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Ole Miss Alum, Physician Discusses COVID-19 Recovery

By Jeff Roberson
Hottytoddy.com contributor

As we hear reports that the Coronavirus could still be spreading among us, we also hear of those who have contracted it and recovered.

One such story—and it has the ending you would want—is from Dr. Bruce Longest, Ole Miss and UMMC alumnus who lives and practices in nearby Bruce.

Dr. Bruce Longest, Ole Miss and UMMC alumnus, lives and practices in nearby Bruce. Photo provided.

Dr. Longest has been back at work for several days after tests proved negative and that he was fully recovered.

“Since I have nursing home patients, the hospital required me to have two negative tests before I could go back,” he said. “I was tested with those two negative tests, and that made me feel pretty comfortable and the patients feel pretty comfortable. Since then I have gotten back to pretty much my normal routine.”

Where did he contract it? The specific answer to that question is normally not absolutely known. Longest gives a couple of possible scenarios in his case.

“In addition to my practice, I also cover the emergency room and I could have gotten exposed there,” he said, noting he works at the ER at the Calhoun City hospital. “But there’s just no good idea. At the time, nobody in Calhoun County had been diagnosed with it.”

Also, he had attended the only day of this year’s Southeastern Conference men’s basketball tournament in Nashville with two others, and soon after that day he was feeling terribly. It turned out to be the much-feared COVID-19, another term for this particular Coronavirus.

Few events of any kind had been called off at that point. But the SEC Tournament was halted after the opening day. Still, there was enough discussion and concern that Longest said the three of them found an area behind one of the goals so they could sit several seats apart from each other and not near anyone else.

“The first four days I had pretty good fevers and just a brutal cough. I could not stop coughing. Muscle aches. My back was throbbing. I just had no energy at all. I literally stayed in the bed for four days.” Photo provided.

“I got sick on Sunday, March 15,” said Longest, who had been at the tournament on Wednesday, March 11 for the Ole Miss-Georgia game. They had come back to Mississippi on Thursday, March 12, after the tourney was cancelled.

“Those two guys were in the vehicle with me, six hours going (on Wednesday) and six hours coming back (on Thursday). Neither one of them got sick.

“I woke up (Sunday, March 15), and I just didn’t feel good. That night, I spiked a low-grade fever, and I started coughing. The next morning I had a pretty high fever, so I got tested and went back home to quarantine.”

He was tested on Monday, March 16.

“At that time they were flooded with tests, and it took nine days before I got my report back. By then I was feeling much, much better. When I got the email, I thought, ‘Oh my goodness. I’ve got Covid.’ By then I knew I was going to make it, that I was going to be fine. That gave me a little relief.”

The first several days were the roughest throughout the ordeal, according to Longest.

“The first four days I had pretty good fevers and just a brutal cough. I could not stop coughing. Muscle aches. My back was throbbing. I just had no energy at all. I literally stayed in the bed for four days.

“My wife, Lori, thought I was dying,” he said jokingly, at least somewhat. “I didn’t turn the TV on. I didn’t get on my cell phone. Or eat.”

Lori had actually been sick prior to Bruce, but she never ran fever, thus not qualifying for testing. While he was in the house for those weeks, they tried as best they could to keep distance between them to keep her from contracting it.

Longest, 61, said this illness was unlike anything he had experienced and was especially rough during those earliest several days.

“I’ve only had the true flu one time,” he said. “It was a pretty bad case, and this was real similar to that. But I don’t remember the fatigue being that bad, and I was a lot younger then too.

“This time the cough just lingered for two weeks. Every five minutes I was coughing to the point I would almost lose my breath. The fatigue lasted three weeks. The second week I just couldn’t put one foot in front of the other I was so tired.”

Longest said he chose not to take any prescribed medications.

“I took Tylenol for fever, and Robitussin for cough,” he said. “As long as I was getting better, I decided it was best to do nothing else.”

Longest said what’s been told by officials that the public needs to do is absolutely crucial in continuing to slow down the spread of the virus.

“Wash your hands,” he said. “And at home, clean your phone, clean any kind of surface, cabinets and what have you, clean them very frequently. If you leave your house wear a mask. And wash your hands after you do anything.”

Something else is also critical to containing and stopping the spread as well – a vaccine.

“I think that all depends on how quickly they are able to come up with a vaccine,” Longest said. “Apparently the FDA has fast-tracked that. I read there are 12 different places around the country that are working on it. Even one had already gone to human testing. If they can get the vaccine going, I think things can hopefully get back to normal.”

But viruses have a way of adjusting to the world around them.

“A virus always has the potential to mutate,” Longest said. “Every year when they do the flu shot, they try to predict how the strain is going to change and be one step ahead of the curve.”

Every case is different, according to Longest. In the coming days and weeks, there should be widespread antibody testing of those who have previously been infected to help officials learn more about this disturbing and dangerous virus.

“That’s coming, and it sounds like they’re going to do widespread testing of that,” he said. “Because in tracking the disease, it’s important to know exactly what the exposure was to understand it. If these people have it with no symptoms, you want to see how prevalent the disease was.

“There are certainly different viruses out there that are not Corona,” Longest continued. “Hopefully the FDA is going to allow the (antibody test) kit out in the next week or so, but I don’t know how soon that will filter to areas that aren’t hot spots. I’m sure New Orleans, New York, all those places that are hot beds will get the first crack at doing that. Hopefully in the next month it will be available to us and we can find out who had it and who didn’t.”

Two things Longest knows for sure. He had it, and he’s extremely glad it has moved on.

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