Pastor shares personal experience of COVID-19

Published 9:49 am Thursday, November 5, 2020

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I would like to take the time to explain my personal experience with COVID-19. On Tuesday, Oct. 20, I was diagnosed with COVID-19 and strep, and I had no clue at the time of my diagnosis as to how sick I was going to become over the next two weeks. The doctor prescribed Amoxicillin for the strep and explained I should take Tylenol and Ibuprofen for the fever and pain associated with the virus. I honestly thought that this was going to be a walk in the park.
I am 40 years old and I have been a picture of health my entire life. I have never been hospitalized, and I have only missed a church worship service twice for sickness in my 20 years as a pastor. I have hardly ever used a sick day as a school counselor, and I have worked in the schools for 18 years. I have never had the flu so you can say that I have been blessed beyond measure with great health! I would have never thought in a million years that the SARS-CoV-2 virus would affect me so badly.
I have worn a mask continually during this pandemic, and our church has required masks for individuals able to wear one since we started meeting back in person. We have also required social distancing by marking off every other pew in the church sanctuary. At school, I have worn a mask continually except when I was having lunch in my office. I have also been diligent to wash and sanitize my hands as well. I know the masks may not protect 100 percent, but I am thankful that I was wearing one while I was contagious and to my knowledge, no one contracted the virus from me. I do believe the masks help to stop the spread of the virus when we all choose to wear one. It is important to remain socially distanced as well. COVID-19 is a real virus with real consequences, and I have a profound respect for this illness especially after a two-week battle with it.
About three days before my diagnosis, I felt kind of tired and just not myself. My back and legs were sore and achy, but I had been doing lots of physical work and lifting with our church food distribution, so once again I felt it was normal. I had been remarkably busy with school and church work prior to this illness, so I felt like I was exhausted from all the things I had been doing. I did not think that it was anything to be concerned over, and I did not have any other symptoms. On Monday evening, Oct. 19, it was like someone flipped a switch. I began to feel terrible all at one time. My throat was extremely sore, and I had a temperature of 103. I hurt throughout most of the night and my throat grew much worse. On Tuesday morning, I let the school know that I would not be at work. By this time, my throat had swollen shut and swallowing saliva was almost impossible.
I called the doctor for an appointment and was seen promptly. She immediately diagnosed me with strep throat, but she wanted to do a COVID test to be on the safe side. I took a 15-minute rapid test and it was a confirmed positive case of COVID. At first, I could not believe that I had this virus and immediately found myself a bit apprehensive about it all. I had no idea where I had contracted the virus, and I sat for a while trying to retrace my steps from the previous week to no avail. I called my wife and she immediately went to be tested and she was also positive. At the time of her testing, she had zero symptoms. Our 14-year-old son started showing mild symptoms and a few days later, he also tested positive. Thankfully, my wife and son would not have as severe symptoms.
Every day seemed to bring about a new symptom, and I did not know what to expect next. My temperature would not come down with the ibuprofen or Tylenol. My stomach was burning from all the meds I had taken trying to get my temperature down. My body would shake violently, and my entire body would ache. I could still smell and taste, but I had no appetite at all. My taste was a bit on the odd side for sure. My chest began to burn, and it felt like a dagger was stabbed in between my shoulder blades. When I tried to inhale, it felt like the air was ice cold and I could get about half a breath before starting to cough. The coughing would make me more nauseated and I found myself in the bathroom floor dry heaving. I could not find any comfort sitting or lying down and I would lay on the rug in the living room floor and cry. I would sleep off and on, but it was almost impossible to get comfortable enough to rest. I don’t remember a time in my life when I ever hurt so badly, and there’s not a way that I can fully describe this horrid experience.
On Friday, three days after my diagnosis, I developed a headache. It felt like my head was in a vice grip and someone was always tightening it. I felt like my head would explode at some point. Light and sound made things much worse, and I was dizzy and disoriented. I kept the television off and did not want anyone to speak above a whisper. The headache moved down the back of my neck and the base of my skull was so sore that I could not touch it. It was difficult to place my head on the recliner or a pillow. Shower water felt like chickens pecking my scalp. My scalp and my hair became sore to the touch. Thankfully, my sore throat had eased off by this time and swallowing was much easier, but my chest started hurting more intensely. I did my best to drink lots of fluids and for whatever reason grape and orange juice is what I preferred to drink. They tasted the most normal. I could not bear the taste of soft drinks. Breathing became much more difficult and by Sunday evening, I was struggling. My heart began to hurt and it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest. My temp was still extremely high, and nothing seemed to be helping.
I was so thankful that people were praying for me because I was hurting so badly that I could not pray for myself. I honestly could not get my thoughts together and at times, I was not coherent. Sometimes I felt like I passed out from the amount of pain. The headache grew worse every day. When I was awake, I wondered how much more I could take and when I would be hospitalized if something did not begin to change for the better. On Monday morning, six days after my diagnosis, I called the doctor to tell them what was happening. He felt I was critical at this point, and if I developed any more symptoms or my current symptoms grew worse that I would be going to the hospital. He explained he wanted me to try some medications. He prescribed steroids, a Z-pack, an inhaler, and cough pills. Within 15 minutes of taking the steroids, my headache began to subside. It truly felt like a miracle. I took the Z-pack and used the inhaler as prescribed. I gradually started feeling better and the temperature finally broke. I am grateful that I did not end up hospitalized like so many others I know. The rest of that second week was an improvement and I eventually started to eat normal again. We are so grateful for our church family who helped us so much during this time and saw to our every need. We have been blessed with a wonderful community.
Now over two weeks from my diagnosis, I am feeling much better, but it seems that I am having a difficult time regaining my strength. I feel like I could sleep for days. I guess that is the body’s way of healing. My chest still feels a bit odd at times, and I can tell that the coronavirus has left a mark, but hopefully it won’t be permanent. I wanted to write this article to inform others of the real dangers of this virus. I heard so many people say that if you were healthy and young that you did not have anything to be concerned over, but I know that is not true. I would say 40 is still young and I am a healthy person, but this virus really wore me out. COVID-19 is a gamble. You may be the one that gets it that does not have any symptoms at all and it may be a walk in the park, or you could be the next person in the ICU on a ventilator fighting to live. Please take this illness seriously and do your part to stay healthy and to keep others healthy. I am thankful that Jesus Christ was with me each step of this difficult journey, and I know that he brought me through. Let’s also continue to keep healthcare staff in our thoughts and prayers as they battle this virus on the front lines. Many families in our community are struggling with COVID, and I am certain they need our prayers. Thank you for taking the time to read my experience, and I pray that you and your dear family stay well in the days ahead. I am overjoyed that God allowed me to get better and to continue my labor for Him!
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church, Hampton.)

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