I have never visited China. I actually haven’t had a vacation for 15 years (just an average, typical American). So I was excluded from being taken seriously by any medical establishment saying it was impossible that I had anything “more” since I couldn’t have possibly been exposed to the coronavirus. Ya, right.
But I (presumably) had the Coronavirus. True, I will never know for sure, and I will never be a part of the misleading statistics out there, but it’s clear as day to anyone who will listen (which is not the CDC, WHO, or most doctors). So I’m writing what I went through here in the hopes of demystifying the misleading news, and who knows, maybe it will help someone who is looking for camaraderie (not hatred) while they are sick. And I have a feeling there are (tens of) thousands of us who have been ignored and have been infected but have already recovered.
There is so much unwarranted miscommunication and fear out there.
The only information we get about symptoms are one-liners. That’s not really helpful and only serves to promote fear and uncertainty. So I decided to (over) share how I felt and what my symptoms were.
Please note, this is not intended to be medical advice, nor should anything here be used or taken as medical advice. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. This is just little old me (actually I’m in my 30s) writing about something I believe I had and how I got over the worst of it.
In summary, here’s what I did:
I took Tylenol cough syrup and did a nebulizer treatment with Albuterol medicine every 4-6 hours for about five days. I took elevated doses of vitamin C and D, along with Echinacea. I stayed hydrated and also had Gatorade each day to help restore my electrolytes. Each day my coughing and temperature lessened. My fever started at 102.8 degrees and went down about 1 degree every day.
The Sequence of Events (no fear needed):
February 13, 2020:
I noticed something was “off” with my breathing. I have 30 years of asthma attacks under my belt and knew this feeling well. This feeling was always a precursor to me having full-blown airway constriction. So at this point, I went and got my Proair asthma inhaler prescription filled (I hadn’t used an inhaler in over three years). I knew something was coming.
February 15, 2020:
I had only coughed a few times throughout the day and didn’t think anything of it. In the afternoon, the intensity picked up. By that evening, I began coughing non-stop (literally non-stop). It felt as if one minute I was relatively fine, and the next I wasn’t. It was a dry cough. The more I coughed, the worse my breathing was, so I kept coughing more. It was a vicious cycle. It was also a cough that came from deep within. My chest hurt while I coughed. Also, at the same time my coughing started, I had severe body aches. Several years ago, I broke my back and face in a car crash, and I live with a significant amount of pain every day. I’m pretty tough. But the aches and pains (mostly pain) from this sudden illness stopped me in my tracks. This is where I knew I had something different. I have had colds, and I have had the flu before, but I never had this degree or type of aches and pain before. If you have something besides the flu (probably like the coronavirus), you’ll know. It’s different.
At this point, I called my mom and told her something was wrong, and I needed some cough medicine but didn’t think I could even walk down the stairs. She brought me some Robotssuim and dropped it off to me. I took some Robotissum Maximum Strength and immediately started coughing worse then I had ever coughed. I couldn’t catch a breath. I thought I was drowning. About 20 minutes later, I went back to my “regular cough” (which was probably 30-50 times a minute) but was so thankful I was “only” coughing that much. I decided never to take Robitussin again.
February 16, 2020:
I had taken my inhaler every four hours, and while it helped slightly with my cough, I still had difficulty breathing (but my cough never transformed into wheezing like it would have done if it was a regular asthma attack. My asthma attacks never cause body aches or fever).
I went to CVS Pharmacy and bought a two-pack of Tylenol cough syrup. I had this in the past and knew I reacted well to it. I came back home and took some. It immediately and dramatically lessened my coughing. Then I realized I was sweating and took my temperature. I had a fever of 102.8 (my normal temperature is abnormally 96.8 degrees.) I decided with my history of asthma, and since it was Sunday, I needed to go to urgent care and get help. At some point, inhalers stop working for me, but nebulizers have never failed to help me. I was counting on that now.
After a three hour wait in urgent care (and paying cash pricing since everyone seems to be out of network in our atrocious healthcare system), I finally saw a doctor who put her stethoscope over my bra strap (and nowhere else) and declared she couldn’t hear anything (no kidding, my strap doesn’t have a heartbeat). I told her I have a high fever, severe body aches, dry cough, and difficulty breathing. She told me I should just see my regular doctor next week and have tests run then. I told her I don’t have a regular doctor and needed help now. Abhorred that a 102.8-degree fever was considered “fine,” and my history of asthma was being ignored, I asked her to at least write me a prescription for my nebulizer medicine so I could breathe overnight. She said she would and sent me on my way. She never told me what to do to help my symptoms or to quarantine myself, or actually anything useful. I had to ask for a specific medicine because I know it helps with airway constriction. How many people out there getting the coronavirus don’t know what to ask for so they don’t get help and wind up in the hospital? In this great America of ours, the patients have to ask the doctors for a specific medicine because most doctors don’t seem to know the basics. And even if they did, insurance wouldn’t cover it.
Anywho, I went back to CVS and got my prescription filled. I used hand sanitizer and warned people to keep their distance. It was the best I could do since picking up medicine (or even a face mask) in America means I have to go into the heart of the store to do so. By this point, I could barely walk and just needed to lay down. I went home and did a nebulizer treatment (which lasted about 15 minutes). I started shaking, like I normally do, and started coughing again. However, this is pretty typical for me. It always means it’s working and opening my airways. I also took cough medicine at the same time and stopped coughing (mostly) for about an hour. I repeated the cough syrup and nebulizer treatment every 6 hours.
February 17, 2020:
I continued my nebulizer treatment every 6 hours and also took Tylenol cough syrup every 5-6 hours. My fever lowered to 101.6. The frequency of my coughing diminished (meaning after the initial hour of relief from my treatments, I only coughed every few minutes). However, my chest still hurt every time I coughed.
February 18, 2020:
I continued the nebulizer treatment and took Tylenol cough syrup every 6 hours. My fever reduced further to 100.8. In the evening, my cough went from a dry cough to a productive cough. Even though mucous was now deep in my chest, the frequency of my cough lessened, and that was preferable. To someone who broke their back and didn’t recover correctly, coughing is generally horrible. To someone with that and the presumed coronavirus (or even the flu) it’s a nightmare. So, I knew I probably had progressed and had pneumonia or bronchitis now, but I was coughing less, so I was thankful for that.
February 19, 2020:
I continued the nebulizer treatment and took Tylenol cough syrup every 6 hours. My fever reduced further to 99.6. I continued to have painful, productive coughing deep within my chest.
February 20, 2020:
I reduced my nebulizer treatment. Sometimes, prolonged nebulizer treatment actually makes my breathing more difficult. So I wanted my lungs to try to work on their own again. My fever broke overnight. When I got up, my temperature was 97.8 degrees (so still a slight fever for me.) My body aches severely lessened around the same time my fever broke. I still felt sick, but this was now akin to the sickness one gets with a cold. The type of sickness, where you want to sit on the couch and watch your favorite childhood movies while you recover. Before, you are so sick you can’t even sit up or make it to the couch.
Although my fever had broke and the worst of my aches and pains diminished, I still had painful coughing deep in my chest. My coughing fits would end once I got the phlegm up. But then the cycle would start again a few minutes later.
The next week:
I had a lingering cough. The gross coughing up phlegm cycle continued for the next 6 days. Each day the time between these cycles lessened.
The next week (week 3):
I only cough about once an hour. I no longer have any phlegm in my chest. I still have lingering shortness of breath. But to be fair, I have that even with the common cold. I usually need to use an inhaler every so often for about a month after any illness before I’m back to normal. I’m still waiting to see if that holds true after this virus.
Things that helped:
I didn’t panic when I started having difficulty breathing. I, unfortunately, know what it feels like to not get enough oxygen, and I also knew what I needed to do to change that. I also used common sense to treat my fever. I know Tylenol lowers inflammation and fever. I know asthmatics can’t tolerate Ibuprofen because it causes more inflammation so I stayed away from that. I know cough syrup helps reduce coughing, so I bought some with Tylenol in it. I know sweating that much will cause you to be dehydrated, so I made sure I drank plenty of water and followed it up with Gatorade to restore my lost electrolytes. I didn’t have much of an appetite (sometimes I felt really nauseous), but I made sure to drink plenty of cold-pressed green juices. I didn’t want my body to work harder than it needed to, so it could just concentrate on clearing the virus.
A side note:
Three months prior to this illness, I lost my cat and soulmate. She had some virus, and all she needed was water to rehydrate. Dehydration killed her, not the actual virus. Her vet missed it, and she died. I think, considering Occam’s Razor and all, the coronavirus has a good chance of survival if you don’t have other life-threatening conditions or smoke, and treat your symptoms on the onset. Most people have survived and didn’t even know they had it.
I didn’t think I had the coronavirus until after my fever broke. Not because I didn’t have those symptoms but because there was no information being shared about symptoms when I was experiencing them. It would have been really helpful to know what the symptoms of coronavirus were as I was (almost positively) living through them. When I was experiencing the coronavirus, our government was hiding their head in the sand and wouldn’t even contemplate community transmission at that time. That decision has literally killed people. I was never going to get help from the American system, including doctors and the government. Looking back, it was helpful just to treat my symptoms with common sense. If you take the fear out of it, it’s just another (now common) virus. Unfortunately, it seems most people are on their own and have to treat their own symptoms, just like we have to with the cold or flu.
Please be kind to others.
Update: April 22, 2020
Obviously, since I first created this website, a lot more information has come to light. But I appear to be one of the first, severe cases (probably) in the US, and everything that happened to me seems to be happening to others. So in case anyone out there is sick months after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, I thought I’d give an update on what it’s like 2 months later. I still have shortness of breath (but only a few episodes per day) and redness inside my nose (something I didn’t pay attention to at the time but now realize it is important because it isn’t getting better or worse, just like me). I have a low-grade fever that comes and goes every few days, fatigue, and my appetite hasn’t returned.
So basically, here’s how I view it: I will experience all 4 categorizations of the Coronavirus before this is through (severe, moderate, mild, and asymptomatic). In February I had (what is now being categorized as) “severe” Covid-19. Then about a month later I was having “moderate” symptoms. A month after that (which brings us to today,) I am somewhere in-between “moderate” and “mild.” At this rate, in another month or two I will hopefully be moved into the “asymptomatic” category. And then a month after that I just might be cleared of this virus.
I now see reports coming out of China that people there have been sick as long as I have been. Reports from all over are talking about fevers that come and go for weeks on end. For how sick I was in February, I am not surprised my body is still fighting this off. But it is annoying to still not have any answers and have to experience things first then wait for the news and government to catch up. Am I still contagious, or is this just who I am now? Will I always have this virus? And even though there is antibody testing now, surprise, I still can’t get that test either.