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I tested positive for COVID. Here's what it feels like and my symptoms day by day

I first want to state the intensity of coronavirus symptoms can vary depending on the case. The way I experienced COVID doesn't mean this is how the next person who tested positive experiences the illness. This is only my documented experience of how I felt while infected with the virus. I'm sharing because I think it's helpful to know more about COVID and that includes learning what different people go through while infected. You never know how your own personal experience can help someone else. 

Key points:

  • Diary of my COVID symptoms
  • When testing positive with COVID, what do you do next?
  • Notes from my doctor visit after follow-up testing
  • Helpful links

I woke up on Thursday, May 5 mostly fine. My throat felt a little weird the day before but nothing crazy. I showered, ate, took some DayQuil, walked my dog that afternoon and enjoyed the sunny weather. When I got back home, I plopped on the couch, opened my laptop and started my work shift. This is the usual normal stuff during my work week nowadays. 

Out of nowhere, I got really cold. I thought the breeze coming through the window was a bit much, so I closed the window. Still cold, so I grabbed a sweater. As I continued to work, I started noticing that I felt cold but my forehead and the rest of my body was burning up. 

I knew something wasn't right. 

I came in contact with someone on Saturday, April 30, who tested for strep throat. So when my throat started feeling a little funny, I thought I had that. When I got the chills, I thought I had the flu or some sort of cold. I didn't know what it was.

At-home COVID test kit

I took one of the home COVID tests on Thursday, May 5, to see if it's possibly COVID and the test came out negative. I was relieved but still unsure about these results. I went into the doctor's office the next day on Friday to take a PCR COVID test and I also took a strep test. My strep test came back negative. I had to wait until the next day for my PCR test results. 

On Sunday, May 8, on Mother's Day, I checked my email and the results were in.

Abnormal? Detected? 

What the hell does that even mean? It's sounding like I have this thing. Am I reading these tests results right? Me?!

Yup, abnormal and detected means a positive COVID test. I have COVID.

All types of thoughts ran through my head. I immediately thought the very worse and my mind went to the darkest place. This virus is very unpredictable. Thinking of the unknown of how it would treat my body and will I suffer from any long-term effects? Will I have breathing problems now? Will I die? So many questions. It's scary. 

To be completely transparent: I'm a 37-year old woman. I don't have any other prior health issues other than being considered overweight, but I am healthy. I'm not as physically active like I used to be (I'm going to do better at his). I am fully vaccinated. I received both shots of Pfizer last year. However, I am not boosted. I'm planning to get my first booster shot sometime this summer. I am somewhat social and I'm around different people on weekends, but I'm still somewhat careful. I'm not going to the club or to parties, but I do travel, I go out to events once in awhile, I dine out, go to the movies, etc. I still wear my mask out, sometimes I even double mask where I know there will be large crowds or on public transportation. 

I thought it's crazy I get COVID now but not last year when I only had one shot but still attended a wedding and went to Vegas. How does the virus manage to get me now? This shit sucks. 

While in isolation, I started a diary of notes of how I was feeling everyday going back to the first day of when I got that little tickle feeling in my throat. Here is a rundown of my notes while sick with COVID: 

Diary of my COVID symptoms

Saturday, April 30Contact with potential spreader

Wednesday, May 4 - This is when my symptoms first appeared

Throat feels a little weird, not sure what it is. 
Drinking tea, took DayQuil and later NyQuil. 

Thursday, May 5

Fine in the morning.
Later in the afternoon, chills out of nowhere while working
Throat feels a little better
Temp a lil over 100.4, slight fever?
Body feels warm
Took at home COVID test, results are negative
Took DayQuil. Took Tylenol to bring my fever down.

Friday, May 6
When I sneeze, it hurts my throat really bad.
Went to doctor's to get tested. Was told it could be the flu which is going around, COVID or allergies. Doctor told be to take Claritin or Zyrtec. 
Took one Claritin pill but honestly, I don't think it's allergies. I don't have allergies. Stopped taking the Claritin. 
I can feel a bunch of cold/mucus in my chest
Nose starts acting up at night, sneezing and blowing it. 

Saturday, May 7
Very, very bad day. I feel like death. 
Head hurts, body hurts, I feel weak, and nauseous in the morning
Loss of appetite, dont feel like doing anything
Temperature still around 100
Laid in bed all day today, put cold wash cloths on my forehead and all over my body to help bring my temperature down
Stopped taking DayQuil/NyQuil (too much acetaminophen with the Tylenol). 
Started taking another prescription medicine for my throat. Feels like it's working. Coughing and sneezing, some cold coming out
Seems like flu-like symptoms

Sunday, May 8
Woke back up at 5 a.m. after going to bed not too long ago, took more of the prescription medicine for throat/colds (and later at night)
PCR test results from Friday reveal I'm positive for COVID: Detected/Abnormal
Still slight diarrhea
Appetite picked up a little. Ate more than bread/soup from yesterday. had pasta and salad today.
Feeling much, much better today compared to yesterday
Able to get out of bed and not feel weak
Taste/smell acting a little funny with stuffed nose
Some coughing fits, ones later in day hurt inside of my chest
Nose clogged by night, on and off
A little sneezing.
No headache today.
More worried of worse symptoms if anything which is making it difficult for me to fall asleep.
Little tingly feeling in my lips - this is different

Monday, May 9
Nose clogged in AM
Didn't sleep much last night, up until close till 5
Blowing nose, coughing a little, I see more of the cold coming out so that's good.
Took temp this morning and at night, around 97.7, back down which is good
I can taste/smell again (this is randomly on and off when my nose is congested)
I feel less congestion in my head
Very minor body aches. Left arm a little tingly sometimes, nothing crazy. Tingling feeling in lips disappeared. 
Feeling better
Went outside for like a minute to get some sun

Tuesday, May 10
Symptoms have vastly improved, just blowing nose and coughing some
Cant taste/smell in morning

After Tuesday, I stopped writing down my symptoms because my temperature went back to a normal range and aside from a lingering cough and blowing my nose here and there, I feel fine at the time of writing this which is now Saturday, May 14. My taste and smell have returned, my appetite is normal, no more diarrhea, no headaches, those random tingling feelings are gone, and even my minor body aches went away. 

Trying to fall asleep was the worst because I was mostly in my head. Every day with COVID kept me up at night until like 5 in the morning. My mind was racing every night and I couldn't help but constantly think of different things and Googling away, reading stuff... my mind was going crazy. 

When testing positive with COVID, what do you do next?

After I saw I tested positive, I asked the doctor what do I do now and was basically told to take Tylenol if my fever goes back up and over 100.4, isolate and stay away from others to prevent the spread, and if I experience breathing or chest problems, to come back in or go to the emergency room. 

To be clear, if you're not experiencing any major problems like having trouble breathing and if you're not high risk (have other underlying conditions), there's nothing much a doctor can do for you once you test positive for COVID, that's just the reality of it. Although we have antiviral pills now (more on that in a bit) we're like two and half years into this pandemic, and there's still so much unknown and not much help with recovering. 

It's basically: stay home, rest, take Tylenol if your fever is high, stay away from others, and if you have trouble breathing, go to your doctor or the hospital.

My best advice is to get A LOT of rest and stay hydrated. I know it's hard, but try not to stress and add to your worries. Sleeping, relaxing and drinking lots of fluids is key to a better recovery. I stayed in bed all day Saturday and took Monday off to just relax. I did work the rest of the week but only because I'm currently working from home so I'm able to safely isolate and work from the comfort of my bed. I'm sure it also helped that I was vaccinated. 

I made sure to up my Vitamin C intake as well as making sure to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. I always drink a lot of water, so that was nothing new, and I drank a lot of tea with honey, ginger and lemon + Pedialyte. 

I did ask the doctor about the new antiviral pills: Paxlovid and Molnupiravir and I was told I don't qualify to take those because I don't have any other underlying health conditions and I'm not old enough. I was told these pills are in high demand and the pharmacies are running out of them and are being picky with who they give them to. Understandable. Hopefully soon these pills will be available for any and everyone who needs them. 

It's important to note, if one is positive with COVID and they qualify to take one of these antiviral pills, the pill reportedly has to be taken within 5 days of developing symptoms or supposedly the pill won't work in time to fight off the virus. Also, you do need a prescription in order to get these pills.

Doctors didn't say anything about exercising and moving around. Obviously, I wouldn't go crazy exercising while recovering, but hearing from others who had COVID, once feeling better, it's good to move around a little and at least go for a walk.

I was also told blood oxygen levels are important to watch while positive with COVID. You can measure your blood oxygen level with a *pulse oximeter which is a small device that clips onto your fingertip. A pulse oximeter blood oxygen sensor can be purchased from Amazon or Target. If you don't have one, a doctor, medi center or some type of urgent care facility can measure your levels.

Notes from doctor visit after follow-up COVID testing

I visited the doctor on Friday, May 13, one week after taking my last COVID test as I figured now is a good time to re-test. I was told it is pointless to take a PCR test so soon because even though I'm not contagious, according to CDC guidance, the PCR test can still show positive results weeks after being in the clear. It may be possible for the PCR test to pick up any little particles of the virus that may still be floating around even though I'm not contagious, as I was told by the doctor. 

I took a rapid COVID test instead and it came out negative.

I was told I am no longer contagious after five days of testing positive, and to continue wearing a mask around others for up to 10 days. 

My oxygen levels were checked and that came out good. My lungs and breathing are good.

I'm not sure which strand of COVID I had but the doctor says it looks like I had a mild case since I had the one really bad day (Saturday) and the next day I felt better. 

My doctor said he had a bad bout of COVID and experienced hair loss two months after his symptoms went away. So he warned me about possible long-term effects that COVID can have on the body. He said if I experience any hair loss, to not be alarmed because it's likely a symptom of COVID.

In two weeks, I'm testing again but this time for antibodies. I also have my regular physical doctor's appointment at the end of the month. 

Helpful links

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