We Finally Got IT!

by | Sep 30, 2021

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After 19 months of a pandemic turned endemic…My husband and I finally contracted the coronavirus and became sick with symptoms of the Covid illness.

After spending the last 19 months living our lives without fear but with a healthy respect for the nature of viruses, we were finally able to test our immune systems, our preparedness, and the healthcare system at large!

I can honestly say that …

  • My immune system has learned a lot.
  • The healthcare practitioner in me has learned a lot.
  • The wife, mother, and friend in me has learned a lot.
  • The patient in me has learned a lot.
  • AND the autonomous human being that I am, has learned a ton!

In case you are wondering how we did with this illness…Well, we survived!  And it seems that neither of us have suffered any long-term damage…Hooray!

Prior to getting sick
I spent many hours in the months before researching and learning as much as I could about the virus, refreshing my immune system knowledge (I studied this in undergraduate, graduate school, and in practice).  I sourced supportive nutrition therapies, medical therapies, and lifestyle interventions that would not only support optimal immune function, but help with symptom relief, for when we actually got sick.

However, in my quest to know and be well prepared with my own arsenal of immune support, there was one thing that I had NOT done a ton of research on that I wished I had…

I wish that I had researched WHO and WHERE were the primary care practitioners in my local community were who offered EARLY INTERVENTION for this illness.

This may seem like a silly oversight to you but given the fact that nearly everyone I know who has contracted Covid has been tested and sent home with instructions to “Rest, drink plenty of water and go to the hospital if you have trouble breathing.”, I felt that there was NO EARLY TREATMENT TO BE HAD.

As my husband was the first to get sick (I didn’t get sick until he had been sick for over a week), I had time to advocate for his needs and discover the local resources that were available for early treatment, which I know for certain kept my husband, who had double pneumonia during his illness, out of the hospital. It was my husband’s highest medical priority to avoid hospitalization while being treated/cared for. We were able to successfully do that while still ensuring that he had a best care possible at home.

Disclaimer…
I am well-aware, that not everyone is fortunate enough to have the resources or the knowledge to make this kind of a thing happen, but despite this fact, my experience has made it clear that there is NO REASON that this should or could not be the case with nearly every person who contracts Covid illness.

My Husband Got it First
As my husband’s immune system has been challenged by a nearly 13-year illness where his immune system was in overdrive 24/7, we knew that he had made some serious strides in recovering his health in the past 2 years. We also knew that we had no idea how his immune system would do when challenged with this virus.

When he first became ill, he had high fever and some odd symptoms…for days.  I contacted a friend of mine who is a Nurse Practitioner in my hometown, who has been offering early treatment as a primary care provider there. She shared her experience and was a great encouragement to us throughout our illness. She shared what was working in her practice and stressed the importance of EARLY intervention.

My husband was doing all the nutrition, and symptom treatments we could while we waited to have a telemedicine appointment with his Functional Medicine Doctor, but all of a sudden on Day 5, he was having lung congestion, severe fatigue, and weakness and it was clear that the virus had overwhelmed his immune system. He had tested negative for the virus for the first 5 days of symptoms, but we knew we needed to test him and seek our medical care to prevent complications.

While he was able to get the support he needed from his Functional Medicine Doctor during his visit on Day 6, the delay in being able to see her caused us to be behind the curve on his illness. We got him tested at a local urgent care where he was prescribed an antibiotic, and steroid medications.  This was the first early medical treatment we were able to access.

What surprised me was that…

  • There was a local provider/clinic providing some very effective early interventions that we had heard about but didn’t know we could easily get.
  • Not once in the 19 months prior to our illness had our regular conventional primary care practitioners offered this kind of support for when we got sick.
  • While we have been bombarded with advertisements, robo-calls, media, and healthcare marketing messages about vaccinations and hospitalization being the only known treatments available, we were never told about this early treatment option.
  • As we reached out to family and friends for prayer support and assistance, we found that many not only had received this early treatment or some other early treatment, but they had other friends and family who had received the same.

YET….I was just discovering who and where to get access to this type of care in the conventional system.

Can I tell you how grateful I am that I was to be able to find providers willing to TRY something simple, inexpensive, and effective that allowed my husband to remain at home, and get safe and valuable treatment while recovering!

Unfortunately, while the medications helped, he was sick enough to cause his Functional Medicine Doctor to order a chest x-ray that revealed pneumonia after 7 days of illness.  Fortunately, she had also ordered, and he received the Monoclonal Antibody treatment that same day, which allowed his body to get an advantage in his fight against the virus.

He began to overcome and recover within 24 hours of receiving this treatment…all from the comfort of his own home.

This is not even close to the entire story of our experience with Covid illness. As I will share in a video (once my voice is improved), I began having symptoms just as he began to turn a corner…but my symptoms would take a different course because of even earlier interventions that I was able to implement.

I would like to continue writing to share every detail of our experience, but both your and my time are too valuable to write/read a play by play of our 2-week Covid Saga.

Summizing What I Learned
To summarize for your benefit, I’ll share my biggest takeaways of our entire experience. The things that I think YOU should know so that you can seek out the support your need and benefit from what we have learned along the way.  By no means is this meant to be medical advice (I’m not a doctor, not even your doctor), this is simply me sharing my experience of what turned out to be some interesting findings in our journey with Covid…

Here are the Top 10 things I’ve shared with my family and friends (ie. The people I hold most dear in this world.). These are the things I wish I had done, hadn’t done, and some that I did do that were helpful. AND…these apply whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated…

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO DO IS TO GET EARLY TREATMENT…AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE! (This means before you even think you need to. Why? Because Covid is stealthy and aggressive. You want to take fast action to prevent because preventing the progression of illness is key!

  1. Create a Plan with your PCP….
    Talk to your primary care provider about Covid illness and what they can do/prescribe as an early treatment for you as soon as you exhibit symptoms. More specifically, I’d ask your doctor if they offer Z-pack or doxycycline antibiotic treatment for early symptoms. If they don’t, consider finding someone local who does, and establish care with them asap.These are inexpensive treatments that have a proven track record with reducing symptoms of respiratory illness and prevention of pneumonia. This is something I wish I’d had available from Day 1 for my husband.  By the time I got sick, I was able to get this onboard immediately.
  1. Determine Testing….
    Determine how (what type of testing), where, and when you will get tested to determine if you have contracted the virus. (I recommend getting tested as soon as you begin having symptoms after an exposure.
  2. Nutritional Support…
    Purchase and gather any, and all vitamins/supplements you might want to include in your supportive care. Most people are including vitamin C, zinc, and quercetin, but there may be others you decide to include.As part of this, consider making a couple of large batches of nourishing soup to freeze for when Covid does visit your home…Even if nausea or digestive issues are an issue, you will need to eat and cooking will be challenging when you feel bad.  If nothing else, talk with friends and family about coordinating a meal train for one another when the time comes.
  1. Research Antihistamines and Covid…Based on some of the latest research, I wish I’d have started taking loratadine (OTC Antihistamine) before I had symptoms. Since my Covid illness was very much like one big sinus allergy/infection type of illness, I did end up adding it to my treatment. You can check out some of the latest research on this here. IF I had to do it all again, I’d start this on Day 1.
  2. Stock up on Guaifenesin (aka: Mucinex…This I had done since the early days of Covid. The reason, guaifenesin is an OTC mucus thinning medication that can really help when or if you have mucus developing in the lungs during Covid illness. My husband and I took this at the first sign of cough and throughout to prevent mucus from accumulating in our lungs.
  3. OTC Cough Suppressants…Consider also getting Dextromethorphan which is a cough suppressant…This often comes in combination with Guaifenesin, like Robitussin’s Max Strength Cough and Mucus Tablets. Cough suppressant may be necessary if you end up coughing too much. So, these together can work great to loosen mucus so you can cough it up but also prevent so much coughing that you create more irritation or discomfort.
  4. Breathing Treatments….If you or a family member has a history of immune compromise, asthma or other respiratory issues, I’d highly recommend you get a nebulizer and a prescription for Albuterol sulfate for nebulizing, to keep on hand. Starting these breathing treatments at the first sign of respiratory infection can be a game changer.
  5. Steroids may helps some…For some people, steroids like dexamethasone can be very helpful. It is good to have a provider who knows your medical history, so in the case that you need this additional support, you can get access to it and feel confident taking it.
  6. Plan for REST and Gentle Movement…Even if you don’t experience the extreme fatigue (I didn’t)…You will want to plan for resting, naps, gentle morning walks, and lots of good sleep at night. One of the things that was very helpful to me, and my husband is Melatonin 10mg at bedtime during the illness. It is a major antioxidant which helps a ton with the illness, but it also helps sleep. This supplement may not be tolerated by some. It helped me sleep well which is critical for healing and recovery.
  7. Prayer…Whether it be friends and family praying for you, or you praying for yourself, I can’t recommend this enough. This illness is tough on so many levels. It is unpredictable and will have you feeling a lack of control at times. Knowing and trusting that the Creator of the Universe has you in His hands is a comfort that can’t be compared.

There is certainly more that I’d like to share, and will in other ways… But for now, this is the list of the 10 most important things that I learned.

Reminder: This is NOT meant to be medical advice. This is simply my experience and I’m sharing some things I have recommended my family and friends to consider.

Having a plan in place for Covid illness can help you to make better decisions during your illness, simply because you’ve already done the research and already made decisions about your care. After 19 months of this we know a whole lot more about this disease and how it behaves. If we ignore what we have learned and live-in fear, we are simply choosing ignorance. I hope you’ll do what you can to prepare, so you can overcome and thrive when Covid strikes.

“An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” ~Ben Franklin

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PAULA CARPER

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

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