COVID-19: One Mom's Story

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"I picked him up at the airport and for some crazy reason I took a mask with me and I took a thermometer."

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Recovering from COVID-19

Coronavirus Covid19 Minneapolis Tylenol Quarantine Flu Test Cough Fever Safe Hygiene

Story Transcript

My name is Sharon Rocklin Stillman. I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I'm the mother of three children. A 23-year-old daughter, a 20-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter. About a week ago, actually, a week ago today, exactly, on March 11th, my 20-year-old son, who was in the United Kingdom on business, in London, called me in the morning and said that he had woken up in his hotel room and that he wasn't feeling great. And it's quite unusual for me to hear that from him because he's an athletic, strong young man. And I just thought the fact that he told me he wasn't feeling great and that he had woken up with a cough sounded unusual. He was actually at a hotel right at Heathrow Airport, and he was on his way home. So I just asked him if he had a fever. He said he didn't think so. He didn't have a thermometer, but he felt otherwise fine. He just said he woke up with a cough, and so he got on the plane and flew back to Minneapolis, and I just took it upon myself to call our local pediatrician, even though he's kind of almost aged out of going to a pediatrician. But I happen to know the pediatrician quite well. And so I just put in a phone call and said, you know, explained the situation that he was on his way back and he had called and said he didn't feel well and if there was anything I should be doing, anything I should be looking out for and they said, Well, why don't you wait till he lands and decide? Ask him how he's feeling and then call us back if you think we should see him.

I picked him up at the airport and for some crazy reason I took a mask with me and I took a thermometer just thinking, He's coughing. I'm picking him up. I'll just be safe. He got in the car and he said that he was not feeling great. He was coughing, and he said that he felt a little achy. So I put on the mask. I took his temperature. He did not have a fever. We put on the mask, I called back and they said, You know what? Why don't you just bring him around? We're gonna have you come in a separate entrance. When you get here, you ring the bell. And we were about 20 minutes away. When we got there, they came to the door in a complete hazmat suit, goggles, mask, gown, gloves. They proceeded to ask him questions. Where he'd been. He had been in London for five days. He had been on a train while he was there to Birmingham from London, which was about a two hour train ride. Before that he had been in Australia also for a week and come back. And two weeks prior to that, he had been in Thailand and flown through China and South Korea on layovers on his way. So he had been on quite a number of different trips and a number of flights. But he had not been sick at all up until this point.

They decided to do a flu test. Took 10 minutes to get the results. The flu test was negative. Then she said that she felt like she wanted to test him for COVID-19 just in case based on where he had been traveling and how he was feeling. And then they let us out the door and sent us out on our way and told us that both he and I needed to be in quarantine until we got the results back. So on Saturday afternoon we did in fact have a confirmation that he tested positive, which was shocking to say the least. I did not think that he had it. You know, he never had a fever at all at that point. He did have really uncomfortable body pains. He did have a dry cough. He had a headache, but he did not have a fever. I was trying to be brave, and I could have went into protective mom mode. And up until that point, I had been very careful washing my hands. I sanitized and disinfected almost everything in the house. Lights, switches door, counters. I had sort of sequestered him to his room and his own bathroom, so we haven't been sharing the same space up until the point that it was confirmed. I felt like I was pretty diligent about keeping the house clean for myself so that I wouldn't get infected.

But after it was confirmed, I went into sort of like a double meticulous mode, of sanitizing every, absolutely everything, and making him stay in his room at all times. He subsequently did have a fever, which has lasted for three days, hovered around, I would say, between 99 and a 101. And the body aches, I would say, are the most troublesome. He says, his legs just ache. He still has the cough. The headache has gone away. He also has now sort of developed a like upper respiratory, kind of a cold, not a runny nose. But he says he doesn't have a sense of smell or taste at all. His breathing is not labored, but just, it's audible. I can hear like if he goes, comes downstairs to get a drink or something. I can hear just from going up and down a few stairs that he's breathing a little harder. But he says he's not having any trouble breathing at all right now, which is sort of what we've been warned about the most.

Also, after we got confirmation that his test was positive, we did get a call from the Minnesota Department of Health, and we were told that we had to begin our quarantine of 14 days starting on Saturday. So even though we were already self quarantined from Wednesday, that did not count, which is in my opinion, kind of a bummer. But here we are. On day five. This morning he did have a fever, and it was a 100.3. He took a shower, took a nap, which he never does, and when he woke up from the nap he said he felt a lot better than he has for days, and his fever was normal. His appetite is significantly diminished. He's not eaten much. I'm pushing the fluids. We're drinking a lot of Gatorade. We also did switch from ibuprofen, which he was taking in the beginning, to Tylenol. We also did call the pediatrician cause his sore throat was really, really painful, and she put him on an antibiotic, amoxicillin, even though you know it is a virus. She said that a lot of COVID-19 patients seem to also be getting strep throat, and he does say that it's significantly better today after being on the antibiotic for 48 hours. Today I would say is probably the first day where he seems somewhat back to normal, but he is still in his room. I am in a separate part of the house.

I'm continuing to be very, very, very diligent about washing my hands, if I even think that I have come into contact with anything that he may have touched. And wiping all surfaces. I’ve also switched to using paper goods for him just to avoid sharing dishes. And if he has used a cup, I'm running the dishwasher twice just to be safe. I know it might sound like overkill, but at this point I'm really trying to prevent myself from coming down with this nasty virus. It just seems the older you are, the harsher it could be. So I am one week out of being exposed to it, and I'm feeling good. I'm definitely tired. I'm definitely emotionally, physically drained, but I'm coping, and I'm also taking an immune booster for myself and making sure that I'm hydrated and eating properly and trying to get a good night's sleep, always keeping one ear open in case I hear him calling me at night. But so far, that has not happened. And yeah, stressful times, extremely anxiety producing, but at the same time, try to stay calm and keep a level head and, just practice safe hygiene and praying that I don't get it.