**UPDATE 4.27.20: Elaine finally got tested. She tested positive and also has a high number of antibodies. This is great news for her and confirmation of what she thought all along. Even if you can’t get tested, it is better to self-isolate and treat it as though you do and keep a close eye on the symptoms.**
It’s hard to escape news on the Coronavirus and get sucked in by the latest updates. The fear and anxiety levels are high. People are getting sick. We have gone into self-quarantine, canceled events, canceled travel, work from home, look suspiciously at anyone who sneezes or coughs. Now most of us know someone who has had or has Covid-19 symptoms. Testing is still scarce unfortunately so if we show symptoms, it is important to treat as though you have Coronavirus. Self-isolation is one of the ways to contain the disease.
After my husband and daughter contracted symptoms, we went right into self-isolation mode. We treated it with lots of liquids, tylenol, vitamin C. We posted a video on it which you can watch here:
Thank you for all the concern and love. It inspired me to reach out to others about their experiences so that you might find hope and relieve some stress that you too can recover fully. It is a long process it seems (up to 4 weeks for some), but the likelihood that you will recover is very high. So stay hopeful and drink lots of liquids.
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Here is a transcription of the interview in the event you prefer to read rather than watch.
Risa: “Thanks so much Elaine for talking with me today. I’m sorry it’s under these circumstances, but I feel like it’s really valuable for people to hear how they’ve been treating themselves at home and I know you’ve been doing that for the last several weeks. I want to talk to you today about what you went through, what your symptoms were, and how you treated at home if that’s okay with you.”
Elaine: “Okay, so you want to know my symptoms?”
Risa: “So, when did you get sick? How long ago?”
Elaine: “I got sick on the night of the 16th of March and I got up in the morning and I was chilled in the night. I couldn’t figure out why I was chilled because my house temperature was the same. So, I got up that morning and I had a headache—a dizzy headache—and I thought wow my shoulders hurt and my back hurts and my legs hurt. They kind of hurt at the joints and I thought, “What’s going on here?” It took me a couple of days to figure out what was going on and I had started getting a cough—”
Risa: “Did you think it was Covid right away or?”
Elaine: “Not really, my daughter got at that the same night and we’d been around her husband and so, I thought it was really odd that we both had the same sickness on the same night and her husband I think had it and her daughter, but I didn’t think if was Covid because it was just kind of new then. I was thinking, “Do I have the flu honestly? What’s going on here?”
Risa: “What was different?”
Elaine: “I don’t know. It just seemed like so many symptoms and immediately, I didn’t have an appetite. I didn’t want to eat. Food looked horrible to me. Food didn’t taste right. My stomach was upset and I thought, ‘How can I have all these different symptoms because there’s so many symptoms here and what is it?’ My daughter and I started talking because she had the same exact symptoms and she said, ‘Do we think it’s the Covid? Do we think it’s the virus that’s out now?’ I thought, ‘Oh, surely not,’ but yeah. My temperature on the first day was only around 99 to begin with and that got up to 101 and I thought, ‘Well, it’s got to be something going on.”
Risa: “Yeah, yeah. So, did you lose your taste and smell?”
Elaine: “Things tasted funny. My daughter brought food out for me to eat. I just couldn’t eat it. I just didn’t have any interest. I could smell things, but I had no desire for food and that went for—I still don’t have a great desire for food, but that went for a couple of weeks. I just wasn’t interested in food.”
Risa: “At what point did you call your doctor.”
Elaine: “I called the doctor probably about 5 days in. My fever got up to 103 at one point in time. It stayed around 101 and then, it’d go to 99 and of course, I had a hard time finding a thermometer because they’re all sold out. It would get up to 103 and I was tired and I thought I’ll call her and when I called her of course they’re only doing telehealth and so, I got her on video and she said, you absolutely have it. Now, I spent the whole week with my daughter who was sick too. Her and I both called all these places to try to get tested. No tests. Nobody would get us in. We called hospitals. We called doctors’ offices. We called private places. Everybody said just stay home and manage your symptoms, so that’s what we did.”
Risa: “Yeah, yeah. I’ve been talking to some doctors and nurses and they all said, unless you have like respiratory issues and it looks very severe, you’re not going to get a test. I’m not sure. That may have changed, but during that time for sure, it was like impossible.
Risa: “And your doctor even told you?”
Elaine: “My doctor said, ‘you are probably the poster child, so she was very concerned because my fever kept going up and down and I was just pretty sick and so, she called me back Monday. She actually called me every day. I mean she called me one day twice in the day that second Wednesday I had it because she was very concerned about me. She was hoping that I wouldn’t get pneumonia or something because I mean I was a little short of breath, but I had such a terrible cough and so, I took it upon myself to call a triage hospital. I mean I went through this whole triage thing. I talked to 3 different people and they said, ‘Go to Urgent Care, there’s one that does x-rays, so I did go to an Urgent Care after about 8 days and they did a chest x-ray and they said, ‘Okay, your lungs are clear.” I was going ‘Yes!’ Well, my doctor had just called me that morning and said, ‘Get to the hospital.’ I said, ‘Whoa, whoa.’ I just did an x-ray and she said, ‘Oh, thank goodness, but she gave me z-pak, so I did take—well I didn’t take z-pak. I took Arithromycin 500 for three days because she wanted to kick it. She said I would have bad diarrhea which I did, but she was very concerned because I just wasn’t getting better and so, she called every day and she said, ‘You absolutely have this. You do have it. I mean you have all the symptoms.’
Risa: “So, you self isolated of course. You didn’t see anybody? So, you live alone?”
Elaine: “I live alone and I just isolated. My daughter would bring me food and put it on the front step and I was not interested in food, but she’d at least try. But yeah, I just stayed here by myself.”
Risa: “So, what did you do? Did you rest or were you up and about? Were you drinking hot teas? Was there anything that you were doing that you felt that kind of helped you, you think in your summary?
Elaine: “I was trying to drink a lot because everybody said drink. I’m not a big drinking person, but I tried to drink a lot and I tried to eat even though I wasn’t in the mood. I rested. I was tired. I read a lot. I had a lot of books. I had a puzzle out, but that didn’t seem to interest me. I watched a lot of netflix and a lot of Amazon Prime which, how much can you watch of that? And, I went to bed early, but after about a week—a little over a week—I started having night sweats, so I wasn’t even sleeping well. I would wake up in the night and I just have sweat running down. I would just be wet all over and that was miserable. That lasted for probably about six days. It didn’t end immediately, but it came on after about a week and I thought, “Ugh, what is this? A new symptom.”
Risa: “Wow, so you were doing—so this was different from the hot flashes that you started to have?”
Elaine: “mhm yeah. My doctor released me after a couple of weeks and then, I still had 99 fever. I was just getting so depressed. I was just thinking, ‘Is this ever gonna go because my fever was still 99 and said, if you’re free, if you don’t have a fever for 72 hours then, you’re good to go. Well, I couldn’t get to the 72 hours.”
Risa: “So, it was going up and down?”
Elaine: “Oh yeah, up and down and I was getting up in the morning and I just almost—breath—I could think, ‘I don’t want my—I didn’t even want to take my temperature because I just thought, ‘Am I gonna have it?’ And then, I get depressed if I did have it cuz it just—at night it would go up. I mean, in the morning I’d be 99 and then, a night I’d go back up to 101 and I just thought am I ever going to get over this, but since my doctor released me and I haven’t talk to her, it seems like I’ve had a lot of weakness and I’m four weeks out. I’m a little over a couple days over four weeks out from actually getting it and I just have weakness. I’m shaky. My legs are weak. My hands are weak. I can do things with my hands and I just feel like they’re shaky and I’ve had some… I called the doctor back and I’ve talked to her and I’ll talk to her again in a few days, but she said that I must be having some hypoglycemic problems because I almost fainted twice when I got up too fast and she said, ‘You know, you had a bad case of it and I’m just assuming—” I had a physical with her in February and she said, ‘Your blood sugar was okay. Your blood pressure was okay.’ Now, my blood pressure is all over the place. It can be up and it can be down in a matter of a little bit, so she just wanted me to eat more which I’m eating close. I mean a lot more and closer meals and so, we’ll talk again in a couple of days, but she said this is because I had a bad case of it and I’m 63 I guess. I don’t know. Not that, that matters with this at all, but…”
Risa: “yeah, right, but I guess the older you are the more at risk you are to get more severe symptoms.”
Risa: “So, in terms of like what you ate or what you drank, was there anything that you did specifically? So you took acetaminophen for the fever right? Was there any other medication you were taking? Was there any kind of natural stuff that you were taking? Any supplements or anything like that or did you stop doing that sort of thing?”
Elaine: “Vitamin C. I was trying to do those things, but that’s all I really had. I mean nobody ever gave a, you know. Everybody just said stay at home. If you fever, take the acetaminophen and that’s about all. I didn’t do anything else for it.”
Risa: “So, emotionally, how were you feeling? So you didn’t at all ever feel like this could be fatal? You just felt like I needed to—like a bad flu— like I need to rest up.”
Elaine: “Oh, sure I felt like it could be fatal because I’m 63 and I was thinking, ‘How in the world did I get this?’ and especially when my doctors tell me to go to the hospital. Then, I panicked because I thought, ‘Do I really have to go to the hospital? I’ve already had a chest x-ray and she goes, ‘No,’’and then, I think, ‘Should I go to the hospital? But I don’t want to go to the hospital.’ But, then one Friday night I remember when she said, ‘I think you’re better,’ and my fever went back up. I was depressed. I was anxious and I thought I might not get over this. Maybe I’ll be on a respirator after this many days. I don’t know, but I was anxious and I went to bed early that night. I just laid there. Of course, I couldn’t sleep because I had all the night sweats, but I just lived there. I believe in god and I prayed. I just prayed and said, ‘God, this is under your control and I can’t do anything about it. I have this and I just said, ‘You’ve got to take care of me,’ and that’s it. That’s all I had because when you’re here by yourself and you try to watch TV, but then the only thing on TV is the coronavirus stuff. So, I was anxious about watching the deaths every day. Just death and death, so I don’t turn my TV on as much. If I do, it’s movies or Netflix or whatever because I just—and I still can’t hear about it because I’m not completely over it. I still can’t hear the horrible stories you know. I just can’t. I can’t do it right now.”
Risa: “I’m glad that you are limiting, you know, that you recognize it and now, you’re limiting the amount of new intake because it does cause a lot of anxiety in people and you know your head starts to spin out of control. So, what have you been doing for your well-being now would you say?
Elaine: “Well, I am taking walks. I have two dogs and they don’t just like being in the house with me every day, so—”
Risa: “And you’re in a pretty rural community.”
Elaine: “I am in a mountainous community and so, it takes a lot of… Yesterday I took my dogs out for a walk and I walked like 25 minutes and it’s funny because I can do walks like this. I did walk almost two miles last week one time and one day when it was nice and I can do the walks and they’re okay, but it’s just getting started. I’m lethargic and I’m tired and so, I just have to talk myself into doing it. I feel good after I do it and I’ll cough if it’s cool outside. I’ll still cough a little bit, but I was coughing so bad in those first two weeks that friends have called me and I couldn’t even talk on the phone because I would just start coughing so bad and I would just cough and cough to the point that I said I can’t talk anymore. So, I wouldn’t even answer their calls. I was pretty isolated when you can’t talk on the phone and you can’t see people.”
Risa: “What did you do for your own kind of mental health to make sure that you wouldn’t, you know? I mean it’s true because there’s a lot of people who live alone.”
Elaine: “And I understand. You do get anxious and I understand because you’re just there by yourself. I’m not used to being home all the time and I like to sew, so I thought I need to help people. So, I started making masks for hospitals here where I live. I just came downstairs and when I felt like it or even when I didn’t, I would make masks and that occupied some of my time. I felt like I was doing something to help somebody else, so that kind of boosted my spirits a little bit. I’m not a sit around person and it just seemed like it lasted forever and ever and ever, but I would tell people, ‘You know what. You’re going to make it. You’re gonna get through this. What is it? 98% of people do very well and they’re at home. You’re just gonna make it. You’re gonna get through it and even though you have all these weird symptoms and I seem to have all of them. Not everybody has all of them, but I kind of had everything and if you do have the night sweats, you know what? They’ll last for maybe five or six days, but then they’ll be over with and your fever will—it might go down for a couple of days and if it comes back up, okay. This is part of the course. You just stay on that course and you just wake up and say, ‘Tomorrow is going to be different,’ and that’s what I did. I just thought, ‘I’m gonna make it through this. I just keep plugging on.” Doctor’s don’t know what to tell you. They just say, ‘stay at home,’ and I understand. They’re not familiar with this disease, but I’m absolutely waiting for the antibody test which I can see if I really had it or not and my doctor says, ‘You had it,’ so hang in there. I don’t know what else to say.”
Risa: : ”Right, no, but you look great and I know that you still feel lingering symptoms, but you’re functioning and you’re able to get up in the morning and you’re able to do you know…”
Elaine: “And I’m very thankful. I am thankful. When I got it—when I think about it—I thought, ‘I have this bad thing that they talk about on TV all the time. I still sometimes think—most of my friends know nobody who has it—and so, at times, I feel like an alien because I’m in some of these groups—I’m on Zoom and all of this stuff and they’re like, ‘Oh no, we don’t know anybody who has it,’ and I thought, ‘Are you kidding me? Am I just a weird one that was selected here to get it?’ But, you’re okay.”
Risa: “Well, luckily if you did have it, which it seems very much like you did, you do have the antibodies so then, you actually can resume life hopefully once you get the test.”
Elaine: “Yeah, and I’d like to get back to it. You know, people are giving plasma where I live and they’re giving plasma and it seems to help people. I would love to do that. I’m just waiting for the antibody test to come.”
Risa: “Yeah, that’s our family also.”
Elaine: “There’s hope. There really is hope and you hear all the bad stories, but that doesn’t mean that’s going to happen to you. It doesn’t.