Coming into work everyday seeing sick patients was enough to get me to carry 5 hand sanitizers, wear a mask at all times, wash my hands like a maniac, remain distant from peers, and Lysol my shoes before I went into the house. I am young, with mild underlying health conditions, so I wanted to be extra cautious not only for myself, but for those around me. I was confident I was doing everything right. That is until, I got COVID-19.
Day 1: I developed a massive headache, at around 12:00 PM, like no other. I always get migraines, so this wasn’t very alarming. I simply took some pain medication, and went on about my day. At about 2:00 PM, the pain was unbearable, I realized I hadn’t eaten since the previous morning, so I attributed the headache to the hunger, BUT, I was not hungry. I was not hungry at all (Now, this is alarming, because ya girl loves to eat). I hadn’t taken a lunch break so I drove to grab some food. I took one bite, and I was over it. I simply had no appetite. On this particular day, I carpooled with my fiance so I was waiting for him to get off so he could drive me home. By 5 PM I was nauseous, vomiting, had chills, and I was sweating. I knew something wasn’t right, but there was no way I had COVID, I was cautious.
Day 2: I took my temperature and I had a fever of 103. I sent a picture to my boss and told her I would take a sick day, because I wasn’t feeling well and I didn’t want to pass this bug along. Since I work in healthcare, I decided to call employee health and receive a COVID test, really to rule it out and make those around me feel better, because I just knew I didn’t have COVID-19. I still had a headache, but I was feeling a bit better than the day before. I got my swab, and when I had my temperature taken, it was down to 97.9. I was feeling confident, I could return to work the following day, once I received my negative result.
Day 3: I received a call from our ER director who works with the county’s health department. I knew her well, so I figured she was calling to give me the news, that I was good to return to work. Wrong! “Hi Corina, This is Marla how are you feeling?” I’m doing okay, still have a bit of a headache, but the chills/fever went away. I think I had a 24 hour bug. Marla paused, “Actually, I am calling you directly, because I received your test results, unfortunately, you are positive for COVID-19.” I couldn’t help myself, the first thing out of my mouth was a four letter expletive. She proceeded to tell me to quarantine for 14 days, and I will get a call from the health department with further instructions. I was shocked. I still didn’t feel very sick, so I hoped for the best. Some of the research articles I read indicated if you can make it past day 10, you are “in the clear,” so my countdown began.
Day 4: I began coughing uncontrollably and I felt extremely weak. I realized I hadn’t eaten anything since Monday. I had no desire to eat, no appetite at all whatsoever. I was afraid I was going to pass out, so I started eating soup, and I realized, I couldn’t taste or smell my soup. When I heard of this happening to people, I remember thinking, “there is no way you just stop tasting and smelling, completely.” I learned quickly this was not the case. I started moving food around on my tongue to see if certain parts of my tongue were more responsive than others, but nope, nothing. I started to panic, then I realized that wouldn’t do me any good, so I forced myself to relax.
Day 5: All of my symptoms were still present. Headache, nausea, no appetite, no taste or smell, shortness of breath, cough, and now add stomach pain to the equation. I remember getting up and walking to the bathroom, and I began to cough. This was like no cough I had ever experienced. The only way I can describe it to others is, it felt like I had smoldering lava running through my chest. I felt like my lungs were literally on fire! I grabbed my chest and collapsed to the floor crying for my fiance. Since I had tested positive, he was also tested and placed on leave. However, he was negative, so we were staying on opposite sides of the house, separate from one another. A part of me wanted him to help me, then the other half of me wanted him to stay away because I didn’t want him to get this nasty virus. After I yelled for him, I told him stay away. I crawled into my room and text him, “we may need to go to the hospital should my symptoms continue to get worse.”
Day 6-10: I was feeling like I had made it over the hump. All of my symptoms remained, but they were not getting worse. I started to develop an appetite again on day 7, but as I ate, I realized I still couldn’t taste anything, and boy does that take the “fun,” out of eating. I continued to monitor my temperature. I would fluctuate between 100-102 degrees most of the days, so I started taking Tylenol to keep that under control. My headaches were by far the worst of all of the symptoms up until this point, but I was excited I made it to day 10 without a trip to the ER.
Day 11: I made it to day 11! I was feeling like I beat the virus. My headaches were still pretty bad, and I was exhausted, but I was maintaining. I was starting to eat regularly, and my hopes were high. Then, as I went to bed, I had my worst experience yet. I started to feel really short of breath and I was struggling. I decided to try to go to bed. I checked my oxygen saturation, my baseline is normally 97%. As I went to bed I noticed, my saturation dropped to 90%. As a Respiratory Therapist, I knew something wasn’t right. I must admit, I probably should have gone to the hospital at this point, but I tried to fight it, because I knew how slammed we were at the hospital. I took some medication that would reduce my fever and help me sleep, and tried to sleep it off.
Day 12: I made it through the night! I legitimately contemplated the thought of not waking up, but I made it! I continued to feel short of breath, fatigue, a massive headache, and an occasional dry cough.
Day 13-20: My symptoms did not change, I continued to feel exhausted. Remember earlier, when I mentioned the county health department calling me to follow up? They were so inundated with patients, that I didn’t receive a call until day 16. Luckily I contacted a physician on day 13 and they agreed, although I was no longer infectious, I was in no shape to return to work. My physician kept me off through day 26.
Day 21: I finally started to feel normal. I woke up in the morning, went for a walk, and actually got a jog in as well. Once I started jogging I started feeling the after effects of the virus. I used to be a professional dancer, and I consider myself active. I made it half way around the track before I had to stop and start walking. I can normally jog all four laps, but, that was not happening! I slowed down, and tried not to get discouraged.
Day 22-30: Most of my symptoms have subsided. I have lingering shortness of breath, occasional headaches, and fatigue. I have continued to go to the track daily, and increase the amount of time I jog on the track everyday and pace myself.
Although I want to bounce back quickly, I have to remember I am recovering from a virus that has taken the lives of many. I feel so lucky to wake up and see another day. I have seen my physician and while he is happy I have recovered, he has warned that we still do not know the long-term effects of this virus, because it is so new. I will continue to monitor my progress, be cautious of others, and hope for the best. I will be sure to update you on my progress!