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A COVID-19 Recovery Story: Control What You Can

I am a remote employee with National Life who lives in Boulder County, Colorado. Our picturesque mountain towns were the first to see the virus in early March because of tourism. To curb the spread of the virus, the governor shut down all ski resorts on 3/15 and put a Stay-at-Home order in place on 3/26. Our National Parks and popular trailheads were also closed to prevent people from heading to the mountains. We were told to exercise near our homes, and mountain counties started imposing fines for out-of-state and out-of-county travelers to keep them away.

While this was economically devastating to our local economy because March is the snowiest month and still the height of the season, I clearly understood this was important for the health of our community. So, I followed the directives. I abided by social distancing, and since I was not an essential worker on the front-lines, I continued to work from home and only left the house for groceries. 

On Friday 3/20, my older daughter came to visit me from Denver. I had been lecturing her earlier because she was still making unnecessary trips before everything was shut down. I even considered telling her not to come, but I thought at that time that there had not been many cases so what were the chances that she was infected?

The day after her visit, she called me to say that she wasn’t feeling well and had a low-grade fever. On Monday 3/23, I started to develop mild symptoms. I had a dry cough and some difficulty breathing. I took my temperature several times that day without a fever until that evening when I had a low-grade fever. Throughout the week, I continued to work from home with these mild symptoms and low fever that would arrive in the evenings. I wasn’t too worried because I assumed that I had a mild case. I live with my husband, Dominic, and my niece, Lacey. Dominic was not convinced that I had it at this point until things got worse a few days later.

Once my symptoms worsened, I spent the next 12 days quarantined in my bedroom.

  • Friday 3/27: I significantly declined and started staying in bed. Dominic moved to another bedroom and began wearing a mask and gloves when he came into the room.
  • Sunday 3/29: My symptoms became worse, and I was struggling to breathe. Dominic called ahead to our local urgent care (because you can’t just show up) and I went in. The test was conducted by taking a large cotton swab and sticking it ALL the way up my nose. It’s uncomfortable, but only takes a second. They gave me a breathing treatment which increased my oxygen and made it a little easier to breathe. They sent me home with an inhaler to use when needed. Going to urgent care and being tested helped to calm Dominic who was getting progressively more worried.
  • Saturday 4/4: I received a call confirming the test results were positive.
  • Sunday 4/5: I finally woke to no fever. I took my temperature often to ensure it stayed that way. I waited the recommended 72 hours before leaving my bedroom. Even without the fever, I did not feel well and remained in bed.
  • Wednesday 4/8: It had been 72 hours and I felt well enough to get up. I scrubbed EVERYTHING that day. I washed that COVID right out of our house! Later in the day, I was utterly exhausted because I definitely overdid it. Many encouraged me to continue to take it easy and not return to work until after the weekend. I realized that I would continue to do too much it if I did not go back to work. At least when I was working, I was sitting, so I started working again on Thursday 4/9/2020.

Six symptoms that I had

  • Fever: I had an almost constant low-grade fever, but it did get as high as 102. I took more acetaminophen than I would have liked, but it was the only thing that helped regulate the fever.
  • Trouble breathing: The breathing trouble remained constant throughout the illness. What I discovered was that if anything upset or stressed me, it would cause me to struggle to breathe. I tried not to worry about my condition and tried to stay as calm as possible. I did use the inhaler periodically.  I could not talk much because it would cause breathing issues, so I took no phone calls, but did stay connected with people by text.
  • Exhaustion: I was completely wiped out. I never left my bed except to go the bathroom.
  • Nausea/stomach issues: I felt nauseous and had an upset stomach throughout. I did lose several pounds due to lack of appetite, but still had to eat regularly to help with the nausea.
  • Lack of taste: Many have said this occurs. I noticed that I did not enjoy coffee which is otherwise my normal morning enjoyment.
  • Minor dry cough: Other than having a minor dry cough when my symptoms were mild, I did not experience a cough and did not have congestion.

Throughout my 12 day quarantine, I never left my bedroom except to go to urgent care. All my meals or anything I needed was brought to me by Dominic who was diligently wearing a mask, gloves, and staying six feet away. I missed eight days of work. While I was never hospitalized so my case is considered “mild,” this was tough. It’s been a week since I have left quarantine and I feel good now. However, getting back to my active self seems to be taking a little longer that I expected.

From the healthcare professionals to the grocery workers to National Life’s essential workers and all those delivering millions of packages across the country, I am so grateful to you. My advice is to control what you can. Follow the guidelines — social distance, wear a mask, and wash those hands! While there is so much that we still don’t know about this virus, we can focus on our own daily actions that can prevent the spread to others.