Since it has been awhile since my last health update (here) on COVID-19, I wanted to give you one last update and explain where we are today as a family with our recovery from the virus. We didn’t set out to become a poster family for COVID and I do not want this experience to be a main focus of my blog/company. That said I felt it was necessary to continue to use my voice to spread information and help dispel fears about this virus by being open about my experience, continue to preach the need to stay home (not only for yourself but for the health of others and our selfless healthcare workers) and help spread the good that this virus can do. There has also been so much misinformation out there and a stigma associated with this virus that I can only hope our experience can shed some light on the situation.
I asked on Instagram a few days ago what questions you all had about our experience with COVID-19 and wow, did you guys have a lot! I have tried to answer as many as I could below, while not turning this post into a novel or becoming too emotional about this entire experience. I am still processing it all and am emotional about the whole situation so while I am trying to give my all, there are also a lot of things that I am not ready to talk about. I am, of course, also not a doctor but just writing from our personal experiences so please consult your healthcare provider with any specific questions.
Q&A on My COVID-19 Experience
Q: How did you and your daughter get COVID?
A: As I have mentioned before, we thought we were doing everything “right” when it came to social distancing, cleaning and sanitizing things before they came in the house, etc. We had been social distancing ourselves from people for three + weeks before I started showing symptoms. We weren’t even getting take-out because I was extremely nervous with my Hashimoto’s and Raynaud’s disease that I would be more susceptible. Still to this day, we have no idea how we got it. Was someone in our house asymptomatic before we started social distancing? Again, I wish I knew. I think that is the scary part about this as we have no idea and it shows this can truly happen to anyone.
Q: What were your symptoms and how long did you have them for?
A: I woke up on April 4th and was extremely lethargic. I thought I was just tired from all that I had been doing the weeks before: working, social distancing, home schooling, cooking, cleaning, etc. However, the next day I woke up with a severe headache and feeling like an elephant was standing on my chest. As the day progressed, I started to feel feverish so decided to begin a quarantine in my room.
The main symptoms I have had included chest/back pain to the point of feeling like I can’t breath, fever, headache, chills, body aches, blue lips/feet and nausea at times. I never had a cough or loss of taste or sense of smell like others have reported - the symptoms truly are different for each person. I am writing this not having had fever for two days and having all of my symptoms lessen in severity so I am cautiously optimistic that I am on the road to a full recovery and getting out of my quarantine. As of April 30th, I am on day 26 of my symptoms..but who's counting!
Q: What did you do to fight the virus?
A: I have been working with a traditional doctor as well as my naturopath throughout the duration of having the virus. I have also talked with probably 10 additional doctors so the advice I received is based on a round up of everyone’s opinions. Please, of course, consult your doctor or healthcare provider before you decide on your own protocol.
Overall, I have been drinking a lot of hot and cold water, doing breathing exercises, sleeping on my stomach in the prone position (which was extremely painful), not lying down on my back much, taking supplements, vitamins and Tylenol. My doctors also just added in taking one baby aspirin a day for a bit.
People have asked what has helped me the most during this time and I truly can’t point to just one thing. However, I will say it has been helpful to have a few non medical things to keep my spirits up like an array of pajamas and sweatpants, a hot water heater in my bathroom, great face wash and a Netflix subscription!
Q: How did you know it was time for Ellie to go into and then leave quarantine?
A: Ellie started to not feel well a few days after I went into quarantine. We knew immediately that we needed to get her tested, as well as get her started on a recovery protocol and isolate her from the rest of the family. It was a hard decision but we knew it had to be done. We spoke to many doctors that said we should quarantine separately due to different symptoms and duration of the virus.
We equipped her room with a baby monitor, relied on FaceTime and lots of virtual doctor visits. She had her own protocol with supplements, vitamins, etc. and ended up not having as severe symptoms as I did which was a true blessing. We have heard that children don’t get the virus as badly as adults and that was thankfully true in our household. And after being fever free for over 72 hours and consulting with two doctors, Ellie was allowed out of her room, with a mask on. This protocol continues for another week to be overly cautious and she will be able to be mask free (within our home) soon. Wearing the mask at home is to continue to protect Marin and Jon from the virus although the doctors are very confident she is not contagious anymore.
Q: Do you think you got this because of Hashimoto’s?
A: I honestly do not know if it had anything to do with having Hashimoto’s or not. Yes, my immune system is compromised but there are many people with more suppressed immune systems that haven’t contracted this. Honestly, I think it is luck of the draw, unfortunately.
Q: Is it really as bad as the media has portrayed it?
A: I am not sure what exactly this means or what this question is referencing but for me having COVID-19 has been the most horrendous experience of my life. At times, I have feared I was near death and I haven’t ever experienced that. When you can’t breath and you see stories on the news of thousands of people dying from what you have, it gets very scary. You think, am I next? Am I one of the younger, healthy people they will be talking about on the news?
This virus has killed so many people and it is scary. And what scares me even more is that people around us, in our community, all over the country, don’t believe it can happen to them and are not taking it seriously. I don’t want to come off as judgemental but after this experience, I don’t understand how people can’t just follow the rules for the health of our country.
I know kids are driving parents crazy, parents have to work and jobs are being lost. However, by allowing your kids to get together with other kids and “kind of social distance”, or getting together with other people or not listening to the social distancing orders and recommendations, you are not just putting yourself at risk but everyone at risk. I might sound preachy but when you have felt like you were going to die and then see people doing these things, it is just heartbreaking and I feel the need to say something. I am sure I will get hate sent my way for speaking out and sharing my truth but so be it. What if you are asymptomatic? Your child? Not observing stay at home orders isn’t helping the spread of this at all. And what about our healthcare worker? They deserve for us to do better rather than just thinking it can’t happen to you.
Q: What is the worst part about having COVID?
A: The worst part of having COVID has been the mental part of it and the fear and feeling like I would die. That feeling is something that I had never experienced and something I hope to never experience again. I am not ready to go into more detail now but for me this is the most lasting impact of this virus.
Q: Once you are better, do you think you will feel comfortable leaving your house?
A: At this point in time and once I am cleared to leave quarantine by my doctores, I will feel comfortable walking around my neighborhood with a mask but I would not feel safe sending my kids to school, sitting in a restaurant, having my girls hang out with others or having our state drop the stay at home order. I am relying on the science of this all and would like to see more flattening of the curve before I would feel more confident in leaving our home and venturing out more into the community. We are continuing to support our community and other organizations during this time to fill the void of being physical out by donating to local and national charities, supporting restaurants and more.
Q: How are Jon and your other daughter, Marin, doing?
A: Jon and Marin are doing well! There was one day a few weeks ago we thought Marin might be sick but she has been fine and we are beyond grateful. Both of them have been taking precautions while this has been happening: wearing masks and gloves when they are upstairs, they both moved out of their normal shared bathrooms with Ellie and I and have been using different ones, cleaning like crazy, and continuing with precautions when getting groceries or packages delivered, etc.
I can’t put into words how grateful I am to be married to Jon. He is a caretaker by nature but this virus has made him into a superhuman while caring for me, Ellie, Marin and Poppy.
Q: How are you preparing your home to be COVID free? What are you doing to clean and sanitize?
A: We are sanitizing and cleaning like mad men. While this hasn’t changed much since we started to social distance over six weeks ago but we are now even more stringent, if that is even possible. Jon has been in charge of cleaning the house while Ellie and I have been cleaning our bathrooms and rooms.
We have been very careful about doing laundry and making sure our dirty laundry doesn’t touch the floor and is not mixed in with each other’s - one person gets the machine at a time. Jon has also been extremely conscious of not shaking laundry when he is doing it to not spread the virus and wearing a mask and gloves. He is cleaning all sheets and towels used in the house constantly. We are also keeping the windows open as much as possible, wiping down all surfaces like our phones, door handles, toilet seat handles and more on a daily basis.
We also continue to wipe down groceries, packages and the mail before it comes into the house. If we don’t need the item immediately, it sits in the garage for as long as possible. When I get out of quarantine, the garage is on my short list of places to organize!
Q: What is next? Are you going to donate your plasma?
A: The next step for me is to get several blood tests to see if there is anything else that is going on with me. From there I will make the decision on the antibody test and then after that I will decide about plasma. If I can then help someone with my plasma, I would like to do so but I need more clarity on what is going on with my body and the science of the antibodies before I make any further decisions.
Q: What have you learned, if anything, from this experience?
A: I know people have always said that life is too short but never have I felt that more than I do today. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to even be writing this blog right now. I am thankful just to be alive. I can’t wait to be with my family (even if I can’t hug and kiss them for a few more days) - I can’t explain to you how precious they are to me, even more than before. The four of us have been through a daunting time together and have even more gratitude for all that we have as a family in this wonderful life we have. We are beyond fortunate.
I have also seen kindness from our friends, community and complete strangers that has brought me to my knees in tears. Friends have sent Tylenol from California, friends in Seattle has shipped us lotion for Jon’s dry hands and coloring books for Ellie, people baked us bread and left it on our doorstep, others lent us pulse oximeters, thermometers, baby monitors, cooked us soup, brought over and sent treats, picked up groceries, supplements...the list goes on and on. And all this not because we asked but because these people cared and wanted to help in any way they could.
Friends have checked in with us by text, called to help out Jon and been there for us more than I could have ever imagined. And honestly, text check ins were hard for me at times when I had to keep giving bad updates but friends persisted and completely changed and helped my mental health. I have questioned if I am worthy of people's friendship and kindness during our time of extreme need and it has been humbling.
I have asked myself, would I have done this for a friend, a stranger? And I have come to the conclusion that if I haven’t in the past, I am absolutely going to now. I understand what my purpose is now in terms of my friendships and being a part of my community. When someone is in need, I will help in any way that I can. I have experienced the difference of showing up and I will be paying that forward as in my case, that has made a huge difference for me in surviving this awful ordeal. I have learned not to take life for granted. I have learned that we are beyond fortunate to be surrounded by such loving, caring people in our lives.