Updated: Jul 13
Alfredo Sanchez age 36, Irma Aguilar age 58, Angie Morales age 21 (son, mother, daughter/sister)- Houston, Texas
OUR COVID-19 STORY: Told by Angie Morales
Our COVID-19 Story started in mid-June, when my brother Alfredo, an otherwise healthy 36-year-old Construction worker, with no underlying conditions, started feeling extreme fatigue coupled with a severe headache. After trying to rest and taking over the counter medicine for a day, his symptoms increased to adding a high fever (over 102), chills that were so bad that his whole body shook, painful, severe body aches, and a hacking cough. In a matter of just days, he also began vomiting, having diarrhea, and lost his ability to taste and smell.
My mother, Irma, and I knew that we had to take him to the local ER, for evaluation. We drove him to the Memorial Hermann Hospital in Katy, Texas, and he and my mother went in to get him checked out, while I remained in the car. My mom was turned away at the door; she was told that no-one was allowed to accompany a patient into the hospital, during the pandemic. He walked through the double doors alone. Due to the symptoms that he told the nurse at the front entrance that he was having, and the fact that he had a 102.5 fever, that was found on their routine forehead scan, they took him to an area of the hospital dedicated specifically to patients suspected of having the Coronavirus. My mom returned to the car and we texted him to please call or text us when he was ready to leave and we would come back to get him. (We did not think for a moment that he was sick enough to be admitted)
He was told by the attending nurse, that she was pretty confident that by the description of his symptoms and how sick he was, that he was going to be positive for the virus. They tested him and immediately began to give him IV fluids, antibiotics, and a warm blanket. They took X-rays, did an EKG to check his heart, and did a full battery of tests on him. As was suspected, he was confirmed positive for COVID-19, and his chest X-rays confirmed that he had developed double pneumonia. He texted us that he was being admitted to the hospital.
My mom and I now began to worry that we might contract the very contagious virus, from being in the car with him and from interacting with him days prior to him developing full-blown symptoms. They shared an apartment together, and as we are a very close family, I visited them daily. My mom and brother often want to visit with my children, Connie, 4, and Dominic 2, so we were over at their apartment a lot before he started showing symptoms. We tried to push the worry from our minds and decided it would be best for us to quarantine together for the 14 days, so I stayed with her. We were not able to return to work until we could produce 2 negative tests each. We settled in for a long 2 weeks of going no-where and doing nothing; but, we were together and happy that we were there to keep each other company.
My brother's pneumonia was under control, by his 3rd day in the hospital, so they discharged him to return home with instructions to quarantine for 2 weeks or until he was feeling better. We were all in the apartment together but were sure to wear our masks, use hand sanitizer, and Lysol the areas that we shared. We did our best to remain 6 feet away from him. Quarantined in the front bedroom, we could hear him having bouts of hacking coughing fits; we were surprised that they discharged him, as he still sounded very sick. My mom, being "a typical loving mom", would cook him soup and bring him medicines and did her best to care for her son, while trying to keep herself safe from the risk of getting the infection.
A few days into quarantining, we found a location that would provide free testing. The virus was hitting the city of Houston very hard, and it was a challenge, to find a place to get tested that wasn't already full. We were able to find a testing location that had room but we had to make an appointment online and attend the testing at a specific date and time that they gave us. We went to a high-school football stadium, that was set up as a drive-through COVID-19 swabbing center, in Northwest Houston. We remained in our car, while two people in full PPE stepped forward and with gloved hands, administered the COVID-19 swab. Once complete, they asked us to immediately roll up our windows, with instructions that we would receive results in about 3-5 days.
About 5 days after testing, we received the call, telling us that we had both tested NEGATIVE for the virus. (This should have been news that would have made us extremely relieved) We would have thought that we had dodged a bullet somehow but we were now displaying symptoms and feeling sick. We both had nasal congestion, slight cough, shortness of breath, sore throats, runny nose, and a horrible headache that lasted about 2 days; this headache could not be relieved with any type of medication. Days later, we were experiencing fatigue so bad that we didn't even want to get out of bed for our 2nd scheduled COVID-19 test. We had GI issues and an odd feeling of being chilled but while sweating during these chilly moments. We were both running a fever and had both lost our sense of taste and smell. We knew that without a doubt, we had contracted the novel Coronavirus.
We began to worry about my small children and their dad who is my partner of 6 years, as well as his family and anyone that we had interacted with before the symptoms began to hit us.
We were lucky to have a mild case of COVID-19 and hospitalization was not necessary for either of us. It took me, a healthy 21 yr old, a little over a week to start feeling better. My mom, who had been hospitalized 2 months prior to all of this starting, took longer than my brother and me. At the writing of this story, 10/4/2020, she has just started to go back to working a couple of days per week.
We are grateful that all 3 of us are so much better now, it was just a stressful, scary time in our lives, as with this virus, you just don't know how it will affect you. Not everyone is as lucky as we were and continue to be very sick 3 to 6 months after symptoms began.
Contracting the virus and being told you are positive is an extremely scary thing to go through; not only do you feel sicker than you have likely ever felt in your life, but you also worry about how bad you may get it. In addition, the worry never leaves your mind that you may be responsible for the devastating illness that someone else is experiencing due to your innocent interaction with them, prior to knowing you had COVID-19.
Those with underlying issues or over the age of 65, could be at real risk of becoming extremely sick or dying, so please stay safe ♡
Alfredo and our mom, Irma: Pre-COVID-19
Our beautiful mom, Pre-COVID-19
Blessed to be COVID-19 Survivors- the shirts we are wearing are available HERE and are designed and made by Cathryn and Scott Holzschuher
My little family that I was so worried about keeping
Our mom, Irma, Selene, (a family friend), Alfredo, my son, Dom, and I, at a family party pre-COVID.