Updated: Jul 13
NANCY, SHOWN BELOW, IN HAPPIER, HEALTHIER DAYS, BEFORE COVID TOUCHED HER LIFE.
Nancy Carp, Retired Teacher, Ocala, Florida
TrueStoriesofCovid19 Q&A with Nancy Carp
What was the month and/or date that symptoms began: March 14, 2020
What were some of your first symptoms, tell us in your words about that day or night, when you noticed something wasn’t right and you began to first develop symptoms: On Friday, March 13, I wasn’t feeling well and knew something was wrong. I couldn’t sleep and had a headache - and I don’t get headaches. Through the night my throat began to hurt and I developed a dry cough and very raspy voice. My body began to ache – especially my lower left side of my back. By early Saturday, 5 am, I had a fever of 100.4.
Did you seek medical treatment or get a COVID-19 test? After 3 days of these symptoms, I called my primary doctor. He was quite concerned and told me to go to the ER, which I did. I went to West Marion in Ocala and they asked me the typical questions to determine if I had COVID. They examined me and could hear me wheezing, listened to my dry cough, took my temp and vitals, and concluded that I had COPD, to my dismay. When I informed the doctor that I don’t have COPD nor have I ever smoked, he responded with “well it’s an asthma attack and we will treat it the same.” He told me they had no COVID tests to even check for COVID. (Found out 3 weeks later from 2 other people the same thing happened to them). They gave me 2 hours of breathing treatments, oxygen, prednisone, aspirin, cough syrup, and sent me home.
I called the Marion County Health Dept multiple times to get a COVID test but didn’t qualify – so I finally lied. Finally, I got a test on April 26th. But of course, as my dr told me it would be, it was negative. My dr believed me from day one that I had the Coronavirus.
Do you know how you contracted the virus:
I’m not sure but I did spend a lot of time with a friend, within 2 weeks prior, who was with someone who possibly has Covid. The problem is that someone was very sick with all the symptoms but couldn’t get tested. My friend never got sick. She thinks she was asymptomatic.
Tell us about the progression of your illness as the days went on: I started with the headache, dry cough, aches, breathing issues, loss of taste and smell, fever, sore throat, and weakness. My fever lasted for 3 months. Over the past 6 months, I have run periodically a low grade fever.
In the 2nd month, more things began to happen. My hair began to fall out in clumps. This continued for 7 months. I’m very lucky that I started with 3 heads of hair, but I did lose more than 2 heads. At this time, over 9 months, it still falls out but not in clumps and I see some small new hair growth.
My heart began to race no matter what. My resting heart rate was 120 and as soon moved around it could go to 180. I was always exhausted no matter what. Between the cough and trying to breathe, and then my heart fears increasing, it was a struggle. My stomach pains increased to the point that I had diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. I had no appetite. I lost 18 pounds over 6 months. The dr did give me medication for the pains which helped. The constant pain in my left side lower back was horrendous. Every breath made it hurt. No matter which way I turned it hurt. And brain fog began. My memory was very foggy most of the time.
The 3rd month was no better. All symptoms remained, except for my headache. I was very depressed. I was in touch with my primary who I was fortunate enough to have believe me. He referred me to a pulmonologist. The pulmonologist put me on antibiotics and prednisone. Antibiotic didn’t help but the prednisone helped a little.
The 4th Month I went for pulmonary testing because I couldn’t breathe and my cough was like moving a brick wall in my chest. Once I was put on Symbicort I was doing better. At the writing of this story, 12/28/2020, I am still on Symbicort.
The 5th month I was having a lot of heart issues so my primary referred me to a cardiologist. I had an abnormal EKG for the first time. I had palpitations, my heart is always racing and I’m out of breath no matter what I do. I’m very exhausted by this time. I’m not eating and become dehydrated. I wind up in the ER for breathing treatments, oxygen, and fluids.
The 6th month my smell and taste are back but I have other issues. Now I have a terrible taste in my mouth. I either have a metal taste or it tastes like I haven’t brushed my teeth in months. It’s awful. As far as smell, I keep smelling burnt toast or coffee.
The 7th month I started going through heart tests to see what to do about my racing heart and palpitations. Now at night, I start to feel like I’m skipping beats and it wakes me up.
The 8t & 9th month- by now although I’m eating a little more, my appetite isn’t great. Some days I still don’t eat much. I can’t get out of bed till about 11 and then I’m still tired. Just taking a shower totally exhausts me. I’ve had several heart tests and they find I am losing beats. I am now going from tachycardia to bradycardia and losing beats. My cough has returned but not as bad as in the beginning. My stomach still isn’t good though my weight seems to have stabilized. I haven’t lost or gained. My O2 varies from 94-98.
My brain fog is really bad. I’m grabbing for a cup of tea without making it, putting my phone in the frig, and even forgot my roommate's name.
Did you quarantine or do anything special to keep other occupants of the house or other family members from getting it? Yes. I stayed away from my roommate but he got sick 9 days later, but mildly.
If you are still sick, tell us how long you have been ill and if you have been unable to work or if it has affected your life in a dramatic way. I’m still sick for over 9 months and I haven’t had a life. My life consists of going to the dr and that’s it. Even taking out my dog is a huge task. Depression has set in. The COVID support groups help me keep my sanity.
Do you have any advice for those who have not gotten COVID-19? Hang in there. Find a doctor to believe you. Join a COVID-19 Support Group online. Many times I had symptoms that seemed weird but once I read others had the same thing I felt better. It helps emotionally.