I’ve been hesitant to share our COVID-19 story. When we got sick, it was very early in the pandemic. Testing was unavailable and our local doctors could only provide us a flu test. My husband and I agreed we would immediately quarantine our family. We didn’t want to risk spreading whatever we had. With the help of our pediatricians, we self treated at home. My husband began self isolating from us, so that he could continue working from home. It was such a scary time in our family. I felt shame and guilt as if I didn’t do a good enough job washing our hands or keeping the house clean.
It was the week before Spring Break, when we started experiencing symptoms. The week before Governor Abbott shut down the state. All winter, my kids had been dodging classes full of seasonal flu, strep throat, colds and coughs. I remember constantly dropping off sanitizer and wipes for our teachers. It was inevitable we were going to get sick, but this was so much different; this was something we had never experienced.
At first, when my oldest daughter got sick, I thought it was the flu. None of my kids have ever had the flu, so I was shocked at how sick my daughter became. She never had diarrhea or vomiting. Her sickness came with a high fever, sore throat and what I originally thought was pink eye. Her fever lasted about a week. I tried my best to keep her isolated but how do you not hug your child when they are sick? How do you not touch your child when they are shaking from fever? At the time, I didn’t wear a mask nor did she. I thought it was seasonal flu. I knew I was going to get sick, but that’s motherhood.
It was a blessing to be on Spring Break while my daughter was recovering and my younger son started developing symptoms. He too, was sick for an entire week. For him to sleep all day and not get out of bed was terrifying. He is my wild child, always on the move and always getting in trouble. Although his symptoms were slightly different, he was equally as sick. He still had the fever but his symptoms came with terrible cough, trouble breathing and extreme muscle ache. His recovery was equally as slow. He was easily fatigued and would nap every afternoon well after his symptoms subsided.
As we quarantined, we were learning more information about the COVID-19 virus. I scoured the internet reading all the news and watching all the coverage. The more I learned, the more I began to suspect that perhaps we had something more than just the flu. We had COVID-19.
And then I knew, because I got sick. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t physically get out of bed. I had to crawl to the bathroom. My husband stuck ice packs under my arms trying to control my fever. I missed my daughter’s birthday because I couldn’t get out of bed. I was that sick. Testing was unavailable and I didn’t want to put our healthcare workers at risk just to be told I didn’t have the flu. I knew it was COVID-19 and I knew that if I got any sicker, I was going to have to go to hospital. It was a scary time. I hated my kids seeing me so sick. My youngest would try and come and cuddle. She would sit and cry at the foot of the bed, because I couldn’t let her near me. How do you isolate yourself from your children when you can’t even go to the bathroom by yourself? It was so hard.
It took me almost a month to fully recover. I think a lot of that had to do with my oldest and youngest getting sick immediately after I started to recover. My oldest’s symptoms were exactly like what we had seen on the news. He experienced high fever, muscle ache, severe eye irritation and trouble breathing. He also lost his sense of taste. He wouldn’t eat and I could barely keep him hydrated. To this day, he won’t touch a bowl of cereal. He has eaten a bowl of Cheerios every morning for the last ten years. Now, he won’t even consider it. His recovery also took the longest. He had difficulty breathing long after the fever subsided. Walking up the stairs made him winded and he was easily fatigued.
My three year old was the last to get sick. Her story is the scariest for me to tell because she is my baby. Her fever was the highest. We were alternating ice packs and cold compresses. I had the pediatrician loaded on my phone to call. She was so sick. I held her for an entire week. She slept in our bed, I was so scared something would happen overnight and I wouldn’t catch it.
This is our family’s COVID-19 story. We might never know if we actually had it due to lack of testing, but I still wanted to share how sick we were. I don’t write this to scare you. We were lucky. We do not have pre-existing conditions and my oldest three are active athletes. I think that is why this experience has been so incredibly humbling. So, if you’re reading this, please use this as a reminder to stay vigilant. The virus is still among us and we do not have a vaccine or cure. Wash your hands. Stay home when possible and stay safe.