COVID–What’s it really like?

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Kaye Sullivan

MEEKER | Having battled COVID for a few weeks now, here’s a frank account of what it’s really like, from our experience. I know every patient is unique, but I think our situation is typical for mid-way between mild and profoundly serious infections.

For those of you who think it is like flu, NO. It is ten times worse, is life threatening, and lasts forever. As everyone should know by now, it can result in death and long-term health consequences.

When you get COVID tested, they ask a series of questions about your symptoms. Jay and I both responded yes to nearly the entire list.

Constant coughing–day and night. Sometimes coughing fits that last for minutes. It has gotten better but never gone away.

Headache–a constant mild pain in your head that leaves your brain in a fog. Think of the Charley Brown comic strip with the continuous black cloud over your head.

Diarrhea–even though we’re eating little. Nauseous – the first week it felt like we were always on the verge of vomiting.

Loss of appetite–nothing sounds or tastes good. Fortunately, the food gifts of others were far more appealing than our wimpy attempts to “cook.” Ha. That term “cook” mostly means heating up canned soup. And guess what? Research indicate we may lose our sense of smell and taste for several months.

Chills–even with the thermostat set at 74 degrees, we’re always cold and sit around like old folks in our crumpled sweatshirts with afghans spread over our laps.

Exhaustion–despite doing almost nothing but reading, napping, and watching Netflix, we’ve droopy, fatigued, lacking in stamina. I’m usually up, showered, dressed, fed and ready for my day by 8:00. But I can hardly drag myself out of bed in the morning. Some mornings I’d get up for an Aleve, tea, and toast then return to bed to rest more.

Emotionally–angry, weary, lonely, bitter, and edgy. Not exactly the Christmas spirit. If there’s an upside to this sickness, it is that my husband and I suffer equally and at the same time. So, neither of us cares if we’re testy, the food is marginal, the house is dirty, and we’re watching stupid TV.

All the time, we must ask ourselves, are we worse? Are we having breathing problems? What is our temperature? This infection kills people and getting worse looks very scary. Again, if you don’t think this is a serious problem, please think again. It is killing thousands of Americans every day. We just pray we have escaped that result.

During recovery, you’re essentially on your own home care and at our level of illness, no medications to help. We always knew we could reach out to the County Health Department or Pioneers Clinic staff but there’s really nothing they can do to help these mid-level cases plus we didn’t want to possibly infect them.

Of course, you’re isolated, can’t leave your home, and become hyper dependent on others for necessities – grocery shopping, running errands, and dropping off food gifts. We had already cancelled our Thanksgiving gathering, but sweet friends left us an awesome food already cooked.

Now, going into our third week, we’re able to eat simple meals and accomplish a few tasks every day. It seems I aged 10 years and wonder if I’ll ever have the stamina, I had pre-COVID. Our bodies have atrophied as we haven’t attended our exercise classes, done any home exercises, or walked.

Ongoing is the huge fatigue that doesn’t go away and will likely linger. Some days we feel better, others worse. Coughing continues. Thus, trying to prepare for Christmas, shop, send cards, pay bills, or any simple task is barely within our grasp.

We may go into remission and face all this all over again. A small percentage of COVID patients have repeat cases and some are called “long haulers” who never overcome the related issues. Yes, we are senior citizens with as they say, “underlying health conditions” but that doesn’t mean we’re deserve to die from COVID just because we are old.

So, I repeat my advice to keep yourselves, your loved ones, and your community safe by following COVID safety practices — so easy. Mask, distance, wash hands, stay home. Or get COVID as we did and see how you feel about that.

If you see us around town, we are officially out of our quarantine period as set by the Health Department and immune for three months according to current medical guidelines. But we’ll continue to wear our masks, distance, stay home, and do our part to keep you safe.