With COVID-19 numbers in Tennessee still very high, many of us are seeing more people we know being diagnosed with the disease.
If you still think COVID-19 is a joke, is part of some sort of fake health conspiracy or is “no worse than a mild case of the flu,” I hate to tell you this, but you are wrong.
Those who downplay the disease have never actually had COVID-19 and have an opinion that comes from a place of being uninformed or had COVID-19 but were lucky enough to have had a mild strain. If this was the case for you, you were fortunate.
On Dec 7, my entire family tested positive for COVID-19. We have no idea where we were exposed. We wear masks and social distance as much as possible. Our two kids are in public school and numbers are high in Williamson County, so while a school may be a source, I don’t think we will ever know for sure.
Having the three people you love most in the world come down with COVID-19 at the same time is unnerving.
Luckily, my daughter was asymptomatic. Thank God, because she was recently diagnosed as auto-immune-compromised. I, meanwhile, had a few days of feeling fatigued and having coldlike symptoms, but I bounced back. My son had horrible headaches, a cough and fatigue.
Then there was my husband, Derby, who was hit the hardest by far.
He had fatigue, fever and a dry cough. I was able to get him to St. Thomas Respiratory Clinic. The physician examined him and did not hear anything terribly concerning when he listened to Derby’s lungs. But an X-ray was ordered to make sure that he had not fractured a rib from all the heavy coughing.
I asked that the X-ray orders be changed to include his entire chest and lungs. When the nurse called the next day, she informed us that while no rib was fractured, he had strained his intercostal muscle near his ribs. What’s more, the chest X-ray indicated that Derby had a mild case of pneumonia.
This was a game-changer.
I was a wreck. He still had fever, pain in his ribs, the dry cough and he was weak. I had never seen him this sick in 23 years.
I called his primary care provider and begged for a steroid, Prednisone. Three days into a seven-day course, he was not improving much.
There is no more lonely feeling in the world than sitting at the kitchen table and franticly researching COVID-19 and pneumonia. There is a paralyzing stillness in not knowing what your next move is going to be. Or what it should be.
I tried to keep my struggle hidden so that our kids would not see how afraid I was. I felt like Derby was at a critical point in this illness and that the next 24-48 hours were really important.
He was either going to start getting better or his breathing was going to get worse, and that would mean a trip to the ER. I stood watch over him at night to make sure he was breathing, the way you watch over a newborn infant as they sleep.
His blood-oxygen level was never below 90, which gave me some peace of mind. I prayed. I took advice from nurses and doctors and friends and family members who I trust. I had lots of well-meaning suggestions. I listened openly. But at the end of the day, I had to trust Derby’s doctor. I had to watch him closely and trust my instincts.
Between Day 4 and Day 5 on the Prednisone, Derby’s energy began to come back. His coughing lessened and he was able to move around better.
I have had friends who were not so lucky. A dear friend lost her sister to COVID-19 a few days before Christmas and my heart is completely broken for her.
There is no script for this disease. For now, we have no way of knowing how this virus will affect one person to the next. But I am asking you to take it seriously, wear a mask and be respectful of others — before it hits too close to home, as it did for me.