Houston area friends share their COVID-19 experiences:

Updated: Aug 13, 2020

Crystal Trinidad age 46, Grad Student (Jersey Village, Texas)

The first week of June I had a slight headache, constant, that lasted about a week. I attributed that to sinus because my eyes, underneath, hurt to touch. The following week I felt better. So,  I made a hair stylist appointment. The headache remained during that week, but again, I figured it was just my sinuses. On Friday, June 12th, I went to the salon, wearing a face mask, and only 1 other patron was inside the salon with me. I had gone to the stylist, with a plan to have my stylist color and blow dry and style my hair. While waiting for the color to develop, I went to get some Dayquil for my head, as it started to hurt more. I was at the salon for about 3 hours, within that time frame, I began to go down hill quickly. I told my stylist that i no longer wanted to have my hair styled, as I needed to go lie down. After 2 hours of taking the Dayquil, i started to get chills and no matter how many blankets i put on, i could not get warm. I went to bed early and slept late into the next day. Upon awakening I felt extremely bad. I knew my old friend,  pneumonia was coming to visit, as i have had it before. All day Saturday I started having severe body aches. These body aches did not feel like flu body aches, i truly felt like I WAS HAVING an exorcism or something, as every part of my body, including the tips of my fingers were in extreme pain. I couldn't get comfortable in bed and was just writhing in pain. I have a Valium prescription for anxiety, and out of desperation, I took 2 pills. An hour later,  I took another 2. The medicine knocked me out, but apparently that's the only time I felt relief. I told my husband if I didn't feel any better by Sunday,  June 14th, I was going to emergency room, which i did the next day. I got to the ER, where it looked like a war zone or twilight zone as where the lobby used to be, it was replaced with a wall of clear plastic tarp like coverings; patients with symptoms of C-virus would be whisked behind this plastic and taken to a room. I was take to one of those tiny rooms. Due to my symptoms, the tests were expedited to see if i had the virus. I was tested for Covid, had blood drawn, had an EKG done, and had chest x-rays taken and thankfully was given a steroid shot. My fever only reached 99.8 the entire time, I continuously watched it due to fear that i was developing the virus. I was told that the test would take about 35 hours before i would get results back. The Doctor sat on my bed and said, "Look, you have pneumonia in your left lung, and you have classic symptoms of the virus  REGARDLESS of the test results, the test is only 80% accurate." She also informed me that she only works with Covid patients all day everyday and she was sure that I had it. She prescribed me Azithromycin and Cefdinir antibiotics, which I was told is a broad spectrum cocktail and would treat the pneumonia in my lung. I was discharged to recover at home. Although the steroid shot helped me greatly, I still slept on the couch for a full month. (This was the amount of time it took me to recover) I did officially test positive and lost 14 lbs. due to having diarrhea for 12 days, no appetite for weeks; as i wouldn't eat, i drank veggie drinks to continue to get some sort of nutrients. It is now August, and I am now dealing with the residual effects that follow some Coronavirus patients; which for me include brain fog and fatigue. (Not just confusion, but plain blank in your head confusion, where I forget what i'm saying, in the middle of a sentence.) I am still physically drained at times. The scary part is that my doctor told me that there could be other residual effects of contracting the virus that we may not know about, until they happen. (Heart & lung issues, issues with blood clots, stroke risks, etc) it's worrisome to think that i don't know when or for how long, i am at risk of something else happening. During the testing, it was discovered that I have a left vertical heart enlargement; this could have been caused by the Covid-19 virus, or by years of contracting pneumonia. I felt the worst that i could possibly ever feel, during the month that i was battling this virus; I cannot imagine being those who contracted it worse than i did. This virus is scary and the scariest part is not knowing, if you contract it, whether you will get a mild case or you will be someone who ends up on a ventilator... or worse. (The picture shown above was the day i returned home from my ER visit- I was not feeling great at all!) I am grateful for the help and treatment that i was given at Methodist Willowbrook.

(Me when I was feeling my worst)

Debbie Pena age 58, Staffing Recruiter (Houston, Texas)

My COVID-19 story begins in late 2019, when i was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins lymphoma and I underwent chemo treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center, to try to help me get rid of the lymphoma. I was extremely blessed as i was in remission after my first couple of months of treatment. I had been in remission for about 5 months when the pandemic hit the United States. Knowing that my immune system was compromised made this really scary for me because I knew i would have a hard time battling this illness and the outcome could possibly be tragic, as studies showed those who are immune-compromised had more of a chance of having a bleak prognosis, if they were hit with a bad case of Covid-19. I was fearful that my body was not strong enough to fight back and i had a great fear of contracting this virus. I took all steps necessary to try to keep from getting it, including wearing a mask, social distancing, working from home, and washing and sanitizing my hands frequently. As we have heard from medical professionals, it's hard to predict who and how someone will contract this illness and that was the case with me. My niece and i share an apartment, and her boyfriend came over to visit us one weekend, not knowing that he was asymptomatic; days later, we were all exhibiting symptoms of the novel Coronavirus. My 1st symptom was extreme fatigue followed by slight fever & chills .I had Bactrim in the house that had been prescribed to me a year ago for the flu, and I began to take that daily - I realize they say it's a virus & Bactrim couldn't cure the virus, but I was not taking any chances of having my symptoms develop into pneumonia.

Along with the cough, i had wheezing in my lungs, times when it felt hard to breathe. The extreme fatigue was the worst symptom (for days i could barely move from my bed and only wanted to sleep) I also had body aches, headache, fever and chills. I also was sweating through-out the night, when i would sleep. I took medications daily without fail -1000 mg of Emergen-c Immune plus (1000 mg vitamin C, plus vitamin D & Zinc) taken 3xs daily, Bactrim & Tylenol, for the body aches. I had been ill for about 3 weeks, when i began to recover and feel better. Due to an unexpected small bowel obstruction and needing emergency surgery, I was tested a 2nd time at Memorial Hermann SE hospital and was told that i was still positive for COVID-19. I was shocked, as i had zero COVID symptoms and hadn't had any symptoms in at least a week from being admitted into the hospital. I stayed in the hospital for 7 days and then I was released following my surgery. Being that I was diagnosed with COVID 19 and was going home to be cared for by my daughter, I wanted to get re-tested, so I went to an Urgent Care and received the rapid COVID test and I received a negative result. I am almost positive that i did not have Coronavirus while in the hospital and was either told that i did by the Doctor, or i received a false positive test. At the writing of this story, i still have an occasional cough, but am feeling almost back to normal and am currently now concentrating on recovering from my surgery. My suggestion to those who have not contracted the virus would be to wear a mask, when around people, to wash your hands frequently, and to practice social distancing, as i am proof that you never know when you may be around someone who may currently have or be a carrier of the virus, but is not currently showing symptoms.

Kimberly Mundell age 45, Account Executive (Clear Lake, Texas)

My Covid story sadly started on June 26th, my birthday. I began to have a really bad headache and between the headache and exhaustion that hit me, I couldn’t do anything but sleep all day. On day 2, I lost my taste & smell, which at the time, i did not know was a classic Coronavirus symptom. My 3rd day of being sick was actually scary for me, as i was beginning to have trouble breathing and began having a dry cough. I was starting to get very worried, when i coughed up blood. I still had what i thought was a sinus headache, felt weak and exhausted and my husband urged me to go to the Emergency room, just to be on the safe side; so I went to the ER to be checked out and to be tested. I had a nasal swab administered twice, was given a breathing treatment due to low oxygen levels, was given an EKG and went for a chest X-ray. My results showed that i had pneumonia in my left lung, but because my oxygen levels weren't too bad and were around 94, they told me that it would be safer for me to fight this virus at home with some antibiotics (these didn't help) and an inhaler. On my 4th night, I again had a hard time getting in a full breath and i had developed a fever of 100.3. I was experiencing odd chills. I would go from being hot and dripping in sweat to being chilled and very cold. The exhaustion was horrible; i felt like i didn't want to move from my bed, which was not possible, due to also being hit with a not so fun symptom of days of diarrhea. I continued to suffer and tried to ease my symptoms with over the counter medicines, as well as the antibiotics and inhaler given by the hospital. On my 9th night of being sick, my chest and back were both hurting, it was painful and hard to breathe, so I went back to UTMB, for more X-Rays. 6 days after i had been diagnosed with pneumonia in one lung, the virus had advanced to double pneumonia and was now in both of my lungs. I still had a fever of over 100, so they gave me new medications, a Z-Pac, steroid shot, steroid pills, another inhaler and told me to take 3000 mg of vitamin C and zinc daily. They also told me it was important to get 15 minutes of sunshine everyday. I have been ill for over a month and have never felt this sick and weak, in my life. Although I'm mostly recovered, at the writing of this story, it is still hard to catch my breath, when I walk or talk. About a week ago, i thought i had no symptoms for a day and was over it, and the next day i felt bad again. I was just as worried as most, about getting COVID-19 and had done everything that a person should do, to not contract the virus; I started working from home in February, was very careful about wearing my mask if I went out, had groceries delivered & most of the time i stayed at home and practiced social distancing. I believe my daughter’s boyfriend’s dad, who is a Dentist, was positive and passed the virus to his son, who then unknowingly gave it to my daughter. 2 days after my daughter fell ill, I also began to have symptoms. My husband and 20 year old son also live in the house with us, but have managed to stay healthy so far. One thing i can say is that this virus is no joke! My husband who is auto-immune suppressed is really freaked out and is sterilizing our house constantly and has been trying hard to stay away from us, as it could be deadly for him, should we somehow pass the virus onto him. We’ve been locked in different rooms for months now. I don't wish the Coronavirus on anyone; although some just have mild flu like symptoms, there is no way to tell whether you will have a mild case, or a case like mine and Krystal's (or worse, a case like others who were not as lucky as us to recover at all!). The Coronavirus does not discriminate when it comes to age, and although my 23 year old daughter never needed antibiotics; she still felt the sickest she has ever felt in her 23 years. She had a dry cough, fever, weakness and exhaustion. Recently, we both re-tested and both received negative results. Hearing stories of the possibility of receiving a false negative, we went to a 2nd place for testing, just to be sure that we were truly negative. (WE ARE NEGATIVE!!) I'm not sure if this is an after effect of the virus, but I am now getting frequent headaches that i did not have before my experience with COVID-19 and it is still hard for me to catch a full breath at times. (I am told that this will improve with time) If i could offer advice to anyone trying to steer clear of this virus, i would say don't touch your face or your mask, as it could be on your hands and you can't see it; also, wash or change out your mask frequently, and be sure to wash your hands often. I do not wish this illness on anyone, and i hope all reading our story will stay safe and healthy.

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