My Experience With COVID-19
We, as doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals, often think we will be fine. I was one of the lucky ones. This virus has to be respected. If you are sick, don’t try to be a hero.
I started feeling sick on Sunday, March 15. I got tested the same day at a MedStar Health Urgent Care location, and called the Hospital Center’s Occupational Health department. My wife had been sick for three days already; she had also been tested, and we were waiting for her results. But honestly, I was sure she had COVID-19. In the 20 years we have been married, I have rarely, if ever, seen her have a fever.
I would say my symptoms were relatively mild. On Sunday, I had fever, chills, some body aches, and fatigue. I did not have a cough or any respiratory symptoms. On Monday, I felt equally bad, if not worse. My fever reached 101.8 degrees, and I had almost no appetite. I also was experiencing a loss of smell. The good news was that the day I started getting sick, my wife started getting better. My three kids, ages 17, 14 and 11, were definitely on house arrest, but they stayed busy with their online school work and were very helpful, so we could rest. I took a pragmatic approach; my wife and I didn’t stay locked up in one room. My family had already been in the same car, the same house and eaten at the same table. I did stay away from my parents and mother-in-law. Luckily, my kids never became symptomatic or sick.
By Tuesday, I started feeling a little better, and by Wednesday I felt fine. On Thursday, I was playing basketball in the backyard, and on Friday, I got the call saying I tested positive. I was actually playing basketball when I answered the call, and by that point, I really did feel completely fine.
Honestly, if I was not aware of COVID-19, I would have called this the flu. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t pleasant, but I never felt in serious risk of needing hospitalization. Fortunately, I do not have any underlying respiratory medical conditions such as asthma, or any other conditions that put me at higher risk for complications. Even so, I consider myself fortunate that my case was mild.
In regard to how I contracted this virus, it’s hard to really know. My wife, who has a non-medical job, rides the Metro to work every day. Prior to COVID-19 really taking hold in this country, we had traveled to Seattle and to New Jersey for family events. Who really knows if we were exposed on the plane, at a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike, or from community exposure? She was sick and down for the count the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before I got sick, and on Monday we got her test results. She was positive. Luckily, by then her symptoms had mostly resolved.
My advice to others is we don’t need to live in fear of COVID-19, but we need to respect it. I would also say that if you are having respiratory symptoms, monitor your heart rate, respiratory rate and oxygen levels if you have access to a pulse oximeter. And if you are having trouble breathing or any other serious symptoms, seek help.
I understand how unnerving this situation can be. The unknowns surrounding COVID-19 are contributing to increased stress and anxiety everywhere. But thankfully, we are making progress by practicing social distancing, staying home whenever possible and continuing to be mindful of good hand hygiene. With patience and resilience, we will get through this together.