The Onset of COVID-19
The symptoms started on Monday—fever, dry cough, fatigue. I felt like I had a cold without sinus congestion but my skin had the sunburned feeling I get when I have a virus. The next day I learned I had been probably been exposed to COVID-19 the week before. I tried to isolate in the guest bedroom or in my office to keep Ken from catching it. I was already working by video. I let the people who were likely to have been exposed know immediately. I tried to get a test but I my doctor said I wasn’t sick enough to need one. Tests were being reserved for the medical workers and severely ill. My symptoms were the same for about a week, then gastrointestinal issues started. My fever was very high on Thursday (day 11), and I called my doctor’s office for the fourth time.
Eleven Days and Pneumonia
I was given an appointment for their clinic location handling potential Covid-19 patients. They came to the car, gave me a mask, and escorted me in. I had pneumonia. They repeatedly asked me about direct exposure to someone with the virus. Without that they could not send me to the ER for a test even though I had all the symptoms and pneumonia. At the ER they could not give me the test unless they admitted me to the hospital, and unless, again, I could say I had direct exposure to someone who tested positive for Covid-19. That’s why it’s really important to let people know if they have been exposed. If I had known sooner, I could have been tested much earlier.
Being hospitilized with Covid-19 is not like other hospitalizations. First of all, your family member has to drop you off at the door and leave. Second, they don’t want your stuff. They sent my personal things back home when my step-daughter tried to deliver them. I felt panicked because my cell-phone was almost dead, and my only connection to my family was about to disappear.
They did relent and let her leave my phone charger. Later, after multiple phone calls between my nieces and the person who was managing drop-offs, I was allowed to have “one bag, one time” with some gowns, underwear, my laptop and charger, and a Kindle charger. I would have been really miserable without those things.
Nurses and doctors have to layer on the PPE to come into the room, so they save up the tasks for one combined visit every four hours or so. They are working very hard and fast to minimize their own exposure and exposure to other staff and patients. My doctor called to talk with me by phone. I had three in-person doctor visits that lasted 2 or 3 minutes. She was keeping track through the medical records and the nurses.
I am not complaining! I understand and support 100% the measures that the medical staff take to stay safe but it makes for a lonely patient experience. After the first two days I felt well enough to reach out more to friends and interact more with my family by phone and laptop which helped a lot. I even watched a movie with my daughters one night through an app that lets groups watch Netflix together. Still, the lack of human contact, the rushed care, the absence of a reassuring doctor who visits, and the lack of physical touch make being in the hospital more difficult.
I am so fortunate that my pneumonia was mild enough that my stay was just five nights. That felt very long. I had a nice private room with a window. My heart breaks for the patients stacked in hallways and tents. We must continue to try to slow the spread so that people can be safe and comfortable.
If Your Loved One is Hospitalized
If you have someone in isolation in the hospital these things might help:
- Send lots of messages making it clear you don’t need responses.
- Be upbeat and loving.
- Ask them how much contact they need and what kind.
- Don’t ask for details or questions that require long answers, especially when they are feeling bad.
- Be empathetic. Let them have their sad, mad, scared feelings if they need to. Send cheer and comfort but don’t judge or try to change their feelings..
- I enjoyed jokes, funny gifs, silly cat pictures, and grandchild photos.
- A gentle yoga class video by a friend was also very helpful.
I have so much to be thankful for. My family and friends were really there for me in every way possible. My children were brave. I am home, and on the mend. It is a beautiful day, and I was able to sit in the cat’s sunbeam spot by the balcony door for an hour. Now I totally get it, cats! Ken is cooking a wonderful dinner for me.
This is written quickly in response to Brian Burgoyne’s request for more of the story so please pardon typo’s or grammar glitches.