I called my doctor’s office Monday morning at 10:20 and listed the symptoms that had started two days before: high fever, dry and painful cough, headache, fatigue, constant chills — but happily, no shortness of breath.
The nurse took meticulous notes, repeating everything I described (during this process, I had an involuntary coughing fit). I explained that I had self-isolated in our bedroom since I developed my symptoms, and I confirmed that I did not have recent contact with anyone who had traveled abroad.
Some five hours later, the doctor’s office called back to say the doctor had reviewed my symptoms and they did not meet the criteria for COVID-19 testing. I was to call back if my symptoms worsened. The nurse on the phone added, “Continue self-isolating as you have, until you are afebrile” — that is, no longer experiencing a fever — “have stopped coughing, and the signs of the cold go away.”
I am not a medical professional, but I can tell you that on Sunday morning — after the first night of fever, headache and chills — I called my husband, who was safely elsewhere in our house, and told him what I wanted on my tombstone, so that our kids would have a place to visit me. To his credit and kindness, he did not laugh at, or dismiss, my request. My sweet husband listened carefully, and then brought me some tea and grapefruit.
I don’t know if I have been infected with the novel coronavirus, because my symptoms were not deemed to be severe enough to meet testing criteria.
I also don’t know that I have not been infected, because tests are currently not readily available for all in the United States.
But I am sharing my experience to highlight some points.
1. Social distancing is, and will remain, the best course of action for some time. It is reckless to expose others to the debilitating danger of COVID-19 — or any infectious disease that could land them in the hospital — because you may be asymptomatic while carrying this novel coronavirus and passing it on to others. All data-driven models are pointing to the correlation of social distancing with “flattening the curve” of the spread of this virus.
2. The steps Gov. Tom Wolf, other governors, and other state and local officials are taking to minimize the spread of this novel coronavirus should be taken seriously. It is the responsible action to close schools and nonessential businesses for the time being.
3. Be your own medical advocate — you know how you are feeling. If my symptoms had worsened, I would have sought medical help. (I am slowly on the mend, thanks to the rest I am being afforded by the love and care of my husband and our kids.)
4. Uncertainty can be uncomfortable, but it can create a lens through which your perspective can shift, and the previously routine becomes precious. For example, hearing my husband yell out to the kids, “Go outside and play!” and then listening to the kids’ laughter while playing outside, gives me renewed strength.
5. Doesn’t it say something about the oneness of the human race? We are all potentially affected by this virus all over the world, because we are all human, because we are all connected, because we all breathe the same air, because our bodies function in the same way — because we are the same human race! And it comes down to us taking care of each other by doing our part to flatten the curve of contagion.
Take good care, everyone. Be good company to yourselves and your loved ones.
In solidarity with social distancing!
Nazli Hardy, MBA, Ph.D., is an associate professor of computer science at Millersville University, and a Millersville resident. Twitter: @Nazlinspired.