I had COVID-19: What You Should Know
One Community Member Shares Her Story
It was Wednesday and it was a gorgeous spring day on my corner of the world. I decided to open my windows when my neighbor decided to cut their grass and a tree I have in front of my window was covered in pollen. I’m allergic to both, grass and pollen. I soon after closed my windows but had to use my eye drops, inhaler and nasal spray to fight my allergic reaction.
On Thursday, I woke up feeling exhausted with a really bad headache and I attributed the fatigue to my allergies. However, I have never had such a bad episode of allergies. It was kind of odd. As the day went by, I started to get worried as I started to feel my skin was sensitive to the touch (like when you are about to get sick).
Before going to bed that evening, I decided to take my temperature and I had a 102 fever. I was feeling faint and couldn’t even stand. I measured my blood pressure and it was lower than usual. At that point, I logged onto the CDC website and took the “self-check” quiz and the results scared me and my parents. It said that according to my symptoms, I had to go to the ER immediately. I told my parents I would only go to the ER if at some point I was having trouble breathing. Instead, I started searching for a place for me to get tested for COVID-19. I didn’t have all the typical symptoms I had been hearing on the news but I wanted to get tested to protect my parents.
Getting Tested for Coronavirus
I found a clinic that was doing testing near me and, the next day, I contacted them about coming in to receive a test. A nurse asked me about my symptoms over the phone and told me that my symptoms “were mild” and “I should stay home and wait it out”. Not happy with that response, I kept searching online for other testing sites. I found Penn Medicine had a testing site that was running on “first come, first serve” basis from 10AM to 4PM and had walk-in and drive-thru services available for those who needed to be tested.
After gaining some energy, I drove myself down to the drive-thru testing. When I got there, a nurse asked me a few questions about my symptoms and my travel history and gave me the “OK” to get tested.
I waited three hours from the time I parked in line, until the point that I was actually tested. I was not sure how long it would take, I was just hopeful to make it home before the Tylenol I’d taken earlier wore off. The nurse informed me that I would either receive a call in 2 to 3 days if the test was positive; or, I would know in 10 days if the test was negative.
Two days later, a doctor from Penn Medicine called me to say the test had come back positive. He explained a little bit what to expect the next few of days and warned me that the worst would be by day 7 or so.
I Tested Positive- Now What?
The same day I got my results, I received a call from my county’s Department of Health. They asked about my symptoms, mine and my parent’s information and mailed and emailed us a letter ordering us mandatory isolation for for 14 days. If we failed to comply with the isolation, it may result in criminal sanctions such as fines or imprisonment. I had to have 3 days in a row without symptoms and not taking Tylenol to be released from isolation.
My parents also had to complete the 14 days, although they hadn’t yet exhibited any symptoms. Over the course of the next 2 weeks, we completed the isolation period and they never developed symptoms. I’m so relieved and grateful!
My Experience with COVID
The whole thing lasted about 10 days for me, with Days 4-7 being the hardest. As I battled COVID, I gradually developed more symptoms, but thankfully not all at the same time.
Here are some of the symptoms I had: headaches, body aches, fatigue, nausea, vomit, eye pain, diarrhea, lower back pain, loss of appetite and mild chest congestion on the last few days.
I never had the typical sore throat or dry cough everyone keeps talking about. I’ve read that there are currently eight (8) mutations of this virus and according to my symptoms, I caught a “mild” version of it.
While sick, I would try to eat but my stomach was shut. I went two days barely eating anything, and without any appetite.
I tried to shower at one point and almost passed out on the shower because I was so weak….and then again in my room. After that, I tried eating a spoonful of peanut butter to regain some strength. It literally took me like an hour to eat that little bit of peanut butter. So insane.
Throughout this whole thing I’ve said that all symptoms are manageable as long as I can breathe on my own. I’d rather be me dealing with this than my parents. I don’t care that I have to go through this as long as they don’t.
A Shift in Symptoms
Honestly, the days went by fast because I was in and out of sleep all the time. All the days are bundled together. At one point, I noticed the congestion had worsened and I started feeling pain when I tried to take deep inhales. I called Penn Medicine and the doctor instructed me to use my inhaler to open up my airways. I also tried laying down in a certain position to drain my lungs. The position I would describe it as a restful puppy pose. In my bed I’d do puppy pose with pillows underneath my belly for at least 5 minutes at the time and at least 2 hours after eating. That helped a lot. A week after I got the results, while I was in the shower, I started coughing up blood. I called Penn Med again and the doctor sent me for a chest X-ray. It came back that the COVID infection had moved into my lungs and I had developed pneumonia. He started me on a 7-day antibiotics treatment right away, which I’ve completed.
The Hardest Part of Having COVID-19
I live with both my parents and my dad had preexisting conditions so, it was heartbreaking for me to find out it was me who brought this thing home when I was doing everything in my power to protect them. I quarantined myself in my room for 14 days. I would text my parents whenever I needed anything. They left food and water outside my door, would knock, and then walk away. Once I heard they were gone, I’d open the door and pick up things and closed the door again.
I know it was heartbreaking for my mom, particularly, cause she expressed on several occasions how she disliked leaving things on the floor for me, she wanted to hand them to me but I reassured her it was for her own protection and it was temporary. I have my own bathroom right next to my room and anytime I went to the bathroom, I wore my mask. My mom washed everything I used with bleach. She also disinfected the whole house with a steam cleaner she has, every morning. My dad bought an air purifier and placed it on the hallway, outside my door. I also covered the air vents in my room with painter’s tape to prevent the air in my room from circulating and contaminating the rest of the house. For those days in quarantine, I only saw people via video calls, even my parents who were just down the hall.
On the Road to Recovery
I’m doing much better now. Far from being 100%, but every day is better. I’m still tired all of the time and it’s difficult to perform simple tasks like cleaning or making my bed in the morning. My doctor told me I should be good after completing the antibiotics but didn’t tell me when I would “be back to normal”. I’m currently hoping my body continues to kick ass and I bounce back from this relatively quickly.
Making Smart Choices in the Age of Coronavirus
I was told to continue to take all the precautions that we’ve all heard about- wash your hands, don’t touch your face, stay home. But also I’d like to add a few tips friends working on the healthcare field have shared with me:
- Please wear a mask when you go out to public places and do not touch your mask, if at all possible
- When you remove your mask, so do from the elastic bands – do not touch the fabric portion
- When you remove your mask, wash your hands first, then wash your face, because the virus might have had landed elsewhere on your face
- If you wear glasses, be sure to wash those every time you go out
- Take your vitamins to strengthen your immune system
- Stay hydrated
- Eat your veggies
- Try to exercise your lungs with cardio workouts (without going crazy, start slow)
Try to be as healthy as you possibly can. My aunt pointed out that the fact that I practice yoga helped me a lot through this experience: the yoga breathe helped me to remain calm under this stressful situation. I never realized it until she point it out.
If you have additional questions about our community members experience with COVID-19, please reach out to us in the comments and we’ll do our best to get you the peace of mind you need from someone who has lived through coronavirus in the US.