A Healthy, 34-year-old, Georgia woman contracts COVID-19 and has been sick for 80 days and counting.
Updated: Jul 13
Sabrina Singleton, 34-year-old, Functional Technology Specialist, (Hinesville, Georgia)
My COVID-19 story began on June 20th, 2020. I woke up and couldn’t smell or taste anything. I had a nose bleed for about a week, body-aches, extreme exhaustion, and had a sore throat. I never had a fever.
I did not get a COVID test until June 28th because I thought it was allergies as I did not have a cough, shortness of breath, or fever. (common symptoms of the Coronavirus) My sister also got tested. She was asymptomatic. My sister's result came back within three days. She was positive. My test did not come back until July 8th. I was also positive. I had inadvertently contracted COVID-19 from my sister.
During the time I waited for my test results, my health took a turn for the worse. I went to the Liberty Regional Medical center walk-in clinic, on July 2nd, due to chest pain and cough. I informed the doctor that my sister had tested positive, but I was still awaiting my test results. my only symptoms at this time were chest pain and cough. The doctor prescribed Tessalon Perles, for my cough, and was going to discharge me, but I begged them to do chest x-rays to give me peace of mind, as I had never in my life felt this feeling that I had in my chest. I had the x-ray done and was told that he would call me with the results. (He didn't expect anything to show up on them, so he felt that there was no reason to make me wait, as he knew I was feeling really bad and needed to be in bed, resting).
While I was picking up my prescription at CVS - the doctor called and informed me that my x-ray results came back and I had pneumonia in both lungs. He told me that he would be prescribing me an antibiotic, but said that if the pneumonia was due to a COVID-19 infection, the antibiotics would not work.
Later that night I went to the Liberty Regional Emergency Department, as I felt I could not breathe. I felt dizzy, my chest hurt very badly, I had shortness of breath and scary heart palpations. When I got to the ER they stated I was having an anxiety attack (which I do not have anxiety) - they gave me Xanax to calm me down. I was also given IV fluids because I was dehydrated. Once again, I begged the doctor to please do blood work and cat scan because I suffer from Factor V (blood clotting disorder) and I wanted to rule out a possible blood clot in my lungs (pulmonary embolism). My lab work was all jacked up, my D-Dimer was evaluated, also when I would stand my heart rate would skyrocket to over 100 plus bpm. And my oxygen levels were not normal. In the doctor's terms “orthostatic vitals show tachycardia when standing.” They did an EKG on me (normal) and also tested my blood sugar (normal).
After spending hours in the Emergency room, I was finally discharged when I was able to stand and walk around with 95% oxygen saturation levels. Upon discharge, I was told that my lungs had scattered areas of pleural based round-shaped -ground-glass opacities that were seen throughout the right and left lung, predominately involving the subpleural surface and abutting the fissures; these images were found on my CT scan. I was relieved to hear that there was no evidence of pulmonary embolism; however, the above findings demonstrated common CT Imaging features of COVID-19 Pneumonia. I was told to isolate for 7 days and that I had to be fever-free, 3 days prior to returning to work. (I never developed a fever at any point in my illness)
I went back to the ER on July 6th, 2020. This time I drove an hour to a Savannah, Georgia emergency room; Memorial Health Emergency. I was again having chest pain, shortness of breath, memory loss, still could not smell or taste, and I had absolutely no appetite. I was prescribed Albuterol and more Tessalon Perles. My blood pressure was elevated but I was told this could be for many reasons and that they recommended I follow up with my primary care provider for a blood pressure re-check, in a couple of days. I once again returned to the comfort of my home, where I knew my 16 year-old son, Charles, and my faithful pet dog, Pluto were waiting. (I of course quarantined in my room away from them, to keep them safe, but my son and I texted, talked through the door, and Face-Timed. Just knowing they were there was comforting to me)
I felt so horrible; I spent many days just laying in bed. As the days went by I had really bad pressure in my ears/head, vertigo, speech problems, and memory issues. (I was extremely worried that I was having a stroke on more than one occasion)
I went back to Liberty Regional Walk-in clinic on July 13th, because I was advised by the ER doctor to follow up on my COVID pneumonia and I also wanted to get the pressure and pain in my ears checked out; they were hurting so badly. When I got to the walk-in clinic. I was refused care. I was told to go home, rest, take Tylenol and Motrin for my heart palpations and vertigo, and to stop coming out. I told them that I had been isolating myself and still, 2 weeks later, I just didn’t feel good. They informed me there was nothing they could do. Just rest... ( I was beyond shocked!!)
I called my PCP on July 15th and had an over the phone (virtual) doctors appt with her. I let her know everything that was going on. She prescribed me a nebulizer, Motion sickness medication, medication for anxiety, and steroids. She put me out of work for another two weeks.
I went through a major depression during the time that I was ill. I felt alone and like I was getting brushed off. Instead of doing further testing - I was sent home to isolate. It was truly amazing to me that a place that is there to serve and have compassion for those who need medical care, didn't seem to care at all and just sent me home, to deal with whatever may happen to me... on my own!
A couple of days later, my doctor called me to check on me and I informed her that I was still dizzy, she told me to drink Gatorade because my body was still trying to recover. I finally went in to see her in person on August 19th. AT THIS POINT, I HAD BEEN SICK FOR 2 MONTHS!! She checked my ears and I had fluid in them. She prescribed allergy medication to try to dry them out. I took that for 5 days. It did not give me any relief. She then stated I might have a sinus infection and prescribed antibiotics. I took that for 2 weeks. Needless to say, my ears still hurt.
I followed up with my Hematologist/Oncologist. She monitors my factor V deficiency. She placed me on blood thinners stating COVID-19 causes blood clots and with my condition and history, I should have at least been on blood thinners for three months. She also did a CT scan. I showed no pulmonary embolism but they did find I had swollen shotty lymph nodes and a sliding hiatal hernia. I was referred to a GI doctor - who put me on medication for the hernia and stated she would like to do an upper endoscopy, but with me having chest pain and heart issues, she referred me to a Cardiologist and once I’m cleared by the Cardiologist that my heart is healthy enough to withstand the procedure, they will sedate me to do an upper endoscopy. I am scheduled to have stress test and echocardiogram on October 2nd. I am currently wearing a heart monitor for two weeks to check for heart issues.
It has now been 80 days, since experiencing my first Coronavirus symptom. I am having a number of horrible after-effects: I am losing my hair; I was told that when the body goes through something devastating it can result in hair loss. I still suffer from heart palpations, I have my smell and taste back but now I constantly smell cigarette smoke. I have stomach issues, anxiety. GI issues, ear and headaches, heart fluttering, and a racing heart, so possible heart damage.. all caused by COVID !!
This virus affects everyone differently. Sadly some die from COVID-19, others have no symptoms at all, others have a mild 7 days or so of feeling bad, and then there’s a group of people who have lingering symptoms, with no end in sight. In the COVID-19 community, we are called Long-Haulers. We are all searching for answers to our questions, "When will this go away? When will I feel normal again? " The truth is that no-one can give us that answer!!
At the writing of this story, September 18th, I am back at work but I’m constantly tired. I have extreme fatigue. I am still sick. I used to work out and enjoy being around friends. Now I no longer workout. I would rather catch up on sleep, after a long day of work, and on my weekends- I’m constantly in pain.
The worst Coronavirus symptom that I had/have is the chest pain and shortness of breath. It truly feels like someone is sitting on your chest and holding your mouth and nose closed. It’s the scariest thing ever. I do not wish this on anyone. There were days I thought I was going to die.
For those who have not contracted COVID-19, I offered this advice: Please wear your mask, wash your hands, and if you do get it - be your own advocate. You will inevitably be brushed off by doctors who say this is anxiety, but stand your ground and ask for a referral to see a specialist. Stand up for yourself and KEEP FIGHTING!!
It’s 3 months later and I still have many appointments ahead of me... this isn’t over for me yet. I pray one day I’ll be able to have a normal life again...I wish COVID-19 had NEVER touched my life.
I cannot count the number of times that I have been
in this gown, since this journey began.