I think it was around March 17th when my husband first started having symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Me, I’d been coughing since mid-January, when I went to bed with a scratchy throat and woke up with bronchitis. The last time I had bronchitis it took four months to get over it, so it was no surprise to me that I was still coughing. Otherwise, I felt fine.
Tim, though, has allergies and asthma, and he recognized immediately that he had something different. Fever at night. Coughing. Intense chills. Body aches. I told him to call the pre-screening center at Ascension Sacred Heart, the first testing center in Pensacola. He described all the symptoms, told them about his underlying conditions.
“Have you traveled in the last 14 days?”
“Have you been in direct contact with someone who’s been diagnosed with the virus?”
He didn’t meet the criteria for testing.
He went to his doctor. The doctor told him to go get tested. He described the phone call. The doctor wrote out an order for the test and Tim drove to the testing site outside the hospital. They sent him away.
He went back to the doctor’s office and they swabbed him for the flu (negative). They called Quest Diagnostics, because I had been told by the Florida Health Department that the travel or direct contact requirements didn’t matter with private labs, just for the free testing from the state/CDC.
Quest told the doctor’s office they weren’t testing anyone under 60 years old. Tim and I are both 54.
March 20, because I certainly wasn’t trying to hide any of this, my boss talked to Human Resources and sent me home, because someone in my household was sick.
The following Monday, when I went to pick up my computer to work from home, I was told that another person I work with had also been told to work from home. Whether that person had been tested or traveled or had some contact with a patient, I have no idea.
I worked from home for a week.
On Sunday, March 22, I practiced my lightsaber moves in the backyard, then came in because I started having gas pains. Whether that’s related to COVID-19, I don’t know. Some patients have reported gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, which I had later.
It was downhill over the next week. By the weekend, I just felt blah. I had a fever of 101 overnight. Nothing tasted good. It wasn’t even so much the lack of taste that some patients have reported, but that food and drink that I knew was fine tasted like it had gone off. My cough, which had been improving, was back with a vengeance.
I called in sick for Monday, March 30, and I got up Monday morning and called the doctor’s office for an appointment.
“You have to call the screening center.”
But I haven’t traveled and I haven’t been in direct contact with a confirmed patient and I’m under 60. You know all this.
“Doesn’t matter. You have to call the screening center first.”
So, I called the screening center, and I said, I know I don’t qualify, I haven’t traveled and I haven’t been in direct contact with a confirmed patient but my doctor’s office said I had to call you.
“Let me get all your information and go through the screening.”
I didn’t meet the criteria. Shocker.
Why do you even bother, I asked. I told you I didn’t meet the criteria right off the bat.
“It’s not so much the travel any more but the underlying conditions.”
My husband has underlying conditions – asthma, allergies, hypertension – and he got rejected multiple times.
“Wait! We can test him now!”
So, he drove over to the testing station and got swabbed.
I called in sick again for Tuesday, but I felt well enough to return to work-from-home on Wednesday, April 1st.
Meanwhile, we waited for Tim’s results. When I talked to the screening center, the woman said that they were testing in-house now and we’d probably have the results in 48 hours. At the swabbing site, they told Tim five to seven days. The piece of paper they gave him said four to five days.
We got the results one week later, Monday, April 6th.
Everyone around us is freaking out, but really, the worst is over. My symptoms lasted for a couple of days, although having the cough worsen was really irritating. When I eventually had a phone conference with the P.A. at my doctor’s office, he prescribed another round of steroids, so maybe that helped. I tell you, I felt like I’d been in a bar fight, I hurt so much around my abdomen from coughing hard.
Tim is still getting easily tired, but he’s not having the fevers and chills anymore. We’re very lucky it didn’t hit him worse, since he does have respiratory issues and hypertension (which has been listed as an exacerbating factor). Hopefully we both have the antibodies now so that we’ll be protected against the anticipated second round in the fall.
I also want to mention that last week our two cats were sluggish and they weren’t eating as they normally do. They also coughed a little. Now, Kali threw up hairballs at least three times, so I kind of wrote it off as that, but now a tiger has tested positive for the coronavirus and I wonder if Kali and Pippin also got infected from us. They are doing fine now.
The thing that’s irritating me most right now is about work. I know two other people have tested positive at my workplace in the past week. The names of those people were not revealed to anyone. They certainly aren’t admitting who they are. Today I was told they work in my area, and yet I was never notified that I might have been in contact with someone who tested positive. Someone from my workplace told me that everything thinks it all started with me, and yet, I don’t know where I would have picked it up. In early March, I was in a room with someone who recently traveled internationally, but I haven’t heard of that person getting sick at all. I wasn’t particularly close to the person (across a table). Someone that I worked with flew on a plane and stood right by my desk a couple of times. Tim, of course, showed symptoms before I did, but he barely goes anywhere. He did have a dentist appointment in late February or early March. Maybe he got it there.
That’s really part of what’s weird about all this. The Florida Health Dept. made out for weeks that there wasn’t any community transmission in Northwest Florida, but clearly there was. Clearly, they were misleading people by not testing everyone with symptoms. The fact that a high number of people who they were testing were getting negative results points to the stupidity of that approach.
Now, the cases keep rising, and they blew their chance to really get a handle on it. We’re just very lucky that our illnesses have been mild.
I am so sorry you had this experience, and glad it was not worse. Take good care!
Auriette, I had the test done last week when I went into the doc for some persistent coughing and a swollen gland in my throat. Because I am a senior citizen and because I have Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL), he did the covid-19 test and started me on Zithromax (sp?). The next day I was feeling completely cured! That antibiotic stuff works! Just found out yesterday that my test came back negative for the Corona. I hate that you had to endure the ordeal of having it and it’s like no one cared?!! I guess our health system just isn’t equipped to handle any but the most serious cases? I hope you and hubby feel super soon and that no other complications pop up.
I’m glad you didn’t have it. It’s miserable, even a mild case. And I’m glad you’re feeling better from what you did have.