Even at the rate things are progressing, I hope and pray that you are lucky enough to not know someone with the coronavirus. Sadly, that’s not the case for me.
On March 21st, I found out that my friend from high school is currently battling it. And she’s been sharing information, advice, and tips over the last couple of days because she wants everyone to be informed. I’m not giving her name, as requested, but she wants us all to hear relevant information, and also understand the seriousness of the situation (if you don’t already).
I know many of us have underlying health issues, including me, so consider this our PSA to keep you all well and healthy. 🙂
Here are a few things you might not be hearing as often that we wanted to make you aware of. These are her first-hand experiences, and what the doctors have told her. Keep in mind that she is 43-years-old with no underlying health issues. And she and her family were already staying indoors for five days or so when she started exhibiting symptoms.
I know some of you are still out running errands and doing things as normal, but please take every precaution and follow the advice to stay indoors. And, of course, listen to your health care professionals and information from the CDC.
Also, if you’re looking for some more positive things to see/do, I put together a previous post for making the most of the coronavirus at home.
Please take care! (And sent good thoughts and prayers to my friend, others who are battling this virus, and those that are keeping us safe and well-stocked!)
– March 21st is day five of COVID-19 for her, and she’s still unsure of how she got it. Her family is active, but she already homeschooled her kids, so she wasn’t in a traditional office/group environment.
– My first sign of symptoms was that I took a deep breath and noticed a little gunk on deep inhalation. I felt fine and chalked it up to allergies. A few hours later, I had the tiniest fever of 99.6. I went to bed, woke up next day, and felt much better. Thought it was odd, but no big deal. A few hours later, it hit like a ton of bricks. It’s a crazy virus, because I’ll feel like garbage for hours with 103+ temp, aches, chills, headache, and sore throat from the constant cough. (You constantly hear about a dry cough, but mine has a bit of gunk. The doctor said it’s not unheard of, especially if you have allergies, or things have really started to settle.) Then, it will magically resolve, and I’ll feel really good, but a few aches. If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was okay to leave isolation. Then it’s back again. I can absolutely see how this spreads so easily now.
– The doctor reiterated to everyone in our house: Do not leave your house. Do not have anyone go shopping unless supplies have dwindled. Put a note on the front door that says you are not taking visitors. Do not treat this like the regular flu. (Tips for handling groceries and takeout)
– The coronavirus is nasty, but I’ll recover. The lungs are already inflamed before you even realize it—possibly for weeks. Hot tea and honey does help.
– The virus lives on surfaces up to 9 days—including mail! If you get packages, open them outside and leave the trash. If you put the mail in the freezer, as some people are promoting, you risk it contaminating everything in there until it dies off. After touching anything that has come inside the house, immediately clean your hands. And if someone you are close to needs supplies and are unable to go out (and you have some to spare), drop them at the front door, call them, and leave. (More on packages/mail.)
– If you go outside, pick a pair of shoes—these are now your outside shoes. Keep them outside of the house (garage or backseat of car, if it’s not used for kids or food). When you come inside, change clothes immediately, and take a shower. Toss your worn clothes directly into the washer or laundry basket. (Don’t forget to disinfect things like laundry baskets, too.)
– If you are having breathing issues, do not diffuse essential oils or do anything that puts more particles into the air (even hair spray). The slightest thing you breathe in can worsen your already irritated lungs. If someone in your house has it, they should also follow this rule for you. Run a humidifier with plain water only.
– If someone is coughing a lot or struggling to breathe, making them talk worsens the issue. If you need to check on them, text so they don’t have to use their voice.
– KP note: It’s March 21st (Day 5 of COVID-19 for her) and her breathing is improving a little bit. She said when it’s bad, it’s a struggle just to breathe. Under normal circumstances, she said she’d be in a hospital. They do have her on some medications, though. She also said days 5-7 are when it either gets better or worse, so she’s right at that point and feeling a little better than yesterday, but as noted above, it can change fast. She’ll be isolated for at least 10-14 days.
– March 22nd (Day 6): She’s right on the expected timeline, and is having definite improvements. The steroids and inhaler make it hard to sleep, so she’s been up since early hours, but only one major coughing fit! Other small coughing fits at times, but she looks and sounds WAY better. (Day 4 was the worst.) She’s getting lots of questions, but a common one is how to isolate someone in the house. So, I’m putting her instructions below that she wrote to her dad. You’ll see that she always maintains a great attitude and sense of humor.
– March 23rd (Day 7): She had a shallow, constant, dry cough all day, which still made it hard to talk. Her fever was better, but it was still a hard mental day because her symptoms cleared up for a few hours and then came back. But she is getting some of her strength back, as well as her sense of taste. She said sometimes it’s hard to focus or think because of all the coughing, which is the lack of oxygen to the brain. And, weirdly, she’s noticed more gray hair!
– March 24th (Day 8): Cough is still there. Not terribly deep, but gunky and fairly constant. Otherwise, she’s feeling pretty good, like day four of the regular flu, she thinks. Not a ton of energy, but she’s getting by. And today is her last day of two of the meds. The Tamiflu and one of the steroid cough meds are for five days only, but she has another cough med for 10 days, and then an inhaler as long as she needs it. She’s hoping to get an X-ray in a few months to see if there is any permanent damage to her lungs, and she would need to retain an inhaler. (KP note: By the way, at this point, I feel like I’m writing the captain’s log statements from Star Trek. 🙂 )
– March 27th (Day 11): A slow, uphill climb, but she’s still improving. The meds make her loopy, but she’s okay with it! She’s heard new information about the virus “shedding,” meaning even when you start feeling better, the virus can shed off of you and infect others. This is why the two-week isolation is super important, and for this reason, she’s considering a 20-day isolation, to ensure that no one in her family will get it. (more here and here)
– March 28th (Day 12): She feels better! Still the tiniest bit of a productive cough, but she woke up this morning feeling good! Today marks day 12 of this mess. She said it feels like 50, but that’s okay. She’ll actually be extending her in-room isolation to 20 days as new studies have shown that patients continue to “shed” the virus for longer than previously thought. She also said thank goodness for her puppy cam downstairs, so that she can feel a bit like part of the house and watch the kids run around. (Her sense of taste as returned as well, though she’s still not really hungry.)
– April 2nd (Day 17): She’s feeling much better, but the cough won’t go away. And she still gets a little short of breath at times. So, she’s obviously still self-isolating until she’s certain she won’t pass this on to her family or anyone else.
– April 7th (Day 22): She’s still improving! She has the tiniest bit of cough here and there, so she’s giving it a few more days to help ensure that she’s not contagious to her family. Fingers crossed she’ll be able to leave her room soon!
– April 10th (Day 25): Good news—she feels almost 100% better! Still some lingering lung disfunction, but nothing awful. She’s thinking that she’ll leave isolation on Sunday. That will have given any residual cooties a few extra days off, according to her. 😉
– April 12th (Day 27): SHE’S OUT!!! After feeling really good for over a week, minus a bit of a slight cough that’s probably permanent from lung damage, she finally rejoined the rest of the house tonight! She’s still using the inhaler as needed, but that’s less and less. She gave it a few extra days, so that any potential virus in there with her had time to die. Then, she bleached and steam cleaned her room within an inch of its life!
She said it was surreal coming out of that room after 27 days. The silver lining in all of this is that now she should have immunity, so she can go get groceries and be around her family without exposing them to the virus.
– KP note: As of April 13th, I know four people in three states with the virus, one of which is “stable, but critical” condition. The one with the most serious issues developed pneumonia as a result of the virus, and had that for two weeks before it triggered a heart attack, resulting in emergency surgery. All are showing signs of improvement, which, I hope and pray continues. I know recovery won’t be an outcome for many, but so grateful the people I know are okay for now.
And I asked my friend for any additional words of advice outside of what she gave to her friends on social media and those that I’ve chronicled here. Here’s what she said:
“My only other advice is that everyone should journal in one form or another. Looking back, there is so much I had already forgotten. We’re making history, and research scientists are already missing out on so much info due to lack of testing. Leave something for future generations.”
Great advice! Keep doing your part, everyone!
HER ADVICE FOR ISOLATING SOMEONE IN THE HOUSE:
“This is an email I wrote to my dad. They are lucky enough to have mine and my sister’s old bedrooms and bathroom, so they might have more space than you. Or if you have small children, clearly this would not fully apply either, but if you can manage, these are our methods that we are putting into practice.
I have many medical professional friends who might add something that I’ve left out because they are awesome. I’m too lazy to type it out, so it is a cut and paste. Here you go:
Hello, Daddy! You get this because, if mom gets sick, well, you’re turning into Suzy Homemaker. It will probably be closer to an Amelia Bedelia situation, though. If you don’t get that reference you should read more children’s literature or just ask Mom.
We’re calling present time DEFCON 4. Since you are currently in DEFCON 4, you might consider going ahead and using separate bedrooms. This doesn’t entail any lock downs or anything, but just an extra layer of security. After TWO WEEKS is up (since the last person left the house), then you can move back down to DEFCON 3. No more crazy hand washing like you’re a raccoon with a handful of ice cream. Hurray.
IN THE EVENT OF DEFCON 5:
If one of you even thinks you are getting it, immediately use separate bedrooms. It’s so nice that you have the space and two bathrooms to do this. In fact, go ahead and get a couple of changes of clothes for both of you, towels, extra toothbrushes, and stock the other room now. If you have a humidifier, go ahead and get it ready so it’s easy. Water only!
If you aren’t already separated, then the bedroom door gets closed. No hugs, no kisses, no lingering. The well person goes to the laundry room, clothes straight in, and use the clean bathroom to shower. Lots of soap, and change into clean clothes. Set up a tv tray OUTSIDE the sick door. Do your best to wipe down commonly used surfaces. No vacuuming. This puts crap in the air.
You will not see each other for two weeks. The sick person is not allowed out for midnight snacking or drinks, so go ahead and put some crackers or whatever, toilet paper, bottled water, etc., on their table. All meals will be on paper products that will be thrown away. You can give them a box of plastic forks to toss as they go or regular silverware but then they will be washing it in the bathroom sink and that is now their fork for the duration.
NOTHING LEAVES THAT ROOM.
They will have a trash bag in their room, and all the trash stays in there for the full two weeks. Same for laundry. Do not touch it. NOTHING LEAVES THAT ROOM. Did I mention that?
That door is to stay closed 24/14. (Two weeks, not one. No, not even if they feel better. They are still shedding cooties like a dog with fleas.) The only exception to that rule is when patient zero (not you) opens that door to retrieve meals. You can holler and let them know it’s there (or knock if they are mostly deaf and/or listening to the TV at levels to make the neighbors deaf). Make sure you are well clear of the door (minimum 6 feet). If sicko cannot contain themselves and must speak, then they need to back up 6 feet into the room and cover their mouth. That keeps their funk from spraying into the safe zone.
Talking makes the cough worse, so texting is best. If you need to get each other’s attention and the coughing one isn’t answering, the door can be knocked on loudly from your own side. No peaking your head in to check unless you think they might be in distress. You best have a mask on if you do that, though. No going in still. The floor on the other side is lava.
Any books, crafts, laptops, phones that go into hazmat area now live there for the next two weeks. So if there is something you really need out of there, go ahead and get it ready now. Make sure it all gets extra cleaned when you’re doing the big clean. This counts double for your phone.
You are now a positive house in the most negative way possible. Congratulations on winning the Suck Contest. No opening doors for visitors (NOT THAT YOU WERE DOING THAT ANYWAYS, RIGHT!?). Put a sign up that says you are infected. I would say that would keep everyone away, but there are some truly idiotic people out there. Bless their hearts.
Love you. Try not to go crazy. What a story this will be in 20 years when we’ve all had therapy.”