned him to bleach down our whole work room, just in case I have it. I’m about to wipe down all of the surfaces in our house that I’ve likely touched, since Kevin is currently asymptomatic and might have a shot at avoiding it even if I DO have it. And I’m putting on a mask at home now, too. I’m suddenly nervous waiting, not knowing. I don’t yet know whether I’m sick or just being overly cautious, and the unknown is creating all sorts of brain chatter.

So, I’ll be back to update you on my COVID-19 results later. I thought I’d post my current weight, too, in case I start feeling worse and don’t feel up to posting another blog this weekend: 155.6. So I’ve happily met my 1.5 pound weight loss goal for week 2 of Project 135!

Project 135 stats:
Starting weight: 159.6
Week 1: 157.2
Week 2: 155.6
Total weight loss: 4 pounds (2.5%)

Stay safe!
Love, Jen




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