‘It waits for its moment to strike’: Idaho man endures three days of illness before doctors test him for COVID-19

SPOKANE, Wash. — It was one of the most frightening moments of his life, a Coeur d’Alene man learned he was suffering from Coronavirus. He didn’t know it until after two trips to the emergency room and three days in agony.

“I had a very sharp stabbing pain in my chest. And when that happened, my vision completely went blank. It was probably for a good two or three seconds. I come back and I was gasping for breath. It was absolutely terrifying,” said Joe Paisley, he tested positive for COVID-19 after three days feeling ill.

He said through the whole thing, no one at the hospital tested him for COVID-19.

No one is exempt from Coronavirus, no matter your age or how healthy you are. That’s what we’re learning again from Paisley.

Paisley was the picture of health. He’s a husband and a dad who frequently runs after two kids, which is why he was shocked that COVID-19 bit into him the way it did. He said you can be one of the luckier patients who are asymptomatic or show minimal symptoms, but that was not him. When Coronavirus hit him, it struck hard.

“It waits for its moment to strike. They think I got it last week at some point. Then I went and worked out, dropped my rapid immunoresponse system just enough to give it a crack and come in and just go bananas,” Paisley said.

In the course of one weekend, Paisley’s life was taken over by COVID-19. Though, he didn’t know at first.

“I had no idea that it would do this to me, and it did. I know I am in the very low percentage of people that have to feel like they got the full strike from COVID like this,” Paisley said.

It started Saturday, he told his wife he wasn’t feeling well, then eventually passed out.

“Woke up later to EMTs and a heart rate of 155 and blood sugar of 51. If you know about blood sugar, 51 is not good. You do not want to be at 51,” Paisley said.

He went to the hospital and was eventually sent home when his tests came back fine. When he got home, though, he was not fine.

“I had a very sharp stabbing pain in my chest. And when that happened, my vision completely went blank. It was probably for a good two or three seconds. I come back and I was gasping for breath. It was absolutely terrifying,” Paisley said.

He took a second trip to Kootenai Health’s emergency room. But as a 34-year-old active man, COVID-19 didn’t cross his mind.

“Active my whole life. All of the sports, all of the things, all the time. I’ve been pretty much going to the gym three or four times a week for the last two or three years,” Paisley said.

He said he didn’t think the virus would give him this combination of symptoms.

“The blood sugar crash, the high heart rate afterwards. Then finding nothing and then the tightness in my chest. Then, a weird pain. This stuff really just did not piece together with all of the stuff I was used to hearing,” Paisley said.

It didn’t cross doctors minds either. It wasn’t until Monday he was tested for the virus. He talked to his primary care doctor and she was also surprised no one at the hospital tested him for COVID-19.

“There is just added days that I could’ve infected my family, when I could’ve been put in isolation right away,” Paisley said.

Now, he’s in isolation in his basement, healing through the symptoms.

“There was a couple moments where it definitely got super dizzy and then it just lets go. It’s really weird. I cough and sometimes I feel like my hands are going to explode. It’s a sickness I’ve never felt before,” Paisley said.

Paisley is going to be in his basement in quarantine for the next couple weeks. Once he’s symptom-free and tests negative, he can start transitioning back to normal life.

However, he said he is in no rush. He’ll quarantine for as long as he needs to. He’d rather be safe than sorry to keep his loved ones around him healthy.