It’s true! I was exposed to the novel corona virus at work and I ended up contracting it myself. I unknowingly brought it home to my family and by the time I realized it, it was too late. I had been taking precautions. I wore PPE at work: a mask with every patient and a gown, hair covering, goggles and feet coverings with anyone with even minimal symptoms. I washed hands… a lot. I began changing clothes and showering upon arriving home, but it all must have not been enough. Once I developed symptoms, I began wearing a mask around my family. Many people have isolated themselves into a single room or section of their home to prevent infecting their families, but I did not do this. With a toddler and a baby at home, it was just too difficult to isolate, especially while breastfeeding. Just two days after I developed symptoms, my 10-month-old did as well. Three days after that, my husband started with a fever as well. My three-year old has yet to display any herself, and I am on Day 12 at the time of writing, so that is reassuring. I wrote this over the course of a few weeks, FYI. (Update: she never showed symptoms. Twice we thought she felt warm and she had 99.1-99.3 temp, but nothing else).
Below is my timeline of symptoms. I list my temperatures as I took them throughout the day. I didn’t include times, but they are in chronological order. I also list when I took medications. Whenever I took Tylenol, I took a half-dose. I try to avoid OTC medications whenever possible, and part of the reason in this case was to let the virus run its course without intervention. I was lucky enough to not require more or stronger medications. Day 1 was 4/29/20.
Day 1: fever 99.1, then 98.9 10 minutes later. Headache, body aches, then 99.4, 99.6 (no meds).
Day 2: fever 99.6, took Advil, 98.6, 97.6, 99.3, 98.3. Coughing throughout the day, mild headache, runny nose. Diminishing taste began at dinner.
Day 3: fever 99.6, 98.9 (no meds). Taste and smell completely gone. Body aches worse, especially upper back. Tylenol helped. 99.1, 98.9, 98.3, 98.5. Got tested today.
Day 4: Temp in the area of 98.6 all day. Took Tylenol for back pain. No smell/flavor detection, but I realize I can still taste salt, bitter, sweet and sour. When I say “no taste” going forward, I mean no flavor coming through.
Day 5: No fever. Slight headache, body aches pretty much gone. No smell/taste. No meds needed.
Day 6: No fever. Fatigue is increased today but also was up most of the night with the baby. Positive COVID result came back today. Very mild headache later in the day, no smell/taste.
Day 7: No fever. Lower back pain, coughing more today. Fatigue is severe today. No smell/taste.
Day 8: No fever. Back ache, achy legs, headache, tired. No smell/taste.
Day 9: No fever. Fatigue continues. Minimal headache and body aches, took Tylenol. No smell/taste.
Day 10: No fever. Minimal back ache. No smell/taste
Day 11: No fever. Tired, weak, feeling deconditioned. Minimal back ache. No smell/taste
Day 12: No fever. Headache, somewhat upset stomach, back ache. No smell. Hints of taste seem to be coming back here and there (5-10%).
Day 13: No fever. Low back ache. No smell. Taste seems to be better today, maybe 20%. More energy today.
Day 14: No fever. Feeling more energy again today, but a little more tired than yesterday. Even exercised in the morning and felt up to having coffee. Little back ache but overall feeling pretty good. Taste improved to 20-30%
Day 15: No fever. Energy up again, felt more productive and contributory at home. I feel like I am back to myself with the exception of feeling bit deconditioned from laying around all last week. Taste is improving, about 30% now. Since other symptoms are resolved, I’ll update on how long it too my taste to fully return.
I returned to work on Day 20 which was 5/18/20. At that time, my taste was about 60-70% returned, but it has been very slow to return and some foods reveal more flavor than others. Salt helps. (Update: As of Day 26, taste is about 85%. Smell is a little less).
*A note on taste/smell: be mindful of diminishing taste as a very early COVID symptom. For me, it diminished gradually and is coming back even slower. In hindsight, I was salting my food more the week before I was tested and far before any other symptoms appeared. It was subtle at first but enough to notice I was doing it. I just couldn’t seem to get the flavor from my food as well without adding even more salt once I sat down to eat. I find this very interesting.
Overall, I am very grateful to have had a mild case. The fatigue and aches lingered for quite a bit, which made me feel unproductive and mentally exhausted along with the physical exhaustion of the body aches and pains. I felt bored at times despite having plenty to do, just not the energy to do it. Dealing with two kids while feeling this way has been really tough, and there’s guilt that goes along with it when your kid is getting SO much screen time. We have actively had to forgive ourselves and give ourselves grace during this time, as worrying and feeling guilty are not helpful. My husband continued to work from home while he felt bad, for which I commend him. We just wished someone could come and play with our 3-year-old, because it was exhausting even getting on the ground to do a puzzle or to set up a painting activity or to dance, chase or read. I moved to the guest room on the day I was tested (My Day 3), and besides a few anxious and sleepless nights with the baby, I have slept well and hopefully minimized exposure to my 3-year-old. We don’t co-sleep, but she does come in and at least lay with us briefly most mornings.
Prior to displaying symptoms, I was feeling burnt out at work. Being exposed to the virus daily coupled with overall increased levels of anxiety and tension in the air were exhausting. I felt like I needed a break, but I would have never wished for this! Once I felt better, though, it was a blessing to continue to be home and help take care of the girls so my husband could work more easily. I returned to work relatively refreshed and ready to help where needed.
Along with many, many others, I am hoping to get back to life soon. I am longing to see loved ones and go out for a beer or an overpriced cocktail. I want to take out more library books, take my daughter to the playground and get a breakfast sandwich and coffee from Wawa (note: Wawa is open, but I have been strict about not making extra stops between home and work). These things may seem trivial, but after being isolated for so long they symbolize normalcy and comfort. The past 2 months have been anything but comfortable, despite the lack of “real” clothes. This time in our lives is truly surreal, and none of us really know how it’s all going to shake out. We are trying to be grateful for the silver linings of quarantine, of which there are many, but some days it’s just plain tough. Facilitating Zoom calls with 3-year-olds, managing screen time, trying to make things educational, preventing and calming tantrums, chasing a crawling babe, limiting snacks, cursing the weather at times, trying to get time for myself, and the list goes on. We are all in our own special situation with unique challenges and benefits. I’ve learned it’s okay to feel contradictory emotions and to recognize the severity of this pandemic while also being disappointed in missing out on normal life. We are all TIRED- mentally, emotionally, and physically. We are also restless, skeptical, hopeful, and worried. We are prepared (in our house, anyway) to ride this out and follow recommendations and precautions, but we must say we are eagerly anticipating the possibility of enjoying summer and at least some of the plans we had.
Below I have listed the things I did to help my immune system fight the virus and just survive those 2 weeks home so I could come out on the other side better and ready to work again.
What I did to boost my health during COVID:
- Took a zinc supplement daily (mine was in liquid form from the Biotics brand- message me for details). You can also look for pill form on Amazon- I like zinc picolinate.
- Took my Juice Plus capsules (whole food nutrition from fruits and vegetables) daily.
- Tried to soak up Vitamin D outside for at least 15 minutes a day without sunscreen.
- Cooked and ate healthy meals as much as possible (easier when you can’t taste because you can’t get enjoyment from sweets anyway).
- Tried to make sure I got enough calories via protein shakes- highly recommend especially if you lose your taste because it’s not motivating to eat.
- Tried to get 8+ hours of sleep every night.
- Tried to nap when tired.
- Hydrated- at least half my body weight in ounces daily.
- Moved my body- any day I wasn’t feeling extremely fatigued and it wasn’t raining, we went for a walk. Also, tried to stretch frequently or do some yoga poses.
- Diffused oregano oil, as it is apparently associated with respiratory health. I figured it was worth a shot. I never developed respiratory symptoms, though I cannot say whether there was any relation here.
Our 10-month-old, Maryn (now 11 months), seemed to have gotten a worse case than other babies I’ve heard about. She had a high fever (100-104.3) for four straight days, and when her fever initially broke on the 3rd night, she then plummeted in temperature from 104 down to 96.6 and then down to 95.7 briefly. Multiple calls to the doctor, blankets from the dryer, snuggles and attempts to give her fresh breast milk were our strategies. We almost took her to the ER because she wasn’t warming as fast as they said she should, but I knew I wouldn’t be allowed to go with her so I wanted to manage her at home if we could. The internet as well as the nurse on call indicated that her low temps were concerning and abnormal, but I have spoken to medical professionals since who stated I probably didn’t need to be freaking out as much as I did. I was just petrified because everyone seems to say babies do well with COVID, but she wasn’t. Severe adult cases in the ICUs are experiencing organ failure and sepsis at times, a symptom of which can be a drop in body temperature. I’m not saying this to scare anyone, but just to give a glimpse into my psyche in the middle of the night as my “happiest-baby-in-the world” screamed, refused the breast, had a cold, clammy forehead and wouldn’t warm up. She wasn’t showing any other (googled) signs of sepsis, but second-guessing and trying to make the best decision in the moment is so, so tough. This is a moment that many parents know all too well: you’re trying to decide whether to go to the ER with your child, and you’re weighing the options and trying to decipher if you’re over- or under-reacting. It’s the WORST. That was us. Our perfect little Marebear just had to get better. And she did, thankfully. We never took her in. She scared us again a few nights later, but it wasn’t as severe and I handled it better.
My heart goes out to everyone impacted by this pandemic, whether it be from losing a loved one, a job, pay, mental stability or otherwise. I am comforted by the sense of community I have felt via Zoom calls, drive-bys, dropped-off meals and social media, and I have been actively trying to block out the negativity and conspiracies. WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS- at least that’s what I keep telling myself.
PLEASE don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions about my experience and I will be happy to share more! Remember, none of the information here is prescriptive, and I am not in a position to give medical advice. Check out my post on staying healthy during quarantine here.