Two COVID-19 survivors share their experience

Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:39 pm

By Julie Ann Madden

Editor’s Note: An Iowa couple, ages 18-40, agreed to share their experience with COVID-19 on the condition of anonymity. On April 3, she was diagnosed with COVID-19. She and her husband self-quarantined in their apartment. On April 17, they both returned to their jobs. They are not from Akron.

It was on March 9 that Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds proclaimed a Disaster Emergency to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Iowa.

On Saturday, April 25, Iowa crossed the milestone of having more than 5,000 positive cases in the state. Plymouth County has 11 positive cases. In Iowa, there have been 118 deaths but 1,900 people have recovered.

Some “stay at home” while others ignore their governors’ state-wide restrictions. Many wonder if they’d survive COVID-19. Although that may be a concern, essential workers have little choice but to be on the front lines of this Pandemic.

Here is a surviving couple’s story:

Wife: We had been talking about COVID 19 at work for awhile and preparing and everything. We get screened coming into the hospital building; visitors are extremely limited, etc. so I knew about COVID-19 yes.

I didn’t personally know of anyone who had it until I got it. Unfortunately, tracking its origin is impossible. Could be from a grocery store, a delivery person, a patient. Hard to tell.

I had a low grade fever and was sent home from work on a Monday (March 30). I was fine until Friday. I woke up with a head cold, stuffy, sore throat, body aches like when I had mono. I called Employee Health to get cleared since I work Saturday nights, and they sent me to get tested. It was a throat swab. It came back six hours later as positive. I called my husband, he came home from work immediately and we both quarantined for 14 days.

I would say it was worse than the flu, not as bad as mono. Everyone is different. I was very lucky. The hospital I work at does a virtual hospital program, meaning a doctor calls every day and checks in and they send a blood pressure cuff and pulse oximeter so you can take your own vitals twice a day.

I was nervous when I heard positive but only because I was thinking of who I could have infected myself, not knowing how long I’d been positive — my husband, grocery store clerk, the nurse who swabbed me. I definitely didn’t feel good but I am young and healthy in general so I was hopeful.

Mornings I felt good, like myself even. Which made it hard because we quarantined me to the spare room for 10 of those 14 days. I took two hot showers a day to keep my lungs healthy which was exhausting. My symptoms were mild and never put me at risk of being admitted (to a hospital). The body aches and general weakness, out-of-breath really added up by the end of the day. My husband kept me on a Tylenol regime and did the cooking and cleaning.

We did a lot of video-chatting during those 10 days. I honestly didn’t feel like even watching TV the first four days. I just laid there. But eventually I got to feeling better and read four books and played some video games. Watched a lot of Netflix!

My husband definitely was a bit of a hero. He cooked, cleaned, made sure I had fluids and meds all while putting himself at risk. He didn’t complain at all.

I mean we both know we are exposed given our jobs and that we are “essential.” This just confirmed that.

I could have taken care of myself for sure. With food delivery and grocery delivery now days, a single person would be okay. But I’m glad I didn’t have to! My husband was amazing, and I have some amazing friends and family that dropped off food and groceries, sent cards and checked in daily.

We both got our time covered thanks to our jobs. We are extremely grateful. My boss was great — she asked how I was feeling and made sure I felt ready even though we are extremely short-staffed and I was needed.

I wouldn’t say I’m a person of faith necessarily. I grew up Catholic so those mannerisms are part of who I am I suppose. Did I pray about being sick? No. But again it never, at any point, seemed like my life was at risk. I think we all pray to someone at the end.

Now that I’m recovered I’m a little glad it’s over. I think it was only a matter of time before my husband or I caught it, and to have it done with feels good. I’m excited to donate my plasma to the program once my 14 days symptom-free are complete. Hopefully, it’ll help some of the critical patients.

We haven’t lost anyone we know to COVID-19 thankfully! We now know several who have had it or had a scare.

The only thing I can think about was the trip I took to the store the day before I was diagnosed because I FELT FINE. I saw a lot of people out with kids and no masks, just wandering around.

I know it’s hard but STAY HOME.

Keep your kids at home.

You don’t have to feel symptoms to be infecting someone!

My husband’s answers — Yeah, I was afraid when she was diagnosed because of the media portrayal — even though the death percentage is low, the media plays in the back of your mind.

As for being a caretaker, you go from doing half the work to all the work because that person is helpless. I cooked, cleaned, laundry, dishes, kept up on Tylenol, made sure she kept tracking her vitals. Got her water, Gatorade, snacks, anything she wanted.

And in the back of your mind, you’re thinking everything she touches puts you at risk. In the back of your head you’re thinking, okay, we had been together all week prior to diagnosis, doing things together, and when did it start? Do I have it now?

I technically have not contracted COVID-19 but the doctors have considered me positive, given symptoms and exposure. It’s just impossible to get tested. The only reason she was is because she works at a hospital.

I feel relieved that she’s recovered but still am worried due to the fact that I haven’t been technically tested and confirmed positive.

Advice: I would say stay home if you can. While she had mild symptoms, this is still a serious illness.

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