My COVID-19 Story
I am a 29 yo woman living in St. Louis, I’ve had COVID-19 for over a week (originally published 12/11/2020) and these are my stories. Will update as I am moved and energized.
My brother was diagnosed first. He has special needs, lives with my parents and works in fast food. He was sick when I arrived for Thanksgiving, which in a normal year would normally be close to 20 people but this year it was just the four of us and my parents quickly quarantined him to his bedroom.
I’ve seen my parents and my brother throughout the pandemic, we are in a “pod” together and I’ve spent anywhere from a day to weeks at a time at their house, without incident over the last nine months. While it is strange irony that we all did get sick at Thanksgiving, it could’ve been any day leading up to that.
While I would usually stay a long weekend, I saw my parents starting to get sick and left on Friday to go and isolate, with strong intuition of where we were headed. My parents both tested positive last week and I tested positive this past weekend.
My mom works in healthcare and immediately had to quit her clients, seniors with memory issues she cares for privately in their homes. She had been moving towards this already because some of her client’s families were not taking enough precaution. She was also diagnosed with pneumonia.
My almost 70 yo father hasn’t stopped working, despite our best attempts. He has also been the healthiest and has been the main caregiver for my brother and mother. My brother is almost well again and I am pushing to keep him home from work until things improve. Thinking about how he got sick makes my blood boil. Wear a mask at drive-thrus!
My mom posted on Facebook that the three of them were sick, begging people to wear masks and stay home. In between prayers and well wishes, some of her friends used my family’s diagnosis with a deadly virus to question the efficacy of masks. I can’t explain the rage I feel towards these people.
That’s all for now, I’ll be back in a bit. (12/11/2020 12:43 p.m.)
Update 1 —
It’s really strange to be 29 and monitoring your vitals, alone in your studio apartment with your family sick across town, calling every few hours to check their vitals and make sure everyone is taking their medication and staying hydrated. It’s like being in this horrible group project we can’t get out of.
My mom works in healthcare, so I’ve had an extra leg up (joke for the real ones) in monitoring and managing this virus. I have a temple thermometer and a oximeter/heart rate monitor. I am not a medical professional but watching these metrics has helped me chart my progress. Right now, I don’t have a fever anymore, my oxygen levels are normal but my heart rate is elevated. My mom keeps telling me that my body is fighting the virus, that’s why it’s up. I feel like there are so many other reasons too.
I almost didn’t get tested. As soon as I knew that three people I had shared air with were positive, it seemed like a forgone conclusion when I started feeling ill. But I wanted to be sure and also help paint an accurate picture for the regional data. My test came back quickly, I went to CVS and it seemed as though mine had been marked for expedited analysis given that I marked I had been verifiably exposed to COVID-19.
There was something shocking in actually reading my results, even though I knew it was happening. I called off work and thankfully my workplace has been incredibly supportive. My symptoms started with feeling overly warm and then the next day I woke up with a pointed pain in the back of my throat and my lungs “hurt.” Then that passed and my sinuses burned and I continued to have a low fever. Now most of it is gone but I’m lifeless and my brain feels like scrambled eggs. I’m mixing up words, overly emotional and exhausted. The last week has passed in a Gatorade and Advil-fueled blur.
(12/11/2020 2:31 PM)
Update 2 —
Yesterday was a downturn, which happens a lot with this virus. I thought I was on my way back and then I had another temperature spike. The past few weeks have been a lot of those ups and downs. One night in particular was particularly jarring. My mom wasn’t getting better like the rest of us and eventually a nurse friend of hers recommended she headed to the ER.
These days, having to go to into the hospital, to potentially be hospitalized with COVID-19 seems like a death sentence. In St. Louis, our ICU beds are in the handfuls and the medical professionals are spread thin. So when my dad said he had just dropped off my mom at the ER, that’s how it felt.
I sobbed and spoke to my siblings, shook and tried my best to complete a jigsaw puzzle while we all waited for good news. My mother has been my best friend since I was a child, the idea of losing her felt unknowable and unbearable. I was terrified, I felt powerless and like nothing — money, luck or privilege could help.
But we do have a lot of privilege. My mom knew a nurse who knew enough to tell her to seek attention early. My sister somehow knew the lead doctor in the ER. My parents have amazing health insurance. Within a few hours, my mom called me with new life in her voice. She had been given an IV and her chest re-examined. For the moment, she was okay and stable enough to go home.
And the next day, she had a teledoc appointment with her primary care physician, a young mom who spends all of her free time researching this disease. She prescribed my mom a drug previously used for parasites, that had just been approved for COVID-19 treatment THIS week. We are incredibly lucky and my mom has improved so much since then.
(12/13/2020 6:27 PM)
Update 3 —