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!

Day 9: My COVID-19 story

April 2, 2020: Written at the end of Day 9 of my adventure with COVID-19…aka Coronavirus

When I planned a trip to New Orleans from March 11-13th for a study group, I had no idea that we’d be on the brink of a pandemic. In fact, you couldn’t even tell that anything was going on…the streets were still packed and the bars and restaurants were full. 

On the early morning of March 25, exactly two weeks after I’d been home from NOLA, I started vomiting and spiked a really high fever. This went on for 12 hours, and then I slept for about the next 24 hours. I had a consistent fever that would spike as high as 103 degrees. Day 3 I still had a fever and began getting congested. My body ached, my head ached, and I couldn’t sleep. On Day 3 I lost my senses of taste and smell, and those didn’t return until Day 8. Day 4 the diarrhea started, and I’ll spare myself from having to bring it up again, but it lasted until Day 8.

Day 4 is also the day that my roommate from my stay in NOLA called to inform me that she had been tested for COVID-19 and that it was positive. I let her know that I’d been experiencing flu-like symptoms, and she said her symptoms were similar. I immediately called my Doctor. We had a Zoom appointment that day where the Doctor asked me about my symptoms, my exposure, and the timeline. At that point they were almost certain I had it, but I needed to be tested. There are not enough tests to test everyone who shows symptoms. The Doctor’s office I attend said at the time they were getting over 200 calls with suspected COVID-19 per day, and they only had 50 tests. Here is how they determined who did/didn’t get tested:

  1. If you are over 60, and/or have a suppressed immune system, go the hospital to be tested.
  2. If you are under 60, do not have a suppressed immune system, but you have symptoms of COVID-19: Stay home, quarantine, and treat with over-the-counter medicine.
  3. If you are everything from #2 AND you’ve had direct physical contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you get tested at the Doctor’s office.

I’m sure not all clinics are handling it this way, and things are changing constantly. But at the time I was going through this I fell into category #3 so I was scheduled to be tested at my Doctor’s office. This determination was made on Day 4, but I wasn’t tested until Day 7.

Day 7, I was actually feeling a little better. My fever came and went but I was still having digestive issues and still couldn’t taste anything. My appetite had started to return a little bit by this point. For the test, I was instructed to stay in my car and park behind the building by the dumpsters. My husband, Jerod, had a theory that I was going to pull up and they were going to shoot me and dump my body. Luckily for me that wasn’t the case. I pulled up and someone came out in full medical protective equipment and swabbed my nose. It felt like they swabbed my brain. Ouch. I was told that results would take seven days, and that I may be feeling completely recovered by the time we found out if I even had it at all.

Here are the rules I had to play by until I got my test back, and had to continue to play if I tested positive for COVID-19:

  1. I had to stay on isolation quarantine (away from my family and in only one room/bathroom) for:
    1. At least 7 days past the first onset of symptoms, AND
    1. 72-hours following being symptom-free.
  2. My family had to stay quarantined in our home for 14 days following my last symptom.

Day 8 I started to slowly regain my senses of taste and smell. Slowly…“Do I taste this orange or is it a taste memory?” By that night it was almost entirely back, and I had tacos and ice cream for dinner. On Day 9, today, I felt good. I had some lingering stomach issues, but that could have been from the tacos and ice cream after 8 days of mostly broth.

Today, April 2nd, is also when my Doctor’s office called with the results. It took 2 days, not 7 like they had predicted. And the test was positive. Even though I was sure it was going to be, it was still crazy to get the news. My Doctor advised me to continue with the treatment plan of 72 hours isolation/14 day home quarantine. He hadn’t seen many (I think I was one of the first) positive tests, and he asked a ton of questions about where I’d been, my symptoms, the timeline, what amount of exposure my kids and husband had, etc. He decided at that point that my husband had to be tested right away. He is going to have a team meeting tomorrow morning to discuss my case and determine if they will proceed with testing the girls, and part of that would depend on whether or not they have enough tests.

My Doctor also let me know that my blood is going to be very valuable to help treat people now that I have the antibodies. So I’ll be donating blood as early and as often as I can.

Things I did wrong:

  1. Travel to New Orleans during what turned into a pandemic. I was joking about “the Rona” and really thought it was media hype. Things escalated really quickly, and I’m glad I got home when I did.

Things I did right:

  1. STAY HOME: As soon as I got home from traveling, I made a personal decision to quarantine for 5 days. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t start to show any symptoms. By the time that the 5 days were up, the epidemic situation had progressed to a pandemic and we were all being asked to stay home if possible. So I continued to stay home.
    1. I never went to the office or saw my employees or any clients.
    1. I never saw my parents, in-laws, or any family members outside my husband/kids.

Had I not stayed home, I would have seen my employees – one of which lives with her grandmother and would have then potentially exposed her. I would have seen my parents, my in-laws, my friends….What if it had directly or indirectly given it to my 96 year-old grandparents? The potential spread of this scares the living hell out of me when I think of how many people could have contracted this…because of me.

Coronavirus didn’t kill me. It made me really sick for a few days. But the same exact virus is quickly killing people. And not just those who are older or who have a suppressed immune system…there are stories of perfectly healthy people dying from the exact same virus I just tested positive for. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself knowing I spread this virus because I didn’t stay home, could you?

The next steps are for me to get healthy so I can be with my family again and give my husband a break because he’s been doing everything for the house and kids, including remodel our downstairs bath and be the teacher for the homeschooling we’re doing as a result of this pandemic. Luckily we have an amazing support system, as we’ve had friends showing up with food, supplies, etc. We are doing well, and the girls are actually handling this all like little champions.

Jerod will be tested tomorrow, and tomorrow we will also hear about a plan for testing the girls. Since my first phone call to the Doctor’s office I’ve been told that the CDC will get involved and interview me at some point, but I don’t know what that looks like yet. Do they just call me? Do they show up at my door in hazmat suits? I’ll let you know when I find out!