My COVID-19 Experience

After a busy weekend that included a Hanson concert, a movie night at my church, and the usual Sunday services, I came down with a swirling headache that quickly evolved into a slew of wacky symptoms. On July 26th, I tested positive.

That morning, actually, I was scheduled to have my 90-Day Review at work. I knew my supervisor would have a super long drive and would possibly be on the road already when I considered requesting the meeting be moved to virtual. Thankfully, even after I tested negative, they agreed to meet virtually. The evening rolled around, and body aches began to take place, which led me to test. Following my positive test, I developed a fever of 101.8.

I followed work protocol and notified the appropriate people immediately. The contact tracing was simple. I only had three people that would need to potentially quarantine. I still felt bad for interrupting their lives, but there was nothing I could do about it anymore.

Between midnight and 3 AM, my fever broke. I know this because I woke up in a puddle of sweat. Wonderful. If you’ve had this experience before, you know how not fun it is. This night was the first of what would be approximately 20 nights sleeping in a different room than my husband.

I would like to take a second to pause and let you know that I was fully vaccinated and boosted. My booster, however, was administered in December 2021, so it may have significantly decreased in efficacy by this point. I also would like to note how highly transmissible the current popular strain is. It has been passed around my church community like the offering plate. Okay, so we don’t actually pass the plate at my church, but you get the point.

Fatigue was a big problem. I had just a bit of chest congestion. I had a stuffy nose. A slightly sore throat. I had digestive issues and nausea. On day 5, which was a Saturday, I must have eaten and drank just a bit less than I had been consuming, and in the early afternoon, I began to feel loopy and dare I say drunk. I felt detached from reality and everything felt like it was moving in slow motion and I was only hearing in real-time. I was dizzy and incredibly nauseous.

After arguing with my husband about whether or not I was overreacting, we decided it would be a good idea to go to Patient First. Patient First is low-key, and not the Emergency Room, so naturally we headed there first. The parking lot was full and all I wanted was immediate relief. From there, we went to Target (I was definitely not thinking clearly….) and Jonathan went in to grab me Tums and Pedialyte. I chugged the nasty Pedialyte and took 4 Tums. I continued to spiral. From there, we decided to head home so I could rest. I have no idea why I agreed to go home, when shortly after coming back, I demanded that Jonathan take me to the ER because I felt worse.

We headed to the Emergency Room, which is actually very close to where we live, and (of course) there were no good parking spots. I was too weak and nauseous to walk, so Jonathan went in and grabbed me a wheelchair and headed to our distant parking space to collect me and wheel me in. I was shocked that we came at a time when the waiting room was empty. I quickly was in a room and given IV fluids. My bloodwork revealed that I had low sodium, which was completely unexpected. I’m someone who definitely gravitates towards salty food over sweets, and thought for sure I’d consumed plenty in recent days. My discharge papers called this condition hyponatremia. I had never heard of this. Apparently dehydration and depletion of sodium in the bloodstream can cause the symptoms I was experiencing, especially the general sense of delusion. As I was waiting for the bag to empty into my bloodstream, I had to go to the bathroom not once…not twice, but FOUR times. Perhaps that’s not all that unusual, but it was a little awkward, since my IV was not mobile and I had to be disconnected and reconnected by a nurse each time.

During my time in the hospital, my church family and co-workers reached out and expressed they were praying for me and it all meant a lot. I was very scared and uncomfortable. My dad even showed up shortly after I was put into a room. I was glad I was allowed to be there with both him and Jonathan.

The IV fluids helped, and my church putting together a meal train was very beneficial and super appreciated. I would wake up so hungry and nauseous that cooking seemed impossible some days. Not to mention, two days after my hospital trip, my husband tested positive. Perhaps he caught it from me on the ride to the hospital.

From the time I left the ER on Saturday to Thursday morning, I felt like I had the worst hangover of my life. Thursday, I finally tested negative. Thursday, I was supposed to attend the first day of the Global Leadership Summit, as my church was hosting a satellite site for the conference. The call was made earlier in the week to have my ticket flipped to an online ticket, just because my fatigue and nausea were all over the place. Mornings would be awful, then somewhere around mid-afternoon, the fog would lift a little and then evenings would be semi-normal. I had to wave the white flag and lean on one of my new coworkers to help me complete my work that week, since my brain was legitimately fried and tired. That was hard for me to do, but I could not be more grateful.

Jonathan tested negative on his day 11, which was a Thursday. We finally got to hug, and kiss, and move all of our stuff back to its normal places in our bedroom. It was a happy time.

Following my negative test, my chest congestion has faded, my bloodwork has revealed normal sodium levels once more, and I have returned to work with a functioning brain. The only things that have lingered, and that I pray to God is not here to stay, are my GI issues.

Now, I don’t think I really need to go into depth about this, but I will say that I have been experiencing nausea, acid reflux, heartburn (which I NEVER get), abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and um…bathroom issues. It’s been a week now, and I don’t know when all of this drama will end. My perception is that it is a continuation of my bout with COVID, but who can say? A friend of mine has suggested that COVID jacked up my gut flora, and I’ve started taking probiotics, but they don’t seem to have affected anything just yet.

I don’t really know anyone who has been open about struggling with GI issues post-COVID recovery. Google doesn’t make things sound great. My symptoms align with possible long-COVID and that’s a little anxiety-inducing. I try not to get too stressed out when Googling, but I feel kind of helpless, and being able to get any information at all feels like a version of self-advocacy. However, I realize my pattern of this (and my past medical history) translates to hypochondria to those closest to me. I get medical anxiety. I will own that. But, I refuse to ignore my gut instincts anymore.

That’s my COVID experience. I sincerely hope I don’t catch this again. It was not a good time and it was very lonely. The FOMO was real. I’m grateful for the kind people at my church who looked out for us, for my parents, and to finally be back to work.

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