ATLANTA — My skin is cooking. I have a 103 degree fever. My head feels like a hornet stung me right between the eyes. Mornings are the worst. My muscles seem to take hours to wake up.
I'm an investigator for The Reveal, 11Alive's investigative team. This is what COVID-19 put me through.
I started experiencing symptoms on Tuesday, March 17. I woke up with a severe fever, a migraine and body aches. I didn't have a cough or shortness of breath, but I could feel this illness was different.
I went to the internet to search for possible testing locations. I read in a small Valdosta newspaper that the South Georgia Medical Center was offering free drive-thru testing.
It was a four-hour drive, but I was willing to do it. I could feel in my bones that this wasn’t normal. In addition to symptoms, I spent a week in Colombia in early March. At the time, the country had no known COVID-19 cases. A few weeks later, it had 235 cases.
Just before hopping into my car, I called my doctor’s office. I didn’t expect them to have any tests. I was wrong. They did. I explained my symptoms over the phone and the receptionist told me to come to the office. I know I’m lucky.
When I arrived, a nurse practitioner tested me for the flu and strep throat. I was negative for both. She then left the room. When she returned, the practitioner wore what looked like a makeshift hazmat suit.
The testing equipment included only one long cotton swab. It’s put up your nose so far it feels like it tickles your brain. It’s quick, but not fun.
I’m then told the test will be sent to a lab in Alabama and it could take five to seven days for the results. I left grateful to get a test, but anxious for what’s to come.
Over the next five days, my fever did not let up. Tylenol helped manage my temperature during the day, but it always returned in the morning and at night. On day three, I considered going to the hospital, but in the end decided against it.
About that time, I also noticed my sense of smell and taste were significantly diminished. This week, NBC’s Today Show reported that “The American Academy of Otolaryngology announced “rapidly accumulating” anecdotal evidence showed anosmia — the loss of smell — and dysgeusia — an altered sense of taste — were “significant symptoms” associated with COVID-19 when a patient had no other respiratory disease.”
The day I took the test, I put myself in a 14-day home quarantine. Then, I contacted colleagues, family and friends who I had contact with.
I’ve followed all the precautions, still following them. So far, no one is sick. But, the thing that keeps me awake at night, the worst part of this experience, is the anxiety that I may have exposed someone.
On Saturday, March 21 at about 7:00 p.m., the nurse practitioner called me with my results. I tested positive for COVID-19. Neither of us were surprised. It still felt weird knowing this virus was inside me. It’s a disease I watched on TV inch closer to the U.S from halfway around the world. Now, I was one of its early victims in Georgia.
While slowly recovering, this virus felt like it grabbed a hold of me and didn’t want to let go. If I had an unknown pre-existing condition, I believe I would likely have ended up in the hospital. It knocked me off my feet.
Please take COVID-19 seriously. Stay home if you can. Help stop the spread.
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