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CVN reporter Phil Perry

Welcome back to Wrong Side of the Mountain, my column about what makes Boone County a good or bad place to live, depending on your perspective.

If you read my last column, you are aware that I tested positive for COVID-19 on July 13. I’m happy to report that as I pen this column on July 23, I tested negative on July 20 and will test again on July 24.

I’m most happy to report that, through my own skip tracing efforts, no one who has been in a room with me or was around me in any capacity has tested positive for the virus, and this includes those who have had the most exposure — my family and the musicians with whom I play.

I really didn’t have to ponder what the right thing to do was and I chose to go public with my positive test. I had observed a stigma surrounding those who had tested positive and I wanted to take that on. I wanted to share my experience and hope it would inspire others to do the same because in the end, I feel that the more people we have giving accurate accounts of their symptoms and the testing process, the better off we will be in terms of moving past this pandemic.

Anyone who knows me and knows what I have overcome health-wise since 2016 is aware that I am strong, independent and most definitely not a sympathy-seeker. I’m more the type of person who doesn’t want you to look at me sideways — I want to do all the things you can do in spite of my challenges. I don’t make excuses, I choose to keep fighting. My “fight tank” is buried on the full mark.

My symptoms have been relatively mild in comparison to some I have researched. There is definitely a neurological aspect of this as I have noticed sensitive itchy and “crawling” skin sensations. I have not logged a single elevated temperature. My highest was a 98.1 as I generally rest at 97.8.

Inexplicably, I woke up once to my right leg shaking uncontrollably. I have NEVER experienced that before and I have no idea if it is related. I thought that I had been dreaming but my wife brought it up the next morning and asked me what that was all about. Perhaps I thought I was Elvis circa 1956, who knows, but I found it worthy of mentioning.

I have had persistent headaches that I’ve been able to control with an Ibuprofen/Tylenol cocktail at the urging of my doctor. My eyes were itchy for a solid week, but as I write this — that has subsided.

I have been particularly drowsy in the late afternoon and evening, which I have never experienced. I’m generally a 5-6 hours of sleep per night kind of person, but throughout this I’m pushing 10 solid hours. I had noticed this just prior to my first test but thought I was “catching up on lost sleep.”

I’ve consulted with my doctor and I plan to quarantine for an additional seven days after my second negative test, and this is by my choice, not medical protocol.

I can say without hesitation that my body has been going through some sort of struggle and I can attest that it isn’t a “placebo effect” of receiving a positive test.

Despite a few condescending comments from people who I thought were my friends, I’ve received a tremendous amount of positive support. I want to thank you publicly for that and let you know how much it means to me and anyone else who may be faced with this situation.

I want to thank my work family at HD Media for supporting my decision to go public with my positive test. Putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) every day is much more inspiring with the support of the bosses up the chain.

My hope is that through this experience, we can all be more educated as we continue to learn more and that hopefully for many of you, there is a first-hand report of what I have experienced that may help you or your family process all of this.

I truly believe that stigma and/or discrimination can occur when people associate a disease, such as COVID-19, with a population, nationality or community of people — even when the population from that region is specifically at risk for the disease as southern West Virginia definitely is. Stigma can also occur after a person has been released from COVID-19 quarantine even though they are not considered a risk for spreading the virus to others.

Everyone can contribute to stamping out the stigma related to COVID-19 by seeking the facts and sharing them with others in your community. My hope is that we can all do this together, put politics aside and be smart, be safe and not take unnecessary chances with our health.

If you have questions about potential symptoms, consult your health care provider, not the somewhat creepy guy that your goofy cousin Mikey recommended who cuts your grass with little-to-zero commitment or attention to detail and calls this all a “hoax.”

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at pperry@ or at 304-307-2401.