(This post was updated on June 24, 2020.)
I am a home health care worker as a Medical Speech-Language Pathologist. I have a fantastic job with a fabulous employer and it required me to be out seeing and checking on my patients daily. I am not a germaphobe, but I am very careful, cautious, and clean. I do not have any underlying medical conditions other than allergies. My allergies did play a problem in this illness due to having allergies to Tylenol, Aspirin, Codeine, Alleve, and Sulfa. (I am only able to take ibuprofen due to my allergies and I was scared to take it because of all of the news reports urging people to not take ibuprofen with the virus.)
I wanted to share my experience with having COVID-19 so others can know what I experienced with the “unknown” of this virus. I was very blessed to have somewhat mild symptoms compared to what I’ve heard of others. I pray for all that have it, but especially those with life-threatening symptoms. I decided to write a journal to chronicle the symptoms and things that happen to me alone.
I have no idea when I contracted this virus, but here are some of the facts of our timeline. On March 13th, my husband and I flew to Pensacola, Florida to visit our oldest daughter. When we landed, both of our phones were going crazy letting us know about all of the school closures and problems in both of our jobs because of the virus. Both of our jobs had been keeping us apprised of the virus for the last few weeks, but we went ahead and made the visit. We both spent most of the day on conference calls related to the virus.
One of the things that my husband and I both made comments about is that if there would not have been the news and social media, you would have never known that there was a pandemic in Florida. It was business, as usual, all weekend. Kids were everywhere. It was, of course, spring break. (Being empty-nesters, we didn’t even think about spring break when we planned our trip or we wouldn’t have planned it for that weekend.) We made the decision to try to distance ourselves as much as possible and stay in our condo or away from the crowds due to everything we were reading and hearing. We were there visiting our daughter so we did go to dinner, just tried to avoid large crowds. We flew home on Monday, March 16th to total chaos. I worked for the remainder of the week. No one that I knew of had been exposed to the Corona Virus. I ventured to the grocery store twice, but other than that, I went to work and went home with my husband only.
Just a thought… Every day I see the news reports telling people to not touch their faces. I’m sure that is how I got it. I touch my eyes all the time. I mean, constantly. I was supposed to have surgery on my right eye on March 28th, which was postponed due to the virus. I have a tear duct that does not function and my eye water all the time. Therefore, I am always wiping my eyes. I even do it when I try consciously not to touch my eyes. It’s automatic right now–I need one of those dog cones.
Day 1, March 23
Monday morning around 2:00 am my symptoms started. I went to bed feeling perfectly fine on Sunday night. (It’s amazing how fast this virus hits.) My husband had been very ill all weekend but had called our family physician on Sunday who thought that he probably had a sinus problem, but wanted him to make an appointment on Monday to see our family doctor. We were both worried that he possibly had the Corona Virus, but he really didn’t have all of the symptoms that we had heard.
I woke up coughing. A dry, hacking cough. I felt a little bit feverish, had a pretty bad headache and decided to get up out of bed around 3:00 am. I took my temperature and it was 100.6. I laid on the couch and watched a little tv, ultimately falling asleep several times. When my husband woke at 6:30 am I told him that I wanted to go to the doctor’s office with him. I wasn’t really worried at this time but knew that I couldn’t go to work with any symptoms at all. The policy in home health care is that if you show any symptom at all, you cannot work, no exception. I also did not want to put any of my patients at risk.
Early in the afternoon, we saw our family doctor and were tested for the flu, gave blood, and had a chest x-ray. My husband tested positive for Flu Type A. I tested negative. Both of us were then tested for COVID-19. Our physician told us that we would get the results in 24-48 hours.
At this time we returned home, both not feeling that great. Both of us remained afebrile with a cough, mine dry and hacky and his productive and wet. This is where my allergies were really a problem. I am unable to take any type of medication to relieve my symptoms or have any cough meds. My doctor did not want me to take any ibuprofen to relieve fever or steroids for my cough. (Thank goodness I had no further fever.)
Day Two, March 24
Both of us still not feeling well, and I was thinking that I probably had the flu, but was tested too early. Around lunchtime, my physician called with the results that I was positive and my husband was negative for COVID-19. Needless to say, I was in total shock, cried quite a bit. Now that I look back on it, I truly think it is the unknown that scared me so much. I definitely turned off the news. (You don’t want to see how many people are dying when you are just diagnosed with a potentially deadly virus.) We were told to quarantine from each other as much as possible, but we were both quarantined to our home for at least 14 days. We were also quarantined from each other at this time.
I still had a dry hacking cough, a horrible headache, increasing shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue. No fever. My husband is almost well from the flu. My physician did not prescribe me any medications due to nothing being recommended by the CDC at this time. Since we work in healthcare, we are friends with quite a few physicians, and one of them recommended and prescribed that I start taking the experimental protocol–Zithromax, Hydroxychlorine, and Zinc. I also started taking Vitamin C, Emergence-C, Apple Cider vinegar, and eating an orange and banana a day just to boost my immune system. I started having some wheezing late that evening and slept on a wedge to ease my symptoms. (Our physician friend personally delivered the hand-written prescriptions to the pharmacy for me since he was so convinced that I should take the protocol.)
Day Three, March 25
I basically felt the same, horrible. Still no fever. I still have a dry hacking cough, headache, fatigue, and shortness of breath. My dizziness is gone as well as my voice. I’m taking my medications and supplements religiously and resting as I’ve never rested before. (I actually feel so, so lazy.) My husband is just about completely well. My appetite is still about the same and I’m not having any changes with regards to taste and smell. The shortness of breath is probably the worst part at this time, with difficulty walking even across a room.
My emotions have also been better, thanks to all of my friends, family, and work-family. Everyone has been very supportive. I had to turn off the news and get off of much of social media. I know people mean well, but it is a little hurtful when people post things that basically say if you are out then you will probably get COVID-19 and deserve it. People can say things that are really mean and maybe not even realize it.
Day Four, March 26
Felt quite a bit better today, physically and emotionally. My cough has decreased some and my voice is a little bit better. I did have a few new symptoms such as a sore throat and some bowel issues/stomach cramping. I am also still having shortness of breath, a headache, and quite a bit of fatigue. My appetite has decreased and my sense of smell has diminished some. I am still afebrile. I finished the Zithromax, but I am still taking all of the other medications and supplements.
My husband and I are still quarantining from each other and he is cooking all of our food. (Which is pretty nice, I must say. I also cannot wait to finish this medication so that I can have a glass of wine.)
Day Five, March 27
I’m still taking meds and supplements. My cough is almost completely gone and no sore throat. I am still having stomach cramps and bowel issues, as well as the fatigue and shortness of breath, continuing. I also had another new symptom with my ears completely stopping up. It felt as though I was underwater. Very strange.
The shortness of breath remains the worst part. If I overexert myself (and by overexert, I mean trying to put a sheet on a bed) then I almost hyperventilate with the exertion. My chest becomes tight and my cough returns with a vengeance. Other than the mild symptoms I’m having I pretty much feel back to normal.
Day Six, March 28
Very little cough, no fever, no headache. Fatigue and shortness of breath have improved. My taste is the same, but my sense of smell is definitely diminished. Ears are still a little stopped up, but I can live with that for the time being. I feel so much better today. I’m still taking all of my medications religiously and resting pretty much most of the day.
Day Seven, March 29
Most of my symptoms are completely gone. Still having a little shortness of breath when I’m up and moving around. Also, still having some stomach issues. Not sure if it’s from the virus or from the medications (which I believe might be a side effect). I feel so much better so I’m actually up cleaning and doing more than just lying on my back watching tv. Late at night, I did have some weird symptoms such as my ears stopping up and a little coughing and tightness in my chest.
So I am halfway through this mandated quarantine, and it is really weighing me down emotionally. I know that everyone is quarantined, but I can’t be in the same room as my husband. I have to wear a mask to go into our kitchen to get a snack. As a self-proclaimed people person, this is pretty hard. Not trying to feel sorry for myself and so thankful that my virus isn’t worse, but I’m ready for some normalcy. It amazes me when I see on tv that people are still out and about, having parties, and even an impromptu parade in New Orleans. I mean, come on people.
Day 8, March 30
Today I feel so much better, it’s crazy. My cough is 95% gone, no headache, no stomach issues, little to no shortness of breath or fatigue. I actually feel human. I finished all of my prescription medication yesterday, but I am still taking the supplements (Vitamin C, Zinc, Apple Cider Vinegar). I did find out that one of my best friends tested positive today, even though she has been sick for as long as I was. (We did not give each other the sickness, I had not seen her in over a month.) She has asthma so I am more concerned, however, she says that she is feeling better today.
Day Nine, March 31
No symptoms at all today other than just a lingering cough every once in a while. My energy level was pretty good and I had little to no shortness of breath. I actually feel back to normal. My sense of smell is back. Feeling pretty good today.
Day 10-14, April 1- Day 14, April 5
I am almost back to completely normal. Little not no cough. Energy is up and I’m motivated to cook, clean, organize. I cannot wait to go back to work. My doctor is releasing me on the 7th.
I am very happy to report that none of my patients became ill in the time frame that I could have given them the virus. That was my worst fear. My girlfriend that has the virus is also much better. I feel so lucky that my symptoms were mild and that I did not have most of the symptoms associated with the virus. I really feel that taking the medications that I took helped me get better faster and with less significant symptoms. I was told by my physician’s office that I should consider donating plasma to obtain antibodies for others who have the illness.
I received the paperwork today to donate “Convalescent Plasma” at my 28-day mark. I definitely plan on doing this and hope that others can be helped by me having this awful virus. I’ve made a complete recovery and have never been so happy to return to work and see my sweet patients.
Update–May 8 & June 4
Today I gave Convalescent Plasma at Lifeshare Blood Centers. This was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be. It took a little over two hours and the staff was so nice. The phlebotomist told me that they have had several people give plasma over the last month that would directly help other COVID-19 patients. The blood center told me that I would be contacted in about two weeks to let me know if my antibodies were over 100 in order to be given to severe patients. I was called several weeks later and told that my antibodies were high enough to help other patients, but that they would probably decrease over time.