As I sit here in front of my electric fire reflecting over the last few days, I question whether to write about my COVID-19 experience or not. It doesn’t seem people who have had the virus talk about it much or they play it off as nothing but a cold that required a lot of rest. I’m not sure how I feel about having had COVID-19, but I think I’m going to share my experience.
I am a teacher and I have daily exposure to the virus. I have hoped they would send us home for several weeks now and return to online learning until the numbers settle down. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case so I continue to take extra precautions in the classroom and constantly stay on students about masks and sharing. Getting students to practice the social distancing and other COVID-19 expectations is a losing battle, but I keep pressing forward. Even with the vigilance that goes into proper precautions, I found that my body became tired of the battle of prevention and gave into the virus.
Day 1: To be honest, at the end of the day, I just felt really tired and “not right”. I tried telling my husband what I was feeling and he shut the door to the bedroom thinking I was just whining about something. He always feels worse than me so has little interest in me when I complain I feel bad. Gary is great in so many ways, but like all men, when he’s sick, he’s “sicker” than me or “more tired” than me.
Day 2: I woke up this morning, tired! It is close to the end of the week and I’m ready for the weekend. The previous weekend we were busy and I need a day of rest. As kids move in and out of my room throughout the day, I am watching the clock and counting down the minutes until I can go home. When the bell finally rings, I get in my car to head home. As I’m driving, I suddenly feel weak and overwhelmingly tired. I have a stop to make before I go home and I’m thinking “I just want a hot bath, pj’s, and a hot cup of tea”.
I stopped by the store to get the few odd items on Gary’s list and just felt like I wasn’t going to make it through the store. I called Gary and told him I wasn’t feeling well and could we do soup for dinner. He agreed that sounded good and we decided to meet at our favorite little soup and sandwich place.
On the way there, I bottomed out. Something truly was wrong. Not only was I weak, but my head had started hurting, my entire body was aching and sensitive, my eyes were burning, and I knew it was time to call the doctor. I am NEVER sick! Not really sick that is. I can’t remember that last time I even had a head cold. When I called the doctor, they sent me immediately to the testing sight and quarantined me until the results came back. So much for dinner!
Gary, who is not sympathetic, actually made me mad when I called him to tell him I was being sent to get tested. I had a meltdown and yelled at him for not listening to me when I try telling him that I don’t feel good. He said he’d pick up dinner and bring it home. He does know how to fix things when I get upset and is really good about taking care of me when I’m sick.
Day 3: Wow! I’m tired! Really tired! Exhausted! Weak! So very very tired! I’m not sleepy and don’t feel the need for a nap kind of tired, but like “my body can’t take another step” tired and “can’t hold my head up” tired. If I sit, I feel somewhat normal. However, the minute I try to walk to the kitchen, I have to take a break and sit. The exhaustion is overwhelming! I have to use the wall to hold me up when I walk down the hall to the bathroom.
I use the counters to balance myself when I’m trying to make tea. If I walk from the den to my office, I have to lay my head down on my desk before I can do anything in order to catch my breath and regain some of the energy I spent walking from point A to point B. As the day moves on, the extreme tiredness continues and a headache presents itself, but only for a few minutes at a time or when I bend over to pet Max or pick something up. I go to bed early because I just can’t stay up any longer.
Day 4: I slept a full 10 hours! I woke up feeling great and rested! Maybe Gary was right and I just had the flu or one of the many little illnesses that are going around. Nope! Spoke too soon! I got out of bed with a little lightheadedness and as I walk down the hall, the weakness presents itself.
Oh the days of jumping out of bed and being that morning person has slipped away! I now know what it’s like to not be a morning person and want to crawl back in bed to try again later in the day. My body is sore from head to toe. I feel like I slept wrong and every muscle hurts. Maybe this would work itself out as I move around.
Another day like Day 3. I’m extremely weak and tired. I’m using the walls to guide me through the house, the counters to hold me up, and have to stop at every chair along the way for a moment of rest. My patience is thin and I want to be left alone. I even have little patience for the animals. Max and his never ending need for treats is tiring and making me cranky! He knows he only gets a treat in the morning and in the evening, but is persistent.
Nikko seems to know I don’t feel good and thinks today is a good day to try to bite me. Ugh!! However, about mid-day, I had a little burst of energy and cleaned up the kitchen and started the laundry. That burst lasted about 15 minutes and then I was back on the couch again resting.
Finding out I am positive: I received a call mid-afternoon from an 877 number. I sent it to voicemail because I assumed it was the typical scam or solicitor or someone I didn’t want to talk to. For some reason, I checked my messages and it was the Louisiana Department of Contact Tracing. I wasn’t sure why they would be calling because I hadn’t heard from my doctor yet. I decided to call them back out of curiosity. I got right through and to a real woman! Exciting! After a couple minutes of talking, she realized that I hadn’t heard from my doctor and was left to tell me my results were positive.
She apologize profusely! I told her I was okay and she was confirming what I already knew. I will say I think I was relieved more than I was upset. Knowing what was wrong with me is better than having to call the doctor and trying to find out what could be causing this incredible amounts of tiredness.
Day 5: I woke up drained and exhausted. I’m not sure how I made it to the bathroom and to my favorite spot on the couch. From there, I spoke to the doctor and had to handle things with work. The conversations and emails were enough to finish off an already drained body. As the owner of a candle and soap company, I turned on the warmer in the den to have one of my favorite holiday scents drift through my resting area.
I added some more tarts because the ones that were in there didn’t have any scent left. After a few minutes, there still wasn’t any smell. I informed Gary that he had faulty wax melts. Gary came from the other end of the house to smell what I was talking about. He got about 10 feet from the entry to the den and said he could smell them just fine. This was when I realized I had lost my sense of smell and most of my sense of taste.
Literally, I can’t smell a thing! Nothing! My loss of taste has made eating a disappointment and I don’t really have any desire to eat at all now. The rest of Day 5 continued on like the previous days. I have developed a very mild cough that presents itself when I move for any amount of time.
Day 6: This is the day that my cousin, Beth, introduced me to a COVID-19 support group on Facebook. It can be a little overwhelming to read through the comments and questions on this site. However, I have learned a lot! First, I have this strange taste at the back of my throat. I thought it was just a “feel bad” taste. According to the group, this is quite common.
People have described it as a smoky taste and that is exactly what it is. Smoke! Like cigarette smoke. It’s the same taste I get after being somewhere where smoking is still allowed and you get that awful taste in your mouth from breathing the smoke in. The other thing I learned is you are contagious for 10 days and that is why we have a quarantine period, but that doesn’t mean that your symptoms go away. People that are 3-4 months and even 8 months “COVID-free” are still having side effects and symptoms.
The headaches, weakness, and loss of taste/smell are still lingering around. I can’t imagine still feeling like this 6 months down the road. How does anyone go back to work when they can barely sit up? I am a school teacher and business owner; how do I return to normal when simply walking down the hall tires me out? I am curious to see what happens when I am released to return to work. Day 6 has been really unkind.
My love of Hallmark movies has me rolling my eyes and watching things other than Christmas specials. Again, my patience is slim and the obvious turn of events is on my last nerves. Early afternoon was my weakest moment, quite literally. I couldn’t hold my head up and my eyes were the heaviest yet. My skin was sensitive and had the “crawling” sensation. I had hot flashes throughout the day and my breathing became difficult during these moments.
The cough has gotten a little more frequent and the loss of smell/taste even more noticeable. During this time, my husband asked if I felt I needed to go to the hospital. I said I would be fine; I just needed to rest. He told me to fight it, find something to do, but don’t give into the illness. Great advice, but I really just need to rest. I did rest for about an hour then made my way to my office. I spent a few minutes making Christmas ornaments which did make me feel better.
Gary brought me home a tortilla soup which has just the right amount of LA kick. I tasted nothing, but I did feel the burn in the back of my throat. The last kicker of the day was this horrible, body doubling over pain in my chest. I had heard that gas could be a pain like no other and this was a pain like nothing I’ve felt before. I couldn’t move and I could barely breath. I just sat and tried to make the most of the shallow breaths my body would allow me to take.
For the second time today, Gary asked if I needed to go to the hospital. Again, I told him no I just needed to breath. He got me antacids and ginger ale and after about 30 minutes I was able to move. I finished my day with a relaxing bath that soothed the remaining pain from my body. At 8:30, I had enough of Day 6 and went to bed.
Day 7: Today has brought more energy to my tired body than I’ve had in several days. My eyes are tired with a little burning feeling, but not as bad as previous days. I have a mild headache that comes and goes, but is tolerable. I am still having hot flashes, but better than a feverish achy body.
My cough hasn’t gotten worse, but my throat is scratching and raw feeling. The smoke taste is still there and still no smell or taste. A Hallmark movie set in Louisiana has restored my love for sappy Christmas movies. My feet are like ice even with slippers and blankets, but that’s kind of normal for me. Hopefully, Day 7 continues as it has started. Day 7 ended with a little heartburn and an upset stomach, but nothing a little antacid did cure.
Day 8: I woke up with the same energy I possessed all day yesterday. However, that energy was short-lived. For the first time in 8 days, I have been sleepy. Since the beginning, I have been physically exhausted, but never actually sleepy. Today, I napped. When I wasn’t napping, I was in a fog. I have sat for hours watching the squirrels hunt for nuts and the birds play. I have had mild headaches off and on and have been dizzy both when standing and when walking. I have had no motivation to do anything other than sleep.
The strangest part of all is I have NO smell and very little taste and the only thing I want to eat is pastries/bread type foods. I had my favorite cinnamon roll for breakfast, an egg salad sandwich for lunch (actually yummy), and a Chalupa for dinner (love the thick bread shell). I have developed a deep pain in my right hip.
I believe this is from all the laying/sitting around. Aleve does help with the pain. Between the pain in my hip and the headache that developed, I gave up and went to bed about 9. I am trying to stay up as late as I can so that I don’t get up before the roosters.
Day 9: I like this waking up early with a burst of energy. I decided today was a good day to get in the attic and get the two totes I need to decorate the den. After all this is Day 9 and it’s time to start getting back to normal, right?! Well, that was a mistake! I did get the totes brought down with the help of Gary. However, I spent the next 10 minutes trying to catch my breath and getting the room to stop spinning.
Then spent the next hour lying on the couch trying to get up enough energy to move to my favorite spot in the house. I am trying to do more things as I am going to have to go back to work soon and I can’t work the way I feel now. I’m either going to push myself into feeling better or I’m going to push myself into pure exhaustion. I need my energy back so I can return to my 65 kiddos at school and return to being the other half of Gnome Hollow. Gary has taken on all the responsibilities and I am doing what I can when I can.
Day 10: Last day of quarantine! Today was a good day! I woke this morning early because I heard Gary roaming around in the kitchen. He was making candles and needed help. I started labeling candles and remelting the tops. I worked slowly, but I was able to help. I helped for about 2 hours before I had to go rest. I grabbed some juice and bread (still needing those carbs) and went to the den to rest.
I ended up on the couch for a couple of hours, napping off and on. I woke up rested and decided to empty the Christmas totes in the den. This wasn’t bad. However, my brain fog kicked in and I couldn’t decide what to do with all the stuff so I put a few things out and put the rest back in the totes. I’ll revisit when I’m more motivated.
I returned to labeling candles since Gary needs help and I actually have the energy to help. Again, I worked for a hour or so and went back to the den to rest. I did this off and on all day long. I have noticed that when I get tired the headaches come on and my eyes become heavy. My cough is deep in my chest but only appears when I’m tired. I have spent the last week slouched over because I’m too weak to stand up straight. Today, I made a conscience effort to stand up straight.
For the first time in several days, I actually smelled something. Any candle that has pine in it, I get a faint whiff. I can’t smell any other fragrances other than that. Weird, but its progress. As for taste, I have a few things I can taste now. It’s creeping up on bedtime and I’m exhausted. I have a headache and upset stomach, but this is normal when I’m tired. My day has been full of movement instead of resting. This has been a good day!
Things that I have observed over the last 10 days: COVID took all my energy away and left me weak and dependent. Panic attacks and hot flashes seem to be the norm. My face has been a ghostly white and the circles under my eyes were even bleached out. I can’t even describe the white that my entire face took on.
For someone that normally has low blood pressure, my BP has been high even in resting mode. My skin is sensitive and itchy. I am dehydrated even though I drink Gatorade, water, and juice throughout the day. My mouth is dry, my face is flaking, and my body is pale and shriveled.
When I get hungry, my stomach becomes nauseated and a pain develops within. I have learned that my sense of smell is not as important as my sense of taste. Food is no fun if you can’t taste it. People say COVID-19 is like the flu. As someone who has had COVID-19, this is nothing like the flu. It has similar symptoms, but the way it takes over your body is nothing like the flu.
The fact that I’m 10 days out and still have symptoms and may continue to have symptoms for days, weeks, or even months is scary. The unknown that this virus presents is even more frightful than learning you have contracted it. For those of you that have not contracted the virus, please take the precautions necessary to prevent it. I was one of the lucky ones and I had a mild case. Not everyone is that lucky!