41 days

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41 days

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A personal account of the pandemic.

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It was 41 days from when I first called my primary care doctor’s office with symptoms until I received my test results that I was currently negative for COVID-19.
It started like a flu-like illness. I came down with a sudden fatigue, chills, night sweats. That shifted to a cough and a severe shortness of breath I can only describe as a corset being squeezed around my ribs. I would lie down and it felt like my five year-old was sitting on my chest, pressing into me preventing my lungs from fully expanding. I would try and walk up stairs, but we be so winded and light-headed I would have to stop and almost crawl up the last few. I called my primary doctor on Monday, March 16th. The woman I spoke to took my information and apologized saying a nurse would call me back, but she couldn’t say when. I didn’t hear back. I tried my asthma albuterol inhaler and it didn’t help. Tuesday, I called my pulmonary specialist and was able to fully describe the issues I was having, the worst being shortness of breath and back pain that would not improve with the use of my inhaler. I was told I had to stay home, they couldn’t test me for COVID and I couldn't be seen in the office. I shouldn’t go to the ER unless I had a high fever or couldn’t breathe. It felt like a dry pneumonia filling my lungs preventing me from filling them with air. There was no mucus, only a dry cough and a sore throat. I lost my appetite, I lost over 10 pounds.
Over the next few weeks I would slowly get better. I would call the COVID hotlines, I would check for updates on testing wondering what it would mean to be finally told a possible diagnosis. While on a follow up call with the nurse I explained my illness and that I continued to have issues with a cough, shortness of breath and pressure on my back pressing on my lungs, even weeks later. I was told possibly COVID, but I was not tested.
On Thursday April 23, I saw a post in a local online group that my city finally had a testing site set up. We were encouraged to call a number and see if we were eligible. I called the number and was a bit surprised to hear I was confirmed for an appointment to get a COVID-19 test later that day. I got the test, a double nose swab and was told I would be called in 24 to 48 hours later. I waited. On Sunday, April 26th at about 8:30pm I received the call. I was negative. 41 days after I first called to report my symptoms.

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