A COVID-19 Survivor Warns Other Men

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S1: This ad free podcast is part of your slate plus membership.

S2: Was there anything that you did in hindsight that you wish that you didn’t like any anything that you would now characterize as irresponsible? Absolutely.

S3: I went to a few different parties. You went to a party in South Florida. There are a lot of parties. I will say one of my friends had a baby shower, but Latin baby showers are marches, excuses to throw a party. And then there’s, you know, beach parties are my friends through, you know, going to the mall. And of course, in the airport, I wasn’t taking any precautions or anything like that. I saw a few people with masks, but it wasn’t washing my hands as diligently as I should have. Wasn’t, you know, avoiding people or social distancing. This is before, you know, things got more serious, how it is today. But looking back, you know, I kind of wish I took those operates a little bit more seriously and started seeing how big of a pandemic could really evolve into.

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S4: This is David Veiga. He’s a 27 year old medical student in Indianapolis. And after he got back from that trip, he tested positive for Cauvin 19. Thankfully, he’s recovered now. But like me and a lot of guys that I’ve talked to, he thought that because he’s this healthy do that he’d be less likely to get infected or worse. It didn’t turn out that way. And they got me thinking about how that arrogance, that reluctance to believe that we aren’t invincible might play a part in how this virus spreads. I know, because I felt that overconfidence to.

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S5: Hello and welcome to MAN UP, I’m your host, a smile. And on this show, we crack questions big and small about manhood.

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S1: All right, so here’s what I’ve learned. Here’s the secret to kicking this virus.

S7: That’s Chris Cuomo, CNN anchor who tested positive for Koven, 19.

S1: It’s not a pill or a potion. It’s about your will and devotion. The virus wants us to lay down. The virus wants us to take it.

S7: We’ve heard spring breakers and probably at least some of the men around us dismissed. This virus is no threat. The realm of hysterics and the weak. But here’s Chris. Even after becoming sick with it, saying essentially the same thing, he beat the virus with determination, not his immune system. It’s all just a state of mind. It’s the same kind of thinking. And it’s everywhere. Early numbers, by the way, show men have died from the Corona virus at higher rates than women around the world. We’ll get to that in a minute. But first, back to David. He’s better and he wants to make sure people stop talking like this.

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S8: One of my best friends actually encouraged me and reached out to me and said, hey, you should share your story because you’re young, you’re healthy, worked out a lot and you’re gonna be a doctor. You know, I think people would listen to you.

S9: So what was it like to experience it?

S10: I remember being really, really scared, not knowing what was going on, so I started feeling probably day 1 fever, chills, fatigue, complete muscle, body aches, complete loss of appetite.

S8: No desire to do anything, just staying in my bed most of the day. And I remember thinking he was probably just the flu.

S10: I actually had an incidental doctor’s appointment. The second day of me experiencing symptoms. And this is for something totally, completely unrelated. But because I was experiencing fever, I actually had one hundred and 1 degree fever when I went to the doctor’s appointment that day. And because I had traveled outside of the country in the last 28 days, they decided to do a flu test on me. And because I came back negative at Reflex to Cauvin, 19. So I was actually very lucky to be one of the people that was actually tested for it, because I know testing was not as widely available as it is now. We’re still seeing problems in that sector as well. But I continued to experience fever, fatigue, chills for an entire week, about a week and a half.

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S11: And I don’t know about you, but for me, that was very, very scary. I’ve had the flu in the past and usually fever, chills, fatigue will last about a day or two, maybe three days. But I think reaching day 89, you start kind of getting worried about all the other things that are going wrong in your body. I even remember starting to kind of get on the mend and attempt to get homework out. And I got winded pretty quickly. So I knew I kind of had to take it easy and had a kind of let this thing ride. Before I went back to my at least somewhat normal routine.

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S12: Yeah. The first time I heard about it, I was I think I was working in the office. We had just put out an episode about how men don’t take sick days when they need them and how they just try and power through. And so I was already thinking about how much extra work needs to be done to convince a man that he’s sick before he even tries to get better. Sure. And you know, it’s funny, even though I was thinking about that and I was in that mode, I had a conversation with my cousin who lives in Canada, who was talking about how scared he was for America and how bad it was getting in China and how it’s definitely going to show aperiod. And I was still thinking, oh, well, I’m young, they’d suck. And it really hurt me if I even if I did catch it or probably get over it real quick. There was a little bit of arrogance I sensed in myself. I wanted to know if you relate to that at all and whether or not you see that trending with some of your other male friends.

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S13: Absolutely. I think it’s very easy to fall into that trap thinking, you know, you’re young. And for me, you know, I watch what I eat. I exercise most days of the week. So and I don’t have any other health conditions. So general generally pretty healthy. So I thought, you know, if in the off chance that I were to get it, it might be like a cold or maybe like a flu. I’ll be out for a few days.

S9: But I definitely wasn’t expecting it to occur for about two weeks, which is the period of time that I was experiencing symptoms. Can you tell me why you felt that way? I think just living, you know, my whole life, I have never really been scared about my health, ever my in my 27 years of living.

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S10: So I think just to hear about another outbreak, you know, growing up in school, you hear about these pandemics, you know, the Spanish flu and, you know, just other things like that. And it’s it’s hard. I think these things are hard. To really conceptualize that it’s real until either you experience it yourself or a loved one or someone that, you know, experiences it. And for me, unfortunately it had to be me experiencing it. So really kind of have a take home message from all of that.

S14: When I was talking to my cousin, my first response was, you know, why are you trying to freak me out like this is this is going to come in past like everything else. And don’t listen to the news. The news makes a big deal out of everything. Like we’re Muslim. We know exactly how this plays out. Like they’re just hyping it up.

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S2: So.

S12: Were you that person at the very beginning thinking that it was a little crazy to do all those extra precautions?

S8: So good question, because I was in the middle of starting to experience symptoms myself. I remember, you know, when I saw the NBA was canceled and, you know, that was kind of a shocking moment. And I was like, wow. Like, just because, you know, one player got it. You know, everything is now canceled. And I think it really took a week in two for everything to start registering for me to see like, wow, like this is continuing to spread. It’s not getting any better. If anything, it’s getting way worse, especially coming from Africa where I you know, I spent two months in hospitals and doctors would have to make decisions every day about who should get that ICU bed, because we only have five and you know, we have three patients or ten patients that need it, but we really lot of transfer one. So, so many resource allocation decisions. And it’s hard to see patients die because they can’t get the proper care that we need. And that’s something that I never thought would happen here in the United States, coming from a country with so much wealth and, you know, so much medical expertise. And to see us heading in that direction, to see us not have, you know, enough ventilators in the ICU for now, doctors to have to have conversations with their superiors, you know, about who should get that ventilator, who should get the ICU bed is insane. And I think day in every single day that goes by, you hear more, more stories about just physicians and other health care professionals just sharing their stories. And I think it just makes it more and more real for all of us.

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S14: Yeah. I mean, if you did take it more seriously, how would it have played out differently?

S10: If I take it more seriously, I probably wouldn’t have been infected with the virus. I think for me still as a medical student finishing my studies and going to residency, it still affects me. Are schools actually letting us graduate early to go out and help with the pandemic? So I think, you know, by this point in time, I. I would definitely still take more seriously. But I think having first hand experience, it makes me really understand the seriousness of this virus and really makes me want to advocate for young people and for young men all across the country that, you know, this is a serious thing and knocked me out for two weeks. And I was lucky to not be one of the young people that ended up in the hospital, because we’re seeing more and more young people going to the hospital, go to ICU, being put on ventilators, things like that, and even dying.

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S15: I’m 30 now, but I still feel like I’m 28 a heart and I still feel like I can do crazy things and ride my skateboard and jump off stairs and do whatever. And I feel confident that I’ll recover, that my body will be able to keep up and be as strong as it was yesterday. What do you think you needed to hear so that you can believe that you could get Corona virus to?

S2: Or do you think that you needed to experience it first hand in order to understand that you can get sick to.

S8: Definitely wish I would have heard rather than experienced it.

S16: Yeah, but.

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S8: I think once it hits someone that you personally know. It’s a heads home.

S17: And, you know, hearing about the terrible conditions in the hospitals that residents and doctors are having to work in and how they’re being overworked and not having the appropriate masks or not having enough masks for them to work. And now, you know, doctors dying and nurses dying because of this virus. I think seeing how much, you know, panic and frenzy it’s causing, especially into a field, I’m about to jump in in the next month or two. And knowing it’s going to affect me, I think just seeing that would have made me second guess that social gathering I went to or rethink going to that party. I think, you know, if I if I just would have seen kind of the repercussions that we now are seeing and living day by day, I would have not done what I what I did and I would have taken all these steps. When we’re seriously, you know, we can’t be frivolous about our lives and the lives of others. You know, this is where we really got to support each other.

S6: We’re going to take a quick break. But when we come back, we’ll hear from a physician who’s well acquainted with mental reluctance to take medical threats seriously. Stick around.

S18: You know, it’s kind of funny the guys don’t wash their hands on a normal day to day basis when it’s just about you use the bathroom, right? We joke about that kind of thing. It’s not right now it’s not funny because it is no doubt what’s contributing to the spread.

S7: This is Dr. Michael Smith. He’s an internal medicine doctor and the chief medical editor of Web M.D..

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S19: So we’ve been reading about how men are less likely to take the virus seriously, which as a man is really frustrating. So I wanted to know if you’ve seen that in your work and whether or not you’ve seen any data to back up that on the ground.

S20: Well, so we know for a fact based on past data, having nothing to do with this latest outbreak that men tend to be more lax with behaviors such as hand-washing. So there have been previous studies, you know, looking at minute after they go to the bathroom and only about 50 percent of guys wash their hands after go into the bathroom. Right. May we see it? We see the guys. That one either don’t and especially when they leave the stall, they leave the bathroom and they don’t wash their hands. But the ones that even do they think a trickle of water over their fingertip somehow did something. So I think we all see that. Now, I’m hoping that this will serve as a lesson that’s not proper hand-washing. And if I think if we were all in public bathrooms right now, we would see far better hand-washing techniques than we have in the past. But that shows us that guys just aren’t as good with some of these basic things like hand-washing. And that is what this survey really tells us, is that men are taking it less seriously. They’re not as concerned. They feel like they’re, you know, some people are or unnecessarily panicking over what’s going on now.

S21: I highly suspect the more time that goes on, the more enlightened even guys will become over this.

S22: So if men are washing their hands less frequently and maybe even not washing their hands enough when they do washing their hands. Does that make men more vulnerable to dying from the KARUN virus?

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S23: Well, so you raise a good point and that men are more commonly getting infected and the lack of those behaviors is likely one of the causes. But we actually are seeing men are dying more frequently from coronavirus. Now. There are several theories about why that may be certainly getting infected, more might be one reason that they’re dying more. There seems to be something about men. Our immune systems don’t appear to be as strong as women’s. And we see this from other infections.

S21: Men tend to be less healthy than women, and we know less healthy people are more severely affected. More likely to die. And lastly, one issue that we know is at play is that guys tend to delay going to the doctor. I think we can all relate to that. We you know, we feel like we just power through. We’ll be okay.

S20: And a lot of guys, when they’re going to the emergency room with cold symptoms are already very far gone at this point. And so that’s why it’s harder to to treat them and there’s no specific treatment. So it’s the only option, as you’ve heard much about, is put them on a ventilator if they’re that far gone.

S19: So on the show, we try and talk about all the different ways that men have been programmed to behave. You know, life’s lessons that they learn as their kids or just the way they’re rewarded for bad behavior or whatever. So do you think that men have been programmed to not take threats like Colvard 19 seriously because they know you’re still practicing now? Have you noticed that right with your patients, too?

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S24: Oh, no doubt. Absolutely.

S25: The women come in mostly concerned about their kids, their family, their parents who are Nel’s isolated, alone, helping take care of them. And the reality is, I rarely hear guys ask questions about that or voiced concern about that.

S18: I have no doubt they’re concerned about it. Absolutely. We’re just sad. Guys just don’t tend to talk about that stuff as much. I think, therefore, we’re not quite it’s not top of mind for us like it is for women. I mean, it’s a bit stereotypical. I know. But here’s the thing. Women tend to take care of the home. The fact that, you know, as kids, we’re going to come home and have to be home schooled. Women were much more concerned about that because they know it’s going to tend to fall more on them. Not across the board, but it’s not a real shocker that they would be much more concerned about the spread of this potentially to their own family and their friends than guys maybe.

S19: Yeah. And just to be clear, we’re not talking about all men either, Craven, all women for that matter.

S22: BALOON We’re looking at the trends and we’re looking at the numbers and we’re seeing that more men are being infected and more men are being killed by this virus.

S19: It almost feels like if we’re not talking about these disparities, then we’re not going to be doing our part to protect people from getting infected in the future.

S18: You know, an important point is and it’s true for, you know, younger men and women across the board that even though younger people seem to be fairly spared from the severe. Not completely. There are plenty of young people who are getting severe infections and even dying, but generally far more in older people. The important thing for those young people to realize is you’re likely the ones primarily spreading it because the young people like you probably noticed out today. They tend to be the ones that are out and about us. See this? When I was I was down in my condo in Florida, isolating myself there when I looked down off the balcony. Who’s down roaming around? Or even, you know, out walking or running is the younger people tend to be out there more. So, I mean, it’s young people have a big responsibility here, guys and girls, to really help contain the spread in a big way, at least when it resolves starting and hitting the news cycle.

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S19: And part of my first instinct was, oh, I need to go out and do the shopping because I’m young and I’m I’m confident in my ability to fight off something like the flu. So I should be able to go to the grocery store and stock up. But now that we’re looking at it and we’re seeing that our all different kinds of people are getting ill, I almost feel like maybe us being a little naive.

S18: Well, I mean, and even myself, I I tend to be more of an eternal optimist. And early on, I also was a little bit, you know, not really thinking it would be like this.

S21: So I can sympathize with guys who early on probably didn’t take it as seriously because I felt like I was also in that both to begin with.

S18: But now, I mean, for my own personal health reasons, I have an autoimmune condition which exercises extremely helpful for, you know, we hear a lot about medicines and vaccines and tests.

S24: None of that is going to be what stops this thing. It is going to be us and us working together with social distancing. And now masks and all of that. That is going to be the thing that stops this.

S19: Can I just stay for a second that I’m so thankful to finally get to talk to a medical professional about this? There are just so many political figures who even right now are are questioning whether or not shutting down schools or shutting down offices is an appropriate response to covered 19. And we’re not just seeing that a local government we’re seeing that at every level of government from Democrats and Republicans all the way to the top, like the president still is suggesting that we should be done with this in the next few weeks.

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S22: Even last week in Georgia, where you live, the governor, Brian Kemp, said that he just found out that people who are asymptomatic in carrying transmit the virus, which to me sounds crazy because we’ve known that for weeks now.

S18: Yeah, that one of our prouder moments for sure. Yeah, it’s that’s really unfortunate. But here’s the thing. And when leaders are behaving that way, when leaders are saying these things, people assume that they know what they’re talking about. So people hear that. And, you know, when we have leaders saying, well, you know, the CDC is recommending mass, but I’m not going to wear one. There is no doubt in my mind that it’s going to lead to more people not wearing them and more spread of this unnecessary spread of this this virus.

S25: So I’m like you.

S20: It’s very disconcerting to hear non-medical professionals really voicing opinions like that.

S7: Have you ever had to convince any of your patients to take the health more seriously?

S24: Oh, for sure. I mean, not necessarily with this. Thankfully, people seem to get it. And when I talk to them about the the behaviors, they at least in my experience that people have taken it seriously or at least seeming seemingly do. You know, it’s hard for us, I think, with guys, too. We tend to be more like perpetual teenagers. Things aren’t gonna happen to us, just like with heart disease. Guys don’t think they’re gonna get heart disease when it’s what kills most guys. It’s what kills most women.

S26: But guys in particular just tend to not think it’s going to happen to us. And I think that’s a rude thing. What’s going on with this outbreak as well?

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S15: You said that you had like a weaker auto immune system. It seems like you’re especially vulnerable. Does it affect at all how you feel when people don’t take this as seriously as they should?

S27: Because I am so diligent about my healthy habits. I don’t need to go on immune suppressing drug for my condition. Some. A lot of people with my condition are on immune suppressing drugs. And those people are absolutely more vulnerable if they get the infection. Their chances of serious illness are far greater than the average person. So yeah, that is something that does hit home to me, but. When I think of the high risk people in my family, like my mother, who is sitting at home all alone, her family can’t even go see her. When I see the in the elderly people in nursing homes whose families are having to wish him happy birthday through a window, it’s that is gut wrenching to me. I mean, please, we got gotta. We have to wrap this up because those people won’t be around long period.

S23: I mean, they’re in their 90s that they need their families.

S28: It’s just very troubling to me to think about what some people are going through because of what’s happening in the world.

S29: One piece of advice for everybody is connect to your friends and your family and honestly feel like social media is particularly great at that right now. Stop looking at the news 24/7. That will never do you any good. It will be your downfall and I would highly recommend you just turn the TV off and watch a comedy. Laughter to be is the best medicine.

S30: So find a good comedy and to share and partake in that instead of the horrific news you can connect for a few minutes a day. And that’s all you know. We’ll tell you everything you need to know.

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S5: There you go. Watch comedies proscribes from an actual doctor.

S31: That’s my prescription for sure. I guess on a lighter note, how bad is your handwriting? It’s getting worse and worse every day as they do less and less of it, though, when you to try to read it.

S5: And that’s the show. Thank you so much for listening. If you’re enjoying it, please hit us with their good rating in your podcasting app.

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S5: Feel free to call us at a 05 6 2 6 8 7 0 7 at 8 0 5 men up 0 7. Or you can e-mail us at men up at Slate.com. And don’t forget to make sure you subscribe because we’ve got new shows every week. And I’d hate for you to miss out. Man Up is hosted and written by me, Ayman Smiley. It’s produced by Cambridge Drewes. Our editors are Jeffrey Blumer and Lo Lu. Gabriel Roth is the editorial director of Slate Podcasts and June Thomas is a senior managing producer of Sleep Podcasts. We’ll be back next week with more man up.