A man diagnosed with coronavirus at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago wrote a viral message from his hospital bed over the weekend detailing exactly how his unexpected situation unfolded.
"For all those who have asked the question 'Does anyone even know anybody that has gotten the coronavirus?', if you know me, you do now," Michael Bane wrote. "My positive test for COVID-19 has been relayed to me, and I wanted to share what my experience with this illness has been. The TL;DR version of this is: It’s brutal, and I have no doubt it can kill you. Anyone who is saying it’s just a bad cold is either had a far different personal experience than I have or is parroting stuff they found on the internet."
Bane, 42, said it all started with a simple gesture for his wife - a flower delivery.
On March 3, he had gone to the hospital for a doctor's appointment - the same hospital where his wife works.
"My wife works at this medical institution, and I thought it would be nice to surprise her with random flowers," he wrote. "On my way, I have an exceptionally brief encounter with someone believed to test positive a short time later. I don’t see my wife, but leave the flowers in her office after being escorted to it."
A little more than a week later, on March 12, Bane said he noticed his nose had started to run, but he was eating spicy food at the time and didn't think anything of it.
"I’m assuming it’s from the hot and sour soup. I don’t have to wipe it, blow it, or anything," he wrote. "It goes away within an hour and wasn’t something that would have registered if not for the current COVID-19 pandemic."
The next day, his runny nose continued, but quickly went away.
On March 14, Bane said he noticed a sore throat, but assumed it was from post-nasal drip or from not sleeping with the humidifier on.
"I see a post that says if you can hold a deep breath for 10 seconds without coughing, that’s a good sign," he wrote. "I can, and I venture out into the increasingly difficult-to-navigate world of grocery shopping. I tell myself I’m being responsible, as I stay as far away from everyone as I can, and I don’t even cough once."
By March 15, Bane's sore throat has worsened and his cough more persistent. He quickly developed an intense fever, eaching up to 104.4 and body aches.
On March 17, he went for a test.
One week after his first sign of symptoms and Bane only knows he tested negative for the flu.
"This is not the cold. This is worse than the worst flu I’ve had," he wrote. "This is the Grim Reaper knocking on my door. I imagine him floating outside my window and flip him the bird. There’s more fear than bravado behind it. I cry some more, until a coughing episode forces me to get it under control."
Finally, on March 21, he heads back to the emergency room. While there, he learns he tested positive for coronavirus.
"I text my family, a few close friends, and my boss," Bane wrote. "Everyone is very kind. My boss lets me know they’re going to have to inform the office someone tested positive, but they’ll keep my anonymous. I tell him to use my name. It’s a scary message to get, and if people have questions maybe I can help. People may take social distancing protocols more seriously if there’s a face to associate with the illness."
Doctors took chest x-rays of Bane and determined he has "bilateral pneumonia."
He was admitted to the hospital.
"So here I am, in the hospital on the 13th floor with a lovely view of the city. Take that isolation! The coughing won’t stop, and I’m waiting for the drugs to arrive. My prognosis seems reasonably good, I don’t need oxygen yet, and the monitors will keep an eye on my levels," Bane wrote. "The point of all this? It’s not real for some of us until it happens to us or someone we know. I appreciate the well-wishes I’ve gotten and am bound to get, and don’t want your sympathy. Please please PLEASE take this seriously. This could kill me. Practice social distancing. Our office shut down and I became homebound when the national emergency was declared. I wish it had happened weeks sooner. I wouldn’t have gotten this, and I wouldn’t have exposed countless other people to it while I was at work and other places asymptomatic. There is a high degree of guilt associated with that. I’m worried about my wife and child. People have died. People will die. It might be people you love. Please stay inside. This is horrible, brutal, devastating and it feels l might be cashing my chips in. Protect the people you care about as best you can. I love you all."
Bane's post was quickly shared hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook.
Bane told NBC 5 from his hospital bed that his health later took a frightening turn and he was placed on oxygen Tuesday night. He posted a second update to Facebook.
"Unfortunately I haven’t started getting better, and seem to be going the other direction," he wrote. "I’m hopeful that is going to change soon. I was put on supplemental oxygen last night, which has helped. The staff here are amazing, and are doing everything they can to keep me comfortable and get me healthy. I plan on walking out of here, and being with my wife and child again."