Our Family’s COVID-19 Experience

Writing this is probably the first time that I have felt close to normal in the last three weeks. My family was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early July, and it was pretty much my worst nightmare.

I work at a local hospital. We are required to wear masks and eye protection at all times.

To be honest, I was in complete denial. We followed the social distancing rules, wore masks, and washed our hands religiously. I’ve turned down playdates, large family gatherings, the boys aren’t playing sports this summer, we didn’t enroll them in summer camps, and they only go from our home to my parents’ house. We have taken all of this very seriously. How could we be sick?

As our community started opening up, we added a few more places to our routine and we got sick.

My husband developed a sore throat and allergy like symptoms and insisted that he should get tested. I blew him off and told him it was allergies. As a few days went by, he felt worse. We’re talking nausea, high fever, sweating, chills, and exhaustion.

Then, we got the email. My husband and son were possibly exposed to COVID-19. Still in my mind, I thought there is no way they could have been exposed.

The next day, my son developed a high fever out of nowhere, and we rushed to urgent care. He’s asthmatic, so any virus or infection can set off his asthma. I was sure it was another ear infection or strep throat. He tested negative for both. Then it hit me. Could he have COVID-19? The doctor tested him out of precaution. The next day, my husband got tested.

Both tests came back positive, and then I got it, too. 

The health department called with quarantine directions, to discuss our symptoms, who we came in to contact with, and every place we have visited in the last few days. Luckily, I document everything in my calendar so we were able to piece together our whereabouts. My husband and our 12-year-old son had to quarantine for two weeks, and my 6-year-old and I had to quarantine for a four extra days due to him being asymptomatic and the date of my first symptoms. Let me tell you, those four extra days were rough.

Our quarantine was a blur, mainly because we slept and ate. We both were able to work from home — we are extremely blessed to have this option. We are very lucky to have a support system that helped us get through this ordeal with meals and pharmacy runs. Our kids basically had a screen in their face 24/7 because that was the only way for my husband and me to rest or work. 

All of our symptoms were completely different. My 6-year-old was presumed positive but exhibited no symptoms. He really lived his best life during our quarantine. He got everything he wanted and more just so we could rest. My 12-year-old had a high fever for three days and slept most of that time. By the fourth day, he was back to his normal self. My husband had the classic case with flu-like symptoms, nausea, high fever, pink eye, exhaustion, and a very hoarse cough. 

This is my new best friend. I’m still having shortness of breath. Sometimes my chest feels like an elephant is sitting on it and it hurts to breath.

My symptoms started out allergy like — sneezing, sore throat and burning eyes. I had no fever, then the flu-like symptoms and exhaustion hit me. I felt like I had worked out really hard and my muscles ached. I felt better for a few days, and then I couldn’t breathe. I was breathless after simple things like making my kids breakfast or loading the dishwasher. Walking from the couch to the kitchen left me dizzy. My chest felt so tight and it was hard for me to catch my breath. I was told to go back to urgent care to get my oxygen levels checked. I cried the whole drive there. I thought for sure that I was going to die or pass out. My whole body hurt. I was exhausted, and I was scared. My oxygen levels were good, my lungs were clear, and the doctor said my EKG was “beautiful.” My breathing trouble is a side effect of COVID-19. I was prescribed an inhaler to help with my symptoms. I don’t know how long I’ll need it, and I hope it’s just temporary.

We’re practicing wearing our masks inside and hand sanitizing every hour to prepare them for school.

Please take this virus seriously. My family got very lucky this time. My kids have daily interaction with my family including my 91-year-old grandma, and none of them got sick. I do fear sending my kids back to school. I have full faith in my children’s school; it’s the fear that other families are not being as cautious that keeps me awake at night. Please wear a mask, social distance, and be smart. Is the playdate worth it? Is the vacation worth it? Is the happy hour worth it?

I’m so grateful that we are all getting better and recovering because others haven’t been so lucky.

COVID-19 Family Resources:

  • We didn’t know where or how to get tested. We used Care Navigator to help recommend the best care option for us.
  • Stock your medicine cabinet. I had just replenished our medicine cabinet, so we had plenty of fever reducers and cough drops on hand. Plus, we had new toothbrushes, too.
  • Push fluids. My kids hate drinking water, so I had plenty of options for them to flavor their water and Gatorade as well.
  • Online grocery and food delivery. My husband or I could barely move so we relied on grocery delivery and food delivery to help us get through our quarantine.
  • Ask for help. Our support system really stepped up. Our family and friends dropped off homemade meals, snacks, and prescriptions. One day, I was desperate for construction paper and crayons to keep our 6-year-old busy and one of my girlfriends dropped off the items at our door.
  • I love makeup. I replaced my Chap Stick, lipstick, lip gloss, mascara, make-up brushes, and foundation sponges just to be safe.
  • I had Lysol on hand and sprayed everything we touched. Sofas, beds, pillows, tv controller, sink knobs, door knobs, refrigerator handle, toilets, etc. daily.

Jessica Salazar Collins is a momma of two boys, 12-year-old Joshua Arturo and 6-year-old Trinidad Ramon. Jessica was born and raised in Kansas City, MO, (she lived in Westport before it was cool) and is the only KU Jayhawk graduate in a family of Mizzou Tigers. She loves all things Frida Kahlo, chocolate, and superhero-related (boy mom necessity). By day, she is a healthcare marketer; by night, she googles information about Marvel Comics in order to carry on a conversation with her boys and researches ways to meet Lin-Manuel Miranda in a non-stalker way.