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I Thought I Had a Sinus Infection, Turns Out It Was COVID-19

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Coronavirus Chronicles is a new series from The Mighty sharing the human stories behind the pandemic. In our first installation, a 53-year-old woman from Long Island, New York shares her experience with COVID-19. 

My symptoms first started Wednesday, March 11, however, I did not recognize them until the next evening, Thursday, March 12. They came on subtly at first with a dry throat. The next day still a dry throat and a little tired. By the end of the day I was very tired and a little achy. I still had a sore throat and developed a headache. I checked my temperature, and it was 100.5. Still trying to convince myself I was just a little stressed and tired, I went to bed early. When I woke up on March 13, I knew it was a little more.

I called my primary physician’s office who directed me to the urgent care center associated with their office. They wanted to keep things separate, and the tests for the coronavirus were at the center. I went over that morning. They gave me a mask right away to be on the safe side.

I told the nurse my symptoms, and they initially gave me a flu test. The doctor came in while that was being done and asked me a few questions. We both agreed what I was experiencing was very mild and probably not COVID-19, but after the flu test came back negative, he said for his sake and for my peace of mind, we would test for the coronavirus. The doctor called in a prescription for amoxicillin in case it turned out to be a sinus infection. I filled that script because that is what the symptoms progressed to feeling like. A little pressure behind my nose. My eyes were a little sensitive.

The test itself was a double nostril, meaning two nostrils at one time swab. It was deeper than the flu swab. Not terrible but not comfortable either.

I waited a full week for the result, and in the meantime self-quarantined, not isolated, at home. I live with my husband and two of our children who are in their early 20s. I cleaned and wiped everything down and tried not to be everywhere they were. I continue to do that today.

When I received the results from the urgent care center I was somewhat in disbelief. Did they swab correctly? Did I go too early? Now what? Who was I near for the last two weeks?

I received a call from the Department of Health that evening and another call from a doctor at the urgent care center to see if I had any questions and make sure I knew what to do. The information was changing so rapidly that all three phone calls produced different instructions. I will check again later this week for the final instruction on whether or not I will be tested again.

By the time I got the diagnosis, I was feeling fine. My low fever only lasted about 48 hours, so by Saturday, I was feeling OK. My nose and throat were pretty much back to normal with the exception that I could not smell or taste anything. This I knew was more than your average cold-like symptom. I tried to research deeper to see if anyone had this complaint. I felt so lucky that my case was mild, I didn’t want to complain about something that I thought at the time was minor and possibly not even related so I waited. I was so relieved to find some information on this symptom on The Mighty. I continued to feel tired, but I was not doing much anyway so I kept resting.

Now, 15 days after my symptoms started, I feel fine. I hope to regain my smell and taste ability, but no fever, headache and I have more energy.

I attribute the way I feel to a few things. First, it was a mild case. I listened to all the instructions and rested, drank lots of water and ate healthier foods.

As someone with COVID-19, my main concern is not spreading it to anyone. I don’t really plan on going anywhere until this calms down a little more. I will ask for help if I need any groceries or have them delivered.

Coping with being quarantined has been fairly easy. I feel very grateful that I did not need further medical support for the virus. I am focusing on the positives that have come from this.

What I think people should realize about this virus is that, while it may not be harmful to some people, it could mean life or death for others. If this wasn’t going on publicly, my symptoms would not have stopped me from doing anything for these 15 days. I would have gone on like business as usual and infected many many people without even realizing or recognizing it.

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Originally published: March 26, 2020
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