Calcavecchia on the mend after battle with COVID-19
September 23, 2020
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- September 23, 2020
- Mark Calcavecchia plans to return to PGA TOUR Champions for the SAS Championship. (Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Mark and Brenda Calcavecchia parked their RV, which they travel in during the season, at a rest area somewhere between Valentine, Nebraska, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. While stretching their legs and walking their dogs they received the results via email of their latest COVID-19 tests.
Mark said they had taken the spit test at the Prairie Club in Valentine on Sept. 3. On Sunday, Sept. 6, they started on the 5-hour trip to Sioux Falls for the next event on the PGA TOUR Champions schedule, the Sanford International. Mark read Brenda’s result, negative, and then he read his own.
“I just sat there with my mouth open and she said, ‘No way!’” Calcavecchia, 60, said. “We drove to Sioux Falls and I went straight to the test site on Monday. They did the nose swab to doublecheck and it also came back positive. Brenda was negative again. She never got sick somehow.”
Update from Covid-19 Ville. This shit is very real! And it sucks. I’ve never had so many symptoms hit me all at the same time. I keep moving around the house trying to escape it. Please be safe and wear ur mask. I thought I was but with this evil shit you never know 🤬🤬🤬🤬— Mark Calcavecchia (@MarkCalc) September 12, 2020
Now what to do. Mark had to go 10 days without showing symptoms in isolation in order to play at the PURE Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach Sept. 18-20. And Brenda wouldn’t be able to go to California with him because she had to quarantine for 14 days. Was he just going to leave her in their 45-foot Tiffin Zephyr RV at a KOA Campground in Sioux Falls?
They made the decision on Tuesday to drive home. To South Florida. From South Dakota. A distance of 1,746 miles. With him having tested positive for COVID.
“As the trip went on I started to feel worse and worse,” Calcavecchia said. “We took 3½ days to get home whereas normally I’d make it in three with no problem. The only super hard day was the third day. We were just north of Nashville and drove to the Florida-Georgia border, where there’s a nice RV park. Those last 150 miles the next day seemed like 850. I was just miserable. I knew I was pretty sick at that point.
“When we got home I went straight to bed. It was like all the fenders on a car falling off. Once you get where you need to get to then it was just like everything hit me at once. I literally fell apart. Fever, chills, no smell, no taste, no appetite, no nothing.”
He couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep well. He was weak. The chills were so bad he literally shook. Finally, six days after arriving home, he went to the hospital. There, the staff monitored his blood oxygen level and did a CT scan of his lungs. The doctor told him it was standard COVID lung.
He spent seven hours at the hospital. Seven of the most miserable hours of his life, he said. Calcavecchia isn’t a guy given to hyperbole. He admitted he began to fear the virus was getting the best of him.
“I told Brenda when I was talking to her on the phone while I was in the hospital, just shaking like a leaf, I said if I don’t get out of here, and I don’t know if I will, meaning I felt so bad and was shaking so bad that it crossed my mind I could possibly die on Monday night, I said, ‘You gotta get me outta here or I don’t know if I’m gonna make it,’” Calcavecchia said. “I was upset and shaking, had a lot of emotions going on. I was crying. I couldn’t get anybody to come in and talk to me or get me a blanket. It was a terrible day.”
Fortunately for Calcavecchia, his blood oxygen level never dipped below 95. Had it hit 92 or lower, his hospital stay would have been extended.
Update from COVID ville 2. I feel much better. Still a few issues (cough, stuffy head) but I’m on the mend. Thank you so much everyone who reached out to me and @brendacalc for your well wishes and concerns. They meant a lot and helped me along. Stay safe from this.— Mark Calcavecchia (@MarkCalc) September 17, 2020
Instead, he was allowed to go home. And whether from exhaustion or elation, once he got there he finally got a good night’s sleep. The doctor prescribed several medications and by Wednesday last week the Nebraska native said he was “about 80% better.”
He hasn’t picked up a club since playing Nebraska’s finest courses at the end of August on his way to South Dakota. He said he probably will get to a range this weekend, and he fully intends to return to PGA TOUR Champions at the next event on the schedule, the SAS Championship in Cary, North Carolina, Oct. 9-11.
Not only was the virus quite a scare, but the timing couldn’t have been worse for Calcavecchia either. He had his best finish of the season at his last event, the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National. There, he fired three rounds in the 60s -- his first of the season – and notched a T15.
“I was really looking forward to Sioux Falls and Pebble,” Calcavecchia said. “Lee Janzen and Scott Dunlap (fellow PGA TOUR Champions players) were with us in Nebraska – Lee the whole week and Scott the last place we played -- and neither got sick. They will tell you I was playng well out there and feeling good. I was really looking forward to getting something going. And then I get the virus, I miss a couple of tournaments and there’s two weeks off. And now I’m gone a month and it’s pick it back up and start over again and see what I’ve got.”