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My Experience Battling Coronavirus

My Experience Battling Coronavirus

Here are some of the things I learned from my fight and my mom’s and dad’s fight.

In October of 2009, the swine flu found me.

In August of 2020, the Wuhan Coronavirus came knocking on my family’s door.

Mom and dad were the first to feel symptoms, around August 14th. It wasn’t entirely noticeable at first, because some of the symptoms they had (coughing, feelings of tiredness) were not unusual for them for this time of the year, as both of them suffer from allergies. Plus, they’re in their 70s and are more tired now than they used to be.

But I remember mentioning to mom that I thought her cough sounded different than her normal cough. The cough I heard was dry, and it didn’t go away like it normally would with a few swigs of water. It was persistent. So was my dad’s.

Three days later, I started feeling symptoms. I was so fatigued I could barely get out of the bed to go to the bathroom. All I wanted to do was sleep. I thought it was odd, but I’ve had bouts of fatigue before with nothing underlying to go along with it, so on Tuesday when I got out of bed and didn’t feel sluggish, I figured the moment had passed.

It hadn’t. Mom and I both spent the next two days coughing, her more so than me. My tiredness came and went. At times I felt out of sorts, dazed. At one point on Wednesday the 16th, I was so out of it that I couldn’t get out of my office chair without fear that I was going to fall down.

After mom got me some water, I looked up the symptoms of the coronavirus. As much as I’d written about it and read about it over the last few months, the only symptom I recognized offhand that both of us had was the dry cough. Neither of us had had a fever for the past week, we didn’t have shortness of breath, nor the tight band around the chest some who have gone through the virus have said they’ve felt.

Those three symptoms are the ones the media most often references, but one they don’t talk about a lot is the extreme fatigue, which hit me like a Mack truck throughout the first week of my symptoms. The “out of sorts” feeling is another they don’t mention much in media reports, but it’s one my mom and I both had on and off that first week. I also lost most of my sense of smell and taste.

I had a talk with her that Wednesday afternoon. We need to schedule coronavirus tests, I told her. As scary as it sounded, she agreed. My dad was reluctant to do so, but mom and I made ours for as soon as we could. We scheduled appointments with the CVS drive-up testing clinic for that following Friday afternoon.

That Friday was the absolute worst day for going out to do anything. It was raining like cats and dogs, and we were feeling miserable. Nevertheless, we made it on time to our appointment at CVS, and we were both relieved to find out that the tests weren’t like the early ones they used to talk about in the media. Yes, there were little q-tip swabs involved, but thankfully we didn’t have to stick them all the way back to where they touched our throats.

Two days later we got the news: We both tested positive. I found out first because I checked the website first. I was devastated, because I knew if I had it, mom most likely had it and dad most likely did, too, even though he hadn’t yet been tested.

This was my worst nightmare come true, in spite of us being the family that did everything we were supposed to do (we wore masks, washed hands, social distanced as much as possible when we were around each other). It was bad enough that I’d gotten the virus, but it was worse that mom and probably dad had gotten it. They’re both senior citizens, and dad has multiple underlying conditions that could have made the virus fatal.

Two days after we got our results, dad was tested in the hospital and got his results. He was positive, too. He was in the hospital for 4 days, mainly to get dialysis treatments but also to be monitored for possible worsening of symptoms.

They released him Friday the 28th and told him that, like us, symptoms needed to be monitored and treated with OTC meds like Tylenol and cough medicine and to call 911 if we felt the code red symptoms like shortness of breath, fever, and/or tightening of the chest.

Fortunately for all three of us, our symptoms haven’t gotten any worse. We’ve just slept a lot, coughed a lot, and experienced spurts of energy along with long periods of sluggishness.

All three of us are well past the 14-day point from when symptoms first started, and feel like we’re slowly getting back to normal, but I’ve found the recovery process from this virus to be very unpredictable.

With the swine flu, I had the virus for about 10 days before returning to work, thinking I’d be fine to jump back into my normal daily routine. In reality, it took about 14 days from the time I went back to work to actually feel like myself and not completely exhausted once I came home from an 8 hour workday.

The Wuhan virus is different. For example, I had three good days of energy last week, though I would usually run out of steam around 4 or so. I tried to get back into my normal writing groove as best I could, but by Friday morning I was absolutely wiped out. Friday and most of Saturday I slept as though I hadn’t rested in ages.

Sunday started out as more of a normal day. Mom and I took advantage of the energy spurts we had to do a few things around the house. But by 3 pm we were both dragging and feeling like we’d run a marathon when all we’d done is a few things around the kitchen like make lunch and washed, dried, and put away a small load of clothes.

I’ve learned from online friends who have suffered from the virus that the recovery time can be longer than one might think. Whereas with the seasonal flu or a cold, where you might only have a lingering cough and the occasional sneeze after your symptoms subside, the full recovery from the Wuhan virus can take weeks, even months for some.

Mom, dad, and I both are still coughing at times, and still have periods of absolute sluggishness where we don’t want to do anything. I haven’t fully recovered my sense of taste and smell.

All in all, the three of us feel extremely blessed that our symptoms weren’t as bad or worse than some of the horrific stories we’ve seen in news reports over the last few months. The support and prayers from family, friends, and colleagues has meant everything to us.

But we are not out of the COVID woods just yet. What makes us nervous is what the future holds for us in terms of recovery, but we’re doing our best to just take things one day at a time. The worrying takes away the energy we already lack, so it does us no good to fret over what we don’t know about the future.

I can’t stress enough for people to listen to their bodies and get tested if they think they’ve come down with the coronavirus, even if you haven’t had a fever or shortness of breath. None of us ever had those symptoms.

It’s better to know if you have it as soon as possible, not just for your health but also for the health of those around you.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —

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Comments

Thanks for reporting that, Stacey. It’s so confusing because allergies can make you cough and cause fatigue. It doesn’t sound like you went to your doctor, but I’m curious if anybody suggested Hydrochlooquine, zinc, and vitamin D. Thanks again for the report.

Glad to hear recovery is coming along for you. My family also battled it in Early August and it affected each one of us differently which I will describe below. We also followed all the “rules” and have no idea how we caught it, though I suspect my middle son brought it in.

Anyway, It started out with my middle son (college age), my daughter (teenager) and myself losing our sense of smell. For my daughter, that was the extent of it for two days. My oldest son had flu-like symptoms which cleared quickly, and my wife seemed completely unaffected (though she is known to downplay…).

For my son and I, it was a decent into 10 days of hell. My sense of smell was gone – completely along with taste in the next day – and then the fevers hit. 10 days of 101-104 spiking and breaking with drenching sweat fevers. Bad headaches (no sore throat and no cough), chest tightness and horrible Gastrointestinal symptoms. I mean horrible. As it progressed, it just felt like I was swelling on the inside. All I wanted to do was sleep for days. About 10 days in, I went to take a show and could barely shave without coming close to passing out. But something happened that day – after the fever broke, it didn’t come back and I felt pretty much OK by evening. I developed a cough and had tracheal pain (higher up). I went to get tested the next day, and it came back positive, but I was feeling ok by then – and I had a voracious appetite back.

I was fine to cut the lawn and go back to work the following week per my employer’s discretion. My son’s experience was similar but with more shortness of breath, and less GI symptoms.

It sucked for me, but I was just shy of having to go to the hospital – it was almost like my own body was attacking itself. Very strange.

The experience has not changed my viewpoint on us needing to open up and get the economy rolling and the kids back in school. It just seems to hit everyone differently.

    it was almost like my own body was attacking itself
    Which is what a cytokine storm basically is. If you get those sorts of symptoms, please seek treatment – specifically HCQ or one of the others that helps shut down the storm.

The brandykinin storm vs cytokine storm is just a hypothesis but it’s the most interesting one yet that explains all the odd and varied symptoms of the Wuhan Flu.

https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/is-a-bradykinin-storm-brewing-in-covid-19–67876

That is one of a number of recent articles exploring it. It’s a bit technical but if correct, it opens the door to a number of additional treatments beyond those identified.

For what it’s worth, this is all still science in progress.

It could explain why some of the steroid-based approaches work to improve symptoms, Eg methotrexate

Antivirals attack the virus directly and and can reduce the progression until the body’s system can catch up (remdesivir). HcQ / Z / Azith is believed to primarily reduce secondary or co-infection contributions to mortality.

This information would suggest additional pathways that have an impact similar to Methotrexate.

    For what it’s worth, this is all still science in progress.
    One of the only good things to come out of this stupidity (the reaction to Winnie The Flu) is the leaps that have been made in understanding viruses and some bodily reactions to them. Some of that information seems to be taking the form of finding basic similarities that might make for general anti-viral treatments, and differences that will help refine specific treatments. We didn’t know nearly what we thought we knew about viruses before.

Brandy? Did someone say Brandy?

That you had Covid 19 and no fever throws me for a loop. At an appointment last week, the receptionist gave us the green light to see the doctor with just a temperature check and a few questions. The receptionist said they were less strict at the once-a-month satellite office in Poulsbo than the main office at Swedish (near Chaz/Chop).

We had to laugh at the laundry list of symptoms she asked me about some of which I have but not on account of Covid, but because I’m getting old and decrepit.

Glad you and your parents are on the mend.

    healthguyfsu in reply to MrE. | September 7, 2020 at 10:06 pm

    The fever period seems to be very brief in some people, even those with other symptoms. It’s possible that it was missed.

Just curious – were you taking anything to try to avoid C19, such as Vitamin D (do you know your level via a blood test), Vit C, Quercetin, zinc, or anything else?

I have to take 10,000 IU of D3 a day to maintain a level of 60 ng/ml. I think that the additional stuff I take has helped to keep me healthy.

Glad you’re hanging in there – what a nightmare! I have another friend who had it in April and she’s still reporting overwhelming fatigue. I hope you’ll be feeling 100% reasonably soon, but in the meantime take good care of yourself.

    I wonder what sorts of treatments can help recover from the “storms” that seem to produce the really bad symptoms. If the bad symptoms come from the body “attacking itself” then you have to restore proper function and state.

For the record,I I took quercetin, zinc, vitamin d an c, as well as the fish oil i always take anyway. Not sure if it had any effect or not.

One other odd symptom I had was just before I rapidly got better and that was tingling and pins and needles in both triceps, that would at times extend down to my hands, more on the right side. But right after that everything abruptly reversed. It was very, very strange.

My family also contracted COVID. My wife and son were exposed July 10th. Among 8 confirmed cases in my family, only 2 developed any sort of fever. My toddler spiked a 104° fever very quickly one evening. Nurse was called, etc., but we ended up not needing to go to the ER; his temp was back to normal the next morning.

My symptoms started July 29th. The first noticeable symptoms for my wife and I were fatigue and what seemed like allergies. My wife got the symptoms in her head, and ended up losing her senses of smell and taste. She still doesn’t have much of her smell back, but is back to ~70% of her taste having returned (which makes foods taste odd). I have mild asthma, and got the symptoms in my chest. Lost ~15% of my lung capacity during the worst of it, and I’m pretty sure I have some minor lung damage. My pulse ox levels are routinely in the low 90’s now, and I’ve used my asthma inhaler more times in the last 7 weeks than the previous 3 years combined. I’m still struggling with exhaustion (though not as bad as during the actual illness), and it doesn’t seem like it’s getting any better. I’m exhausted all the time. Chasing around a toddler isn’t helping (ha ha, *cough*). Still have a minor cough, too.

COVID definitely sucks.

    cktheman in reply to ksbsnowowl. | September 7, 2020 at 8:10 pm

    My sons sense of smell took a few weeks to return, mine started coming back before the main symptoms stopped. I have heard others report it can take months.

I am glad you and your family are feeling better. Such a worry to have your parents sick with this, as well as you. Here’s hoping for a swift and uneventful recovery.

Ours is a rather large household with me, my son and his wife and their children. Because of SIP all of the kids and me have been home pretty much since all of this started in March. My son is outside (literally) in the parks dept, working with the public daily and my daughter-in-law, once she could return to work, is in a tiny office and sees few people (plus the shopping she does for all of us.) With this limited exposure imagine our surprise when my oldest granddaughter became very ill. No fever, so Kaiser wouldn’t see her, test her or treat her. My granddaughter was having trouble breathing and was experiencing serious heart pains (healthy 17 year old don’t do that!) and odd rashes (on her abdomen and around her toes! They were pink and blotchy!) but no cough or fever, so no treatment or test. After a WEEK of symptoms Kaiser finally relented and had her come in for testing – still no treatment. Two and a half days later the results were in – no Covid19! – hey, do you want to run some tests and see why your daughter is so ill? They never did determine what she had, but her dr got all excited because there was ample evidence that she had severe inflammation around her heart. No treatment. They refused to give her the antibody test to see if she really might have had the coronavirus because “it wouldn’t do any good now anyway.” She got better, then 10 days later her 15 year old brother became very ill with a 103* fever and sore throat. Oh! We’ll test him immediately! No Covid, but he does have strep throat and mono. (Mono?! Strep throat? Where the heck did he get those?! We’re home ALL THE TIME!) He’s on antibiotics and sleeping more, but otherwise fine. Did his sister have mono – a flare-up? (She has it 3 years ago.) Who knows, they didn’t test her for that.

Color me unimpressed with Kaiser’s medical care. If you don’t have the set list of symptoms of Covid19 it is really hard to get help.

    healthguyfsu in reply to B Buchanan. | September 7, 2020 at 10:09 pm

    My hypothesis: Because of SIP and distancing, immune systems are weakening and opportunistic infections are causing flare-ups. Further, low pathogen load exposures to these other bugs can lead to a real case that would normally be asymptomatic.

      healthguyfsu in reply to healthguyfsu. | September 7, 2020 at 10:12 pm

      And it also tracks that this kind of side effect of distancing/quarantine would show up more commonly in the young who have had less exposures to some of these bugs during their lives and therefore have less immunization events to strengthen their immune cell memory populations.

        B Buchanan in reply to healthguyfsu. | September 8, 2020 at 1:45 am

        I think you may be onto something, healthguy. It is not a normal life right now for kids at all. It isn’t healthy to be at home, isolated so much.

      Well, that and mask wearing itself. Been a few years without a sinus infection. After few days of visiting places where I HAD to wear a mask- yep- sinus infection. My routine of daily nasal rinsing wasn’t enough to wash out the bacteria being breathed out and then right back from the mask. The mask increased the bacteria load in my nose.

    Other diseases are still out there, either because they have good non-human reservoirs or people are being idiots and not doing the basic preventative measures for Covid. Around the same time the Stacey Matthews got Covid, my daughter got croup from daycare: high fever, really horrendous sounding cough. And our daycare has an extremely strict protocol, which is basically if you have or have had a fever in the past 14 days, or traveled to about 37 restricted states, and did not get a Covid test, you aren’t allowed to enter. Someone obviously lied. According to the Ped, any fever in anyone that cannot be immediately and unambiguously ruled out (i.e. rapid strep test) is going to warrant a Covid test. She was negative, I still got croup myself. Got a call the first day she was back that she was sticking a crayon up the other kids noses “to make sure they weren’t sick”. It’s life. Wear an f-ing mask.

I can guarantee, all politicians are taking HCQ and zpack. Trump is the only one to admit this publically. The rest are all frauds. You take this and get healed.

I found some hydroclor & other stuff. But I had the HONG KONG flu in 1970. I thought I was going to die. VERY high temp wild dreams and such.

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