For a year, my family of seven was successful at keeping Covid-19 out of our home. We limited where we traveled and who we were exposed to; we washed our hands and always carried hand sanitizer on us; we wore our masks; we took our vitamins, elderberry syrup, and fire cider, and then in March everything changed.
March 8th I received a notice that Annabelle, my five-year-old, had no school the following week because her preschool teacher had contracted Covid. The last day she attended school, was Thursday, March 4th, so I thought she and I would just have a fun week to ourselves before Spring Break descended upon us. I had no idea that she brought “the Rona” home to us where it festered silently, unnoticed for a week. Annabelle never displayed a single symptom at all, so I foolishly believed our family was safe; however, by the week’s end, everything had changed.
One by one each member of our family became sick. Thursday, March 11th, I developed a mild cough, fever, and body aches. Friday, March 12th, my daughter, Alexandria, had a low-grade fever and a mild cough. Out of an abundance of caution, I kept her home from school. By that evening, my son, Landon, developed a sore throat, fever, body aches, and a migraine, and then my husband returned from work with a cough, chest pains, body aches, and fever. I still didn’t believe we had “the Rona.” I honestly believed we had contracted the flu, and I stubbornly refused to believe it was anything else. My oldest son, Brendan, and youngest son, Hayden, had no symptoms at all. It was the flu!
The Diagnosis – The Corona Virus
Monday, March 15th my husband went to our family doctor and was formally diagnosed with Covid. It still took a while for me to accept that we had caught “the Rona” even with the test results in my hand. How could it be the dreaded Rona finally found us after a year of doing everything right? Our doctor called in matching prescriptions for both my husband and me.
I called the school and switched my children to asynchronous learning, and they recovered quickly; however, my husband and I continued to battle a cough that kept worsening even with Allegra D, a steroid pack, and a z-pack. By Wednesday, March 17th, we were tracking our oxygen saturation with a pulse oximeter that my husband purchased for Alexandria when she was diagnosed with epilepsy in August 2020. We watched as our oxygen saturation continued to lower until it went into the 80s. That night my husband left our home in an ambulance on his way to the local hospital, and by the morning, I was on my way there as well. My worst nightmare had come true – we had Covid, and we had to rely on other people to take care of our children.
My husband was already in a room at UTMB on the 7th floor when I was brought into the emergency room. I spent half a day there with nurses giving me an actual Covid test, taking blood, monitoring my oxygen levels, and taking me to MRIs and x-rays and then the doctor diagnosed me with Covid pneumonia. I was taken to the 7th floor a hallway down from my husband, who I wasn’t allowed to see. A few days later my husband was released prematurely only to return two days later where he was moved two doors down from me, and I still wasn’t allowed to see him. After talking to my nurses, who were wonderful, I found out my husband and I were being treated by two different teams of doctors, and therefore, we received different treatment paths.
The treatment team gave me oxygen therapy, plasma with antibodies, and Remdesivir, and over-the-counter medicine that alleviated my symptoms. The first three days my health worsened. On Monday, March 22nd, I was given another x-ray that showed pneumonia in my left lung had spread, and I was devastated. One lung had a foggy whiteness through it, and then the other lung was almost pure white. Prior to this illness, I had never had pneumonia, and, in truth, I rarely get ill. That night my oxygen level had to be increased to a 14, and for me to be released, it had to be down to a four. As that night progressed, I was no longer getting enough oxygen from the nasal cannula, so they switched me to a mask, and then in the middle of the night, they placed me on a high-flow cannula that blew moist, warm air into my nostrils, which in turn, triggered a panic attack. That was my defining moment. I was getting out of the hospital even if I had to will myself better. I believe that on Tuesday the treatments the hospital gave me started to relieve pneumonia. I was able to lower my oxygen requirement to an 8, the next day a 6, and the following day I lowered it to a 2. Thursday, March 25th, a week after I had been admitted, I was finally able to see my husband for lunch, and then I was released. However, our Covid nightmare did not end that day. On Friday, March 26th, Brendan and Hayden both tested positive for “the Rona” while Annabelle, Alexandria, and Landon tested positive for antibodies.
Brendan developed diarrhea, but never ran a fever or had any of the symptoms the rest of us experienced. Hayden had a severe cough, high fever, body aches, and fatigue.
He has since developed a blinking tic that he didn’t have prior to the virus and is going to have to be looked at by a neurologist.
When I returned home, I had an oxygen machine that came with me. The first day I was on it all day. I continued to cough, and my brain physically felt numb. I would try to concentrate on a thought, and I couldn’t see it through. Also, I was exhausted. It amazed me that getting up and walking into the next room took all the energy that I had. It was then that I noticed the mess. Five kids at home for a week and no one swept or wiped surfaces. When I walked into the laundry room, I saw eight piles of laundry. I knew that I had to push through and be a parent instead of recovering in bed. Each day I gave myself a few cleaning tasks to conquer so that when my husband came home, he would be in a clean environment. Ironically, I think this helped me to recover faster. My husband came home on Sunday, March 28th – three weeks after being exposed and two weeks after showing symptoms.
Almost a month later, I still have a slight cough and my energy seems to be mostly back. My OCD is overly active, and I cannot stop cleaning. I understand that Covid only lives on surfaces for three days, but somewhere in me, I cannot accept this much like I couldn’t accept that we had “the Rona.” Everyone has been focused on the physical effects of Covid, but it affects you mentally as well. When you are in the hospital and you can only watch television or surf the Internet, you eventually have to look inward and away from the Friends reruns. When I was in the hospital, I decided to make some life changes for myself. I am a mom of 5, and my life revolves around my family, but somewhere in the past seven years, I sacrificed myself. I stopped caring about what I looked like. I stopped dreaming of a future or career for myself – even though there were times I felt pulled to do things. I made a promise that each week I would add self-care to my list of priorities. On a positive note, I learned that I live in a community that really cares for my family. My children had meals every night. It wasn’t just friends and family that stepped up, some of the people were acquaintances that I haven’t spoken to in years. I will pay it forward.
Throughout the last year, one of my sisters has researched a lot about Covid and its strains. She is certain that we had the UK variant B.1.1.7, which is heavily affecting the United States right now. If you would like to read about it, here is the article she sent me. (Household Members Face Higher Contagion Risk From UK Variant – Take the Health
SOURCE: https://bit.ly/32lfTHT medRxiv, online April 5, 2021.)
I didn’t pay attention to the variants before because I never imagined that we would catch it. My last piece of advice is you can’t ignore “the Rona.” Keep taking precautions, but don’t live in fear either. It is survivable, but it does have lasting effects.