With the current pandemic situation, there are so many feelings going through our minds every day. But when you feel like crap and you think you have a sinus infection, which you do, along with an ear infection, and then you run a temperature, you probably should not be surprised when the results come back as positive for COVID. However, if you’re like me, you think that it will only happen to other people because you’ve had the immunizations. When they stick that Q-tip through your nostril to the back side of your brain and then twist, and later come in to deliver a positive result, you are surprised.
“You tested positive.” Instant meltdown. I actually felt sorry for the poor doctor at that point. He said some things to me, that even after I asked him to repeat everything, I have no idea what he’d said. He walked me out of the office and opened the door for me as I exited the examination area. At the time, I thought he was being a gentleman, but as I write this, I realize he was probably trying to keep me from touching anything. I went to my car, trying to calm down enough to drive, and texted my oldest daughter to call me. I drove straight home because that was all of which I was capable, even though the doctor suggested that I drop by the pharmacy, with a mask, and grab the medication he had prescribed for the sinus infection.
I did not, but waited for my daughter to pick up the meds along with soup and some bread and lunch meat. Little did I know, that loaf of bread would be my lifeline over the next few days.
As the day progressed, the nausea set in. Every time I tried to eat a piece of toast, I would have to lay down to fight off the waves of nausea, which was often accompanied by full-body sweats. I’m not talking those “sixty-year-old woman menopause sweats.” I’m talking the “even the bottom of my feet and the top of my head and everything in between sweats.” These effects lasted two days until I decided to call the doctor’s office and they were able to give me something different that did not cause nausea but gave me some “lovely” stomach cramps. So you choose your battles and this was one I decided was the lesser of two evils.
The first two days were pretty much a blur of sleep. My head felt like it was going to explode. I could handle the TV being on, but I couldn’t stand to watch it. I coughed continuously which caused my sides to feel like I’d just done 100 sit-ups (Laugh now. Haven’t done a sit-up since I had a baby 40 years ago). I did not have any sense of smell, which I confirmed by trying to smell every bottle of lotion in my house. Nothing. I also had no sense of taste, except for the God-awful taste that caused me to brush my teeth ten times a day.
By the fourth day, the sweats subsided somewhat although the stomach cramps continued but were bearable. The new medicine seemed to be helping as I was able to eat soup without having to lay down afterwards to keep from being sick. The cough was still prevalent but as I was able to stay awake for longer periods of time, I began to feel like a deep breath was harder and harder to obtain. That evening I felt like my chest was tight and I began to experience the anxiety of the unknown. I used my Apple Watch to measure my Blood Oxygen, but I hadn’t had my watch long enough to know how accurate this feature actually was.
I also began to experience tingling in my hands. Because it’s what all educated people do when they need answers at all hours of the night, I got on the internet. After googling “what does tingling in your hands mean,” I found out that it was the sign of the presence of a virus. Go figure.
I called the doctor the next day and of course, had to leave a message for the nurse, who returned my call about an hour later. I told her about the problem I was having in getting a deep breath. She assured me that as long as I could walk across the room and not be out of breath, it was not at the stage in which I should be concerned. I told her about the tingling and about what I’d read on the internet. She assured me that I shouldn’t believe everything I read on the internet, but she didn’t think it was a concern and would check with the doctor.
The nurse called back later that afternoon after consulting the doctor and she said that if the breathing got any worse to call again and they would do a Tel-A-Doc appointment to decide the course of treatment at that point. I appreciated the call back and knowing what to do next if it was necessary relieved some of my anxiety.
The next day, I was feeling better and since I am not great at “just resting,” I decided to try laying in my backyard pool, which has always been the most relaxing thing I could possibly do. After about ten minutes in the sun, my skin was tingling all over. I was in so much pain, even submerging myself in the water did not relieve the pain. I had to return to the house and the shower that followed had to be totally cold water. I was unable to even sit outside in the shade to read, an activity which had previously gotten me out of the house. Even though I didn’t feel good, being in the house was driving me crazy.
I racked up the sensitivity to the sun as another unknown COVID symptom. However, as I picked up the bottle to take my antibiotic that night, I noticed the tiny sticker on the side of the bottle. As I looked closer, I turned on the light to read “Avoid exposure to the sun.”
As I reached the seven-day point, and the sinus infection symptoms began to improve, I started doing things around the house. Little tasks like loading the dishwasher and anything else that involved leaning over, were tasks that required resting afterwards and catching my breath. Daily naps were the norm, even though I tried not to avoid anything but a cat-nap in the chair so that I would sleep better at night. Actually, once the coughing subsided, I was so tired at night, sleeping came easy.
I tried to sit out in my backyard to read early in the morning or later in the afternoon, since temperatures were ranging in the low 90’s outside during the day. I could sit outside for a while until my hands and feet started burning, even though I was in the shade. This was the lingering result of the meds and the virus, even though I was avoiding the direct sunlight. I took a drive to go take care of some banking issues, never leaving my car and dealing only with ATM’s.
On day ten, I took the last doses of the antibiotic. I felt like doing a happy dance. I was also no longer expected to stay at home, as per the health department. It had been a week since I’d had a temperature. I felt relatively safe in leaving the house without the worry of infecting someone else.
I intended to go on a short walk that day, but it got hot so early, I didn’t feel like it was wise. I didn’t leave the house that day due to the heat, but waited until Day 11 to venture out. I was overly conscious of crowds, wearing a mask everywhere I went. I went out to eat in the off hours, more than ready for someone else to cook my meal and clean up after me. I went to the grocery store, going to the smaller Neighborhood Market instead of the bigger grocery store. And then I came home and laid down.
I feel like my breathing is 90% back to normal. I feel good, but weak and am trying to give my body a chance to get stronger with short sessions of activity. Mostly, I feel fortunate…fortunate that I had the immunization which minimized the effects of the virus. I am fortunate that I was in good health before getting sick, because it gave me a leg-up on recovery. I am fortunate that although I am single, I have lots of good people that were there to drop off what I needed to get through that time. I am also fortunate that I happened to not be working at the time so I didn’t have to miss work.
My biggest concern was affecting other people. This is the thing…I don’t know where I got the virus, although I have a good idea. I’ve been operating with the sense of security that the mask ordinance was lifted so we must be safe. I guess I thought it only happened to other people, even though I knew several people who had actually had the virus and knew people who had even died from it. I don’t know when I started being contagious and that’s the part that causes the concern for everyone.
My other concern is the lack of resources to ease my anxiety as I went through the COVID experience. Aside from calling my doctor, which should always be the source of reliable information because all cases are different, I wish there had been a place to go to ask “is this what you experienced” or a resource for “what to expect when you are experiencing COVID.” This is unchartered waters and waters that I hope to never have to tread again.