Roger Marolt: Catching the fever like a pro |

Roger Marolt: Catching the fever like a pro

Roger Marolt
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Roger Marolt

They say write about what you know. They also say experience is a better teacher than books. By these insights, I might be an expert on viruses. I have studied in the school of hard coughs.

I have been sick a lot the past 12 months, more than I can believe. I have not been deathly ill, but what I have avoided in severity, I have made up for in quantity of misery.

I have had COVID-19 three times. I have had the flu. I had a nasty bout with RSV. Yes, that’s right, RSV, the kids’ virus. It was the most miserable of all.

The first bout with COVID was last April. An air of euphoria was finally spreading faster than the virus. Many Americans were fully vaccinated. There was the hint of summer after a long, dark winter. The disease had been around more than a year and that was long enough. The pandemic was over! I said so in a column.

And there was a big Texas wedding. No masks. No-holds-barred dancing. Lots of top-of-the-lung singing. And then, I couldn’t taste my coffee one morning. The symptoms began piling on like 11-year-old linebackers on a 9-year-old quarterback in a Pop Warner football game. But I tested negative and jumped on a plane for L.A. because a negative test was all that was required. No sooner had we landed in Denver then I got the notice that there were “some inconsistencies” in my test. By the time we got to LAX I officially had the “India” variant (later renamed delta).

Super fun fact: I was the first confirmed case of delta in Pitkin County. Grasping at swabs for a positive in this, so to speak, it was several weeks before the next case was confirmed here, so I did not start the spread of that variant in our community. On the other hand, I try not to think about what happened in the airports I passed through. We did drive back to Aspen.

At the time, I was a breakthrough case, a real oddity. The Colorado Department of Health told me I was a 1-in-10 million case. Time, as it often does, eventually told a different story. We now know I was not a 1-in-10 million occurrence. I was only the first of 10 million.

A month and a half later when I could breathe normally again, the summer shaped up mostly as predicted. Things were kind of normal, at least the new normal for an overcrowded insulated resort.

A couple days after the Labor Day JAS festival I, again, could not taste my coffee. It was the only symptom, that and a string of nights filled with strange, vividly disturbing dreams. I had an odd feeling that things just weren’t right, but that’s not really a symptom, is it? I am sad that a person I had been in close contact with came down with a bad case shortly afterward.

In late October I got RSV. It was horrific. I coughed for six weeks, not the gentle clearing-your-throat kind. It was a dry, worthless cough that threatened to shatter ribs. No prescription brought relief. I tried everything. I didn’t sleep. I lost my sanity. I popped two hernias.

In March, our youngest came home for spring break and immediately tested positive for the flu. Three days later I came down with it. Thank goodness for Theraflu. It knocked that virus down and I was back on my feet in a week, albeit feeling a bit noodle-legged.

A week later, you guessed it, I could not taste my coffee. Incredulous, I jammed a swab up my nose and the test strip striped like a candy cane. I know this is probably the BA.2 variant that isn’t supposed to be too bad, but it hit me the hardest yet. Maybe because I was already weak from the flu, but two weeks in I am still coughing with a runny nose.

Now, here’s a real bummer. Through all this — my episodes with the virus, our three children’s bouts with it, most of our friends’ and neighbors’ battles with it — my wife has stayed healthy. On the 11th day I emerged from my quarantine. Three days later, Susan tested positive. A person I would dive in front of a bullet for, I passed The Virus to. There is nothing that surprises me about this disease. Maybe that really does make me an expert.

Roger Marolt knows that, even tough we have normalized the virus, it is still potentially dangerous and oftentimes just plain miserable. Email him at