Leave it to me to be 3 years late to the party.
I took a same-day trip to Dallas, TX and back on Saturday, April 22nd. This was my first time ever flying out of state and returning home on the same day. I didn’t think much of it, just part of the job. A piece of very important networking hardware had a battery failure, and it was out of warranty so the replacement needed to be done in person. One of our highly skilled technology specialists was driving from Tulsa to Dallas to do the swap and I opted to meet him there. It was my first time seeing our data center in person, and now that I’m leading IT Operations for my company I considered this an important visit. Plus, because of how things are configured we were unable to do a “hot swap”, which meant we had to carefully take our servers down one at a time and completely power down the whole collection of hardware before changing the battery. Risky… but necessary.
There were a few hiccups during the battery swap process, but after a few hours – and just in time for me to return to the airport – we finished the job and brought all the systems back online.
The flight back home was slightly delayed and I didn’t step into my home sweet home until almost midnight that night. That was Saturday.
Sunday I felt fine. A little tired, but nothing too out of the ordinary.
Monday I woke up with a sore throat, ouch. It got a little better as the day went on, and I worked a full workday. Monday night I had a margarita with dinner and I remember thinking “I hope I don’t regret this” (because I could still feel a little soreness in my throat and didn’t want to take an immune system hit), but I drank it anyway. After all, my throat seemed to be on the mend compared to how painful it was that morning.
Tuesday I woke up and my throat was sore again. I blamed the margarita for setting me back, but I still assumed I was “on the mend”. After all, it was just a sore throat. I drank Theraflu to soothe my throat and get through my workday.
By Tuesday afternoon a fever had started and I was exhausted. Mid-afternoon I took a few hours of sick time because I knew I couldn’t finish the workday. I napped in the guest room and decided to stay the night there to avoid getting Wade sick. I felt very hot/sweaty/shaky and nauseous. I grabbed some lounge clothes from my dresser and ended up changing every couple of hours while I sweated through the outfits in the guest room. I took a shower, but couldn’t stand up straight for very long, I was just too weak. I could no longer drink Theraflu because I just felt too nauseous to get it down. I asked Wade to go to Walgreens and get some Dayquil and Nyquil in pill format, and he did (thanks, Wade!). By now my entire body ached. I had a massive headache, sore throat, ear aches, some congestion and coughing, and my teeth hurt. Not just one or two teeth, but every single individual tooth hurt. My energy level was unbelievably low, even walking to the bathroom and back was completely exhausting.
Wednesday I woke up feeling like I’d been hit by a freight train so I took more sick time and only attended the meetings I absolutely could not avoid or reschedule. I brought my laptop into the guest bed and worked from there. At this point, I’m not sure how much more fever and nausea I can take! Nyquil didn’t seem like it was working at all, and I was really sick of feeling terrible. I washed all the sheets, washed my outfits, and slept between meetings. I texted my Mom and Chandler, and Mom suggested I take a Covid test. I rolled my eyes, knowing this was just the flu, and promised to take one later when I felt well enough to walk to the bathroom. I tried to keep a positive outlook and told myself the worst of it is over. I forced myself to stay awake when I really wanted to collapse, and I kept trying to train my mind that the worst of it was behind me.
Wednesday night I finally stumbled into the bathroom to take the stupid Covid test. My brain felt extremely disconnected, but I hadn’t eaten much so I assumed this was probably why. I normally feel a little woozy when I go 5 hours without eating, and it had been 2 days at this point. I tried to focus on the Covid test directions but they just weren’t making sense – I had to read everything multiple times. It was frustrating because I was tired of standing up and just wanted to get the Covid test over with. When I finally got to the nose-swab step and started swabbing, I suddenly felt a strong urge to vomit, which I did. Repeatedly. My body was totally freaking out at this point – sweaty, shaky, aching from head to toe, and trying to push things out from both ends (vomiting and diarrhea at the same time). This was my all-time low point. The test immediately showed a strong positive result. I had Covid. 😵
Afterward, I was lying in bed trying to figure out how I could possibly “beat” the Covid bug if I had nothing in my body, and my body wouldn’t even accept a small sip of water without barfing it up. I started to think there is a possibility I might not survive. Wade assured me people can go many days without water, but I knew I was already severely dehydrated from 2 days of fever and sweating and I worried I would die in my sleep that night – with just nothing left in me to fight the fight. I needed hydration and nutrition, but I had nothing at all. All I had was a weak and dehydrated shell of a body, and a mostly-disconnected brain. I started to think of how sad it would be to die from, before I even reached age 50. I wasn’t giving up, but I was definitely losing hope.
I texted my boss to let him know I had Covid, and he suggested I do Teledoc and get the anti-viral medicine. There’s an anti-viral medicine? I had no idea. So I took the quiz on Teledoc and it turns out I don’t qualify because I’m not over 50 and I don’t have any preexisting conditions. My friend Kate suggested I do a virtual visit anyway because they can give me anti-nausea medicine – GREAT idea, I’d do anything to take the nausea away!!! I did that, got a prescription, and Wade picked it up from Walgreens that night.
Thursday I took the entire day off and vowed to focus on rest and recovery – NO WORKING. I don’t remember much of that day – I slept, took Dayquil/Nyquil, took anti-nausea medicine, drank as much water as I could get down the hatch, and I slept the whole day away. I texted my coworker that had met me in Dallas and let him know I was Covid-positive. He felt ok but took a test anyway and he was negative (thank goodness).
The anti-nausea medicine was the best (thanks, Kate!) because once I had that I was able to hydrate and I truly believe that got me on the path to healing. Even though I still had a fever and was still sweating profusely, just getting water into my body felt like a big step in the right direction. Chandler had sent me a care package with all kinds of snacks and beverages (so sweet!), and Thursday I ate a bowl of chicken noodle soup. It was… surprisingly bland. Oh well, I felt good about getting the protein and carbs into my weak body.
Friday I worked all day, but I did it from the guest bed. More soup, crackers, and LOTS of water. Things are starting to look up! I washed my big pile of sweaty clothes (again), and washed all the sheets and blankets (again). Wiped everything down with Lysol disinfectant wipes, and sprayed Lysol spray on things that couldn’t be wiped. I covered every square inch of the guest room and bathroom (and continued to do this for several more days). I noticed I couldn’t smell the wipes, but I knew that was a possible side effect of Covid so ‘meh’, oh well. I’m happy to be alive and mostly fever-free. I took all the hand towels out of the bathroom and put a roll of paper towels in there for the time being. I don’t want to be recycling my germs over and over, I just needed to GET BETTER. I opened all the windows in the guest room and bathroom in hopes that the sick air would leave the room.
Saturday I decided I was ready for a real meal. I ordered a big breakfast from Keke’s and I was SO looking forward to all the delicious food. It was so colorful: A spinach, cheddar, and tomato omelet, a pile of fresh fruit, some toast, a pile of small pancakes, and an order of bright red tomato juice, YUM! My mouth was watering. I shoveled that first bite of omelet into my mouth and quickly realized – OMG I’VE LOST MY SENSE OF TASTE!!!!! 😳 It tasted absolutely awful, just a big squishy pile of flavorless mush in my mouth! Then I tried the tomato juice – sludge water. Pancakes: cardboard. Strawberries: squishy grossness. WHAT THE HELL?! I could handle losing my sense of smell but how the fuck am I going to survive no sense of taste?!?! So I google it and the news is bleak – it usually takes weeks or months, sometimes even YEARS for people to regain their smell and taste senses after Covid. 😭
I’m trying to focus on the bright side – I can cut out sugar easily because I can’t taste it anyway. I can save money by eating boring foods because it’s all the same anyway. No reason to go to a restaurant if the food tastes like cardboard, right? And maybe I can eat healthy foods that I normally don’t like, like beets or celery.
Sunday I continued to obsess over my loss of taste and I tried several different foods. I could detect about 5% of the flavor of a pickle, but it’s very very slight and not exactly accurate-tasting. Hard to describe. I cooked up some vegetables I had in the fridge: zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, and onions with all kinds of garlic ginger sauce… it tasted like nothing at all. I threw it on top of rice and suffered through it. With every bite, I reminded myself how much my body needs the vegetables. I tried my all-time favorite food: Jelly Bellies, and they tasted like absolutely nothing. How incredibly depressing. I slept most of the day Sunday, to gear up for a full workweek ahead.
Monday morning I had matcha tea instead of coffee. I haven’t had coffee in over a week now, so I figured I might as well switch it up with something slightly healthier. I didn’t add sweetener, can’t taste it anyway. I made my usual Greek yogurt with blueberries and granola and it was pretty gross. I should have used broccoli instead of blueberries, I think the blueberries tasted like chemicals or something and I know broccoli tastes like nothing. Flip flops or junk mail would have been possible add-ins for my yogurt, too.
So, I’m starting to taste some things – none of it is good and the flavors are certainly not anywhere near “normal”, but I’m going to take this as a good sign. Someone at work suggested trying flavors that elicit more than taste, like things that are spicy or super sour. He said his daughter lost her taste for over a year after Covid and when she started trying extreme flavors that’s when her sense of taste returned, slowly but surely. I had some pepperoni tonight and I did feel a little bit of a burning sensation in my mouth. I ordered sour worms to be delivered with a grocery order tomorrow. I’m really hoping this lack of taste thing is super temporary because I get SO much joy out of eating food!
It’s currently Monday night and I’m mostly healed from the symptoms of Covid, although I do feel extremely tired and my brain still feels very foggy. The fatigue can last quite a while after the virus leaves the body, from what I’ve read and heard from other Covid survivors. Right now I’m happy to be alive, and looking forward to feeling 100% myself again soon.
Having Covid-19 was not at all the experience I thought it would be. I didn’t have burning lungs, and I had no trouble breathing (aside from a little bit of a cough and some congestion). The worst of it was the fever, nausea, and body aches. It went on for way longer than I would have liked, and at one point I thought I was going to die. This is something I’d really like to avoid experiencing again in the future, so I will likely be wearing a mask on planes and wiping down the seating area with disinfectant. I’ve never been a germaphobe, but that might change now that I’ve gone to Covid hell and back. I guess I let my guard down because in the 3 years that Covid has been in the U.S. I never got it once (until now), so I wrongly assumed I was immune.
…. Lesson learned.
So my message to you all is: Be cautious when traveling, and never underestimate the risk of contracting a nasty virus!