It feels like it’s been longer than six months ago that going to the grocery store felt like preparing for battle and ordering pizza was a scary indulgence. My family diligently wiped down every single item that entered our house, saw no friends until June, and took a ton of vitamins.
We got sick
We watched and read daily news updates about the virus, feared it, discussed it, and gradually assumed that our community was past the worst of it. Then, at the end of July we got sick.
This is what you need to know from our experience with Covid-19
- We “got it” from our teenager. We encouraged and practiced strong safety measures but, like most of the social circles I’ve been around, a false sense of protection among our “friends” evolved this summer. As general fatigue with the virus set in, more risks were accepted and normalized. A small lapse in my daughter’s mask-wearing was enough to transmit the virus.
- Our daughter was sick before she spiked a fever. Our daughter had a normal temp at the very appointment where she tested positive and two hours later her temperature was over 102. Our other daughter tested positive and had no symptoms for two full days, waking with a fever on the third day.
- Our family had a range of reactions. My 15-year-old son tested negative and continued to have no symptoms. Our 20-year-old was late to develop symptoms but the quickest to recover. My husband was the most serious and worrisome. Our illnesses were similar with the onset of aches/tiredness/loss of energy. Nighttime was extremely upsetting and brought terrible night sweats, bad dreams, restlessness, worry and fear. The sweating was bad enough to cause dehydration/weakness. We developed heavy coughs and congestion. Each of us lost our sense of taste and smell to different degrees. We each spent 3-5 days in bed before recovering incrementally each day. General tiredness lasts for a while.
- Getting the virus completely disrupted our lives. It automatically quarantines you for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or a positive test if you are asymptomatic. But a family member exposed without symptoms must quarantine for 14 days from the last contact with the person (because symptoms can develop from 2-14 days after contact). So, strangely, a sick person could get “out” of quarantine before another person who seems fine. After losing all senior events, my daughter sadly lost the ‘makeup’ prom while her altered dress sat untouched at the tailor. Both girls lost over 2 weeks of income. We had to postpone my son’s confirmation, cancel all appointments, and couldn’t even go to the store. Your family just shuts down. We relied on our amazing family and friends who sent meals, made grocery runs, and dropped off homemade treats. We were blown away by the help, kind offers and check-ins.
- The psychological effects of this virus are overwhelming. From thinking you are on the verge of always getting worse, to worrying about your kids, isolating each member from others, and remembering every horrible story you have heard, there is no peace of mind. Now that we are better, we still worry that there’s a hidden health issue that might surface in a month, a year, 5 years from now. I often feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.
- Anyone can “have it.” Not having symptoms does not mean you are fine. The data says as many as 40% of people could be asymptomatic so it’s clear how easily this virus can spread. Your “negative” test is only a snapshot of you on one moment in time. You can walk out of the test site and get exposed. I will admit to my own sense of complacency in the weeks before we got sick.
- The stigma is real. I’ve peeked behind the Covid curtain and it’s miserable. There’s so much upset, frustration, missed events, questioning, worrying, depression, and anxiety. After you’ve been honest and done all the right things, you still feel like you’re wearing a scarlet C. My girls have been treated differently by friends and it’s hard to watch. We need to be vigilant about safety but do it with knowledge about what the real risks are. Some claim virus “high ground” in one area of their lives, while allowing other risky behaviors. Having other virus survivors to speak with would have helped us feel less alone. If there’s a stigma around the virus, people won’t be honest about it and that’s dangerous.
- No one can ever foresee what this virus will do once it lands on their doorstep. The virus is only months old and the medical community is still discovering what the long-term effects could be.
Be prepared: A Covid-19 emergency kit should include:
- A pulse oximeter is a small device to measure blood oxygen levels. For us, this was the most reassuring gadget we had. A healthy oxygen saturation is typically above 90%, according to Cleveland Clinic.
- Multiple thermometers – you can’t share if 4 of you are sick in separate rooms.
- Pedialyte or electrolyte powder. Easy to store and takes up much less room
than bottles. I won’t explain the hellish night sweats but that was our low point.
- Tylenol and Advil
I hope this information helps even one family. Even if you have moderate symptoms, this virus might upend your life. I keep thinking how lucky we were to have support, health insurance, access to care, money for food, and sick leave to get better. Imagine the families who don’t.
Don’t let your guard down.