My self-quarantine is over, and I’m finally back home.
The past couple of days have consisted of my practicing social distancing, helping my daughter with math homework, and taking twice-a-day walks for some peace of mind during this coronavirus pandemic.
It’s a blessing to no longer be confined to the two-room living quarters that served as my shelter for 14 days. No more stress from wondering if my symptoms were legitimate or just a bad case of nerves. No more trying to get tested for COVID-19, and no more waiting on edge for the results.
Being back at my South Jersey residence since Thursday has been great.
You see, the last couple of weeks have been rough, like many across the world. There was a lot of uncertainty and fear that led to my isolation.
As an NBA beat writer for The Inquirer, I come in contact with several players and team staff members on a daily basis.
Yet, the experiences in California, at the Wells Fargo Center on March 11, and in a local urgent care facility, had me concerned. I’ll be forever thankful for the doctors and nurses at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital who brought clarity to my situation, thus evaporating the stress that comes with wondering if you’re positive for COVID-19.
To know me is to know that I routinely get sick in late March. Something about the combination of a long season, lack of sleep, constantly being in different climates, and an endless number of flights does that to me.
So it wasn’t a big deal when I woke up March 4 in Los Angeles with a sore throat and a cough.
The Sixers didn’t have any media availability that day after changing their practice to an optional workout. As a result, the focus was getting the work for the day completed and trying to move up the time of a scheduled late-night flight to Sacramento.
Unable to do that, I spent the evening at Los Angeles International Airport and felt miserable. The cough wouldn’t go away and fatigue set in.
Around 8 p.m., waiting for the 9:52 flight, I decided to charge my phone in the seating area near my gate. That’s the last thing I remember until waking up at 10 p.m. to an empty area.
For the first time ever, I fell asleep in the airport and missed a flight. I was able to get the first flight out the next morning, but I couldn’t shake the sluggishness.
Your mind keeps saying that you’re going to be OK, that it’s nothing that another bag of cough drops and a cup of coffee won’t solve.
However, the cough and the weariness only increased in the coming days. I found myself taking two or three cough drops at a time and drinking nearly a pot of coffee while taking naps between media sessions on March 5 in Sacramento.
And things only got worse. Chest pains were added to the list the following day.
The chest pains reminded me of my bout with bronchitis during my junior year of high school.
But I kept telling myself that everything would be fine. Despite being exhausted, I went out to eat with a friend following my drive from Sacramento to San Francisco.
The next morning, I went on a five-mile walk after convincing myself the shortness of breath was from being out of shape.
I didn’t get alarmed about the coronavirus until my flight from San Francisco to Philadelphia was delayed for around 90 minutes on March 8.
Initially, the American Airlines employees at the gate said they didn’t know why the plane was delayed. Then they said it was a cleaning issue. After about 45 minutes, we were told that a passenger on an earlier flight on the plane we were about to board, had become extremely ill.
Alarmed, the flight attendants refused to allow people to board the plane until every inch of the aircraft was thoroughly cleansed.
That’s when I started to pay more attention to my symptoms. Fearful for my family and concerned about my condition, I spent the next three nights in isolation away from home after arriving at Philadelphia International Airport.
After spending most of those three days sleeping, I covered the Sixers game against the Detroit Pistons on March 11. At the game’s conclusion, the NBA suspended the season after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
The next morning, I went to a local urgent care facility with the hope of getting tested.
The nurses were nice until learning why I was there. One nurse, in particular, had even gone out of her way to open the door for me. We conversed while walking to the front desk. She asked why I was there. I answered, and suddenly everything changed.
Let’s just say my experience at this facility could have been better. The main thing I remembered was the doctor saying the only thing I could do is self-quarantine for the next 14 days.
He said they didn’t have any tests and was unaware of where I could get one.
. I walked out and proceeded to spend the next two weeks in isolation.
After several more failed attempts to get tested, I paid for a virtual appointment with a Thomas Jefferson University Hospital doctor on March 18. Upon learning I had covered the Sixers game a week earlier, the doctor instructed me to get tested. (The Pistons’ Christian Wood and three members of the Sixers organization received positive tests.)
So I drove that afternoon to one of the hospital system’s South Jersey offices. I was instructed to park outside and dial a number once I arrived. Moments after doing so, a nurse came out and tested me via a nasal swab. That came with a lot of discomfort, but it also came with the good news that I would receive my results in five days.
My negative test results came back Monday, but I was told to remain in isolation until Thursday.