COVID-19, say what now?

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COVID-19. Despite being a nurse who cares for COVID-19 positive patients, I never in a million years thought that I would receive a phone call stating that I have COVID-19. I had not been feeling well for about a week, but hey, I didn’t have a fever, so it must have simply been a cold, right? I had just returned from Charleston, SC for a family vacation with my children, which is the first time we have left the house together since the pandemic started. I always get a sore throat first whenever I get sick, so I didn’t really think much of it. I had horrible headache, cough, would breakout in sweat, and just didn’t feel well.  Again, no fever, so no big deal. I still went to work that as scheduled. I even called the COVID hotline, explained that I had recently traveled and what my symptoms were. I was told since I didn’t have a fever, I did not need to be tested.  Cool. I went to Starbucks and ordered a chai tea latter and got mad because it tasted watered down. Later that day, I ordered a cherry limeade from Sonic which didn’t taste right either, but their drinks are not consistent, so I didn’t trip out too much. 

I went to work, reported my symptoms, but was told I could work, just wear a mask (as if I don’t already wear one), since I do not have a fever. I was eating a Reese’s peanut butter cup – my all-time favorite food – and I couldn’t taste it! What the hell?! I worked the remainder of my shifts that weekend. I got off work Monday morning, attempted to get tested through employee health to no avail. I eventually went to the drive-thru testing site. I was still fully expecting not to receive a call – they only call if it is positive. Tuesday afternoon, the phone rang. Looking at the number, I already knew what the call was about – my test came back positive. On one hand, I now had a better understanding as to why I felt so bad and was not getting any better. On the other hand, I have COVID-19! I don’t typically go a lot of places or interact with a lot of people – which made contact tracing easy – but now I really have to stay in the house and away from people.  It wasn’t too bad because I didn’t have the energy to do anything, but I do not like to be dependent on other people. 

I let my coworkers know about my positive results so they could monitor themselves for symptoms. I am three weeks out from when my symptoms first appeared and I am still not at 100%. I still have a cough and sore throat. I have been removed from isolation per the public health department since I have not gotten worse. 

Imagine getting different information from everyone you spoke to. Employee health did not know what the criteria was for me to return to work. The nurse practitioner who gave me my results believed I needed to stay on isolation for two weeks following my test date. The health department believed it was two weeks from the onset of symptoms and that I do not have to be asymptomatic to come off isolation, just not getting worse. The pediatrician’s office did not think my children needed to be tested because they do not have any symptoms despite use being in close contact with each other. I have a medical background and was frustrated. I can only imagine someone who has been nervous during this pandemic having to go through this process following a positive result. Who wants to deal with multiple phone calls when you feel like crap?

I was finally able to get my son (who went on the trip with me) tested last week, despite him being asymptomatic. I will be honest, I was surprised his test came back positive. I think more so because he does not have any symptoms, but it further leads me to believe we got it on our trip because once I started feeling sick, I stayed in my room except when I went to work.

I am thankful that I am a fairly healthy person with no other risk factors that could have made my symptoms worse. I am thankful that I did not experience any respiratory issues or the fevers. I had some muscle aches in my legs. I completely lost my appetite, resulting in a 12-pound weight loss, and I slept all the time. I was more concerned with needing to get IV fluids because I became so dehydrated. Thankfully, I have wonderful co-workers who had food and drinks delivered for me and my children, and my two friends, who were aware of what was going on, dropped off a care package that included coloring books (I love to color). 
           

As mild as my symptoms were, I would not wish this on anyone! It is not just a cold or flu. I can see how people can dismiss their symptoms and things escalate to where the need to be hospitalized. I had convinced myself that I would not get it, besides, I had already been sick once this year – I rarely get more than a sore throat and cough once a year. I am thankful that my children have not had any major effects of this virus. Things could have been worse, but I am so glad there were not. 

Everyone be safe and wear your masks!