Covid Tales - Paxlovid
Some more about covid in general later. But for now, some very specific tips about obtaining antivirals should you also fall ill. The TL:DR is it's a very specific, difficult process.
I started having symptoms around 10pm last Thursday, 4/28, but decided to wait until Friday morning to test because it came on so fast. So positive test as of about 7:30am on 4/29.
But hey! There are antivirals now, I should be feeling better soon (because I could not have felt any worse). So I check the nationwide Test to Treat site and it says some CVS's near me are sites. So I call them and they have not heard of this.
At this point, all I know that I want are "antivirals." I soon learn that what I am looking for is paxlovid. It needs to be taken within the first 5 days of onset, and there is some thought the earlier the better.
So then I call my regular clinic, HealthPartners. It's now around 9 am. I am told I can have a nurse screening around 11am. So I take that. They call and tell me I'm not eligible because I don't have any risk factors (it's the risk factors that qualify you, not severity of illness).They say I can talk to a doctor and appeal that at 12:25, so I do. Doctor tries to push it through based on my BMI but it won't go. She calls me back a little later and says she still can't get it through, I need a BMI of at least 35 and even then it's iffy and since she's tried to push it through once it won't again and there's nothing we can do.
I feel like death for the rest of the day. Those who know me will understand this when I say I can't even read.
Saturday morning, Patrick takes me to Allina Urgent Care. They say they probably can't do anything but I can wait. After an hour, where tons of people go ahead of me, it's clear they really can't do anything and all I'm doing is potentially infecting the rest of the people there, so I leave.
Patrick gets on the line to HealthPartners again to try to appeal. Long phone call, no dice. They also re-iterate that I should not be taking ibuprofen for the aches because I might be thinning my blood too much, so I stick with the baby aspirin, which is doing approximately nothing.
Patrick goes to the circus shows. I watch my home oximeter vary between 85-95 for so long that I take a friend's advice and haul myself to the ER. I park a block away and walk in on my own in the rain. It's incredibly lonely. I feel like I am wasting resources, but hey, I'll put off the doubts and get paxlovid, right?
My 02 levels are fine there (they suspect my home one just runs low). They can send a referral to the hospital pharmacist to see if I can *maybe* get paxlovid, but no one can look at it until Monday or Tu (note Tu is day 5 from test, 6 from symptoms). They tell me it probably won't work anyway. They are incredibly nice though.
So I have now spent 2 full days trying to get a drug everyone swears is being given away like candy and no dice. I've hauled myself all over and feel even more like death.
So today I finally figure out the CVS MinuteClinic system (you have to set up a CVS patient portal as well as a CVS account). The telehealth guy is on time and pleasant. He tells me ibuprofen is fine. He prescribes an inhaler, because he says he thinks by my cough I should likely have one. And — hallelujah — he prescribes paxlovid. I'm not going to lie, I may have added a pound or two to get to an allowable BMI number — but who knows how much I've gained just lying around anyway.
So, if you become ill or know someone who does, it appears that right now HealthPartners and Allina are operating in super-restrictive mode. For now at let, CVS MinuteClinic seems to be your best bet — you have to do a lot of account setup, which is hard when you are sick, and they are booked up, but at least right now they seem to have an ability to prescribe. I have also heard that M Health Fairview will right now, but have not confirmed.
It should not be this hard.
ETA - I'm an educated, native English speaker who is exceptionally good at navigating healthcare. I also had Patrick assisting. And it took 2.5 days and a LOT of expensive appointments. I can't even imagine what it's like for others.
another edit - as of today, Wednesday, I still have heard absolutely nothing from the ER referral for antivirals. I'm so glad I went the CVS route!