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Hi I’m Jill

I love to write, but usually it’s in a journal that I hope no one ever reads.

So when I’m not laying in bed with COVID-19, I’m actually a really healthy and active human! I’m a wife, mom of 2 beautiful young daughters, business-owner, active in my community, and physically very active as well.

Why read this blog?

  • Well, right now you should read it because we’re all really curious about COVID-19, and not many of us know someone who it’s affected. I’m that someone, and I am getting TONS of questions from people. So I thought I’d get all the answers I have down in one place.
  • Eventually I hope that this blog has nothing to do with COVID-19 and can just be a place for me to gather my thoughts and share them.

I’ve always been a journal person. I write in one almost daily. So publishing my thoughts feels a little bit like letting the world read my diary. But this COVID-19 has me feeling very overwhelmed with information and I needed to get it all in one place. I have so many people checking on me, which is amazing, but I found myself typing the same information out multiple times on multiple channels…text, email, messenger, etc. So now I have one place where I can get it all out, and I can point people to it.

I have no idea what this will morph into once I’m past the COVID-19 craziness. Stay tuned…

My sister Brenda will appreciate this picture that I’ve saved as “Staring Boldly Into My Future”. It’s a joke we started when she was dating her then boyfriend, now husband, Matt. I’d tell them to stare off into the horizon for their photos and we’d caption them “Staring Boldly Into Our Future”. I can’t tell you how many we took. But I felt it was an appropriate pic for this page…where will this blog go? Will it go anywhere? Will I ever even post it? Will anyone even read it? I don’t know, but I’m publishing it anyway and moving boldly into the future. 🙂

A part of me is in Michigan

I’ve been so excited for the day when I could write this post! I found out today that my convalescent plasma donation was sent to McLaren Macomb in Mount Clemens, Michigan to help COVID-19 patients in need. How cool is that?

Let me back up:

On May 4th, I was officially 28-days symptom free from COVID-19. On that very day I went into North Portland to donate my convalescent plasma. I was originally scheduled to donate plasma and platelets. However, once they found out I was a COVID-19 survivor they asked if I’d do just plasma. The reason being that when both plasma & platelets are harvested, they are able to get enough plasma to help two other patients. When just plasma is harvested, they are able to help three other patients.

What is convalescent plasma and why is it such a big deal that it gets donated?

Convalescent plasma is collected from a previously infected individual (such as myself) to transfer the antibodies in my blood to a person who is severely ill and unable to make the antibodies on their own. COVID-19 convalescent plasma treatment is so new that it hasn’t been approved by the FDA and is therefore regulated as an investigational product, and can only be used on eligible patients. According to the FDA’s website, an eligible patient must meet certain criteria:

  • Laboratory confirmed COVID-19
  • Severe or immediately life-threatening COVID-19:
  • Severe disease is defined as one or more of the following:
    • shortness of breath (dyspnea),
    • respiratory frequency ≥ 30/min,
    • blood oxygen saturation ≤ 93%,
    • partial pressure of arterial oxygen to fraction of inspired oxygen ratio < 300,
    • lung infiltrates > 50% within 24 to 48 hours
  • Life-threatening disease is defined as one or more of the following:
    • respiratory failure,
    • septic shock,
    • multiple organ dysfunction or failure

The donation procedure was really interesting. I’ve attached a photo of me in the donation chair below. Plasma is collected by drawing whole blood, separating the plasma from the red blood cells, and then returning the blood along with sterile saline solution to help the body replace the plasma that was removed. This is done in cycles and it took about 90 minutes including the setup time. In the second picture you’ll see a bag with a golden color liquid. That is my plasma!

Donating convalescent plasma. The procedure took about 90 minutes.
That liquid gold is my convalescent plasma!

Two of the coolest moments came after donation. The first was getting this email from the American Red Cross:

This makes me cry every time I read it.

The second was just today when I found out where my plasma had been sent.

I don’t know WHO it went to, but now I know WHERE it went. My prayers continue to go out to whoever received my convalescent plasma. I know you must be very ill, and I pray that it helps you recover!

I’ve been asked if I get paid to donate plasma. I don’t! But knowing that it could save someone’s life is payment enough. And I’ll continue to donate as often as I can (every 28 days). In fact my next date with the donation chair is this Monday, June 1st!

That’s all for now. It has been such a pleasure writing this blog and hearing from those of you who have learned something or have enjoyed my writing. I am not sure what more COVID-19 will throw our way, or what else will strike me as something to write about, but it has been so wonderful to have this outlet as a way to share and connect. Thank you for your love and support along the way!

XOXO, Jill

Antibodies and a Soap Box (or 2)

Ladies and gentlemen, my antibody test results are in. Drum roll please….

I have developed antibodies to COVID-19! I’ll post a picture of my test results and give a completely non-medically intelligent explanation of them below.

This blog post is proving to be the hardest one to write because every time I think I understand what I’m looking at with the test, I end up with more questions than answers. I have pages of notes from the consult I had with my doctor. If I started typing those out I’d lose you, and here’s the deal…even my doctors don’t have all the answers. But do I have natural immunity? YES! Can I start donating my blood/plasma? SOON! I still have to wait for 14 days from my last symptom based on the requirements of the Red Cross, but I’m on day 11 now so I’m really close!

I’m going to shift this away from antibodies, and shift it toward two thoughts that came out of my conversations with health professionals this week.

First, stop believing everything you hear/read, and stop stressing yourself out by watching and reading too much news. The “infodemic” around COVID-19 is almost as bad as the pandemic. Not even doctors have all the answers yet, and most of what we do “know” about the virus is based on patterns, observation, and speculation. Don’t believe everything you hear, and don’t become Google doctors. This pandemic is bringing us down…globally, economically, financially, physically, emotionally, mentally…and the more time we spend focused/stressed about that, the more we are wearing down our immune systems. Which brings me to my next point…

We should all be building our personal armies and preparing our bodies for the war on COVID-19. What do I mean by that? Your immune system and your underlying health are what will get you through COVID-19, or not get you through COVID-19. There is not a mild version or a bad version of this virus. It affects everyone differently based on the health of the infected person’s immune system and their preexisting and underlying health conditions.

How do you build your immune system? Sleep. Eat well. Drink lots of water. Exercise. Get outdoors. Take your vitamins. Reduce stress. Meditate.

OK I’ll get off my soap box now. But I warned you in the title that there was going to be 2 soap boxes and you decided to read anyway, so that’s on you. 😉

Here are my results:

My COVID-19 Antibody Test Results

Here is a very brief explanation of what you’re looking at, and remember I’M NOT A DOCTOR but this is my understanding:

1gM, IgG, and IgA are all 3 different types of antibodies:

1gM: These indicate an active infection in your body. All of mine are negative, indicating that I have fought the virus and won. Had I taken this test even a week earlier it’s possible that I would have been positive for these antibodies.

1gG: This is the important one. These are the natural immunity antibodies that will remain in my system for long-term. I asked how long…there isn’t a known answer to that question. Why am I positive for only 3 of 4? No answer to that one either. It’s possible that my body is still developing that one, or my body just didn’t respond to that particular receptor. Again, more questions than answers here.

1gA: These antibodies indicate that I’ve had recent exposure to the virus. I could take the antibody test next week and these would all be negative. But when I took the test I was only 4 days symptom-free, so no one is surprised that these are still showing positive.

I’m not going to lie, that was really difficult to write. I don’t want to add to the “infodemic” by putting bad information out there. I feel a lot of responsibility when I am sharing my story, because I know a lot of people are reading this to better understand the virus. So for those of you who have made it this far, thank you for your love and support. My ask of you is to please spend some time focusing on your health (physical, mental, emotional, etc) right away. Reach out to me if you need help or accountability doing that. I’m here for you!

XOXO, Jill

Antibody Testing: Update

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the Antibody Test, so I thought I’d type up a quick post with what I’ve learned/understand. I don’t have my test results yet, but I’m the first person the clinic had tested who actually had a positive COVID-19 nasal swab test, so we are all very anxious to see how the results come back. I should have those by Tuesday.

What are they testing for?

The blood draw tests for antibodies to the COVID-19 antigens. In other words, it tests to see if my body now has natural immunity to COVID-19. Keep in mind that I am not an infectious disease specialist, but here is what I understand I am being tested for:

The clinic I went to is True Health DPC in Silverton, Oregon. The doctor is Dr. Tomas Gigena, and normally this is a “member-only” clinic, but they are partnered with Vibrant America Labs (who responded to the FDA’s request to provide this testing) to do this test and are hoping to be able to continue to offer it to the public (by appointment only) for $169. As we’ve all learned with this virus, things change fast…so for the most up to date information about the clinic/testing go to their website: https://truehealthdpc.com/covid19testing

What percentage are coming back positive for the antibodies?

They say between 30-40% of the tests are coming back positive for 1 or more of the antibodies.

Who are they testing?

Anybody who thinks they had the virus, but doesn’t have active symptoms. They are not testing to see if you HAVE the virus…they are checking to see if you HAD it.

The original virus that came out of Wuhan, China was named SARS-CoV-2, and was later named coronavirus disease 2019…aka COVID-19. True Health DPC is testing for antibodies to four (4) different COVID-19 antigens…which I understand are different strands of the virus: SARS-CoV-2, IgM, IgG, and IgA. There is a chance that I will have antibodies to all four antigens…we’ll soon see!

Why get tested?

Peace of mind, mostly. It would be good to know if you’ve already had it and fought it. It is especially important for people in certain lines of work to know this. I am excited to find out because I want to begin donating plasma to the American Red Cross asap!

If you are interested in getting tested, reach out to True Health DPC. They are a small clinic (only 3 people) and are working really hard to provide this service to as many people as they can.

Take care, everyone! I’ll let you know what I find out when my antibody test results are returned! XOXO, Jill

A pic of me on my way in for the antibody test. I’m still being extra careful until I get my test results back.

Antibody Testing

I have a serendipitous story to share that developed just moments ago:

Yesterday I posted the story about my brother and the front page news story regarding his donations of face shields (PPE). If you haven’t already, you can read the article here: https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/local/silverton/2020/04/08/3-d-printer-face-masks-coronavirus-salem-oregon-covid-cases/5104666002/

One of the clinics he donated these shields to is True Health DPC in Silverton, OR. This is the clinic of Dr. Tomas Gigena who is mentioned the Statesman Journal newspaper article.

Today, I called True Health clinic because Kyle and I are working on donating meals to clinics and organizations that are on the front lines in this COVID-19 fight. I spoke with Amy, and while I was calling to buy them lunch…it quickly turned into something else entirely.

Amy asked if I was the sister mentioned in the article who had tested positive for COVID-19. Indeed I am. She then told me they are the only clinic in Oregon who is currently doing antibody testing! I had no idea that this was available yet! And because I have a positive COVID-19 nasal swab test, they are going to offer me the antibody blood test for FREE. If you want to get the antibody test without having a positive COVID-19 test, you can pay $169 for the test.

Amy was full of amazing information and I did my best to jot it down. Reminder, I’m not a doctor, so I am writing these to the best of my memory/understanding:

  • The blood draw test checks for 4 strands of SARS-COV including the disease COVID-19. They will test for antibodies on all four strands.
  • They are testing for “natural immunity” which means that I’ve had the disease, fought it, and now have the antibodies to keep it from coming back.
  • They are currently testing anyone who wants to be tested, but mostly it’s essential workers who are worried that they were sick and wonder if they should go back to working with the public.
  • Ready for this statistic??? 38% of the antibody tests they’ve done have been positive.

So, while I was calling to help them…they ended up helping me too! I will be going in tomorrow at 11am to have my blood drawn. Extra precautions will be taken since I have tested positive for COVID-19, but she promised they wouldn’t make me feel like a leper. 🙂

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget to order them lunch after all of that. We ordered meals for the office from their favorite restaurant in Silverton: Water Mountain Restaurant. The owner of Water Mountain Restaurant’s wife is currently quarantined in Mexico because she was traveling when the pandemic hit, and has been unable to get home. It feels really good to support people on the front lines, a local business, and a family who needs it right now!

Also of note: I reached out to the American Red Cross to ask about donating my plasma. There are multiple news stories about how the plasma of a person who has recovered from COVID-19 can save the lives of people currently fighting it. I was asked to fill out an application online and I will be contacted regarding my donation. It might be too soon since I’m only 77 hours at baseline health, but I want to begin donating as soon as I can. If you know of any contacts at the American Red Cross, or have any insight into when/where/how I can donate, please let me know!

Stay healthy and safe, my friends! XOXO, Jill

Day 14: All Kinds of GREAT News

Okay, I’m back on track with my days. Yesterday I thought it was Day 12. Nope, it was 13. Every day is “Blursday” right now. I’ve been fighting COVID-19 aka Coronavirus for 14 days now. I’m working toward my 72-hours of baseline health so that I can leave isolation quarantine and hug my kids. I’m on hour 58 right now. Not that I’m counting…every single hour, minute, second…

BIG NEWS! Jerod’s test results came back and he is negative for COVID-19. We had a Zoom meeting with our Doctor, and he said that he’d assume it’s a false negative but we won’t know until there is a way to check for antibodies someday. Luckily Jerod has been completely healthy for 2 weeks, and the girls have been healthy the entire time, which means that my isolation quarantine did it’s job. And leads me to the next piece of big news….

I’m allowed to come out of isolation quarantine tomorrow morning Wednesday, April 8th! I have to keep 3-6 foot social distance from my family, wear a mask, wash hands a lot, and take extra precautions…but you better believe I’m sneaking in a REALLY big hug from my girls.

Other notes from my call:

  • If the girls or Jerod show any symptoms at all that are on the list of Coronavirus symptoms, they are to be tested immediately.
  • My Doctor confirmed that blood type is playing a part in people getting Coronavirus. I’m A negative and Jerod is O positive. People with A blood types are 30% more likely to get the virus, and people with O blood types are 30% less likely to get the virus. Jerod interpreted this to mean he’s better than me…and said so out loud to my Doctor, who just laughed and said “Sounds like it.”
  • I shared with my Doctor how many people reached out to me saying they feel like they either had or have Coronavirus and are unable to get tested. He said that is totally possible, and that they should follow the CDC guidelines around quarantining if they have reason to believe they have it. However, of the over 23,000 people tested in Oregon, less than 1,200 have tested positive. There are a lot of nasty things going around right now that have similar symptoms to Coronavirus. Namely Influenza A, Metapneumovirus, and Rhinovirus. Regardless, take caution and keep distance if you become sick…it’s a good practice no matter what.
  • I asked about donating plasma, and was advised to call the American Red Cross. I’ll be calling to find out how soon they’d like to accept my donation now that I’ve kicked COVID-19’s ass to the curb. Pardon the language, but it is so excited to say I beat this thing, and the thought of being able to help others gets me really excited! I’ll keep you posted on what I hear from the American Red Cross.

Also of note today, and absolutely saving the best NEWS for last…my brother, Kyle Kirsch, was on the FRONT PAGE of the Statesman Journal newspaper today for his work in donating the face shields he’s making with his 3D printer. I think my friend Angie Craig summed up his actions perfectly in her March 29th Facebook post: “This pandemic has generated a lot of stress, concern, panic, etc. In addition, there are heroes like Kyle coming up with creative ways to help, and spending their time and resources to show appreciation for the people who are risking their lives each day to save ours. I can only hope that our children see things like this, and people like this (Kyle Kirsch) coming together to serve in whatever way they can while our world is changing.” She finishes with this “We say Heroes don’t always wear capes, but I think in today’s world, it’s safe to say ‘Heroes wear Masks’.” AMEN!

The front page of April 7, 2020 Statesman Journal – Salem, Oregon
“A grim reminder of the virus’ ubiquity, Verboort herself was beginning to feel sick, and, as she put the PayPal pool together, she awaited the results of a COVID-19 test, which has since come back positive.” Yep…it sure did…and I kicked that virus’ booty. BOOM! 🙂

Day 12: Officially 24 hrs of baseline health

The countdown is on. I’m 24 hours into a 72 hour countdown of being able to leave my isolation quarantine. The only caveat is that I have to stay here until my husband’s COVID-19 test results are back. So we are really hoping and praying that those come back soon so I can rejoin my family and hug my daughters on this Wednesday morning (you can all countdown with me). From my last post you know that my daughters and I watch Survivor together every week. We don’t have cable, so we watch it on the CBS app every Thursday. My mom is praying specifically that I get to watch Survivor while snuggling my girls this week. It’s the vision that is getting me through these last few days of isolation quarantine.

A note from Gwen. My girls pass notes under my door and they call it “Cave Mail”. They will also leave treats outside my door. It’s hard to be physically separated from them, but we are making the most of it!

Why isolation quarantine?

A lot of people have asked me why I’m in isolation from my family if I had already been living with them and exposing them to this virus for the 2 weeks before I had onset of symptoms. The simple answer is that increased exposure increases their chances of getting it. And I don’t want my family to get this if they don’t have to.

Plus, the CDC has very strict guidelines around isolation quarantine when you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 like I do. Actually, from what I’m reading, these are the guidelines for anyone who is even suspected of having COVID-19, so it’s worth repeating: I’m to isolate from humans and animals for at least 7 days from onset, and for 72 hours following my return to baseline health. Anyone who comes into my presence should wear a mask.

We didn’t have a mask for several days, so my husband would tie a shirt around his face or would tuck his face into his sweatshirt:

A make-shift mask.

Luckily I have friends who are way craftier than I am. Caitlin Ooley (“Harley’s Corner” on Facebook) made us masks and a whole care package of stuff, including new slippers for me! Here is a picture of my husband wearing the mask she made with a hepa filter. She also made it in camo print…she knows my husband well:

Jerod, my husband, is at my beck and call for pretty much everything. I call or text every time I need food, water, medicine…he’s been so great about it. I started calling him my “Butler” and he kind of thinks I’m funny. As a joke, I put a few things in our Amazon cart and waited for him to see them:

I call Jerod my “Butler”…he doesn’t think I’m as funny as I do. HAHA!

That’s all for today. Basically we are in a holding pattern until we get the call from our Doctor regarding Jerod’s test results. We assume his test will be positive, but it’s hard to tell. My girlfriend who tested positive has been in the same home as her husband and son…and they both tested negative for COVID-19. So we’ll see! Stay tuned…

Some people just don’t get it.

I was first exposed to COVID-19 on/around March 11th. I went on living my life and felt great until March 25th when I had a sudden onset of symptoms that I thought were the flu and turned out to be COVID-19. I am now 12 days past the date of onset, and today is the first day I have been symptom-free and back to baseline health.

CDC guidelines say:

  1. Stay in isolation quarantine for at least 7 days from onset, and for 72 hours after you have returned to baseline health.
  2. Stay quarantined and away from anyone “old” or with a suppressed immune system for 14 days after you have returned to baseline health.

Here’s the problem. A lot of people may be carrying the COVID-19 virus and not know it. Those same people are going out in public or other people’s homes and they either don’t know they have it, and/or they had it and they think they’re fine now but they are still contagious.

Here’s what’s even scarier…kids can carry this virus and not even shows symptoms. And if that virus jumps to an adult, especially an older adult, it can be deadly.

Some people just don’t get it. I want to physically shake them, and I’m hoping maybe my words do the trick. You can’t control what other people do. But you CAN control what you and your family do. Is it hard to stay quarantined and not see the people you love (or seeing people at all)? Absolutely. But until we commit to taking this virus seriously, it’s going to continue spreading. And it’s going to continue killing people.

Stop having people over. Stop going to other people’s homes. Stop checking on family, especially the elderly. Figure out another way.

Here is a compilation of my Zoom’s and FaceTime’s over the past few weeks. I literally have to FaceTime with my kids in my own home because I’m not allowed to be around them.

Zooming with our Cousins Hoot, Auggie, and Millie. And Aunt B too!
Playing Trivial Pursuit over Zoom with some of our best friends!
A Linfield College Reunion!
FaceTime with my daughters while they play Uno!
Lila and I always watch Survivor together. This time we watched it at the same time on different TV’s while on FaceTime and having popcorn. Making it work!

How bad were the symptoms?

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what the symptoms were like. There are a lot of you who are sick right now and wondering “Is this COVID-19?” and you may or may not ever know because of how few tests are currently available. My hope is that someday soon there is an antibody test so you can know whether you’ve battled it already and won the good fight. What’s SO crazy about this virus is that the symptoms look different in everyone. I would have never gotten tested had my roommate not called me to tell me she’d had a positive COVID test and had the same symptoms as me. I thought I had the flu, and I thought COVID was supposed to be a cough and respiratory issues. Nope, not always!

When I had my first Zoom meeting with my Doctor, he told me that my symptoms actually did match what they were hearing were common symptoms of COVID…I guess the media just hadn’t caught up yet. I was really concerned about passing this to my family. And while I love my husband, I was most concerned about my kids. I didn’t want them getting as sick as I had been. What he told me was really interesting, and helped me understand WHY we’ve closed schools. Kids can carry this virus and the only way it will present itself is with a runny nose. So the same virus that can kill someone else can literally look like seasonal allergies or a common cold in my kid. How many times have I sent my kid to school with a runny nose? Hundreds, because kids always have runny noses. And once they get into school, and one teacher is trying to manage 20 kids, how many times do you think my kid is washing their hands? Probably not as many as we’d like them to.

And by now we all know how that spreads. One kid is sick and sneezes at school. The kid next to her takes that sickness home to their family. Their mom takes that sickness to work and to all the families of her coworkers….on and on and on like wildfire.

THIS is why we closed schools, and THIS is why we all need to stay home.

So, the symptoms:

My CDC interview was interesting because the gal interviewing me listed every single symptom that they are concerned about and asked me if I had it. So check back to my Day 10 blog post to see those.

Day 1: I woke up because Jerod was getting back into bed and told me he had been throwing up. Of course then I was laying there thinking “Weird…do I feel sick? I think I do…nah it’s just mental.” And I did that for about 30 minutes before I started throwing up. I felt like I was on fire, and I was. My fever was 102.3 and Jerod’s was 103.1. The vomiting lasted until morning for Jerod. My vomiting lasted until about 2pm the next day. Jerod and I slept all day and had fevers ranging from 101 – 103. We were taking Advil to cut the fever and it wasn’t really working. Our daughters totally fended for themselves. I’m pretty sure they were on iPads and Nintendo all day. My mother-in-law brought over dinner for them, and I’m pretty sure Jerod got out of bed to help with their nighttime routine. I was sleeping.

Day 2: Jerod woke up and was feeling better. No fever. I woke up feeling terrible. My body hurt and my fever was still high. I continued to sleep and never left my bedroom that day. I came down to try and have dinner with the family. I was eating the meatloaf and mashed potatoes that my husband had prepared, but I was only a few bites in when I realized I couldn’t taste anything and I didn’t have any appetite. I just had to go back to bed. That night was when the congestion and body aches started. My nose was both stuffy and running. My body aches were like growing pains. I felt like my leggings were too tight so I switched to shorts. I felt like the blankets were too heavy on my body so I kept trying to switch the blanket that was on me. I couldn’t sleep because my head hurt. I started taking Tylenol instead of Advil at this point because my mother-in-law suggested that it may help.

Day 3: The congestion was really bad all day, and my fever never went below 99.6, even with Tylenol. My head hurt so bad that I swear it was making my throat hurt. I was so tired that it exhausted me to walk up the stairs or take a shower. I took a long steam shower to try and loosen the congestion, but it made me so tired that I got lightheaded and had to go straight back to bed. I was trying to be “normal” and make dinner for the family, but I was so tired. I went back to bed and my stomach started to turn. I had diarrhea all night. I don’t want to explain that part in detail, but if you’ve ever seen the movie “Dumb and Dumber” then you’ll know what I was dealing with. I was terrified to fall asleep because I was certain I’d poop my pants.

(Side note: I’ve always wanted to write a blog. I never in a million years thought I’d be blogging about pooping my pants.)

Day 4: I got no sleep the night before and was so sick I couldn’t think straight. My husband came upstairs and I told him what was going on. He brought me Immodium. That solved the problem with just one dose. He was getting ready to head to Costco when I got the phone call from my roommate who I’d share a hotel room with in New Orleans. She had tested positive for COVID. I told her that I had been sick with the flu, and she told me it probably wasn’t the flu, and that her symptoms were eerily similar. She was also having respiratory issues.

(Side note: Jerod did not go to Costco, and we have been on “house arrest” aka home quarantine ever since.)

Day 4 – after the call: Now I start feeling panicked…do I have respiratory issues? Am I getting tired so easily because I can’t breathe? Is this congestion or are my lungs turning to glass? Cue the freak outs that would plague me for the next few days. My fever was steady around 100 degrees all day, my chest felt heavy and warm, and that night the diarrhea started again. Same as the night before. I took the Immodium sooner this time, but it took three doses to work. I laid in bed unable to sleep because my stomach hurt so bad. It felt like it was rolling. I kept imagining dice in there with different symptoms on each side…and my body was just rolling the dice to see what to throw at me next.

Day 5: My congestion is pretty bad…my breathing and voice are a little shaky. My fever was gone when I woke up, but was back within an hour. I have some energy back. This is the day that, if we weren’t in quarantine, I would have felt up for going out and about. Even going back to work because I can tough it out. My fever is there, but it’s only 99 – 100 degrees and that’s not bad! Could just be the thermometer being off. THESE are all the things I would have told myself and justified being out in public any other time of my life, but I was still highly contagious at this point. And that’s why it’s so important that we STAY HOME.

Days 6 – present: These days I still have symptoms. They come and go. The fever has been gone since day 8. The diarrhea too. Now there is just some lingering congestion, mostly in my nose.

Some other symptoms that I had either throughout the ordeal or at random times:

  • Loss of taste and smell: Literally couldn’t taste or smell anything for almost a week. My daughters thought it was hilarious and would ask me if I could smell farts or if I could eat dog poop. Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing this parenting thing right.
  • Eye irritation: My eyes felt like they were SO dry and irritated. I kept expecting to look at them and have them look bloodshot, but they weren’t.
  • Exhaustion: Falling asleep while scrolling through Netflix trying to find my show.
  • Loss of appetite: Not just because I couldn’t taste or smell. I just wasn’t hungry, at all. I’d drink broth so that I could get some calories and the warm liquid just felt really good on my chest.

I have to be 100% back to my baseline health before I can leave my room. Well, and now I also have to wait for Jerod’s test results to come back before I can leave my room. He tested on Friday, April 3rd, at 2pm. We are hoping his results come back as quickly as mine did. There isn’t a game plan as to what we’re going to do either way…whether it’s positive or negative. In the Zoom visit Jerod had yesterday they discussed a few potential game plans, one of which was keeping me in isolation quarantine for 14 days after I’m back to baseline health…and we are all PRAYING that doesn’t end up being the game plan. But if it is, then I’ll gladly do it to keep my family safe.

Let me know if you have questions about any of this or anything else! Knowledge is power.

My niece, Millie!

Day 10: COVID-19 Update

This is the second blog post…be sure to go back and read Day 9. As we’ve all experienced, a lot can happen and change in 12 hours with this virus. Two major developments this morning: Jerod had a Zoom appointment with the doctor’s office and….drum roll, please…The CDC called me. Actually it was Washington County Public Health Department on behalf of the CDC.

Jerod’s Zoom appointment: He was asked several questions about his exposure and symptoms. Jerod and I both were throwing up and had fevers on Day 1 of this (March 25th) but he has been healthy and symptom free since March 26th. He’ll be tested today at 2pm. Our Doctor did decide to test the girls, but Jerod and I both pushed back because the test is so painful. Our kids don’t even like getting shots, and I really didn’t know how they were going to hold them down and do this exam on them…especially if they can only do one at a time. So they backtracked and decided to just test Jerod for now and then determine next steps once we have his results. We are already quarantined to just our home, so they feel like this is a logical route to take. The one thing this changes significantly from my previous email is that I now need to stay in isolation quarantine until we get Jerod’s test results back. I’m hoping they come back as quickly as mine did.

Jill’s public health/CDC phone interview: The lady who interviewed me was really nice. She asked me a lot of questions and then gave me the guidelines for care. I wrote down everything because it was so interesting to me and figured I’d get a lot of questions. So I’ll type it all out, but the gist of the conversation was:

1) How did you get this and what are your symptoms?

2) Who else could you have given this to? and

3) Here’s how you need to care for yourself moving forward.

Here’s the more detailed conversation. (Keep in mind this is for my own memory to be able to look back on all this. You may or may not find it interesting.)

She started with personal questions about my health and lifestyle. Am I at risk? Do I work with vulnerable population? Who do I work for? What is the address of my home and employer? Do I know my onset date?

She then went through an entire list of symptoms to which I had to answer yes or no: Fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, runny nose, sore throat, cough, trouble breathing, loss of smell, loss of taste, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, pneumonia. She then asked if I had been tested for influenza, was a smoker, or had any pre-existing medical conditions. Then she asked the following questions:

  • Have you travelled outside your home area?
  • Have you had close contact with anyone with a confirmed case of coronavirus?
  • Does anyone in your household have a confirmed case of coronavirus?
  • Have you had any contact with livestock or bats?
  • Do your kids go to daycare?
  • Have you left your home at all in the 2 weeks prior to onset?
    • Where did you go? List all places.
  • When you went to these places, and when you went to get tested, did you drive your personal car or take public transportation?
  • Provide names/date of birth/phone number for every member of your household.
  • Provide name/phone number of anyone you’ve had personal contact with or had as a frequent visitor to your home.

My interview went quickly because I had been quarantined. I only had to list 3 places I’d been since I’d been home, and I practiced social distancing when I went to those places so she doesn’t have to investigate those any further. I also didn’t have to provide any names for the last bullet point because we haven’t had close personal contact or frequent visitors to our home. Because we are taking this seriously…the same way everyone else should be.

The last part of the call was more about my care. She started by saying that relapses are common and occuring frequently. I must be 100% back to my baseline health for 72 hours before I can return to contact with other humans. Here is a bulletpoint list of her instructions:

  • Stay home unless I need medical care. If I need medical care, call ahead and tell the provider that I have COVID-19.
  • Separate myself from humans and animals. Anyone who needs to be in my presence should wear a face mask.
  • Avoid sharing dishes, utensils, towels, or bedding with anyone. Wash sheets frequently.
  • Disinfect high touch areas daily.
  • If someone else in the household starts showing symptoms, the COVID-19 timeline starts for them…it doesn’t start over for the person who already has COVID-19.
  • Once I have been 72 hours free of symptoms I am free to be around other humans. I am also free to care for others who have COVID-19 in my household, as I now have the antibodies.

She ended the interview by asking about our financial situation and my mental/emotional strength. I didn’t joke with her, but I’ll joke with you that the latter of those two is a little shaky right now.

Next steps: Jerod is tested today at 2pm. I am stuck in my isolation quarantine until we get his test results. And that’s all we know for now! You’ll hear from me again when things change. So that could be 3 days or 3 minutes.

Stay healthy & safe!