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Posted By: Martha Kingman, FNP-C, DNP
February 02, 2021
Even as an NP practicing 20 years in a pulmonary clinic, I was not prepared for how ill I became when I contracted COVID-19 just after Christmas 2020.
On December 20th, my husband drove 4 hours to pick up his father to bring him to our home for Christmas. We thought we were being very careful, not seeing any of our five adult children for the holidays and planning to keep it small with just the three of us. Unfortunately, my husband and his father had gone into a restaurant during their travel. Four days later, and back in our home in Dallas, they both became ill. Another 4 days later I was sick.
I had spent 2 full days with them before they developed symptoms (the most contagious period). I think it was this prolonged exposure that caused my case to be more severe, as I have no underlying high-risk health conditions: I was in excellent physical condition, exercising 30 to 60 minutes every day. For 3 weeks, I was very ill with COVID-19. In fact, it was the sickest I have ever been, and the longest I have ever been ill.
It is worth noting that I had the first Pfizer vaccine 4 days before I was exposed. Because I had no underlying health conditions, I was not a candidate for a monoclonal antibody infusion.
My symptoms began with cough, fever, fatigue, chest pain, anosmia, GI effects, and headache. For the first 7 to 10 days, I was unable to eat and was struggling to get out of bed. I had fever for 17 days which led to dehydration and made me feel light-headed when I tried to stand up. At this point, my husband took me to the ED. There, I received some IV fluids and had a chest x-ray with findings consistent with COVID-19.
My oxygen saturations ranged from 93% to 95% most of the time. A few times they dipped into the 80s, but were never sustained below 93%—which is our recommendation for admission. I was lucky in that I did get to remain at home, aside from that one trip to the ED.
I am fortunate to work with some highly skilled pulmonologists who kept in close touch with me, as well as some NP friends. In my next post, I’ll discuss the home care tips that they suggested.
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Clinical guide for the management of critical care for adults with COVID-19 during the coronavirus pandemic. www.nice.org.uk/Media/Default/About/COVID-19/Specialty-guides/Specialty-guide_Adult-critical-care.pdf. Accessed February 2, 2021.
- Shenoy N, et al. Considerations for target oxygen saturation in COVID-19 patients: are we under-shooting? BMC Medicine. 2020;18:260.