Until July 2, 2021, I felt confident I had done everything possible to stay safe and avoid contracting Covid-19. Throughout 2020 and well into 2021, I worked from home, socialized very little, quarantined when necessary, wore my mask, and constantly washed my hands. In fact, I may have dry skin on my hands for the rest of my life, but I still wash my hands frequently. The Covid-19 virus has become a controversial issue over the past two years, but my story is from real experience.
As I prepared to have a safe, but fun, Fourth of July weekend with a few vaccinated friends, I was winding down my Friday at work and started to feel achy. I headed home, excited for a 3-day weekend, but I still felt like I was dragging. My husband and I had plans to meet up with friends at a restaurant with outdoor seating, but before I left the house, I decided to take my temperature, just to be cautious. To our surprise, I had a fever of 99.9. We canceled our dinner plans and I took some acetaminophen, went to bed early, and we prayed it was not Covid-19. It was kind of an unspoken prayer because neither of us wanted to admit we were a little nervous about my symptoms. As the weekend carried on, I felt sicker as the hours and days went by and barely left the sofa or bed. On Sunday morning, I woke up with a bad dry, hard cough so my husband called my doctor. To be totally transparent, I am immunocompromised, so we both knew there was a chance I could have a breakthrough case even though I was vaccinated. Based on my symptoms, my doctor recommended I go to the emergency room and be evaluated since it was a 3-day weekend. I followed his directions, had a chest x-ray, which, thankfully, was clear, but I tested positive for Covid-19.
Let me honestly say, this was the sickest I had ever felt in my memories. For about twelve straight days, I laid on the sofa, took my temperature and oxygen levels, had no sense of taste or smell, ate food with no taste to keep up my strength, hydrated, and slept. The body aches, fever, dry cough, and fatigue were debilitating. I had every Covid-19 symptom listed by the CDC except for a headache. I thought to myself many times how bad and scary this could have been if I had not been vaccinated. My doctor clearly expressed his opinion that if I had been unvaccinated, I would have been hospitalized, no questions asked. Unlike many people, it was not recommended for me to take a regimen of pills or vitamins, so I fought it with acetaminophen, lots of hydration, healthy foods, and tons of rest. When I finally woke up on July 14th and could smell the coffee brewing, I knew the end was finally in sight. It still took two more weeks to feel and return to normal, and I knew firsthand this virus is no joke.
Like many of you, I know people that have tested positive and showed no symptoms, some that felt very sick but were able to stay home and recover, and some that never made it home from the hospital. I work in the field of science as a UF/IFAS Extension Agent and feel very strongly that we can all make simple efforts to reduce exposure to ourselves and others. The most important step is to pay attention to the symptoms and stay home if we suspect illness or exposure. Even though I was looking forward to the holiday festivities, I made a conscious decision to stay home on July 2nd just in case I really was positive with Covid-19. I wanted to keep my friends and family safe just in case there was a remote chance I was contagious. I feel very grateful I did not expose them to this virus.
The positive cases in Florida are lower right now, and that is fantastic. I am very excited about it too, but I also know we still shouldn’t put our guard down. Please stay aware. Be aware if you or a family member(s) have been exposed or do not feel well, and check for symptoms. I highly recommend every American household have a reliable thermometer, a pulse oximeter (safe oxygen levels should not go lower than 92), fluids for hydration, and foods of different textures because eating food without being able to taste and smell is very difficult. Different food temperatures, spice levels, and textures made eating to keep up my strength easier for me to handle.
The past two years have been stressful, emotional, and very exhausting. We still cannot forget to stay aware and diligent in our everyday lives to keep our families, friends, and communities healthy. Please revisit these CDC websites as needed and always consult your doctor when you have questions and concerns. Stay aware and healthy out there!