It started with a tickle in my throat 12 days ago.
I felt it when I woke up that morning, but I thought it was the arid climate in Colorado making my throat dry and I drank some water.
I was on vacation, a two-week roadtrip my best friend and I planned for months to see friends and family. The ski resorts closed, the play we were going to (my annual tradition of going to a favorite Easter play, The Thorn) was canceled last minute, and tourist spots were shutting down, but I didn’t have the symptoms of COVID-19 all over the news: dry cough, fever, and trouble breathing.
The next day, it felt like a regular cold. I inherited my dad’s family’s tendency to get sinus infections after almost every cold, so I still wasn’t concerned. Everyone said if you had a runny nose, you didn’t have the coronavirus and you were safe.
So I took over the counter Sudafed and Mucinex like I always do and slept more, waiting for my sinuses to clear. Five days later, the sinus infection turned into an ear infection and I went to an urgent care in Southern Colorado near my friends’ house where I was staying and the doctor prescribed me antibiotics and an inhaler. A few days after that, my symptoms worsened. I got dizzier and disoriented and I woke up with what looked like pink eye. I went back and the doctor gave me a stronger antibiotic.
I stayed in Colorado a few extra days and waited to meet up with a friend who started her roadtrip to the West Coast the same time I did. She was forced to go home early because of the quarantine orders, so we decided to drive home together for safety, since now everything was so uncertain.
On the drive back to Texas, I still wasn’t feeling any better. I had been sick for 8 days, on an antibiotic for 5 days with almost no improvement. Normally, when I have a sinus infection and get antibiotics, I start to feel much better in a couple of days. I started to suspect I had something viral like the flu… or COVID.
I checked the list of coronavirus symptoms on the CDC website. More symptoms are on the website now that we know more about the virus: sore throat body aches, runny nose, mucus, diarrhea.
So I called my parents and several friends I had visited and told them I was going to try to be tested as soon as I got home. The friend traveling with me called her parents.
Then I called my primary care doctor and an after-hours nurse practitioner called me back. I explained my symptoms, how I’m not getting any better and I have to use the inhaler every 4 hours just to breathe normally. She said to call the ER before I get there and warned me that test results could take over a week to come back.
The next day, I got home and went to the ER that night after calling ahead. I brought my own N95 mask—I had extra boxes of masks in my apartment from mudding out flooded houses with my church after Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda. I kept them just in case, and I’m so glad I did. The hospital staff was grateful that I had my own mask so they could save resources.
The hospital put me in an isolation room and a nurse came and took blood samples and swabbed me for flu and strep to rule those out. My oxygen level was at 99 and the chest x-ray showed my lungs were clear.
The ER doctor told me my flu and strep tests came back negative. The hospital can’t actually test me since they only test patients who are sick enough to be admitted. But the doctor also said there is a good chance that I have COVID-19 since I’ve been sick for so many days even with antibiotics. He recommended self-quarantine and said to come back to the ER if breathing becomes more difficult and the inhaler stops helping.
He also said I have bronchitis and he thinks the reason I haven’t gotten pneumonia is because bacteria causes most pneumonia cases and I’ve been on antibiotics. It could be several weeks until I’m completely free of symptoms.
The hospital referred me to a community clinic that does outpatient testing. I called them and made an appointment, but the soonest they could see me is next Tuesday afternoon.
Now I have been sick for 12 days and on antibiotics for 8 days. Breathing is a little easier, but I’m still coughing up and blowing large quantities of yellow goop out my nose. I wear my N95 mask and sanitize whenever I absolutely have to leave my apartment. I’ve made plans to mobile order groceries.
Don’t worry, I don’t plan on hanging out with any of y’all anytime soon, although I miss you guys. I don’t know when I’ll be safe to be out in public again without risking the spread of infection.
And I’ll let you guys know if I do end up testing positive.
Be safe and stay at home and obey the CDC guidelines and please don’t come over to my apartment. I love you all. 💕