We interrupt our regularly scheduled research blog to bring you...The Coronavirus Diaries!
Breaking News: On the evening of Wednesday April 22 your humble author was binge-watching Netflix when she realized she had (drumroll please) a fever. GASP!
Yes it appears I might actually be sick though I swear I have been self-isolating properly. I don't have access to testing at the moment, however the symptoms align with what has been reported for COVID-19. Fortunately my symptoms seem to be mild - resulting in more annoyance for me than any health danger (knock on wood). As someone who studies past pandemics and is living through a current one (along with the rest of you) I find it fascinating to potentially actually HAVE this disease. I decided it would be interesting to record my experiences here. Who knows, maybe in 100 years an anthropology graduate student will use this primary source for their dissertation.
In order to get a proper frame of reference for my experience, I feel I should include a few personal details about me. I am a 31 year old female of decent physical fitness. I have no pre-existing heart conditions, obesity or hypertension, therefore my risk of extreme illness due to COVID-19 is low. I do, however, have asthma. Sources seem to be slightly mixed on whether asthma constitutes a higher risk
I feel I should also recount my self-isolating experiences. I am NOT one of the people who have been playing on the beach in the past weeks. I have only left my house to go grocery shopping a few times during which I wore a mask, used copious amounts of hand sanitizer, and did my best to keep 6 feet between me and other shoppers (which can be difficult in aisles that are only 6ft wide). When I returned home my hands were immediately washed, clothing changed, and my phone and wallet disinfected. The only other times I have left my house are to go running outside. When I run I do not wear a mask but I will cross to the complete other side of the street if a person is in my path. How I managed to get sick is honestly the most worrying thing about this.
So what have the progression of my symptoms been?
April 19 - Sunday
It was a beautiful day so I went for a run around the neighborhood. Normally I can go at least 3 miles before I rue the day and want to just cut off my knees and ankles. On Sunday, however I made it about 15 minutes before I wanted to throw myself into a ravine. I was inordinately tired and out of breath. Everything was blooming so I assumed it was the pollen+asthma combination that did me in. This is not uncommon in the spring and summer months.
April 20 - Monday
On Monday I noticed nothing out of the ordinary. I had no other discernible symptoms. I participated in a lovely guest spot on Michael Rivera's Arch and Anth podcast. While I might sound a bit discombobulated and nervous I certainly don't sound sick. In the evenings I participated in a Zoom crossfit class. The workout was not particularly difficult but I remember having far more trouble than thought I would. At the time I assumed I was stressed and tired as I hadn't been sleeping particularly well.
April 21 - Tuesday
All systems were still go. I didn't notice anything amiss. Weirdly I was to have another guest spot on a podcast that day - this time on Palmer Ferguson's Rinse & Repeat History podcast where I talked about the 1918 Flu pandemic. I like to think that I could become the Paul F. Tompkins of the academic podcast world. Too bad I am not nearly as interesting to listen to as he is. (If you don't understand that reference you should expand your comedy podcast listening).
Around 2pm I was very sleepy and I wanted to be awake for the podcast recording so I took a 30 minute nap. Afterwards I was still very tired so I tried to walk around, do pushups, drink coffee, whatever I could in order to sound engaging and fun for the podcast. I'm not entirely sure it worked. After that my day continued as normal.
April 22 - Wednesday
Situation still normal. No discernible symptoms (other than fatigue but I didn't know that at the time). Around 3 pm I again got super sleepy. Under normal life circumstances 3pm is when my energy starts to flag. When I'm in the lab this is when I have to get up, go for a walk, get some coffee. That day I decided to take another 30 minute nap and I woke up 3 hours later. That evening was the first time I noticed a fever coming on. I don't have a thermometer so I gauge my fevers by when I feel warm. This sounds stupid except that I am one of those people who is ALWAYS COLD. I'm cold inside. I'm cold outside. I bring a jacket with me everywhere I go. So if I am somewhere and everyone else is cold and I am not - that's when I know I have a fever. Anyway, when I realized I had a fever - that's when I knew I probably had a real problem and might be actually sick.
April 23 - Thursday
I woke up on Thursday feeling fine. I had no fever, no aches, no respiratory symptoms, but I decided to take it easy and relax most of the day just in case. I was tired enough that I took a late morning nap. The fever again made an appearance in the late afternoon just as I had started my Indiana Jones marathon. By the early evening I had also developed a slight tickle in my throat.
I live with some other housemates so at this point I developed a set of procedures for when I needed to go downstairs (i.e. to prepare food and do laundry - other than that I do not leave my room). I wear a mask downstairs, I wash my hands before touching anything and I wipe down any handles, knobs, and switches I touch with lysol.
APril 24 - Friday
Again woke up feeling fine. The irritating throat tickle had developed into a slight dry cough though I only cough maybe a few times an hour. I'm not hacking up a lung or anything. No fever developed all day and I had no chills, aches, headache or anything. The "feels like" today in Cleveland at noon was 37 degrees and I was chilly so that was normal.
April 25 - Saturday
April 26 - Sunday
April 27 - Monday
There was no change over the weekend from Friday. No fever. No respiratory symptoms. I was perhaps more easily fatigued than usual.
April 28 - Tuesday
On Tuesday I was back to being a bit tired. My respiratory symptoms were noticeably worse. I may have had a fever in the afternoon. Interestingly the symptoms seem to peak between 3-7pm (right when the pollen count is usually the highest. A coincidence? Probably not). But I am fine in the mornings.
There are numerous articles in the news about whether you get immunity from having the virus. On a personal level if I do have it and I don't get some form of immunity from this I am not going to be a happy camper. On a global level if prior illness doesn't give you some form of immunity that is very bad and very bizarre. I am hoping at this point the virus is simply too new for us to know yet. There simply hasn't been enough time for enough people to become reinfected.
April 29 - Wednesday
I felt more fatigued and had noticeable had respiratory issues in the afternoon. Can you tell the days are all blending together?
April 30 - Thursday
I was concerned about the return of respiratory symptoms the day before so I took took the day off. I spent the entire day reading novels. I did feel much better. I think I aggravated my respiratory system less.
May 1 - Friday
I took things easy again today. I was a little concerned to notice my respiratory symptoms had changed from a cough to what I think is shortness of breath. I had to google that phrase to figure out what exactly that means. It sounds to me like "shortness of breath" should feel like your lungs aren't able to expand to full capacity, but I can breathe in deeply just fine. What I am experiencing feels like slight inflammation in my airways. As someone with asthma it is something I am familiar with though not usually when I am just sitting there. Anyway, it seems like I have slight shortness of breath.
An old friend an I chatted on the phone and we discovered that a hospital nearby where I am living does online health checks. I would like to get tested to see if I genuinely have COVID-19 but I think in my area testing is being reserved for those that are really sick. But if I have to get on a plane sometime in the next month to return home to Arizona I'd like to make sure I've waited long enough to not put people in danger.
May 2 - Saturday
"Shortness of breath" continues. After over a week of trying to take it easy and not go downstairs my room was a mess and I was abruptly tired of it. I took some time to clean which probably wasn't a good idea since vacuuming kicks up dust and inhaling cleaning products never does anyone any good. While I was bustling about my fever might have resurfaced. It seems to be more that I have trouble regulating my temperature at this point than an actual fever. When I just sit there I am fine but if I do any activity I feel uncomfortably warm. Again, I don't have a thermometer so I'm just guessing here.
Stay safe and stay tuned for updates