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John Mosler, 59: COVID-19, Slammed, Survived: A Way Forward

John Mosler, one of the toughest, fittest people we know, tested positive for COVID-19. He tells us about his experience so we can all be safer.

We previously profiled John Mosler here. He is the first of our tight community of profiled people to have contracted COVID. We are printing here his experience and recommendations for the benefit of all.                                                    

Please take what I say in the following as a message intended to motivate you to listen and take all precautions. You can stay safe, but take all possible safety measures. There are no guarantees even then.

I’ve been through a lot (even a war), know a lot, took every precaution possible and still got slammed. COVID-19 can and will be contained, but it is no doubt a sneaky, mean son of a bitch.

Tough, Resilient, and COVID-Positive

I’m a sculptor, in great shape, an alpine big-mountain climber, ex-amateur boxer, amateur wrestler, rugby player. Tough, resilient guy, my friends would most likely say. No doubt all that helped, but this took me to the edge. I survived with amazing care from the lovely Jean Won Mosler, by being prepared, creative, and with the support of so many friends to whom I am beyond grateful.

I am not writing here for sympathy, nor to frighten. I am writing to inform with my specifics, provide hope and to empower. Here is my COVID-19 story:

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I was on the phone, and suddenly felt what I can best describe as head shivers and headache and suddenly, while still on the phone, it felt like someone wielded an axe into my head. Of course, I said “Got to go!” and hung up.

Frostbite-Freezing to 103 Fever

Left the studio and went to the gallery side of the building and immediately my hands and feet started to feel like they were freezing; frostbite freezing. Moments later I shook uncontrollably, shivering everywhere and had an extreme headache.

I got through it.

Next phase was to run upstairs to bed. I knew what was up, and I always trust my first instinct. Finally, I got warm — too warm. Fever jumps to 103 plus, overheat madly, aches moving to the point where it felt like my joints might explode. That was Thursday afternoon straight through Thursday night. Friday, high fever, aches everywhere.

I got through it.

Searching for Pain Relief

We had everything, or so we thought. Vitamins, Mucinex, Aleve (Doc said no-go to that), Zinc, you name it; just missing one critical thing: Tylenol. Tylenol was not to be found anywhere. I am a recovering Wall Street guy that had pretty badass creative skills, analytic skills, and a run-through-brick-wall can-do attitude, yet I felt helpless.  Last resort, and what I thought was a long shot, was Grainger. I use Grainger for Sculpting Studio machinery and other goods. Well, Grainger had a box of 1,000 500mg generic acetaminophen tablets, and they shipped overnight! Who knew there was a way! You can find a way to meet your most urgent needs! Reach out to your friends and have them reach out to their friends. More on that later…

Saturday it felt like everything, I mean everything, wanted to come out of both sides of my body. Extreme nausea right to the point of desperately wanting to throw up, and feeling from my stomach like I wanted to explode out the back end at the same time. Frustratingly, I couldn’t get anything out for relief. Next thing, a pain I can only describe as someone slowly cutting across my lower abdomen. Maybe I’m a dummy and held out from going to the hospital at that point but it was close. Thankfully, no more of that. Next, quite quickly, burning beyond heartburn from my stomach up to my lower chest. Took the only thing we had, Alka-Seltzer and, whatdayouknow, it worked! Thankfully. 

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I got through it.

As to testing, Friday go to urgent care with appointment, but previous appointment used last test…back home. Saturday, first appointment, tested…Tuesday, positive result. The main point of testing is knowing, thereby empowering you to tell those you have been in contact with and helping to achieve critical containment, and finally epidemiology. Days after my test, constraints were put in place for testing only essential workers and the sickest due to the limits of New York City’s testing capacity. I understand the policy but was frustrated as the inability for broad based testing eliminated, for my part, a critical form of potential containment beyond the Shelter-in-Place guideline while mandated, and the oh so important Social Distancing guidelines.

One of the Lucky Ones

Saturday night, two rounds waking up soaked, and I woke up with the fever down to the mid 99s and minor aches here and there. Mainly exhaustion. By Wednesday, no fever. I survived; one of the lucky ones.

I want more people to share their experiences with COVID-19 and gotten through it. Your stories of survival will give so many solace and hope. COVID-19 manifests in numerous ways from asymptomatic to a few days of fever to absurdly diverse, far-ranging impacts like me, to ventilator.

I am not, I repeat, absolutely not, here to scare you. I’m telling my story because I want anyone who has not caught this virus to know my story; and get god damn motivated if not already to follow informed guidance and save lives.

Let’s All Be Heroes

Now, being one that has experienced and gotten past COVID-19, here’s what I would like from you. We have many heroes right now. I would like all of us to be heroes!

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So, now we’re all in it together: The struggle for control, survival and a good outcome. Well, I take that back…there seem to be some who are oblivious, in denial, or somehow feel above it all. Well, nobody is above this; nobody. I got the virus and got through it…and some say survivors are immune. Then, bummer, some say the virus will be back in the fall or there will be new strains. What and who to believe??? Fact is, the curve is bending elsewhere and it will bend here. Yet, there do seem to be quite a few people that have not gotten the memo. Please follow repeated guidance including Shelter-in-Place while mandated, Social Distancing, wash your hands, cover your face when outside. If we all work together and follow the straight forward guidance, we together can achieve containment more quickly and help save lives and reduce suffering. So many are following the guidance, yet there are still many who are not. Encourage your friends and ask them to encourage their friends to follow these straight forward guidelines. I look at following the above guidelines as a true form of heroism. As well, please be there for your friends who are experiencing challenges with the mental and physical elements of Shelter-in-Place.

Empowerment Through Knowledge and Action

Here I offer a few words on hope, wresting some semblance of control in our lives through knowledge, from a person who has survived COVID-19 and a supposed talented Wall Street professional turned sculptor. Bend the curve, such economic damage to the economy and livelihoods. Don’t bend the curve and more people die. Well, in my opinion, we have made the choice, the right choice; bend the curve. The cost so high, so tragic in the desperation for survival, in the bending of the curve. The mistakes, the cost, the blame; all there all true. The suffering for so many is unimaginable.

What to do, then, with so much confusion? What does control mean right now, and where do you find it in this mess? I offer here a few suggested things to look to on the way to empowerment through knowledge and action. First, what one would think are obvious easy ones to execute and I repeat, Social Distancing and washing your hands, among doing your ready best to adhere to CDC and State mandated guidelines. Second, find statistics and expertise that is trustworthy and you can believe in, the good news and the harsh realities. Statistical validation and sourcing trustworthy expertise is always a challenge so I suggest cross referencing multiple sources such as the following which have been helpful for me:

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html (Source: Johns Hopkins University. Comment:(Data sources reliability high), The source The Gates Foundation uses https://covid19.healthdata.org/projections (Source: The University of Washington. Comment: models are a challenge to validate by a user like you or me. Under ‘Estimation Updates’, UW is very specific about model performance.) https://covidtracking.com/data/#state-NY (Source: The COVID Tracking Project referenced in New York Times. Comment: Appears well referenced. State by state, click on “Best Current Data Source” and the site will take you to each state’s Department of Health site.) https://informationisbeautiful.net (Source: Cannot validate site with high confidence though each graph used provides data source. Comment: What I like most about this site is the risk breakdown by age group and pre-existing conditions; extremely valuable information. The source for the risk data is the China CDC. I would like to see validation and publication of similar data by the United States CDC and additional reliable sources.) New York City Site does provide age breakdown for NYC. https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-data.page.  

I have quite a bit of Statistical Analytics experience. At this time, data sourcing is very variable in reliability, methodology, and data gathering process State to State and Nation to Nation. The above sources have been some of the most useful for me for the purpose of cross-referencing statistics and expertise day to day with regard to COVID-19 and being as informed as possible. Centralized sound and consistent sourcing of statistics and expertise will empower all of us (Governor Cuomo actually said that today and good for him!). Big, big shout out to Governor Andrew Cuomo and his daily briefings.

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Trust in the Heroes

Third, trust in the heroes; they are there and they will succeed. There are so many ways, so many ways. Shelter in place while mandated, social distancing, food, money, volunteerism, caring/love for others…be creative with all in your community of friends, and you can and you will find ways big and small (no act of giving all of yourself, without self-harm, is too small) to support families in the deepest need, the hungry, the small businesses that may not survive even with the government support, the employees who have or may well lose their jobs, those struggling with the isolation of Shelter-in-Place. I am hearing wondrous things, wondrous creativity in the service of so many in need. 

Be one of the heroes. Heroes give what they often feel they can’t give, but when you cut through to the truth they can give, and a hero is someone who gives the absolute most they can. Giving empowers. Giving offers solace. Giving offers a sense of control, because you have made your contribution to the solution. Think of those on the front line risking their lives selflessly for all of us, heroes.

Giving Offers a Sense of Control

Now that I have healed, it’s time for me to get creative and be a hero. Yeah, I suck it up as much as I can; I also love denial, I love ice cream, candy, and movies. But there is one thing that I know with all my essence and that is that giving all I can to others in need is the most empowering thing I can do…and I am going to do it. Doing it is the best way to to contribute to the solution; not denial, not fear, not ice cream. I don’t know what impact I may have big or little, but it will be something because I will give all my heart.

I’m better now. I have recovered from the virus. I’m one of the lucky ones. I got a pretty damn good kick in the ass by the virus. Yeah, some may say I’m a tough guy to put down. What truly helped me most was working my ready best to maintain as good an attitude as I possibly could, friends, taking the best care of myself I could, having someone to care for me (many don’t), that’s what I believe helped me most. And attitude is one more thing we have some say in, some control of, no matter how hard things may be or feel. 

Now it is time, for all those who can in any way, to step up for the absolute unlucky ones.  The sick, the families that can’t feed their children, the people losing their businesses, those that are losing their jobs, the sick.

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Reach Out and Stay Connected

So, how crazy is that; the worst of times have given me and so many of you the best opportunity for wresting a seemingly unlikely but true element of a sense of control in our lives by being part of the solution. All of us have the opportunity to be heroes in this unprecedented time of our lives. Remember, being a hero can mean helping in so many ways. The magnitude is irrelevant, just give all of yourself you can. Do something (Follow Shelter-in-Place guidelines while mandated, Social Distancing, wash your hands, cover your face while outside; all at the absolute minimum and all qualifying as a form of heroism). Please do something. It is the nourishing essence of life, I promise you. I know, nobody can promise you anything. I promise you.

PS While Shelter-in-Place is in effect, reach out to your friends — Zoom, Houseparty app, whatever; we can stay interconnected.  The field has been leveled. We now know truly we are interconnected globally. Yet, yet, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum: technology! My last sculpture show was titled The Decline of Intimacy, a part of which talked to the distancing of human interaction caused by technology. Well, joke’s on me! Talk to each other! Be sad together. Find ways to smile together…Oh yeah, there is still a smile hiding in all this crap; some friend of yours will find one for you, and you’ll find one for them.

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David Stewart
David Stewart
David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.

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