My COVID experience
After spending an entire year living in fear that if I were to catch covid it would move into my lungs and I would die – my COVID experience ended up being mild in comparison. Let’s face it, our fear has been encouraged and guaranteed by every media source and politician we can listen to. So it’s no wonder I felt as scared as I did on day one of my diagnosis.
It began with a bizarre type of back pain in the center of my back. I noticed it while showering. The area felt sensitive, it felt like I was sunburned. When I got to my boyfriend (Ben’s) house I asked him to apply some of my Primal Healing salve. It was my hope since that particular product works for everything that it would provide me with the relief I was seeking. Instead it felt as though he was rolling my skin off my back as he lightly touched me.
Since I had so much happening in my life that was overwhelming I decided to take the day off and rest. By the afternoon of Wednesday, February 10th, I was feeling completely exhausted and like I had the flu. I began consuming copious amounts of cannabinoids throughout the day which eventually led to the munchies. I reached for lime flavored tortilla chips and quickly realized I could not taste the lime. I figured this to be a fluke and reached for the dill flavored Lays potato chips, nothing.
I sat down on the couch and cried. I realized this meant I would not be able to leave for Florida as scheduled, and that I most likely had the coronavirus. I was scared to tell Ben. I did not want to believe that the thing I spent so much time fearing had finally happened to me. I told him and he wanted to take me at that moment to be tested. I asked if I could just keep resting and if my sense of smell/taste was still gone in the morning then I would go.
The next morning I could not taste my toothpaste. At 8am we both went to a walk in clinic in Louisville. There were no patients waiting in the lobby and they took us immediately back, together. We entered all of our information onto tablets and Ben asked to be tested even though he was completely asymptomatic. I felt like I had the flu, very achy and skin sensitive to touch so they did a rapid flu test and a rapid covid test to me.
According to the FDA, “currently there are two types of diagnostic tests–molecular tests, such as RT-PCR tests, that detect the virus’s genetic material, and antigen tests that detect specific proteins from the virus. Ben received the RT-PCR and his results came back that evening – negative. The doctor returned to the room ten minutes after administering my antigen tests and said, “well great news you don’t have the flu, but you do have covid.”
All I wanted to do was take magnesium baths and consume cannabinoids in as many forms as I could without having to smoke them.
I make a cannabis tincture using organic whole plant hemp distillate. I call it Primal Relief, for the relief it brings thanks to the full cannabinoid spectrum.
I started journaling my COVID experience into my phone because I needed an outlet. That first day of my positive test result, I felt shame. I felt a shit ton of fear, and I felt more emotions than anyone should have to process on top of feeling their skin hurt. I laid on the pull out bed in the center of Ben’s living room and I thought about the other times in my life I havd felt sick, or that I had felt fear.
I have had asthma since the age of 6. I spent a lot of my childhood very sick. I had pneumonia several times, bronchitis more than I can count, upper respiratory infections, sinus infections, ear infections, sometimes I would have multiple infections at one time. Thinking back, I don’t know how my Grandma did it all those years. So many doctors appointments, so many waiting rooms. It’s amazing how your mind wanders when you have nothing to do but lie around and think.
As day 2 began I noticed how affected my eyes were. They felt sore and burned. I tried googling what could cause this, and if it was a common symptom of covid. I did the same thing with the weird burning of my skin. Neither symptom seemed to be common, but both had been reported.
I put together a whole regimen of vitamins and minerals based on what I was reading and what friends and family had done when they had the virus.
- Tylenol – 1000mg 3-4 times a day (per my doctor)
- Vitamin C – 1000mg every morning
- Magnesium – daily
- D3 -1000iu daily
- Zinc – 50mg daily
- Selenium – 100mcg (I had to order this online because it was sold out everywhere)
- Multi-Vitamin (women’s daily from Whole Foods) – for extra protection
- Melatonin 5-10mg at bedtime
- Anti-Viral Tincture – an ethanol extraction of several anti viral herbs that I make including astragalus, elderberry, oregano, lemon balm, and more.
- Cannabinoids – I wanted to avoid inhaling cannabis so I could ensure the virus did not enter my lungs. We made a really strong cannabis infused olive oil that I could put on/in anything. I added the olive oil to my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I also had a ethanol extracted tincture of really high THC extracted from hash, and the tincture mentioned above that I make, Primal Relief. I added these tinctures to every thing I drank, all day and night.
- Note – there were some days that I took an allergy pill if I was experiencing nasal symptoms: sneezing, runny nose, congestion. I only took if feeling symptomatic.
My self care routine was not just about the supplements, I wanted to focus on taking in all organic foods that were easy to process. Soup was all I wanted at first but as the days passed my cravings switched to things that were crunchy, spicy, salty, or garlic rich.
- Lemon water constantly
- Baths/Soaks – magnesium flake, epsom salt, pink salt, Primal Healing soak, cannabis
- Hot tea – I added organic cinnamon, organic ginger, and organic honey
- Fire cider – as salad dressing, and by the tablespoon. The bite from the vinegar and the spices tingled my tongue, a sensation I grew to love.
- Ginger ale and juices. Drinking water plain felt weird in my mouth.
Ben offered that I quarantine at his house. It is much easier for him to take care of me if I am in his surroundings. As much as I wanted to be home, I did not want to quarantine alone. Since his test was negative we chose not to push it and we opened the bed up inside the couch. For the next ten days it felt like groundhog day. Do you remember that movie? Bill Murray is a reporter and wakes up everyday in this tiny town, and it’s groundhog day again and again.
I noticed that every single day in my covid journal (my phone) I wrote how grateful I was that my version of covid did not affect my lungs. If my nose became slightly stuffy I became so fearful it would move to my lungs. The exhaustion I experienced prevented me from doing anything. There were days that I was so exhausted I could not get up and go use the restroom when I wanted to. I would lay there and hold it. I was too tired to walk to the damn bathroom. I remember one day it was so bad, I sat up, and immediately laid right back down, all while letting out a big sigh of exhaustion.
By day 5, the virus was doing bizarre things to my body. I woke up and threw up. Lucky for me it was Valentine’s day, also my anniversary with the incredible man taking care of me. He had planned a nine course dinner at one of our favorite places in Denver, Beckon. It was cancelled. Of course. It’s not like I could have tasted anything anyways.
Covid forces you to rest. At least that is what it did to me. I laid still for days. It was all I was really capable of. I was so nauseous or my head hurt so bad, or my skin, or my muscles and joints, I did not want to move anyways. So, I read articles online about other covid patients and their symptoms and their experience with lack of taste and smell. There were moments where I literally felt crazy that it was affecting me so much. I felt blessed when I found a scientist discussing the subject.
Pamela Dalton, PhD, a chemosensory scientist and member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, stated that “losing the ability to taste or smell can trigger negative emotions since there is less serotonin flowing to the brain, which can contribute to well-being and happiness.” There it was, in black and white. I wasn’t crazy. I was missing the serotonin that made me the foodie I am.
After more research I found that many fellow covid sufferers used crunchy, salty, spicy, rich textured foods to enhance their experience while they were without their senses. 86% of people that come down with the coronavirus end up losing their sense of smell and/or taste. Mine left like someone walked in the room and removed them from my body. Through the whole process, I would lay there mentally complaining about how miserable I was about food and then I would chant how grateful I was that my experience with covid was as mild as it was.
On day 8 my headache and my nausea was so bad I finally succumbed to inhaling my cannabis. Ben was smoking a joint and I asked if I could finish it for him. He looked at me shocked after 8 days of refusing to inhale. After two tokes of this joint, the pain in my head melted and my nausea just fell into the bed I laid upon. It was the most unreal and healing feeling. I could feel the plant medicine rush over me. I feel like my relationship with cannabis deepened during my covid experience. I flooded my receptors all day everyday in an effort to maintain homeostasis.
I became bored with various textures and sensations so Ben tried his hardest to keep things interesting for me. He made a vegan Shepard’s pie that I think was really good. The textures and sensations were exactly what my mouth needed and he used a lot of garlic. A taste that I seemed to maintain. He brought me my favorite ginger ale, Vernor’s, and he brought me cannabis infused sodas. I am someone that never drinks soda but in the days of my quarantine with coronavirus, it was a true delight.
My eyes started bothering me around day two and by day ten I was annoyed to say the least. They felt sore and tired and blurry. I decided I would mention this to the doctor when I went for my retest. On the morning of the 11th day Ben and I both went to be retested. He wanted to see if after 10 days of quarantining with someone positive for covid if he remained negative – he did. As for me, well, they wouldn’t even retest me.
They said I had a fever of 100.4 and that meant I still had an active infection. Even though I feel 70% better. I still have covid. They think. But they aren’t sure. The doctor told me that I could still test positive for covid for the next 90 days. So what does this even mean? What do we actually know about covid? How is it possible that Ben never caught the virus? Is he immune? Will that test become available for people like him?
The uncertainty and the confusion that surrounds this virus compounds all other feelings the virus itself brings. So many feelings surge through me as I use all the energy I have to walk my dog and take a shower. I am ready to feel normal again. I am ready to not take a handful of pills every morning. I am ready to go back to work and take care of others. I have had enough days of taking care of myself. I feel all of these things all while being grateful that this was my version of covid, that it never entered my lungs, that I never ended up on a ventilator, that I didn’t even have a cough, I am grateful that I survived covid.
23 days after being diagnosed with the virus my senses remain wonky. Things don’t smell the same that I once loved. Some things taste different and some things I still can’t taste or smell at all. I will continue to come back and update this blog as the journey continues, including the results of the Instagram poll I took regarding symptoms.