When I swallow, knives cut my throat.

I cough and sometimes can’t stop. That’s frightening.

I caught COVID.

Dodged it three years. But this week, I suddenly felt lousy, and a home test said: “positive.” The thermometer said: 101.8.

No big deal, I thought. Almost everyone gets COVID. Lots of people say it’s no worse than a cold.

I’m multi-vaccinated and boosted. My fever’s not super high. I’m fit. This will give me a chance to lie around.

But then came the knives to my throat, and the cough that makes it hard to breathe.

Darn. This is much worse than any flu I’ve had. I feel miserable. It hurts so much to talk that I just text.

I think, “COVID still kills several hundred Americans every day.” Will I be one? I do feel like I might die. But COVID mostly kills old people. Wait, that’s me!

Actually, I’m very old. 76. I didn’t think about being so old last week when I rode my bike and played volleyball. I felt like a kid. Now everything is different.

Half of American men don’t even make it to 73. I forget that when I feel good.

I check what hospital I should go to if I have trouble breathing. My doctor calls in a Paxlovid prescription.

Day 2

Paxlovid leaves a nasty metallic taste. Someone is mining silver in my mouth.

Ibuprofen knocked my fever is down, but it’s still above normal. The knives and strangling cough are still there.

Will I die? Short of that, will I have to go to the emergency room? Will they put me on a ventilator? I’m scared of that. I shouldn’t have looked it up on Google.

Google makes everything scarier. Will I get long COVID? Have brain fog? Get COVID pneumonia? I’ve got to stop Googling.

But at least I’m not getting worse.

Day 4

I’m getting better! Crisis over!

Every swallow still hurts, but my cough no longer scares me. I no longer fear I’m going to die.

Thank you, Paxlovid!

Was it Paxlovid that made the difference? No way to know. But three cheers for America’s much-vilified free market. Pfizer invented and produced this drug in just a year.

Pfizer did tests in which Paxlovid reduced deaths so much that the company was advised to stop the clinical trials and just give subjects the drug.

Still, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wouldn’t let the rest of us take it for another three months.

Government kills people by delaying approval of life-saving drugs.

Yes, we want to be sure any new drug is safe, and delaying months is a big improvement over the 10 years they usually take. But it’s still too long!

My brother’s potentially life-saving drug, gelsolin, has been inching through the review process for almost 10 years.

The FDA’s delays are a reason drugs cost so much.

At least during the pandemic, the FDA loosened regulations to get some medicines to people faster. Great.

But of course, once government is involved with anything, lots of things become more difficult.

Health and Human Services decided that they would distribute the pills.

One result: I can’t get Paxlovid delivered from my local pharmacy.

CVS says it delivers, but their phone system hangs up when I ask for that. I send my son to pick it up.

The cost? Zero dollars, proudly printed on the label.

When government pays for things, common sense often goes away.

Paxlovid comes with 19 pages of detailed…instructions?

There is nonsense like “important notice related to privacy,” telling me to sign and return a paper to CVS acknowledging “I have received CVS/Pharmacy Notice of Privacy.”

That’s another government complication, a HIPAA privacy rule. Government’s obsession with paperwork and rules deters medical research and forces all of us to lie, (c’mon, you’ve done it), claiming we read fine print almost no one reads.

I’m glad I’m not dead. I’m grateful to Pfizer for creating Paxlovid. I’m grateful I live in America.

But more and more, I hate the intrusions of our ever-growing government.

COPYRIGHT 2023 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS INC.

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