Overland Park man shares COVID-19 testing experience

He was tested Sunday, still has no results
Virus Outbreak Testing coronavirus
Posted at 5:04 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 09:58:07-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An Overland Park man who was tested for COVID-19 on Sunday at a local hospital has yet to receive his results.

Brian Berge, 68, was released Wednesday from the University of Kansas Hospital after being admitted three days earlier with symptoms of COVID-19. He currently is at home with his wife, Carol Berge.

Brian said he started to have abdominal issues over the weekend and developed a fever about 30 minutes later.

“Then, it spiked up over 103 (degrees)," he said. "That's when we called the internist, the family doctor, who said we need to start treating you with Tylenol."

He was on a Tylenol regimen until Sunday morning when his fever was “still high enough,” he said, to warrant a trip to urgent care, where he was tested for the flu.

That test came back negative, so Brian again was sent home and told to monitor for shortness of breath and a dry cough. Both of those symptoms developed Sunday afternoon.

“That's when we called the internist, called KU and said, 'Get to the emergency room,'” Brian said. “I was there by 2:30 Sunday afternoon and was in isolation from then on basically.”

He said he was treated as if he had COVID-19 from the moment he arrived at the hospital.

“The hardest part was the really high fever and the chills and the body aches,” Brian said. “They were more extreme than anything that I've ever had in terms of flu virus or anything of that nature before, and they felt different. It wasn't like a flu type of thing.”

Carol said she was given “strict instructions for self-isolation," while Brian said that his doctor told him he was “99% sure" Brian had COVID-19.

"The state test will just confirm it," the doctor told the Berges.

But it's been a scary few days for Brian and Carol.

“It came on even before we got to the ER,” he said. “I mean, as fast as this stuff came on on a Saturday afternoon, you're sitting around doing projects and then all of a sudden you've got a gut ache and a fever just comes on and, all of a sudden, you've just got chills and you can't get warm. I'll tell you that's scary.”

For the first three days of his hospital stay, Brian said, he was given IV fluids.

“I went into AFib, atrial fibrillation, and they said that that's probably a direct correlation to the virus," Brian said, "and the fact that your body's trying to fight everything else off."

Despite all that, Brian said the hardest part has been waiting for the COVID-19 test results, because that confirmation is the only way Carol can be tested.

Brian said they initially were told they would have test results within 24 hours.

Fortunately, Carol said she does not feel symptomatic yet

“If I do, then I'm one of those people that has it, but doesn't display symptoms,” she said.

Returning home, Brian said, put a “whole new dimension on things.”

“It's tough for her,” Brian said of Carol. “Every surface that you're touching, everything that you're handling, you've got to sanitize and you've got to wash your hands before and after everything.”

Brian is wearing a mask “out of respect” for Carol and being cautious at home. The couple said they are “essentially quarantined” on different floors of their home.

“I feel like an incubator," Carol said. “I feel like I probably, if I didn't contract it when he was at his worst, I feel like maybe, have that immunity or something. But out of an abundance of caution, we've got hand sanitizers and wipes. Our house smells like bleach and Lysol right now.”

Brian said he remains weak and “still pretty labored in terms of talking.”

“I just count my lucky stars and blessings, because it could have been so much worse,” he said.

Brian said he understands that the situation is “so fluid” and there are aspects of it that people don’t yet understand.

“But it's frustrating to be in that position and see the people of prominence can get the immediate test results,” he said.

The couple traveled to Denver the last weekend of February, while Carol had been in Houston, Boston and Seattle as well.

Brian said that he has told a couple people who he sees on a regular basis about his possible diagnosis, but he “can’t figure out” where he would have contracted COVID-19.

The hospital confirmed to 41 Action News that patients who are able to go home are being sent home, even if they still are waiting for test results.