I got Covid. This is my experience and recovery:
I am finally feeling more like myself. I realize I cannot push myself too hard. I need to let my body recover. I have had many friends ask me about what this was like for me – to have and recover from. I thought maybe documenting and sharing here might help someone.
I want to start by saying: I am one of the lucky ones. I did not end up in the hospital. I did not die from this. I have no idea about lasting effects, but the immediate danger seems to be over.
Here is a day by day account of my experience. *
Day 1 – Dry-ish cough and sneezing (maybe this is a cold?) I am working from home 3 days per week, but this is one day I am in the office – I go home to work, just in case.
Day 2 – Coughing a lot more – feeling a little lethargic – an by the end of the work day have a low grade fever. Maybe this is it? Still not sure.
Day 3 – Easily the worst day. Chills/shivering all day. Cannot get warm. Fever spikes. Feeling like ass. I haven’t been this sick in years. I want to cry. My skin hurts. I am still trying to work in my office between bouts of bundling up and trying not to die. I have a prescription of broad-spectrum antibiotics and anti-virals in the house, and that evening begin a regimen of anti-viral, anti-biotic, zinc/vitaminC, extra multivitamins.** I am not sure if any of this will work, but I am pretty nervous at this point, and pretty sure I have this thing so am willing to throw just about anything at this. I schedule my test for the next day.
I have a pulse oximeter at home that measures the amount of oxygen profusing through your body – this instrument measures how well you are getting oxygen from your lungs/heart to the rest of your body. It is measured as a percent, so the best is 100%. Most people are at around 97-99. That night, my reading was 90. Scarily low, but not critical enough to go to the hospital. I deep breathe and lay on my stomach as much as possible (something a nurse friend told me to do). I was told to go to the hospital with an SPO2 reading of 88% or below that persists and will not come up with deep breathing or movement.
Day 4 – Feeling terrible, achy from all the muscle contracting from the day before. My skin feels like it’s been burned. I have a stitch (pulled muscle?) in my side/abdomen from coughing so much. Still feverish, but not as high as the day before. I go and get my test – head back home and go to sleep. I sleep almost the whole day.
Day 5 – I am still medicating twice per day with the antibiotics and antivirals (zinc+C and multivitamins). I really think this regimen is helping. I am feeling a little better than the day before. I recognize that none of this could be helping. But justify this self-medicating by telling myself that in the past I have often acquired bronchitis and cold sores on the heels of a respiratory viral infection. So, the way I looked at it, if nothing else – I am saving myself a cold sore or bronchitis. Each day, I am feeling incrementally better than the days before.
Day 6 – I am feeling better. Tired, but better. Today I lose my sense of smell. Completely. I crack and egg and see that it is rotten, but smell nothing. As a suburban chicken-lady, I know what a rotten egg smells like – and know it is a very BIG smell in addition to being a foul (pardon the pun), smell. I put my face close to the bowl with the offending egg in it to see if I could smell anything. And like from far away, with a blanket covering it, I smelled a very faint wiff of something “off.” I made myself some very aromatic lemon tea, and nothing. I stuck my nose in the cup and again, from very far away, a very faint muted smell of lemons. But 99% of the smell was gone. Or maybe it was 100% and I just remembered somewhere in the back of my brain what lemons were supposed to smell like. (?) It was a very odd, very surreal experience. I have never lost the sense of smell before. Clinically, it is a very interesting bi-product of this disease. It also let me know that I was not over this. Although I felt better, I need to still take it easy and rest, even if I felt I didn’t necessarily need it. I am glad I did.
Day 7 – I am feeling better. Feeling energized after illness is an interesting phenomenon. When you are VERY sick, even the least incremental “better” feeling makes you feel almost like you are super human. You feel so much better compared to the way you did feel that you can over-do it. I experience short bursts of energy followed by extreme fatigue. This persists for a few days. Still coughing. No fever.
Day 10 – That stitch in my side is still there, and worse. It hurts when I move, when I lay on that side, or sit for too long with my back pressed against the sofa. I’m miserable. I am still coughing, but less. No fever. I have random and unexpected bouts of fatigue. I go see my doctor about my side. She takes and xray, blood work, and urine sample. She determines I do not have a kidney infection, pneumonia, or lung abscess. She thinks I have pulled an intercostal muscle (muscle between the ribs) and pinched a nerve in my rib/back from coughing so much. I am prescribed muscle relaxers and ibuprofen (as I am past the critical phase of this illness), along with hot/cold packs to the affected area.
Day 14 – I am back to work. I am still tired and sore which may be because I still have some trouble sleeping because of my back/side. But the side is getting better. The fatigue is still there, but that also seems to be getting better. My sense of smell is hit or miss. Sometimes fully back, sometimes seems muted again. Like an off/off switch.
- I’m so lucky! So many wonderful people offered to bring me food or medical supplies. I try not to forget how lucky I am. I love my people.
- I have found there is a bit of stigma around this. Some assume you were just running around maskless, kissing strangers on the mouth, licking handrails. Most of us are just doing our best, just like you- and were just unlucky. I did everything right (I thought) and still got it. No idea how I got it or where.
- A thermometer and pulse oximeter are a must. If you don’t have one, order one. Amazon has them for $15 and up.
- Although this wasn’t the worst sickness I’ve ever had- it was the worst in years and prolonged fatigue is REAL. MAYBE the worst symptom for me. The fatigue lingers. Take it easy on yourself. Also covid brain-fog…. it’s a thing. Be gentle with yourself and others.
- Definitely one of the worst symptoms was anxiety. Will this kill me? Can I breathe? When should I go to the hospital? Am I profusing? (This is where the pulse oximeter becomes invaluable). What’s that pain in my side? Do I have pneumonia?
- There is also some hysteria around those that are recovered from this. A person with antibodies and fever free for a week /recovered from this is literally the SAFEST person you can be around. But one that has survived COVID should not have a false sense of security. If you are really sick with this, you don’t want to be sick again any time soon. I used to wear a mask to protect others and make people feel safe. I now wear a mask to protect myself and to make me feel safe from getting sick with anything else (flu, cold, etc.).
- Two weeks, when you’re sick and isolated, is a long fucking time. Days run together.
And most important, for me. Recovering from a disease that is killing healthy people my age in the span of a few weeks definitely makes you confront your mortality. Your own “temporary-ness.” I won’t take my body/health/life for granted again.
Regarding my sobriety journey: I have a new found appreciation for my body. I don’t feel a need to poison it further. I am not sure if this virus has healed my sometimes-volatile relationship with alcohol, but I can tell you – getting drunk was the LAST thing on my mind.
And here comes the bits of unsolicited advice:
(you knew it was coming):
Please be considerate of those that have it and will have it. It’s scary enough being helpless to this virus. Hearing scary stories about people your same age and health status dying only fuels that fear. Information is important, but man – when you are in the middle of this you feel helpless and scared because you know it could literally go either way.
If you get this- please take care of yourself. Listen to your medical professionals, but my philosophy is also to throw everything you can at it. (but please don’t drink bleach).
Once you recover, please consider donating plasma. As I understand it, there is a current shortage of convalescent plasma, given to the most serious of CV19 patients. You can find more information here: https://www.grifolsplasma.com/en/endcv19
Much love y’all.
*This is my personal experience and I am in no way saying these are typical signs/symptoms:
**Antivirals, antibiotics, and steroids are standard treatments for CV19 in the hospital setting, along with convalescent plasma.