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I Thought I Was Just Jet-Lagged, Turns Out I Have COVID-19

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Coronavirus Chronicles is a new series from The Mighty sharing the human stories behind the pandemic. In this installation, a 46-year-old woman from Bakersfield, California, shares her experience with COVID-19.  

Banner with a woman wearing a mask and the text, How the Symptoms Started

My COVID-19 symptoms started on Tuesday, March 24. I actually thought I was just tired. I had been out of state visiting my daughter before all this started and had just flown home on Sunday.

I woke up with a mild headache and was really achy. By mid-day I was exhausted, which wasn’t like me. That evening I was feeling a bit worse and had started running a fever of 101°F. I decided to go to bed and see how I felt in the morning.

The next morning, I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a truck — my head was pounding, I now had a cough and my temperature was 102.6. I suspected COVID-19 mostly because I had just flown, had a three-hour layover in Sacramento and flew into LAX airport, and now the symptoms.

Person wearing a mask with the banner text, Getting a COVID-19 diagnosis

I called my doctor and had a phone appointment. My doctor felt like I needed to be tested. I was instructed to drive to the back of the clinic and there would be parking spaces marked with caution tape. A few minutes later a nurse came out and performed the test while I was in my car. It wasn’t terrible, but definitely not fun. It just took a couple minutes. Then I was instructed to go home and quarantine away from my family and wait for results.

It took about two days to get the results. When I was given the positive results, I was instructed to quarantine myself in a room away from the rest of my family. If I need to come out, to wear a mask and gloves.

I was told to avoid taking ibuprofen, and that it’s OK to run a fever because that’s what fights the virus, but take Tylenol if it gets over 102. I was told that if it becomes hard to breathe or if my chest hurts to call the ER. They stressed that I not just go to the ER or doctor’s office without calling ahead.

I have to be isolated for at least 14 days, but can be around my family again when I haven’t had a fever for 72 hours without using a fever reducer.

Banner with a woman wearing a mask that reads, What I Want People to Know

People should know that COVID-19 is no joke. I’m really sick, but I’m lucky because I’m at home. Please follow the recommendations and self-isolate, eat well and take care of yourself. It will keep you and your loved ones healthy and stop the spread of this nasty virus.

My doctor hasn’t recommended any treatment at this point. I’m doing OK right now. I’m still running a pretty high fever and I’m so exhausted, I just sleep mostly.

Getting the diagnosis was terrifying. I had seen all the news stories, and my first thought was, ‘I don’t want to die from this.’ After getting diagnosed I had to stop watching the news, because I need to be positive. I will get better, I know that. It’s important to focus on the positive and healing thoughts.

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Originally published: April 3, 2020
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