By Scott Schaefer

When a calm, scenic hot air balloon ride is over and has gently returned to earth, the pilot and crew will open the parachute valve at the top so all the air that allowed for the lift of the lovely flight can gasp its way out of the structure’s envelope.

While this describes some of his pilot duties at his day job, Burien resident Eliav Cohen – founder of Seattle Hot Air Ballooning – must have felt this kind of serious deflation deep in his body and soul when he recently tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Not a bad room to quarantine in, but…

After suffering symptoms that included a headache and general fatigue, Cohen first tested positive for the virus on Mar. 22, 2020.

“Getting tested is painful,” Cohen said. “It’s similar to a flu test, except they stick a cotton swab up high in your nose and hold it there for six seconds. It burns and is not a great feeling. I can’t imagine doing that myself with a home test.”

Cohen has been self-quarantined alone since then in the basement guest room of his house located above Three Tree Point.

Isolated from his family upstairs – his wife, two kids and a senior mother-in-law – Cohen has spent almost all of the last few weeks fighting the illness in isolation. He still suffers difficulty breathing, has a persistent cough, body aches, fevers, and much more.

He has lost 15 pounds as well.

“I only interact with them (his family) over Facetime and through a glass door,” Cohen told The B-Town Blog. “My wife did full decontamination (shower, wash hands, sanitized the door handle, sanitized the floor outside the room) after entering the room, and always wore an N95 mask.”

His wife Lily – who works as a nurse midwife – has not yet shown any symptoms. Neither have his two young kids, who he has only been able to interact with while on the other side of a sliding glass door.

“You’d think it would be fun to spend 10-14 days watching Prime and Netflix movies and having your family bring you food in bed,” he said. “The truth is the worst part is not being able to hold my kids, give them hugs, and spend time with them.”

And Eliav’s symptoms included more than just the usual fever, headaches, breathing difficulties and body aches.

“I had wild dreams…and I felt like I had butterflies in my chest on every breath.”

Cohen’s advice for anyone showing symptoms?

“Isolate yourself from the rest of your family or roomates, and know that it will take up to 17 days. If you are having a hard time breathing, go to the ER earlier rather than later.”

He has joined a study that will begin 28 days after his symptoms subside, “to see if my antibodies may be able to help other folks once I kick this. I am excited to give back to the community with lots of antibodies and make sure more people won’t have to go through what I have in the future.”

Cohen was kind enough to allow us to share his COVID-19 diary, which he has posted on Facebook since he first revealed his diagnosis on Mar. 24, 2020:

 

 


3/24/20:

New Update: My official test results came back Positive for covid.

For those of you that are interested and would like an update. Here is the deal. I’ve had a 100-102.7 fever every day for the last 5 days. Currently I have a 102.3. I can’t talk because I constantly cough when I talk. (Sorry folks who keep trying to keep me company by FaceTime). My body aches, I have a constant headache, and no one can come near me.

After 2 days of trying to get a virtual appointment with no avail…I went to urgent care yesterday morning as I felt horrible. My Flu test came back negative, when the doc came in to tell me the flu test news I said, “please tell me it is positive!”.

You’d think it would be fun to spend 10-14 days watching Prime and Netflix movies and having your family bring you food in bed. The truth is the worst part is not being able to hold my kids, give them hugs, and spend time with them.

Just trust me. Don’t go out if you do not need to. I don’t know where I got it from. People have been asking if there is anything they can do. I appreciate the sentiments. The only thing you can do is keep yourself safe and feel free to send me a personalized video. Here’s my cell *** *** ****. I won’t be answering as I can’t talk. But text me something that is happening in your life or something funny.

Super sick dude. Eliav


3/25/20:

If you have been reading my post from yesterday I was waiting on the final test results. The Covid test came back positive.

Good news is because I am positive Lily is home for the next 14 days. She is not allowed to see patients and is assumed positive.

I hope my post gave some of you some insight into what it is like. I know many people are worse off than me.

Thank you for all the videos, texts, and comments. So many of you are so damn funny.

Please social distance and stay safe.


3/26/20:

I shared this with you few people over the last hour. Lily and I thought we should share our experience. It’s important that people see this. Last night I went to the ER as I was having a hard time breathing from coughing so much.

When we got to the ER they said Lily could not stay or even wait in the waiting area. There is no visitation. If you are admitted to the hospital there is no visitation. If you are on a ventilator for weeks there is no visitation. I don’t cry often, But it was one of the most emotional moments I’ve had saying bye to Lily not knowing what they would find or not find, and what would come next.

In the back of my mind I new I’d be heading home in a few hours. But all I could think about was all the partners that don’t get to. They do not get to see the people they love again or be near them while they were dying. You should take a moment and get present to that.

In the end my 02 levels we good and the x-ray came back fine. After an hour and half they sent me on my way as there is nothing else they can do.


3/27/20:

I know I owe everyone an update. First I wanted to start by saying thankful to all my wonderful friends and family. You guys are all amazing. Thanks for the prayers, ceremonies, logins to all kinds of services.

In the mornings I feel better…but every afternoon is the same. Back up to 102+ fever, I pop 2 extra strength Tylenol and pass out. The most challenging is that my lungs feel heavy kind of like filled with cotton…it’s rare that I get full breaths in. Don’t worry I can still breath just a little bit shallow. About every 30 minutes I cough really hard…something opens up that allows me to do some deep breaths. That makes me so excited.

Apparently, I am one of 10 people in Burien based on CDC data to actually test positive so far. Which means I am rare, and there is value in all rarity. Therefore I am valuable.

That’s why I’ve joined a study 28 days post symptoms to see if my antibodies may be able to help other folks once I kick this.


3/28/20:

Positive Update! Fast change in the last 24 hours. Feeling a million times better and I can breathe deeply again (still not perfect but getting there).

Still have a cough and haven’t tried talking in a few days. We’ll see where that is today.


3/29/20

Update: Fever is finally down for the most part. I do have spikes in temp in the afternoons still. Feeling about 20%. Mainly due to my lungs. Still can’t talk at all. Doing yoga breathing and techniques from the greatest healer that I’ve know for 30 years. I wish this were done, but I still have a bit to go.


3/31/20

I was in tears taking this picture. Luca was so excited to see Eliav though a glass door. First time he has seen his father in almost 2 weeks. Breaks my heart to keep them separated. #COVID


4/2/20

On day 14 I believe! I am feeling much better. I’ve been going on walks each day and can now speak a few sentences at a time. My lungs are at about 60% now. Excited to be done.

A few more days and I get to be part of the family again. I’m so excited.

On a separate note. Had I had preexisting issues or had been elderly I do not believe I would have survived this. Please be careful with yourselves and your family members.


4/3/20

Day 15 maybe? I’m feeling better and better. My lungs are still an issue and still have Viral Pneumonia. It is really challenging being away from my family.

Here are some updates:

    • I am still unable to speak more than a sentence or two without needing to catch my breath or coughing.
    • I do take a walk every day now. It’s really nice to get outside (I do wear a mask and stay away from all people. I even have Lily open the door for me so I do not infect the family)
    • I am taking all kinds of probiotics, cough medicines, antioxidant support, and some strong antibiotics in case of a secondary pneumonia infection. (That combination seems to be helpful so far)
    • It’s a great way to lose 15 pounds if you are looking to lose some weight
    • For those curious, I was not able to get hydroxychloroquine or other medicines that have been talked about in the media as they are being trialed. As there is no proof that they work yet, they are only being used in emergency situations as it is off label use. (Yes I had an appointment with an infectious disease doc who is currently handling COVID patients. She felt it would not help as did multiple other doc friends)
    • My best suggestions is be careful and try not to get it yourself. I am sure you all have other people you know that are in ICUs or have died at this point. I seem to have a pretty severe case and am lucky to be in good general health. Not everyone gets as severe cases as I do thank god. -If you get COVID and are having a hard time with the feeling in your lungs please reach out. I would be happy to help in any way that I can.
    • I am very grateful for all the wonderful people in my life who have helped support me and my family through this very challenging time. Bringing food, sending care packages, sending me texts, and videos. Thank you all.

Please stay safe.


4/6/20

I can finally talk again! I feel better and am done with this. Still not pushing talking as I still get out of breath, but should be out of isolation shortly. I can’t thank all of you enough for your support with messages, food, mail, prayers, and helping support my family.

I am excited to give back to the community with lots of antibodies and make sure more people won’t have to go through what I have in the future.

To all the people who currently have Lung issues from Covid… it sucks. I know. Please pm me so that I can share some things that were helpful for me.


ABOUT ELIAV COHEN
Eliav is the owner and chief pilot of Seattle Ballooning and Founder of the American Ballooning Safety and Training Association.

“We fly daily from May-Oct. in front of Mt. Rainier. We fly over Lake Tapps, The White and Green Rivers, and go up to 5k feet. From altitude, you’ll be able to see the entire Puget Sound, beautiful farmland, and even downtown Seattle. As a young pilot, I was taught that you should only serve good champagne after an amazing experience. That’s why all of our hot air balloon flights end with aged private-labeled champagne and baked goods from Bakery Nouveau. We provide both private balloon flights for 2, private large group flights in multiple balloons (6-16 guests), and shared flights (6-16 guests).

When the stay at home order is lifted, we will all be ready to do something fun in the fresh air. We’d love to help, and I’d love to be your pilot. Seattle Ballooning will open operations at that time. In the meantime, you are welcome to purchase gift certificates to help us as a small business or pick a date to fly from June on.”

More info at https://seattleballooning.com