Note to readers: This is the final part of my series on getting COVID while unvaccinated and trying out alternative early treatments. I’m not a doctor, and this is a personal account.
I thought ivermectin would heal COVID in a few hours.
The doctor who prescribed it told me to expect to feel better by week two, but I still expected a quick turnaround. I’d heard many miraculous, anecdotal stories about the medication. So I was concerned that I was sicker after less than 24 hours of taking my first dose of ivermectin (IVM), hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and an antibiotic.
I called my primary care doctor, Dr. McDuffy*, to ask to schedule a visit to know if getting sicker was normal. I also wanted a firm date on when I’d turn the corner.
Dr. McDuffy’s front office told me I could only see “the doctor’s assistant” via Zoom. While I was laying down on the couch waiting for the video to start, I texted my friend Jane. She’s also unvaccinated and takes IVM.
Text me if the doc makes you feel sad or guilty or overall rotten, Jane replied. Doctors can be realllllly mean to unvaxxed when it comes to COVID.
I disregarded her warning at the time. But I was so grateful for the heads-up later.
Doc assumes I’m vaccinated
When the video started, I recognized the nurse practitioner. Maybe she got a new degree in the past year? Let’s call her Michelle. She was dressed like a doctor in a white jacket. She was standing at a desk, looking at a computer that was not the video camera
“So are you updated on all your boosters? Did you get the most current one?” Michelle asked without looking at me. She was reading and typing what I assumed were my medical records.
“No,” I rasped out quietly. It was hard to hear me because my voice was mostly gone.
During regular checkups over the past two years, Dr. McDuffy asked me if I was vaccinated, and I told him I wasn’t. He’d then ask if I wanted to be vaccinated. The first year I gave a long answer about my personal protest against the vaccine, which led to a long debate. The second year I just said no, and he marked that on the screen.
Since 2021, my medical records on McDuffy’s website show I have a health condition called “COVID-19 vaccination declined.” Even three weeks after notifying him that I had COVID, my records don’t mention it.
“Okay. So you just had the primary series?” the doctor’s assistant or nurse practitioner asked.
“No,” I squeaked.
There was a very long silence. Minutes went by as she typed and didn’t look at me on video.
“When did the symptoms start?”
“Monday, so about 48 hours ago, though maybe a little bit on Sunday,” I said, then cleared my throat to try to be heard.
“Then Monday is your day zero – the day you took the test and had symptoms. So you have to quarantine for five days, that includes Friday. So five days of isolation and then five days of masking.” Michelle added, “You don’t have to retest.”
Unvaccinated get COVID worse?
“I’m not calling about that,” I said. It hurt so much to talk. “I want to know if it’s normal to have this painful throat and cough and to keep getting worse. When is it supposed to get better?”
“You’re unvaccinated, and those who are vaccinated have milder symptoms,” said my doctor’s assistant, looking directly at me on video for the first time. I suddenly remembered Jane’s warning about doctors being mean to unvaccinated patients. I told Michelle that I needed to take notes on my phone. But really I wanted to write down exactly what she said.
“Your immune system has to build the antibodies. You will be sick longer and have a longer recovery of two to three weeks – mostly feeling tired and achy,” said Dr. McDuffy’s assistant.
“My other friends who got it at the same time are vaccinated and boosted and they are about the same sick as me,” I told her.
Michelle did not respond.
I don’t remember back when we treated patients who weren’t vaxxed and boosted
I was discouraged and scared. I never get sick, so this was all new to me. I never considered I’d be sick for more than two days, much less three weeks.
“I need to get better sooner than that. What can I take or do to get better faster?” I said.
“I am sorry, but unfortunately the vaccinated have milder symptoms,” said Michelle. I was embarrassed. How did I miss that the vaccines make COVID symptoms better? Was I wrong all this time about not getting vaccinated?
Everyone is boosted
“What do I do now?” I asked Michelle plaintively, my voice has almost gone completely.
“I cannot say because I don’t remember back when we treated patients who weren’t vaxxed and boosted,” said the doctor’s assistant.
How could I be the only unvaccinated patient in this big Washington, D.C. primary care practice?
Subscribers note: I’m working on getting the facts on the District’s vaccine data for you in an upcoming story. I wrote this exactly a year ago about the mayor’s scam vaccine rates when the mandate was in effect:
Doctor’s COVID treatment
Michelle gave me my treatment options. “You can try salt water gargles. Take Advil twice a day with food. In between, take Tylenol for fever or headache,” she said. I was already taking 13 medications, vitamins and supplements. Nothing worked.
“I could call you in a cough suppressant,” she said.
I said yes, please. However, I was quietly worried that I shouldn’t add a fourth prescription to my mix. She never asked what else I had been taking. I knew by that point in the appointment that I couldn’t tell her about taking IVM and HCQ.
Don’t understand how people say this is like having a two-day cold.
“Wait before you go, how do I know if this is serious?” I asked this because I had no reference point since I had never been this sick before.
“If you have trouble breathing or your oxygen levels go below 90 and stay there. Or your lips turn blue. Then go to the emergency room,” she said. I’d never considered going to a hospital. Hearing my lips could turn blue was frightening.
“When will I be better enough to go for a run? I hate being inside,” I said.
“Don’t go running or do any strenuous activity, or you will hurt your lungs and you will be more tired,” she told me.
“So there’s nothing else I can take to help get over this faster?” I asked one last time.
“You can get Flonase. And if you need an inhaler, call us back,” Michelle said before clicking off the zoom.
I immediately texted Jane: “I’m so glad you warned me about the doctor shaming!”
I then texted Dr. Kent, who prescribed the ivermectin, to share how my primary care doctor treated me.
“Well you are far better off being unvaccinated,” the doc replied. “Russian Roulette!!”
Dr. Kent pointed out that I was being unfairly blamed.
“I’m guessing the nexus of infection was someone who was vaxxed?” the COVID specialist asked. “Did you all catch it from a party?”
Yep, all true.
Subscribers note: I have been researching whether my doctor’s office is accurate in that vaccinated people get milder cases of COVID. That report is coming soon…
Day 3 – Four prescriptions and worse again
I slept from 10 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. without waking up once. I took all my pills and felt sick because I hadn’t eaten in so long. I realized I should stop taking aspirin since I had added Tylenol and Aleve to my giant pill dividers.
I dragged myself back to the pharmacy and picked up the prescription cough suppressant, benzonatate 200 mg. Michelle didn’t give any directions. The bottle said to take one to three capsules as needed for cough.
Since I was making my own cocktail, I decided to take them as needed. I also switched Mucinez from the Fast-Max Severe Congestion and Cough Liquid to the Maximum Strength 12-Hour Chest Congestion since it didn’t have the extra meds in it.
I wrote in my notes: “Don’t understand how people say this is like having a two-day cold. Nothing at all like it. Much longer and so much more sick.”
You are far better off being unvaccinated. Russian Roulette!
In hindsight, I see that I was overthinking why I was getting worse. “I’ve never had the flu, so it could be my body doesn’t have any flu antibodies and no COVID ones to fight this?”
A few hours after taking the prescription cough suppressant, I was still hacking nonstop and spitting up phlegm. “I’m exhausted from all the coughing. Cough drops don’t help,” I wrote.
One of my friends who got COVID with me recommended I take both a hot shower and Epson salt hot bath. I ran out of hot water, but the natural method totally stopped the coughing. “Not sure why but glad,” I noted.
Day 4 – Doctor refuses treatment over ivermectin
I woke up again at 2 p.m. and was frustrated that I couldn’t stop sleeping. I wanted to get back on a normal sleep schedule, but I had trouble falling asleep from coughing so much. I checked my oxygen and it was up to 97. My temperature was normal. I thought I felt a little better.
I took my morning pills and felt sick again. I realized I may be taking too many medications or they might not go together. I knew I was being irresponsible, so I called Dr. McDuffy again.
My medical records on Dr. McDuffy’s website show I have a health condition called “COVID-19 vaccination declined.”
I told the front desk I wanted to talk to “the doctor’s assistant” to check for drug interactions with all my medications. I listed out everything I was taking –which is at the bottom of this story. This time I disclosed that I was on IVM, HCQ and antibiotics. The front desk woman put me on hold to talk to Michelle.
After a few minutes, she picked up and said:
Our doctor’s assistant said she will not talk to you.
I was stunned. “How do I find out it’s safe to take these meds?” I asked. My voice was stronger than the day before. She could hear me clearly this time.
The doctor’s office receptionist said:
She said she will not check for drug interaction because she would never recommend or prescribe ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine, so she won’t discuss it.
My doctor refused care because he just didn’t like what I was prescribed by another doctor.
“Then please leave a message for Dr. McDuffy,” I said. “Tell him I’m taking the cough suppressant he prescribed in addition to three other prescriptions I gave you and about 10 over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements. And please let me know that I asked if taking all this is safe, and his assistant refused care.”
I bet they would have done the drug interaction check if I told them I was taking crack cocaine and fentanyl with COVID.
She will not check for drug interaction because she would never recommend or prescribe ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine
By evening, I was coughing less. I don’t know if it was the couch suppressant or the IVM or I’d finally turned a corner. My throat didn’t hurt enough to need lozenges, just hot tea and water. I wrote in my notes before bed, “I really hope I don’t sleep all day tomorrow so I can get outside.”
Saturday Day 5, New Year’s Eve Day, positive test
I woke up at 8:30 a.m. from coughing. I took a Mucinex and slept four more hours. I hated sleeping all day, but I was tired. I was coughing up yellow stuff, but I noticed three of my symptoms were gone: painful sore throat, muscle aches and headache.
Freed up from the official five-day quarantine, I went to the pharmacy and UPS with a mask. I am sure I wasn’t contagious, but I felt guilty coughing near people. The Useless CDC’s arbitrary 5-day mask guidance made me feel like a masked murderer.
As I drove, I had to roll down my car window and spit phlegm into the streets. Ladylike
My neighbor Kate, who I likely gave COVID, tested negative and encouraged me to test. We could have champagne for New Year’s and celebrate getting better. Even though Dr. McDuffy’s office said I didn’t have to retest, I was now excited that I could have a negative test for a party.
I went back to my stack of
taxpayer-funded free Biden tests. I struggled again with the directions on the insert. I googled the how-to video which was even more confusing.
After I put three drops in the test, both the T and then the C immediately had dark lines under them. No way. I set a timer for 15 minutes to see if one of the lines would disappear. It didn’t change. I texted Kate a photo of the positive test.
Are you fucking kidding me!? Why won’t it go away? And do you know how many times I had to type fucking for this fucking phone not to write ducking !?! WTF? I’m a grown-up who is allowed to curse.
Obviously, I was really upset and frustrated.
Later, I googled and found that it’s normal for people to test positive for a while. In a study published in JAMA Network Open, it showed that 80% of people with COVID tested positive on day five and 35% of them still tested positive on day 10.
Still. There went New Year’s Eve.
Kate dropped outside my door a jar of Aztec secret clay with instructions to take a bath with it and Epson salts. She said that “it will get out the COVID.” I did what she told me.
Meanwhile, my Apple watch was shaming me with incessant alerrts for not running and walking my normal 4.5 miles a day for the past five days. I wrote in my notes:
Why cannot I tell the app that I’m sick and to leave me alone?
Day 6, New Year’s Day, Gotta Move
I’d set my alarm to sleep only 12 hours. I was determined to force myself to get better already. I had a hacking cough and congestion, but I was determined to walk outside. It was 60 degrees and sunny, which is unheard of in January in D.C. I hoped the sunshine would get back my circadian rhythms so i would sleep less.
The doctor refused care because he just didn’t like what I was prescribed by another doctor.
Normally on Saturday, I run 5 miles on the National Mall. But I was exhausted. I bundled up and walked. I stopped several times to rest or cough up junk. I walked four miles in 60 minutes. At the end, I felt better for moving my body and being outdoors. My watch was proud of me for once this week.
“I’m worried it’s going to take a while to get back my normal running pace and distrance because of the coughing and fatigue,” I wrote in my notes. “Tomorrow is day 7 so I need to feel like I’m back in action, or I’ll despondent.”
I bet they would have done the drug interaction check if I told them I was taking crack cocaine and fentanyl with COVID.
By evening, my only symptom was the hacking cough. Yet I was over alalyzing why I got so sick. I studied this new variant called Kracken. I could only find epidemiologists saying it was much more contagious than past COVID variants and evades the boosters.
With zero science schooling, I declared in my notes
I think it’s worse than previous omicron sub-variants but may just be for those of us who don’t have natural immunity.
I also noted that we shouldn’t joke about “COVID brain” because it’s a real thing. I kept forgetting where I put things or what I was doing. “What kind of sickness affects brain cells?” I wrote. “The Chinese planned this.”
I took the last antibiotic from the Z-Pak.
Did ivermectin work?
It was Monday, day 7, and I still had one more dose (7 pills) of ivermectin. I stopped taking it so I’d have some spares. I took the HCQ as prescribed for several more days.
I was out of bed but still had a ton of congestion and coughing, which made me tired. I was still taking Mucinex every 12 hours. I took the prescription cough suppressant about once a day for several more days.
The next day, I texted my friends with COVID:
I just ran 3.5 miles. Slower than usual and coughed up gunl on the way, but now I know I’m better. And if I back slide tomorrow, you can tell me I’m stupid.
One friend replied, “That doesn’t sound normal.” I laughed. She was right.
But I didn’t backslide from it. And mentally, the run helped so much.
The Chinese planned this.
Finally on Wednesday, my day 9, I was almost entirely recovered. It’s hard to say exactly if the IVM made the difference since I was taking 14 things.
All my friend who had COVID with me were vaccinated, and none took ivermectin. The ones who fared best had natural immunity from having had COVID previously. They had easy cases for a couple days. I got better quicker than those who were also COVID first timers.
Now, exactly three weeks later, I stil have slight congestion and occasional cough and sleep more than usual. I’ve been back to running and the gym for two weeks, but the intensity is still not as high as pre COVID.
I bragged for two years about being unvaccinated and not getting COVID. I boasted for three years about not getting the virus despite ignoring all recommended preventive measures.
Whether my fearlessness came from denial or being accustomed to crises from my work, I am glad that I didn’t know how badly people feel with COVID. It might have scared me.
*All the names in this story have been changed for their privacy.
Exactly what I took for COVID**
The exact prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements and devices I used to treat COVID symptoms are listed below. Consult with your own doctor.
Azithromycin (antibiotic) 250 mg – Two tables the first day, then one a day for four days
Ivermectin 3mg – Seven tablets once a day for seven days
Hydroxychloroquine 200mg – One tablet, twice a day for 10 days
Benzonatate (cough suppressant) 200 mg – One tablet, three times a day as needed
Mucinex Fast-Max Severe Congestion and Cough Liquid, 1 dose (capful of liquid) every four hours
Mucinex Maximum Strength 12-Hour Chest Congestion Expectorant, 1200 mg guaifenesin, 14 tablets- One pill in the morning and one at night. I switched to this version of Mucinex when I didn’t need the added medicines in the severe congression one. I took it at night during week two until I finished the pack. https://bit.ly/3ZdcZBc
Sore throat pray – Chloraseptic cherry
Nasal mist – Simply Saline Allergy & Sinus Relief Nasal Mist https://bit.ly/3WWvVCS
Aspirin Regimen Bayer 81mg Enteric Coated Tablets – Took 4 once a day
Aleve – Naproxen Sodium Pain Reliever Caplets (NSAID) – one in the morning and one at night https://bit.ly/3vNgX65
Vitamins and supplements
Zinc Lozenges — 365 Brand, 23mg with Vitamin C – Directions say to dissolve in your mouth no more than twice a day, but I took four a day until I got the higher dose Zinc.
Note: I’ve been taking these for years because they stop colds for me. They are hard to find on the shelves at Whole Foods so ask customer service for help. I once found them in stock on Amazon at the link above.
Zinc — Solgar Zinc 50 mg
Probiotic — Culturelle daily, two a day while on antibiotics, then one a day
Vitamin D– Thorne Vitamin D-1,000 – Vitamin D3 – One per day before getting COVID. Three per day while having COVID until I got a higher dose of Vitamin D
Note: I used to take Thorne brand 5,000 IU, but my doctor asked why I was taking so much since my blood levels didn’t show a Vitamin D deficiency, likely because I’m outside in the sun year-round. I told my doctor I was doing it just in case. He said that was unnecessary, but if I insisted on taking it, cut down to 1,000 IU. I’ll go back to that level when I’m totally recovered.
Vitamin D — Nature Made Vitamin D3 2000 IU (50 mcg) – Two per day, one in the morning and one at night. I’m still taking this dosage in week two.
Vitamin C — Nature Made brand Vitamin C Softgels 500mg – Before COVID, one per day. During COVID, two a day, morning and night. I’m sticking with this dosage until all my symptoms go away. https://amzn.to/3X8LLul
Vitamin C — Nature Made Chewable 500 mg– My friend sent these in the care package. Note: I used to eat these every night for dessert because they taste like candy. But then I got into my pill dividers so needed a capsule of Vitamin C. I’m still eating these now that I have them again.
Oxygen Monitor — CVS Health Pulse Oximeter https://bit.ly/3igRfUE
Thermometer — Oral Thermometer with Fever Alert, Memory Recall, C/F Switchable
Pill Dividers– 2 Pack Extra Large Weekly Pill Organizer, 7 Day with XL Compartment for Fish Oils, Travel Friendly Medicine Organizer Pill Case for Vitamins, Supplements