Virginia woman wakes up to teeth- chattering chills & 103-degree fever: her first COVID-19 symptoms.
Updated: Jul 13
Deborah is pictured here with her grandson, Justice, in 2019, during a happier time, before the CORONAVIRUS, "became a "thing".
Deborah Valentine, Retired- Winchester, Virginia
Deborah's story, in HER WORDS:
My COVID-19 story began on June 17th, 2020, when I woke up with teeth chattering chills (they were actually from a 103 fever), after unintentionally falling asleep watching TV. I also had what I thought was an extreme urgency to urinate, but before I could get to the bathroom (20 feet away), I had the first of nine days of horrible, unrelenting explosive diarrhea attacks. The diarrhea was followed by some vomiting and severe stomach cramps. I thought I had food poisoning. I also had body pain, like I have never experienced. It was through-out my body, as though I had been beaten and kicked.
I live far out in nature, up in an area covered with beautiful woods. It's beautiful and peaceful, but at times, the cell service is not the best, and there can be periods of time where texting rather than calling, is the most effective way to reach anyone. (I texted my daughter, Shannon, that night, letting her know that I was sick).
Because I was so weak from the diarrhea and not being able to eat (it took me 3 days to get a small banana down) I didn’t make my way out to call my doctor for 7 days. My PCP's office, (not my Doctor) advised me that without respiratory symptoms, that I didn’t need to worry about being tested for COVID-19. (I was relieved to hear that!)
I had seen my Rheumatologist on June 16th, (the day before all this started), and he ordered lab tests. I called his office to see, if any abnormalities had shown up on those tests (at this point I thought my liver was possibly exploding). He advised me that with diarrhea and a high temperature, (102.6 at that point) that I should get tested for COVID-19. I drove thru a “swabbing” station at my local urgent care on June 24th. At 8 a.m, two days later, I started getting calls from the Rheumatologist’s office, the urgent care, my primary care, and the health department contact tracer, letting me know that I was positive.
Although my “real” symptoms started June 17th, I did mention to my Rheumatologist on June 16th, that I was having weird hand pain…that continues, still, to this day.
June 17th-June 18th- Chills, stomach cramps, severe horrible unrelenting diarrhea (and an odd sensation/ confusion, of feeling that I needed to pee when, in fact, I was going to have a diarrhea attack. I’ve read documentation where COVID patients have 4 or 5 episodes of diarrhea per day. NO. I am talking almost every hour. I was exhausted from attempting to get to the bathroom and cleaning myself up and cleaning up after myself. My belly hurt so bad bending over, I was dizzy and usually that would start the vomiting. I have corresponded with other COVID patients, who found, as did I, that the odor from this diarrhea is unlike anything imaginable. It is horrific.
I started having a horrible headache…it stayed a constant for almost 2 months.
June 19th-June 21st: The fever and diarrhea continue. I struggled to get a few crackers or a spoonful of jello in my stomach. Thank God for my daughter, Shannon and her husband, Mike, for keeping me in Gatorade and Ginger-ale.
June 22nd- I got a break from the diarrhea and fever. I was so tired and weak.
June 23rd- Surprise! Diarrhea and cramps are back. Temperature starts going up again (100.2). I’m shaky, weak and unbelievably tired.
June 24th- Diarrhea slows to every few hours, instead of every 45 minutes to an hour. (Really that’s the only way I was able to get out and get swabbed for COVID…otherwise I could never have left my bathroom long enough to go). Unfortunately with the diarrhea slow down came an array of symptoms: sore throat, chest pain (a very strong muscle pain that pulsated with my heartbeat..it felt like my lungs or a chest muscle. My Dr advised me to keep an eye on it and go to the ER, if I felt I needed to. He cautioned me that I would probably be admitted. That was the last thing I wanted, being as I was so ill).
I had intense, sharp pains that jumped from my foot to my knee to a finger, in random order.
June 25-June 27- All of my symptoms continue with less diarrhea and my fever lowering. I started having a lot of trouble walking. I have a hip prosthetic and my upper thigh in the prosthetic area became very painful (still is). I could only take tiny steps. The horrible body pain continued. I felt like I had been kicked in my ribs.
June 28th-Add intense itching to my other symptoms. Yippie!
July 1st-July 11th- I’m dizzy, have sharp chest pain, and now noticing problems with my memory. I’m weak and shaky. Sore throat, swollen glands and the bad headache continues.
July 12th- The fog and fatigue set in. I sleep from 9 p.m Saturday night until 4 p.m Sunday only getting up to pee and I keep sleeping.
July 13th- for the first time in 60 years I have a cold sore. I get sweaty and out of breath with the least exertion. I keep wishing the headache will go away but it doesn’t. Thigh pain gets worse.
July 14th- I’m noticing palpitations and my blood pressure which was controlled isn’t controlled any more. My Dr doubles my meds.
July 15th to present - Honestly, most of my days are still a blur. Mostly because of the fatigue. I continue to have sharp pains in my chest, swollen glands in my neck, post nasal drip, toes burning (go figure). My memory is an issue for me. Words such as the name of the city I live in are difficult to pull out of my head. I have also added blurry eyes and hair loss. (Some days it comes out in large amounts and I worry if I will lose it all.)
At the writing of this story, September 11th, I have been sick for 87 days!
The fatigue and diarrhea, have been the worst symptoms, especially the fatigue, as it prevents me from living my life. Getting a hair cut is the biggest outing I have had and that was just last weekend. My family usually shops for me or I do drive up pick up.
If I could offer advice to those who have not gotten COVID-19, it would be: just to do your best to not get it. I fully believe that wearing a mask, when in public, DOES help protect you from not only contracting it, but also passing it onto someone else. The Health Department representative, that contacted me to tell me I was positive, told me that I was most contagious the days before I was symptomatic. (I worried about 3 very frail looking ladies that were waiting in the small,waiting room with me at my Rheumotologist's office, 36 hours prior to the start of my first symptom, as well as the young lady who drew my blood that day.) I contacted the Doctor's office, to let them know that I had tested positive and worriedly inquired about those 4 ladies. I was grateful to hear, that no-one else had called the office, to say that they were sick.
Shown below with me, one of my two faithful kitty companion's, Tsitsi,
who quarantined with me, and now stay by my side when I'm
having a "rebound day".
Justice, Shannon & Mike, my "Angel's without
wings". I am SO grateful for them!
Pedro, my other faithful companion and one-eyed, fur-boy. (He's always winking)
Justice and I having a tail-gate party, with my son
Mike's help. (Before we could get close again)
My grand-dogs, Sheba & Max
Me, Debbie Valentine, a COVID-19 Survivor- on a rare day ,when I feel like there is a light at the end of this "CORONAVIRUS tunnel."