As I write this, I have joined over 14 million other Americans who have contracted COVID-19. I document my still-continuing journey in the hope it will help someone else through the uncertain days of this virus.
A few weeks ago, my boyfriend, John, started with symptoms that seemed like a bad cold. He didn’t have a fever, he still had his sense of taste, so we believed nothing was seriously wrong. However, after a few days of worsening symptoms, he was able to schedule a COVID test, something that is still not as easy to do as it needs to be.
While we waited for his results, I developed cold-like symptoms, most notably a cough and a diminished sense of smell. So when John’s results came back positive, neither one of us was really surprised. We both had our freak-out moment. “we have COVID!” Collecting myself, I called my doctor to see whether or not I needed to get tested, because the pre-Thanksgiving demand for testing made access difficult. He explained to me that because I had close contact with a positive person and was now exhibiting symptoms, I was classified as positive, too. The doctor prescribed some over the counter medications as well as a steroid on an as needed basis. His prophetic words? In the beginning, as the virus replicates in the body, you may feel very mild symptoms. You may think, what’s the big deal? This isn’t so bad. For some people, that remains true. For others, like John and me, the virus settles in and around day 7 or 8, the symptoms become more pronounced.
I am now 17 days in, and here’s my best description of COVID-19 so far... I have a lot of upper respiratory congestion. My nose and my ears are both stuffed. I lost my sense of smell early on and it has returned about 20%. My taste buds are at about 40% capacity. I have a mostly-dry cough, and with OTC cough medicine, it’s been manageable. My bronchial tubes feel inflamed from weeks of coughing. I had a low grade fever for about 3 days, but that’s subsided. A lingering symptom is fatigue. Now, I’m no stranger to fatigue, having lived on and off over the years with immune-related fatigue. At its worst, I can’t accomplish anything more than making a cup of tea or a piece of toast. Yet, during the day, I often have an hour or two where I feel I’ve rounded the corner and I have better energy. So I’m always surprised and a little disappointed when the energy doesn’t last. Some days I sleep on and off all day with a foggy head and muscle weakness.
According to my doctor, most people show symptoms for about 3 weeks. If that’s my case, I have some days to go. I continue to take Vitamin D and Zinc. I eat small meals throughout the day, even though I can’t taste them all that well. As my energy allows, I sit in a chair and do some gentle stretches. I watch a ton of old movies on Turner Classic Movies and I’ve started watching things on my Netflix list. I did some laundry over the weekend, and that alone was exertion enough. Today, I felt well enough to write about my COVID journey, a sign that I’m feeling a little more productive.
My earlier experiences with immune-related fatigue have taught me patience. A virus has its own timetable. The best anyone can do is to rest, stay hydrated and remind yourself that the body knows how to heal. I am exceedingly grateful that I have been able to recuperate at home, because this virus has been more serious, even fatal, for many. I am grateful to the medical community for their heroic efforts throughout this pandemic.
For those who believe this virus is no big deal, please reconsider, both for yourself and those you love. Yes, go about and live your life, but follow the guidelines... wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your distance. In the end, it may not prevent you from contracting the disease, but it will stop you from spreading it to someone else.