We Have COVID-19: our experience with the Novel Coronavirus

It’s the end of day 11 and 10 for myself and Stacy, we have been fighting the Novel Coronavirus. I have been diagnosed with Covid-19. As of right now, we are pretty much on the mend and fortunately had a mild case. In this post, we want to talk about our experience and how we made it through a fairly worrisome week. We emphasize, however, that this is our story alone and not intended to be a how-to guide. We are not medical professionals and do not claim any measures we took to be a cure.

As of May 3, there is no cure, vaccine, or anti-virals approved for treatment of COVID-19 and hospitals only treat the life threatening symptoms of severe cases. We have not discovered anything except basic healthy living and immune support. And, of course, your mileage will vary on anything we relate.

disclosure: our blog uses affiliate links, some items below may provide a small percentage of your sale to our family’s small business

We have shared a LOT about this on Instagram, see those highlights HERE.

But first, before we jump in, a few thoughts..

We know it’s not a popular opinion, but as people who have MILD COVID we want to be clear.

NO ONE IS SAFE FROM IT KILLING YOU.

Wesley, our soon to be 10 year old, climbs into our bed every night shaking with fear we will die. We use an Oximeter to show him our lungs and heart are strong.

You can’t diet or lifestyle this away. You can’t be immune because of your age. Even worse, it can be silent in you – like it was for us for so long. What if we had hung out with a small group or extended family? And what if they got the severe course. Could I live with killing my family? No.

I have seen and heard the most mind blowing things the last few days of sharing about this. So I want to impart what matters MOST in my heart:

  1. We still don’t have proper nation-wide testing. The ones we do have are 30% false negative and most states can’t even access them. How can we return to normal when we can’t even test for who has it?
  2. 20% of deaths are healthcare workers, who still don’t have proper safety equipment. How can we think we deserve that equipment over them? Manicurists in GA using N95s when nurses are reusing flimsy masks for days on end? They die alone without family able to see them.

That’s not what America is all about. We value our people, our heroes. The heroes right now are the health workers, the under-paid grocery clerk, the janitors using strong chemicals, the delivery people. They aren’t paid well, they aren’t protected, and they do it for you.

First off: The main reason we are doing well is that WE ARE LUCKY.

This could be for a couple reasons:

  1. We are relatively young (Matt, 39 and Stacy, 38). COVID effects people older than 55 the most severely. Early surveys showed that greater than 60% of hospitalizations were in the 55+ age category and 80% of deaths occurred in those older than 65.
  2. Before COVID, we had pretty good health. Stacy did water aerobics several times a week and Matt is active in his job as a mail carrier. Neither of us had any serious pre-existing conditions that have been shown to increase the severity of COVID cases (diabetes, heart disease, or lung disease).
  3. We focus on nutrient sufficiency and anti-inflammatory diet for immune support on a daily basis.
  4. We were not drinking alcohol during quarantine. Alcohol has been shown to lower the immune function and increase the chance that respiratory infections (pneumonia).
  5. Matt’s exposure was likely “low dose” through the mail or touching an object, rather that direct contact with an infected person.

You probably already know about many others who were not so lucky. Even in otherwise healthy individuals, infections can turn serious, even deadly. Getting any illness is always a dice throw, after all. Even the common cold (often associated with the rhinovirus) can kill in the right circumstances. This time, our circumstances allowed us to fight off the infection.

How did we get it?

There are a number of causes to our infection. Most of it my fault, since I came down with it first. I’ve always been fatalistic and, probably, too cavalier when it comes to infectious disease. Since I’ve never come down with any serious infection, I have a subconscious feeling of invincibility to viruses and bacteria, figuring my immune system was some kind of superpower. I was wrong. I also felt that if I was going to catch the coronavirus, it was inevitable. That was also wrong. I could have been more vigilant, as I am the only case in my particular post office.

Leading up to our infection, we were likely more susceptible than usual because of poor sleep and stress. Remote schooling has been a struggle for all of us, especially Stacy. Keeping on top of all our responsibilities, now that the boys are home all the time and certain life hacks are not available (like our house cleaners, for example) is difficult and stressful. Plus, we end up doing a lot of our online work late into the night after the boys are in bed as well.

Also, I didn’t wear a mask at work until days before our podcast on the effectiveness of even cloth masks (we were likely already in incubation at that point). Even then, I had ONE cloth mask I used every day without washing, which I didn’t even consider was a bad idea. Given incubation time, it’s likely I got it before using a mask at work. Plus, as Stacy is quick to remind me, I was in full “playoff beard” mode since I used to have a barber clean up my facial hair. Beards interfere with the fit of masks. Probably most impactful of all, I found nitrile gloves to be cumbersome for my job and I frequently tore mine. I ended up not wearing them for a good portion of my work time.

But everyday I was interacting with the mailboxes of 450-900 people, plus delivering 100-200 packages. Half a dozen people or more handle each letter or package. On top of that, before I got sick I worked 15 out of the last 16 days. That’s not only a lot of potential for the introduction of germs, but stress and lack of sleep weakens the immune system.

Of course I  was also performing the extracurriculars as well. Since I had to be out of the house anyway, I ended up being an errand runner for not just our family, but picking up for some neighbors while out as well. I went grocery shopping, I went to Target, I went to Costco and I got gas. That’s a lot of interaction with who knows how many people!

I want to emphasize, we were trying to be CAREFUL in a number of ways. At work, I washed hands every chance I got. I carried hand sanitizer and a disinfectant spray I used on the steering wheel, gear shift, and hand brake of every truck I used. When I came home, I used separate door, stripped in the laundry room, and used a separate bathroom to fully wash and shower. I put my phone and headphones, and sunglasses in a UV germ killer. CAREFUL. This could happen to any of us. 

How Did We Know We Had It?

The first couple of days, we didn’t realize it was COVID. On Thursday, April 23rd, I felt particularly tired and a little dizzy. That evening, I had a severe headache for several hours. The next morning, I again felt sore and tired, but at that point I figured I was just overworked and lacking sleep. Stacy called me in the late morning, though, saying she had similar symptoms, and I we both thought we potentially had the regular flu. When I finished my route, I was particularly dizzy and disoriented, stumbling once. I told my supervisor I wouldn’t be coming in the next day (Saturday) because I thought I was coming down with something and didn’t feel safe. 

Actually, that evening I told my supervisor that I figured it was the flu, since we didn’t have any respiratory symptoms. But Stacy suspected it might be COVID, since what else would be circulating when everyone is on lockdown? She researched additional symptoms, over the weekend, and was quite sure. But at the time the CDC additional symptoms weren’t out yet and I was in denial.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added six symptoms of the novel coronavirus to its list, suggesting health experts are learning more about the growing number of ways physicians see the virus affecting patients.

The added symptoms, which the CDC reports could appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, are:

  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • New loss of taste or smell

Previously, the CDC listed just three known symptoms: shortness of breath, cough and fever. This is to say that the onset of this disease can make it difficult to realize you have it, leading to you to be in circulation longer. Those two days I was at work and sick were two days I could have been infecting my coworkers or customers, a thought that makes me feel terrible.

We have had NO real fever, though Stacy noticed her temperature rose by about 1.5 degrees in the evenings. We really never got a cough for the entire duration of this illness (a couple random single gentle dry coughs over 10 days). Stay had the chills maybe a few times, not severely. Each child presented with one symptom each (headache, diarrhea, and chills). We never would have known had we not seen it in ourselves.

Here’s how it has progressed for us:

Day 1:

Matt came home cranky, tired, a little dizzy and complaining of a headache.

Day 2:

Stacy found herself cranky and felt dizzy as well. For Matt, he also felt dizzy, disoriented and tired. We had NO fever or cough.

Day 3-4:

The headache dissipated and we still had waves of dizziness with pretty steady muscle soreness and strong fatigue (malaise) set in. Stacy got a slight sore throat (like when you talk or yell too much, not like Strep). This is when Stacy became convinced. it was COVID. Her temperature elevated by 1.5 degrees in the evening for days 2-5, but under 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Day 5: 

The post office asked if Matt could return to work. Stacy suggested he tell his boss that we suspected it was COVID. We read a ton online and, the CDC symptom announcement came later that day, and reports circulated that our symptoms might point to COVID. Stacy consulted a friend, a nurse and on the front lines, and she said we probably had it and to quarantine for 14 days from the first symptom.

Soon we both started experiencing slight shortness of breath. At first it was so slight Stacy thought it was just anxiety. One of the biggest factors of this pandemic is the realization that you have a condition that shut down the nation and is killing people, so anxiety was pretty high for us. At this point, Matt still did not believe it was COVID,  but since he continued experiencing dizziness and fatigue, we agreed the safest thing was to stay home. That evening, his supervisor told him to get tested so that the Post Office could activate their measures appropriately.

Day 6:

Stacy woke with a burst of energy (Matt had also had one the day before mid-day). The fatigue was gone, muscle soreness faded, and dizziness came in waves much less often and lasting less long. Stacy’s temperature did not rise in the evening of Day 5. Matt admitted to his own shortness of breath and Stacy declared hers to definitely be that and not just anxiety. By shortness of breath, we mean the sensation of not being able to take a full breath. Mind you at no point did this become actual hypoxia.

In the late afternoon, Matt went to the most local respiratory clinic, a 30 min drive. He waited quite a while and then was diagnosed with COVID-19, due to symptoms. Our area has a shortage of tests currently, and only the most at risk are receiving them. He tested negative for Strep and the Flu and was given official paperwork that we have the Novel Coronavirus.

Day 7:

Both of our energy was coming back more evenly – each only taking 1 nap a day instead of the day being 1 giant nap. No fever, much less of any symptom except dizziness. Shortness of breath was lessening. 

Day 8 and after:

Both of us had nearly fully restored energy but stayed resting to allow our bodies to fully recover, as there are some cases showing people who jump back to busy life too quickly and the virus “rebounds”.

We don’t consider ourselves to be recovered yet because we still have mild symptoms right now. But we don’t really feel “sick” anymore. There’s still some worries out there for us, however. For example, people in their 30s and 40s with COVID are at an increased risk of stroke.

Did the Boys Get it?

The kids never got sick. One of my boys had diarrhea the same day another had a headache, and then they never had any more symptoms. The third boy had mild night chills for a couple nights. We believe they all got it, too – as we had the same exposure, but a draft study found 90% of children are a-symptomatic, mild or moderate cases. 

 

What We’ve Been Doing to Fight Our Infection

Here’s what we did for the various symptoms.  Sarah covered all of the science behind these nutrients in our very first covid-19 show, episode 394! As a reminder, we are NOT medical professionals and this is our PERSONAL experience, we strongly suggest working with a doctor if you do not feel well!

you can find most of the supplements we mention in our Amazon shop,
click the pic to shop

We already take:

Once symptoms onset, we started taking:

We ate, regardless of hunger (change in smell or taste is a common symptom):

  • Beef and shrimp, because we didn’t have Zinc at first
  • Kombucha and Yogurt
  • Tea with collagen
  • Broth
  • Rice cooked in broth with grass-fed butter and furikake topping
  • Roasted veggies with pastured egg on top
  • Roasted Veggie and Leftover Chicken soup

We also craved a lot more dairy than usual. Stacy says that was likely to increase Glutathione production. Consider adding this as a supplement to increase antioxidant load to support the immune system. 

Probably most important, we drank fluids with fervent intention: sparkling water, tea with collagen, smoothies, and kombucha were our go-tos. You dehydrate more rapidly when you are fighting an infection, particularly if you have a fever or sweats. Being dehydrated will only intensify and prolong your illness!

The cravings we have had during this are weird and will make you want carbs and sweets. Oranges were plentiful thanks to Hungry Harvest, which helped our Vitamin C intake, but we would eat rice cooked in broth, or eat grain-free waffles with blueberries. 

For muscle fatigue (and to aid in detox) we each took hot baths with epsom salt every other day.

We Slept, A LOT.

I mean a lot. A couple of hours during the day plus usually more than 10 hours at night. We laid on our sides – not our back – and kept moving. Every few hours during the day and then rotating positions with stretches if we stirred at night.

Breathing Exercises

Once we realized we were sick, we tried to keep our respiration strong, so we didn’t get sicker.

This doctor taught us how to practice breathing, an exercise you can do to help NOW, and how to behave while fighting an infection. Stacy particularly loved this resource, which references some good, measurable breathing exercises.

We also got a Pulse Oximeter in the mail (thanks Jen!) to measure oxygen saturation and heart rate. We suggest everyone order one now, but be wary that many people are jacking up the prices during the crisis! The doctor I saw said that normally 93% or lower would be concerning and to go to the hospital if it dropped to 90%. Normal saturation is 95-100%. Other than one erroneous test (make sure you’re finger is stable and using a normal breathing pattern) we were always at 95% or above.

We would do the breathing exercises while wearing the Pulse Ox and watch HR go down (it elevates while fighting infection) and Oxygen go up. Super effective for health, offered fantastic peace of mind, and a good learning tool!

we have been updating our Amazon shop with Pulse Ox’s that are in stock and well-reviewed;
click the picture to shop

To emphasize: we did breathing exercises, not just rested but SLEPT, hydrated and nourished our bodies with nutrients to support the immune system while we avoided things that negatively impact it, like alcohol – but nothing is guaranteed to prevent or cure COVID!

What to Watch for if You Get COVID

In my research, and in talking to people, one of the factors most often cited as a sign of moderate COVID: change of smell/taste and a fever. Our tasted never significantly changed, just our interest in food changed. And we never had a full-on fever, only elevated body temperature. 

We believe respiratory signs, cough and earlier shortness of breath may be the path to moderate or severe course, but this is completely anecdotal from the cases we read about and the hundreds of people who told us their stories.

And remember: This is a brand new disease we didn’t even know about until December 2019. As we learn more about it, symptoms are still coming in! Just this week they’re learning about skin conditions and “COVID toes” as potential symptoms or signs.

For both us, we never had a cough, our shortness of breath was very slight and short lasting. Stacy’s temperature rose, but she’s naturally typically measures 97.3 degrees, so when it went up 1.5 in the evenings for the first few days, it was still just 99 degrees. Medically, a temperature of 99.5 or above is a fever.

What no one is talking about

The actual symptoms.

You may not ever get a cough, and we only ever got a slight dry occasional cough.
Our symptoms (in order we got them):

    • Headache
    • Dizziness
    • Sore throat
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle soreness
    • Fever
    • Change in or loss of taste or smell
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Dry cough
    • Digestive problems, like diarrhea
    • Chills

We never got:

    • Skin rashes
    • COVID toes

The lack of testing is real and it’s a problem.

Each state is doing this completely on their own and the number of tests available waxes and wanes. Two weeks ago, Virginia could test anyone that they suspected of COVID. This week, only those most at risk can get a test. In Maryland, the National Guard and state police guard the hundreds of thousands of tests they procured from South Korea.

Not only are the tests hard to come by, but even CDC says to stay home unless you have “emergency warning signs” and symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

We didn’t get a diagnosis, only suspected it, until the post office requested that I get screened. I got a same-day appointment at the nearest respiratory clinic, a 30 minute drive away. They diagnosed from symptoms that I likely had COVID, but that it was not severe. They have limited tests and told me they’re seeing 30% false negative. Those that came in and did not require hospitalization or didn’t have a significant risk factor (like age, underlying health condition or immunosuppressed), they diagnose by giving a flu test and a step test. When both of those were negative, they officially diagnosed me with COVID. As the nurse practitioner said, with everyone at home, there aren’t a whole lot of other diseases going around.

Did Fairfax County count me as a COVID case in their official number? Probably. Was Stacy or the boys, if they had it? No, definitely not. So when you think about the official infection numbers, remember our experience and realize the rate is much higher. As is the death toll, as recent reports have indicated a very significant year over year increase in deaths initially coded as pneumonia and flu that were not tied to COVID, but are likely to be related.

We have our antibody test scheduled for 5/14 to confirm our infection and likely immunity, as you need to wait at least 10 days after. This will indicate the presence of Novel Coronavirus antibodies that will fight it the next time we come in contact. I can’t wait until our naive killer T cells activate and kick Corona’s butt!

The Profiteers Are Out to Trick You!

Soon after the pandemic became everyone’s front page, the disease profiteers pivoted from their normal grifts and zeroed in on scaring you into buying their snake oils. They even got a boost from public officials who knowingly or unknowingly gave them credence. So let’s be clear: There is no cure for COVID-19 except waiting and supporting your immune system and body.

Do not buy anything that claims to be a cure!

  • Hydroxychloroquine first unblinded study on 20 patients seemed promising (once they kicked out the severe cases), but subsequent studies haven’t shown great results and in fact have found it to be dangerous with high doses leading to increased lethality. Plus, it has the potential to make you go blind!
  • Colloidal silver has antimicrobial properties and can prevent infections as a topical solution. However, there is no evidence that consuming it or applying it anywhere can cure a viral infection, let alone COVID. In fact, companies touting that their silver products could treat COVID have recently been warned by the FTC to stop making these dangerous claims. Plus, excessive exposure to silver WILL TURN YOU BLUE LIKE A SMURF!
  • Miracle Mineral Supplement or chlorine dioxide is a bleach. While there are many out there that will claim that drinking solutions containing it or using it as an enema or injecting it has healing properties, there is no scientific proof or this nor is there any kind of logical mechanism by which it would treat a viral respiratory infection. The more likely outcome for the use of chlorine dioxide is damage to your internal organs and even death. Don’t do it!

Eventually there will probably be a safe, effective solution for coronavirus. But until then, wait for the medical professionals to advise us!

The anxiety!

Almost everyone who reached out who had this told us that the crippling anxiety and fear is overwhelming. It is SCARY to have a condition that could kill you. The day I was diagnosed (and thusly the whole family was), Stacy had her worst breathing problems. It happened to be day 5, when CDC says it can turn on you and become more serious respiratory infection. We panicked even more, which, of course, caused more shallow breathing. 

Thanks to the healthcare professionals putting science-backed information out there, we discovered information on breathing exercises. Not only did the exercises strengthen our lungs, but they were SO helpful in calming us down as well!. We didn’t sleep well night 5, but on day 6 we woke determined to do everything we could for our health.  By that night, Stacy’s breathing had calmed and returned mostly to normal.

Whether you have this or not, the fear and anxiety is enormous for us all. As always, we encourage you to acknowledge and feel those feels, but don’t wallow in them. Find a productive outlet and something positive to focus on.

Read the statistics, not the horror stories! People kept sharing the terrible stories from the news of “that one person” who was perfectly healthy but died after a week from Corona. That’s not helpful to your stress levels, but knowing that the majority of those infected make it through, and that we didn’t have diabetes, lung, or heart conditions gave us the confidence to push past the fear. Focus on that and tune out anything that wasn’t positive-mindset related.

What’s Next?

As I sit here on May 3rd, 11 days after symptoms began, I still have waves of headache and dizziness with a twinge of sickness. Overall, though, Stacy and I continue to recover from our illness very well. I expect that I will return to work next weekend (and I’m grateful that with my diagnosis came two weeks paid leave from USPS!) and life will return to “quarantine normal” by then. Hopefully, our experience will help you put into perspective how common this is, how worrisome it was for us, and encourage you to continue your quarantine knowing that you are saving lives by doing so.

I’ll go back to happily delivering your supplies once I’m well and hopefully you’ll stay home and stay safe and wait for all this to blow over. THEN you can go to the Winchester for a cold pint.

 

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