UPDATE: The response to my essay has been so much more than I ever expected. I am so glad that it has helped so many people! I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people so I will be writing a follow-up post this weekend going into more detail of my husbands symptoms and what medicine/care worked.
Here is the follow up: Caring for Someone with COVID-19 at Home: A Personal Account
UPDATE 2: My 60 year old mother woke up with a fever this morning, 3/13/20. UPDATE 2.5: Good news, mom is feeling fine and hasn’t had fever in over 24 hrs now.
My husband Jacob is suspected to have COVID-19, has been told to stay in isolation at home, but we cannot get tested.
I wanted to share this story because I want everyone to be prepared for this and know what is REALLY going on for people who are sick.
Background information: My husband and I are both 33 years old, and are healthy and active. We live in Colorado Springs, CO with our 3 cats, no kids.
Jacob has been sick for 15 days, our doctor tried to get him tested but he didn’t meet the “contact with a known infected person” criteria, so we were told to proceed as if he tested positive and isolate him at home. He is finally feeling better now, but he was essentially bedridden for about 10 solid days.
Our story starts in January 28th, when Jacob & his boss set up at an international trade show in Arizona for 3.5 weeks (show has an attendance of 50,000–100,000 people). They met directly with both Chinese and Japanese delegations for business on the first weekend of the show, around Jan 31-Feb 2. Three days later his boss (Male, age 65–70) got sick. Dry cough, fever, difficulty breathing, and the worst sore throat he ever had. Ended up in urgent care after a week of being sick, where they gave him steroids and sent him on his merry way.
Jacob left the trade show on Feb 17th, and became ill on Feb 25–26. We figured it was the same thing his boss had, so he stayed home and planned to take a day or two extra to get better before returning to work. We made jokes about the coronavirus, laughing that maybe he has the coors-virus or bud-light-virus, thinking it wasn’t serious.
Each day he got a little worse. Started with a dry cough, mild fever… he said it felt like there was phlegm building up in his chest but it wasn’t coming loose yet (no productive coughing). Then the sore throat started. We loaded up on soup, Jell-O, sprite, cough drops and throat spray, but nothing seemed to help.
His throat got progressively worse and worse that he was no longer able to sleep as simply breathing was painful. At the same time, the dry cough was getting worse. He would cough so hard he would vomit and get bloody noses. He spent 3 days only being able to sleep about 45 min at a time before coughing/pain woke him up, and 2 days not being able to eat anything solid (broth only) so we took him to Urgent Care on Sunday March 1st (day 5 of being sick).
Urgent care tested him for strep throat (negative), then waived us off and said it was probably just pharyngitis. They only asked us about recent international travel, nothing about traveling stateside. They gave us a bottle of liquid Lidocaine to mix with liquid Benadryl and gargle. It didn’t touch the pain at all, but did make his mouth numb. He said his throat felt like hamburger meat, and could feel how raw it was at the back of his mouth. They only asked us about recent international travel, nothing about traveling stateside.
He was getting worse every hour and I’d never seen him in so much pain and I was so pissed because they wouldn’t even give him codeine cough syrup, so I made an appointment at our doctors office with whoever was available asap (March 2, day 6 of being sick).
I wasn’t able to go with him to the appointment, but I wrote a quick note about his symptoms for his appointment check in online, and I wrote up a list of all the other information for him to share with the doctor because talking hurt, and he was so out of it from sleep deprivation he couldn’t keep track of it all.
The office saw my appointment note and apparently almost tackled him to get a mask on him as soon as he walked in the door. He met with the nurse in the exam room and went over his travel history and symptoms, then went to get the doctor. He was left to sit in the exam room for 45 minutes before the doctor showed up… because she had been on the phone with the state epidemiologist for both Arizona and Colorado (we live in CO) about getting him tested for COVID-19. All of that was before she even saw him. She then tested him for mono, flu A and flu B, and a full blood panel to look for bacterial infection, hoping that something else would pop up and we would know it was something else.
After he left, they sterilized his exam room and isolated it for two hours.
On March 4, all tests came back negative for everything.
We were then told he didn’t meet the CDC mandated criteria for COVID-19 testing: he wasn’t hospital-level sick, he hadn’t been in contact with anyone who was KNOWN to be infected, or he hadn’t been to a “high-risk” country. Since he was negative for everything else, but we couldn’t get him tested for COVID-19, our doctor told us to proceed as if he did test positive and told us to self-isolate and take all precautions.
On March 5, the first positive COVID-19 patient was announced in Colorado… NINE days after Jacob first felt sick.
Our doctor had given him codeine cough syrup right away, but it was still about a 4–5 days before he started feeling a lot better. Now we are on day 15/16 and he’s feeling like he just has a regular chest cold… he can eat, drink, and breathe without pain, but he’s coughing up all kinds of lung butter now. And he’s super fatigued. We’ve been together for 7 years and I’ve watched him deadlift almost 300lbs, so he’s a strong dude, but I’ve never seen him sick and down like this before. It has been genuinely scary to watch him struggle to swallow plain water, and wince in pain the whole time.
I haven’t shown any symptoms at all, but our doctor recommended that I work from home for at least 7 days, but my office has told me I need to come in for work unless I am sick. God bless America, right? I’m keeping myself isolated as best I can in my office with the door closed, but I’m terrified I’ll get someone else sick. EDIT: as of 3/13/2020 my office is now preparing to have all staff work from home, they’re just working out all the details.
There is no way ANYONE in the US has accurate numbers on infected people, because they aren’t testing nearly enough people. I’ve never been a conspiracy nut, but there is so much bad information coming out, I honestly don’t feel like I can trust anyone about this now. I’ve never felt fear and distrust on this level in my life.
Oh, and all the symptoms he’s been showing? They’re “mild”. Apparently even pneumonia is considered “mild” to the CDC, so just prepare for that if you get it.
Don’t bother with stocking up on toilet paper and bottled water… make sure you have enough cold medicine for your family for when they get sick and FOR GODS SAKE DON’T HOARD SUPPLIES!! You DON’T need a mask unless you are sick or caring for someone sick. I’m supposed to wear a mask when I’m home with Jacob, but everyone has been sold out of masks since before he got sick, so we just have to cross out fingers I don’t get it next. EDIT: I realize now that I fell for the propaganda our government was selling us in the last few weeks. I was wrong. Masks CAN and DO make a difference, our government was just trying to keep people from panic buying them… you know, by lying to us. Great plan there Surgeon General. Make your own mask if you don’t have any, some protection is much better than none!
This virus is spreading much faster in the US than anyone will admit. Prepare for yourself and your family to get sick, because this is going to get a lot worse with many people sick before it starts to get better.
We are living in constant fear of spreading this virus because we cannot get tested.
Stay safe everyone. And wash your damn hands.