INDIANAPOLIS – Scrolling through Elwood native John Davis’ Facebook page, there are lots of photos of him working out and preparing healthy meals.
But that all changed on Tuesday with one post.
“My day started with a call I suspected I would be getting, but still had hopes I wouldn’t,” the Indianapolis resident wrote. “Yesterday, I took a test and today I found out I was positive for COVID-19.”
Davis, 45, who was a popular officer when he served on the Elwood Police Department, has posted daily since then about his experiences as one of the 1,232 Hoosiers who have tested positive for the virus that has wreaked havoc on the physical and economic health of the world. His posts have led to hundreds of likes and comments from those who are following his journey.
“Normally, I’m not like a worrywart,” he said. “I’m careful. I try to be optimistic. But this thing is worth worrying about. It’s the real deal. I never even thought it was possible to feel this badly.
“I’m shocked. I thought I was ready. I thought I was mentally prepared. I’m surprised by how strong it is, how it knocked me down.”
The comparisons people make between coronavirus and the flu are way off base, Davis said.
“They have no clue. I’ve had the flu. There’s no comparison,” he said.
Davis’ journey through coronavirus started last Sunday evening with a severe headache – more severe than he’s ever had before — behind the eyes.
“If it was a 10 the first couple of days, it’s a 2 now,” he told The Herald Bulletin on Wednesday.
He also experience the shortness of breath caused by pneumonia that is a telltale sign of COVID-19.
“It feels like a giant man is behind me and squeezing my ribs, squeezing my midsection with his hands,” he said.
As with many Americans, coronavirus has been on Davis’ radar since late February when it reached the West Coast from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the worldwide pandemic believed to have started as early as December.
“Like a lot of people, I went online and Googled symptoms,” he said. What he read made him go to the emergency room.
“They said you really have to tough it out unless you have severe breathing issues,” Davis recalled.
The police officer’s employer, who he asked not be named, was able to secure an immediate COVID-19 test. About 24 hours later, he received the results.
Since then, Davis has experienced many of the other symptoms of coronavirus illness: severe chills that keep him wrapped under two blankets in spite of night fevers spiking at 102 degrees; unbearable body aches, and enormous fatigue.
“The body ache is something I never experienced before. It’s very unnerving,” he said. “You can’t help but sleep because of the fatigue.”
Davis said as the virus started to spread around the nation, he was given additional training and masks.
“I think that’s the nature of this disease, you can do everything right, but it’s so prevalent,” he said. “The best way to mitigate is to not be around it, to just stay.”
A certified instructor in fighting for police officers, Davis said he’d hoped his lifestyle of regular exercise and healthy eating would shield him from picking up the virus. Now he hopes it will accelerate his ability to heal.
“I hope that my being happy and being in the best shape of my life will give me a better chance of getting out of this,” he said.
A father of five, Davis has two sons who live with him. The 25-year-old son lives in the basement, while Davis is on the fourth floor.
“We’re pretty much separated as well as we can be. He is quarantined also,” he said.
The 9-year-old happened to be with his mother for spring break from the Thursday before Davis realized he was infected and remains with her, for the time being.
Because of the high rate of infection, Davis pretty much is on his own in terms of his care.
“I can’t have a caregiver because he or she would get sick,” he said. “I would only get out of this bed if I absolutely had to go to the bathroom.”
As a police officer who has witnessed the ravages of the methamphetamine and opioid epidemics, Davis, so far, has chosen to tough out his illness using only Tylenol to reduce the fever.
But Davis has been only in the first week of the illness, which can last as long as six weeks. Those who have tested positive have reported feeling better before a steep downturn the second week.
So now, Davis must steel himself for what is likely yet to come.
“For fear of sounding overdramatic, I don’t know how I can feel worse,” he said. “I’m not going to lie down and give up.”